D-Day 6th June 1944

Discussion in 'WWII' started by DiabolicalAngel, Jun 5, 2007.

  1. DiabolicalAngel

    DiabolicalAngel One of the Regulars

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    Let us not forget and give a moments thought to all the brave people involved with D-Day, 63 years ago.
     
  2. Sylvester D

    Sylvester D Familiar Face

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    My grandfather(photo in my profile) was part of D Day.

    After watching Saving Private Ryan, I can't imagine what it was like being in the landing vehicle about to hit the beaches of Normandy.

    I would like to visit Normandy one of these days.

    Has anyone been there?
     
  3. Marv

    Marv A-List Customer

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    Here, here......our thoughts go out to all the vets living and departed.
     
  4. PADDY

    PADDY I'll Lock Up Bartender

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    Hear-Hear.

    Spare a few moments thought for the cost of our freedom...we will remember them.
     
  5. Smithy

    Smithy I'll Lock Up

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    It'll be on my mind the whole day.

    Lest we forget...
     
  6. Spitfire

    Spitfire I'll Lock Up

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    To day I will think of the veterans - British, Canadians and Americans I met in Normandy 3 years ago on this very day.
    Thank you.
     
  7. Decobelle

    Decobelle One of the Regulars

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    Thank you

    [​IMG]
     
  8. deanglen

    deanglen My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Can't be thankful enough.

    dean
     
  9. K.D. Lightner

    K.D. Lightner Call Me a Cab

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    Thank you, all.

    karol
     
  10. Atterbury Dodd

    Atterbury Dodd One Too Many

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    The more I read about the soldiers that fought in WWII(and on D day), the more respect I have for them. My respectful thanks.
     
  11. TailendCharlie

    TailendCharlie One of the Regulars

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  12. Sunny

    Sunny One Too Many

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    Bugles Across America asked buglers to play Taps at sundown.

    My father played Taps on his cornet at 8:34 pm last night. My mother, my brother, and I stood in the front yard with him, while our flag fluttered and snapped in the wind. Our neighbor across the street watched and listened along with us.
     
  13. Twitch

    Twitch My Mail is Forwarded Here

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  14. Hondo

    Hondo One Too Many

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    I agree with you all, its powerful with each year that passe, we continue to remember those who fell, its also a good time to reflect and remember the friendship between American & French, the sacrifice from all allied forces.
     
  15. PADDY

    PADDY I'll Lock Up Bartender

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    How poignant...

    What a fine and moving gesture, we have to keep their memories alive.
     
  16. Parallel Guy

    Parallel Guy One of the Regulars

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    It won't be very many years and the last to have been in on the invasion will have passed. At that point, it truly will just be just memories.
     
  17. Naphtali

    Naphtali Practically Family

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    One of the most poignant remembrances is in the cemetery in the centre of Kohima in NE India. The graves are Indian Army soldiers, British African, and other Commonwealth soldiers -- all of whom fought and died alongside the Indian Army in the Burma campaign.

    At the foot of the cemetery is a monument with this inscription: When you go home tell them of us and say for your tomorrow we gave our today.
     
  18. Twitch

    Twitch My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Here's an article I wrote a couple years ago on some less-known D-Day combat that someone might find interesting.....[huh]

    MOH ON D-DAY

    Mortars, machine guns, 37 mm anti-tank guns, 75 and 88 mm guns, steel tripod stakes, floating mines, wired mines, buried mines and Teller mines that were just covered by the sea at high tide all took their toll on Lt. Jimmie Monteith’s men. In moments the 51 men and the Lieutenant were reduced to just 25.

    After cutting a swath of destruction across North Africa it fell to Field Marshall Erwin Rommel to bolster the Atlantic Wall defenses for Adolf Hitler. For Lieutenant Jimmie Monteith Jr. of Virginia it was his job to cut through those defenses on June 6, 1944- D-Day.

    The L.C.V.P. churned through the surf carrying Company E, the 16th Infantry unit of the U.S. Army 1st Division- the Big Red One. A quarter mile from the sand machine gun rounds were already finding their mark on the armored loading ramp. It was 0645. The craft had circled for thirty minutes after the men embarked to form up in concert with others. The Channel’s six-foot waves began to take their toll in nausea damage as vomit hit the bilge water at their freezing cold feet. These were battle tested men who had fought in North Africa and through Sicily but the prolonged disorientation in the craft did them in.

    Add the heavy equipment load each man carried in their weakened state and it contributed to the recipe for disaster. Weapons with 250 rounds of ammunition, grenades, rations, canteens, explosives, first-aid kits, gas masks, entrenching tools and life preservers were all vital but all added to the weight.

    There was some solace in the fact that the fifty-two men were part of 35,000 assaulting Fortress Europe that day in the first wave and the fact the naval guns and B-26 bombers had plastered the defenses earlier. Also amphibious tanks were to precede the infantry to the beaches. The sad surprise was that the bombardment completely missed or did little damage and most of the tanks sank or bogged down as they emerged from their landing craft too far from the beach in the heavy seas. The floundering tanks were unique to Omaha’s churning surf. At other beaches they performed as planned.

    The landings had to be made at low tide to reveal the traps and obstacles. At high tide the relative safety of the shorter beach that needed to be crossed had the down side of the assault vehicles being hung up or destroyed on the submerged dangers. 300 plus yards of bare beach was required to be crossed to the sea wall where the bluffs began.

    The L.C.V.P. thunked to stop on a sand bar 75 yards off the beach unable to proceed farther. Monteith rallied the sea sick men to their feet as the ramp dropped. Other craft shared a similar fate hung up 50 to 100 yards from the sands. Muzzle flashes pierced the overcast low gray of the dawn from the wall beyond the beach from a thousand weapons. As the slugs splashed into the water in front of the ramp Monteith ordered the men over the sides of the craft.

    Lt. Monteith splashed into the cold three-foot deep water with his men. As bullets swept the area he ducked below the water instinctively. Those that didn’t follow suit died. Beyond the sand bar the nasty green water rose to eight feet and the puny life preservers could not help non-swimmers stay afloat. They drowned thrashing about the ugly water. Eleven men were already gone from the unit.

    Everyone looked for the tanks they’d hoped would punch a hole in the enemy line but not one was in sight as Monteith lamented to Sergeant Orville Pierce, the demolition expert, “Man, one thing for sure, this just ain’t our day.”

    The bluffs of Colleville-sur-Mer spat out ordnance and the rounds erupted all around the 16th. The village of the same name lay about a mile from the shoreline approachable via the Colleville Draw or over the bluffs.

    Lt. Monteith zigzagged to a position near an anti-tank obstacle called a spider. 7.92 mm copper-jacketed projectiles made the metal sing as the men hunkered behind it and others strewn along the beach. They crawled forward to the relative safety of a rock overhang from the steel rain. Monteith did a head count and found that fully half of his fifty-one men were missing.

    The radioman repeats the message from Colonel Taylor, “Hell, we’re dying on the beach. Let’s move inland.”

    Few expected the Allied invasion at Omaha Beach. But the Desert Fox, Rommel, did. “The war will be won or lost on the beaches. The first 24 hours will be decisive,” he concluded. And he took pains to make the beaches impenetrable. Besides the first layer of tank obstacles and mines was concertina wire and then more mines. Backing that were the 100-foot cliffs housing pill boxes with machine guns, 20 mms, 50 and 75 mm anti-tank cannon. Mortars came next and then the big 88 mm gun emplacements dotted the furthest firing line. The fact that the seasoned 726th Regiment, 716th Division was bolstered by the greener 352nd Infantry Division that was on maneuvers nearby on June 6th was not known to Allied intelligence.

    Lt. Jimmie Monteith was right about it not being their day at Omaha. The other beach landings went well and though resistance was substantial in places the Allied force quelled the brunt of the German defense. At Omaha every tank and anti-tank gun ferried ashore was picked off by the uncanny accuracy of the German gunners. Twenty-nine amphibious D.D. or duplex drive tanks sank offloaded too far from shore in order to avoid gun fire and thirty-five more that did “swim” in were soon destroyed or crippled. Only two eventually made it intact.

    These were M-4 Shermans that sported raise-able, water tight skirts above the hull. Twin propellers gave thrust. At other beaches the waves were a bit less turbulent and the D.D.s did fine

    At 0700 the second wave arriving was cut to pieces worst than the initial one. To the casual observer it would seem that Rommel’s defenses had halted the American assault. All that was left was the 16th’s twenty-three men now huddled beneath a shelf-like escarpment and they would soon be picked off by the deadly fire. But leading those twenty-five was Monteith. Jimmie was a big man physically but it would take a man with big leadership ability to save his men. He had a plan.

    The 1st’s advance had bogged down all along the line a thousand yards on either side of them relayed radioman Private Kormann. Monteith and Pierce sprang for the barbed wire aprons lacing their advance inland. It was a long thirty seconds but the charge was set and they returned to the rest of the men.

    Monteith forewarned every man to follow or face the consequences while his foot depressed the plunger as he rose to lead the charge through the narrow gap. Some wavered a bit but all followed as the Lieutenant miraculously navigated the minefield to the base of the bluffs. This singular action had turned the tide of the battle as other units began to blow gaps in the German defenses to move up.

    The two D. D. tanks of the 741st Armored represented some 75 mm artillery for the beleaguered infantry but they could get no clear shots in. Monteith dropped his equipment and sprinted for the tanks ahead of the fire. 75, 50 and 20 mms showered the beach but the big Virginian made it. He then walked out in front of the vehicles to lead them through the gap he’d forged in the mines. Monteith was unbelievably unscathed. The men of E Company were amazed with his charmed existence.

    The Lieutenant used hand signals to direct the tanks’ fire to the German 75 mm, 50 mm and machine gun emplacements. With the now-rising tide two destroyers were able to come close in and plaster the bluffs from just 1,000 yards with their 5-inch guns. The heavy fire was taking its toll!

    Monteith led his men forward with Private Kormann staying behind them to direct the big guns by radio. He kept their barrage 300 yards in front of the advance. They were moving now and surged ahead up the rocky terrain. Kormann halted the artillery when the men came close to a machine gun position. Jimmie Monteith and his 21 men soon lobbed grenades into the area and realized they were above the other German emplacement owning a 200-yard line of France.

    Spreading the men out along that line in defensive positions worked well as thirty to forty Germans probed behind a light mortar barrage. Below the machine guns were now focusing upward instead of seaward to cover their troops. Monteith lay his rifle down for a Thompson as the fire fight continued. Besides the semi-auto, .30 caliber Garands the B.A.R.s laid down heavy fire at the now sixty strong Germans. Only three got close and were gunned down by Private McHugh. The remainder halted 100 yards down.

    Two more such probing advances were repelled. The men saw Monteith moving all about firing constantly from every position.

    It was time to move. The big Virginian knew the Germans would mean business now and reasoned it would do no good to hold the position without G.I.s from another wave to bolster their strength.

    Instead of retreating Monteith ordered an attack on the German flanks below them. The spearhead of men now came down 500 yards of terrain as the Germans opened fire on both sides. Lt. Monteith was running full speed one second and an anonymous slug stopped him dead in his tracks the next.

    He would have been twenty-seven years old on July 1st.

    The rest is history as such. The remainder of the 16th got down to relative safety and the Big Red One plus all the other units secured their foothold on France.

    Of the 60,000 men that hit the Normandy beaches only four received the Congressional Medal of Honor with two being from one outfit- Pvt. Carlton W. Barrett, 18th Infantry Division; Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr., 4th Infantry Division, Technician 5th Grade John J. Pinder, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division and 1st Lt. Jimmie W. Monteith Jr., 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.

    Lt. Monteith’s citation read:

    “The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of The Congress the Medal of Honor to

    FIRST LIEUTENANT JIMMIE W. MONTEITH JR.
    UNITED STATES ARMY
    Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Colleville-sur-Mer, France, 6 June 1944.
    Entered service at: Richmond, Va.
    Born: 1 July 1917, Low Moor, Va.
    Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, near Colleville-sur-Mer, France. 1st Lt. Monteith landed with the initial assault waves on the coast of France under heavy enemy fire. Without regard to his own personal safety he continually moved up and down the beach reorganizing men for further assault. He then led the assault over a narrow protective ledge and across the flat, exposed terrain to the comparative safety of a cliff. Retracing his steps across the field to the beach, he moved over to where 2 tanks were buttoned up and blind under violent enemy artillery and machinegun fire. Completely exposed to the intense fire, 1st Lt. Monteith led the tanks on foot through a minefield and into firing positions. Under his direction several enemy positions were destroyed. He then rejoined his company and under his leadership his men captured an advantageous position on the hill. Supervising the defense of his newly won position against repeated vicious counterattacks, he continued to ignore his own personal safety, repeatedly crossing the 200 or 300 yards of open terrain under heavy fire to strengthen links in his defensive chain. When the enemy succeeded in completely surrounding 1st Lt. Monteith and his unit and while leading the fight out of the situation, 1st Lt. Monteith was killed by enemy fire. The courage, gallantry, and intrepid leadership displayed by 1st Lt. Monteith is worthy of emulation.”


    PERSPECTIVE
    It was vital that the Allied forces regain a foothold on the Continent. The British along with assorted European military allies had last combated the German on “home turf” at Dunkirk in May 1940. Due to a pure stroke of luck some 300,000 of them were able to escape to England.

    For four years Belgians, Poles, French and others pushed from France served with units of Her Majesty’s military awaiting the day they were collectively strong enough to face the German war machine on the Continent. It would take until 1944 for the United States to produce sufficient war materiel and import it along with enough fighting men.

    For all those years the war continued in the air above Europe, on the seas and on the sands of North Africa. Rommel’s forces were vanquished from Africa where his supply lines were stretched to the limit across the Mediterranean. Continental Europe posed a different strategy. Hitler’s forces were well dug in and no natural geography hindered things. Rommel oversaw the fortification of the Atlantic Wall defenses all along the coast upgrading them ominously.

    The U-Boats alone had almost strangled England. Without American convoys and determined aerial support England alone would have likely withered into Nazi submission. The American Eighth Air Force began flying from Britain in early 1942 and by D-Day dominated the skies over France. Long-range bombing missions reached into the heart of the Reich. The Royal Air Force bombed by night as the Americans bombed by day. But German airspace teemed with defense in the form of flak guns and interceptors.

    No European infantry combat had taken place apart from the Italian landings since mid-1940. The Allies had a taste for how the Wehrmacht fought and knew an assault on France would not go easy. Continental Europeans had been at war nearly five years and no end was in sight. A move had to be made. But a blunder would set the Allies back an untold time. If a foothold in France could not be attained it would be a minimum of a year until the Allies could regroup and form new strategies. Certainly landings had to be made in moderate weather with enough mild weather ahead before the fall and winter cold lay in. So at least another year would have to pass if the landings were repulsed. Given the accelerated German military science a mid-1945 landing would not have guaranteed success either.

    V-1 and V-2 rockets had already taken to the air and pummeled both England and the Low Countries. Synthetic fuel was being formulated. Jets were in service with more and new types on the way. No, they would not have allowed Hitler to win the war but they would have prolonged it until at least 1946 costing casualties on all sides.

    Given the weight of the circumstances that rested on Allied shoulders much of that burden was brought to bear on the infantrymen on June 6, 1944 when a “make it or break it” mindset prevailed. The fate of the Western world was in their hands. It was time to free Europe from the dark hand of Nazism that gripped at its throat for five long years.
     
  19. Spitfire

    Spitfire I'll Lock Up

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    Thanks for sharing, Twitch. Very, very well written:eusa_clap :eusa_clap :eusa_clap
     
  20. Aristaeus

    Aristaeus A-List Customer

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    Invasion of Normandy, June 6, 1944


    A Civilian's View


    Marie-Louise Osmont lived in a chateau overlooking the Normandy beaches with her husband, a physician. The occupying Germans appropriated the home for their own use after invading France in 1940 but allowed the Osmonts to stay in a few rooms. The house stood near the point on the Normandy coast designated for attack by the British forces - Sword Beach. Marie-Louis kept a diary of her experiences.

    Landing!

    "During the night of June 5-6, 1944, Marie-Louise's sleep is disrupted by the sound of cannon fire and aircraft overhead. The commotion intensifies and the Germans start packing equipment into trucks in preparation of leaving the area. Confused, Marie-Louise is unsure whether the aircraft and gunfire are German or Allied. We join her story as dawn breaks on the 6th of June 1944.

    "Little by little the gray dawn comes up., but this time around, from the intensity of the aircraft and the cannon an idea springs to mind: landing! I get dressed hurriedly. I cross the garden, the men recognize me. In one of the foxholes in front of the house, I recognize one of the young men from the office; he has headphones on his ears, the telephone being removed there. Airplanes, cannon right on the coast, almost on us. I cross the road, run to the farm, come across Meltemps. 'Well!' I say, 'Is this it, this time?' 'Yes,' he says, 'I think so, and I'm really afraid we're in a sector that's being attacked; that's going to be something!' We're deafened by the airplanes, which make a never-ending round, very low; obviously what I thought were German airplanes are quite simply English ones, protecting the landing. Coming from the sea, a dense artificial cloud; its ominous and begins to be alarming; the first hiss over our heads. I feel cold; I'm agitated. I go home, dress more warmly, close the doors; I go get Bernice [a neighbor] to get into the trench, a quick bowl of milk, and we run - just in time! The shells hiss and explode continually.

    In the trench in the farmyard (the one that was dug in 1940) we find three or four Germans: Leo the cook, his helper, and two others, crouching, not proud except for Leo, who stays outside to watch). We ask them 'Tommy come?" They say yes, with conviction. Morning in the trench, with overhead the hisses and whines that make you bend even lower. For fun Leo fires a rifle shot at a low-flying airplane, but the Spiess[the German Sergeant-Major] appears and chews him out horribly; this is not the time to attract attention. Shells are exploding everywhere, and not far away, with short moments of calm; we take advantage of these to run and deal with the animals, and we return with hearts pounding to burrow into the trench. Each time a shell hisses by too low, I cling to the back of the cook's helper, it makes me feel a little more secure, and he turns around with a vague smile. The fact is that we're all afraid."

    The Tanks

    Later in the morning a lull in the shelling allows Marie-Louise and her neighbor to return to the farmhouse and prepare their lunch:


    "Around noon a bit of a lull. We leave to try to have lunch; I busy myself with the fire, Bernice with the soup and potatoes; it's cooking. We start to seat ourselves around the table, two mouthfuls of soup, and then everything changes with tremendous speed. Someone - a Frenchman on the road, the soldiers at the gate - someone said: 'The Tommies!' We watch the soldiers. They hide on both sides of the gate, watching in the distance in panic, confusion painted on their faces. And suddenly we hear these words: 'The tanks!' A first burst of tracer bullets, very red, sweeps the gate; men crouch down. Bernice and I hide in a corner of the room. There's banging in every direction. We're going to have to go somewhere else. Standing in our corner, we gulp a plate of soup, while the Spiess, who has been shouting orders, comes with his revolver in hand to see whether men are hiding with us. Everything starts happening. Evidently, they're going to try to leave with their trucks. A German tank arrives and takes the Spiess away. The shells bang."

    Destruction

    The continuing bombardment forces the Frenchwomen to flee the farmhouse for the relative safety of the trench. Around two o'clock in the afternoon the first British soldiers are spotted near the farm. The Germans hold their ground while the two women huddle in the trench:

    "Around six o'clock a lull. We get out and go toward the house to care for the animals and get things to spend the night underground. And then we see the first damage. Branches of the big walnut broken, roof on the outbuildings heavily damaged, a big hole all the way up, a heap of broken roof tiles on the ground, a few windowpanes at my place - hundreds of slates blown off the chateau, walls cracked, first-floor shutters won't close - but at Bernice's it's worse. An airplane or tank shell has exploded on the paving in her kitchen at the corner of the stairs, and the whole interior of the room is devastated: the big clock, dishes, cooking equipment, walls, everything is riddled with holes, the dishes in broken pieces, as are almost all the windowpanes. The dog Frick that I had shut up in the next room so he wouldn't get killed on the road, is all right and sleeping on a seat. But we realize that if we had stayed there, we would both have been killed. In the face of this certainty, Bernice takes the disaster very well; we try to straighten up the unspeakable mess a little. Out of the question to eat the soup and mashed potatoes that have been prepared; everything is black with dust and full of shards of glass. Someone gives us soup from the farm. We talk with them for a short while and note the Germans haven't taken away all the trucks from the drive; there are also a lot of vehicles still in the park."

    Silhouettes

    Marie-Louise and Bernice inspect the rest of the house and step outside to find cows lying dead in the pasture. Meanwhile, the battle continues:

    "The English tanks are silhouetted from time to time on the road above Periers. Grand impassioned exchanges on the road with the people from the farm; we are all stupefied by the suddenness of events. I take a few steps down the drive, toward the Deveraux house, and suddenly I see the replacement Speiss and his comrade hugging the wall of the pasture. I tell him that he must still have comrades at the guns, since we can still hear the battery firing. You feel that these two men are lost, disorientated, sad. Later, almost night, I see them again, their faces deliberately blackened with charcoal, crossing the park. What will be their fate? How many of them are still in the area, hiding and watching?"

    References:
    Drez, Ronald (editor), Voices of D-Day (1998); Keegan, John, The Book Of War (1999); Ryan, Cornelius, The Longest Day: June 6, 1944 (1975).

    "D-Day - June 6, 1944: The Civilian View," EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2000, revised 2010).


    [video=youtube;K75yDdY-fGQ]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K75yDdY-fGQ[/video]
     

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