We Remember Our Veterans On The Anniversary Of D-Day
Saving Private Ryan - D-Day
The Battle of Normandy
World War II: Battle of Normandy begins. D-Day, code named Operation Overlord, commences with the landing of 155,000 Allied troops on the beaches of Normandy in France. The allied soldiers quickly break through the Atlantic Wall and push inland in the largest amphibious military operation in history
June 6, 1944: Artifical Harbor Paves the Way for Normandy Invasion
1944: The invasion of Normandy was as much a triumph of technology as it was a feat of logistics or firepower. That an invasion was coming was well known by everyone, including the Germans. The only question was, where would the Allies land? The Germans expected a landing near Calais, where the English Channel is narrowest and where the invaders would have access to a deep-water port.
The beaches at Normandy came to be chosen partly because they offered relatively easy access to the French interior, but also because the Allies had learned the hard way at Dieppe two years earlier that attacking a heavily defended port was likely to fail. There was no deep-water port in the immediate Normandy invasion area, meaning that some method would have to be devised for landing men and supplies in the weeks following D-Day.
Enter Mulberry harbor (or, more correctly in this case, "harbour"). Mulberry, a British inspiration born out of the Dieppe debacle, was a massive artificial harbor, prefabricated in England and towed across the English Channel for assembly off the invasion beaches. The harbor consisted of several elements, including massive reinforced concrete caissons, breakwaters, a floating roadway and piers. Block ships were sunk off the Normandy coast to create protection from the open sea.
Two harbors were built and operational with three days of the invasion: Mulberry A for the Americans at Omaha Beach and Mulberry B serving the British and Canadians at Arromanches. A heavy storm destroyed the American harbor on June 19 but Mulberry B remained in use for eight months. In the first 100 days following D-Day, the harbor landed over 2.5 million men, 500,000 vehicles and 4 million tons of supplies for the Battle of Normandy.
D-Day is a term often used in military parlance to denote the day on which a combat attack or operation is to be initiated. "D-Day" often represents a variable, designating the day upon which some significant event will occur or has occurred; see Military designation of days and hours for similar terms. The initial D in D-Day has had various meanings in the past, while more recently it has obtained the connotation of "Day" itself, thereby creating the phrase "Day-Day."
By far, the best known D-Day is June 6, 1944 — the day on which the Battle of Normandy began — commencing the Western Allied effort to liberate mainland Europe from Nazi occupation during World War II. However, many other invasions and operations had a designated D-Day, both before and after Operation Overlord. The invasion of France was originally planned for June 5, 1944 but bad weather and heavy seas delayed that.
The terms D-Day and H-Hour are used for the day and hour on which a combat attack or operation is to be initiated. They designate the day and hour of the operation when the day and hour have not yet been determined, or where secrecy is essential. There is but one D-Day and one H-Hour for all units participating in a given operation.
When used in combination with figures, and plus or minus signs, these terms indicate the point of time preceding or following a specific action. Thus, H-3 means 3 hours before H-Hour, and D+3 means 3 days after D-Day. H+75 minutes means H-Hour plus 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Planning papers for large-scale operations are made up in detail long before specific dates are set. Thus, orders are issued for the various steps to be carried out on the D-Day or H-Hour minus or plus a certain number of days, hours, or minutes. At the appropriate time, a subsequent order is issued that states the actual day and times.
The earliest use of these terms by the U.S. Army that the Center of Military History has been able to find was during World War I. In Field Order Number 9, First Army, American Expeditionary Forces, dated 7 September 1918: "The First Army will attack at H hour on D day with the object of forcing the evacuation of the St. Mihiel Salient."
D-Day for the invasion of Normandy by the Allies was originally set for 5 June 1944, but bad weather caused Gen. Dwight. D Eisenhower to delay until 6 June and that date has been popularly referred to ever since by the short title "D-Day". (In French, it is called Le Jour J or, occasionally, Le Choc.) Because of this, planners of later military operations sometimes avoided the term. For example, Douglas MacArthur's invasion of Leyte began on "A-Day", and the invasion of Okinawa began on "L-Day". The Allies proposed invasions of Japan that would have begun on "X-Day" (Kyushu, scheduled for November 1945) and "Y-Day" (Honshu, scheduled for March 1946).
June 6th 1944
The Battle of Normandy was fought in 1944 between Nazi Germany in Western Europe and the invading Allied forces as part of the larger conflict of World War II. Operation Overlord was the codename for the Allied invasion of northwest Europe, which began on June 6, 1944, and ended on August 19, 1944, when the Allies crossed the River Seine. Over sixty years later, the Normandy invasion still remains the largest seaborne invasion in history, involving almost three million troops crossing the English Channel from England to Normandy. Operation Neptune was the codename given to the initial assault phase of Operation Overlord; its mission, to gain a foothold on the continent, started on June 6, 1944 (most commonly known by the name D-Day) and ended on June 30, 1944.
Allied invasion of northern Europe in World War II that began on June 6, 1944, with the largest amphibious landing in history in Normandy, France. Also called Operation Overlord, the landing transported 156,000 U.S., British, and Canadian troops across the English Channel in over 5,000 ships and 10,000 planes. Commanded by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Allied forces landed at five beaches on the Normandy coast and soon established lodgement areas, despite stiff German resistance and heavy losses at the code-named Omaha Beach and Juno Beach. Allied air supremacy prevented rapid German reinforcements, and discord between Adolf Hitler and his generals stalled crucial counterattacks. Though delayed by heavy fighting near Cherbourg and around Caen, the Allied ground troops broke out of the beachheads in mid-July and began a rapid advance across northern France. The Normandy Campaign is traditionally considered to have concluded with the liberation of Paris on Aug. 25, 1944.
The Illustrated London News 1944 - D Day 6th June
D-Day & Liberation of Europe
D-Day unforgettable for vet
Gordon Cook holds a photo of himself taken around 1940 and miniature medals from his Second World War and postwar service.; Former Belleville resident Gordon Cook, a veteran of the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944, holds a photo of himself taken around 1940. He said June 6 never passes without him thinking of the attack.
A small piece of history sits on Gordon and Alice Cook's kitchen table.
It's a photocopy of part of Gordon's military records. Halfway down the page, are two half-typed, half-handwritten lines.
"Embarked at UK on 3 June 44. Disembarked at France on 6 June 44."
It's a very simple way of noting Cook's participation on D-Day, the world's largest-ever military invasion.
On this date in 1944, Operation Overlord, the Allies' invasion of Nazi-occupied France, was a success.
In 1939, Cook's future was to be full of excitement in an entirely different way: he'd been drafted as a goalie for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Cook was one of 14 children raised in a brick house at the corner of St. Paul and Pinnacle Streets in Belleville. When Canada declared war in September of 1939, Cook's plans changed. He enlisted in 1940 at age 19.
"My friends and I went to Picton and joined the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment in the old canning factory," he said, adding they found themselves in England within a few months.
In 1941, his brother Cecil - nicknamed Sam - joined the 14th Field Regiment's 34th Battery. Like the Hasty Ps, the artillery unit was full of Belleville-area boys.
They and thousands of other Canadians spent their first few years of the war training in England while waiting for missions. Cook was assigned to patrol the country's south shore on a motorcycle equipped with a sidecar and machinegun.
Everything changed in 1944: troops, vehicles, and equipment began massing in southern England, and it became clear something big was about to happen.
Wife Alice, a British girl Cook met shortly after arriving in England, was serving as an artillery telephone operator and raising the couple's first daughter.
On D-Day, she said, "I was worried sick because I knew he was in it, and his brother."
"I didn't see him again until I landed in Canada in April 1945."
Her husband's memories of those years aren't as vivid as they once were, but some images remain with him.
June 6 never passes without causing him to think of the invasion, he said, but his grandchildren's questions have prompted him to think about it more often.
"I never used to talk about it, but then they wanted to know," he said.
"The only feeling I get is you start thinking about the fellas who were lost."
The D-Day assault saw a section of northern French beach in the Normandy region divided into five sections. The Canadians attacked Juno Beach, flanked by the British on Gold Beach to the west and Sword Beach to the east. Troops from the United States were to come ashore at the westernmost Utah Beach and Omaha Beach.
Brothers Gordon and Sam Cook found themselves in the same landing craft on the ride toward Juno. Behind them, their brother Lawrence was serving aboard a Canadian navy ship.
"What got our attention was the German bunkers where they were shooting," Cook said, recalling the muzzle flashes of the German machineguns on the fortified beach. His own battery's guns had already started their bombardment.
"The guns were firing off the barge, but all we had was a rifle.
"All you could see was landing craft and the others (troops) coming off. The water was coated with people."
Sitting on his waterproofed Norton motorcycle, Cook rode off the landing craft's ramp into belly-deep water and drove ashore behind Canadian infantry.
His job was to relay firing orders from his officer to gun crews, zipping back and forth across the beach on his motorcycle. Once on the beach, he said, the plan was to take cover and prepare to advance.
"There wasn't much cover to take," he said, laughing. "Everybody just goes ahead."
He said he was focused on his job and didn't look around the beach much since he had to avoid obstacles on his route and keep moving.
Despite the constant storm of bullets that had faced the infantry, Cook said, "by the time we got there the bunkers were quiet."
The battery made past the initial German line and approached a now-famous beach house that appears in many of the photos taken at Juno near the town of Bernieres-sur-Mer.
When Cook thinks of D-Day, he said, "I think about the snipers up in that big house. We'd come up the beach and they'd be snipin' down from way up at the top."
Sitting at his table Tuesday morning, Cook glanced down at a list of the regiment's losses from 1944.
"There's another one," he said, pointing to a name. "I was standing right there when he got killed. That was Ollie Harper ... from Gananoque."
He said Harper was killed near Bretteville-sur-Laize just after D-Day.
"When we advanced ... he drove our officer.
"When Harper stepped out of his Bren gun carrier, a shell exploded. Everyone was diving for cover. I remember seeing Harper go down.
"I'll never forget that one."
He said looking at the list of casualties brings back memories, but is also a reminder of his survival.
"My whole life feels lucky."
During the next year Cook and his comrades pushed through Europe.
"As the battery went into Germany across the Rhine, they came and said they were sending some people home for leave."
Cook was one of the lucky ones, and just as he was to return to the front, Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945.
Brothers Sam and Lawrence also survived the war, though both have since died. A fourth, Clifford, was killed in action June 15, 1944. Clifford was a flight sergeant and tailgunner on Lancaster bombers who'd completed his tour on Pathfinder missions, in which advance crews marked bombing routes. He was given the choice of staying airborne or returning to Canada to teach, and chose to fight.
"We tried to talk him out of it," Gordon said. "The next flight he went on the plane got shot down."
Clifford was 19, and is buried with his international crewmen in Holland.
Asked if Canadians should continue to mark today's D-Day anniversary, Cook nodded quietly but firmly.
He said he and Alice never miss a Remembrance Day service at Belleville's cenotaph, where Clifford is listed among the city's war dead.
The men of the 14th Field, meanwhile, held their annual reunion this past weekend in Gananoque. About 40 people were expected to attend, but in Belleville, the monthly lunches at the Royal Canadian Legion have stopped because of members' health.
"When he used to go to the legion there'd be 10, 15 of them sittin' there talking," Alice said. "Now there's only about five of them, and they don't bother any more."
After the war, Gordon Cook became a military policeman with the air force, and was posted at CFB Trenton three times, including during the Korean War. He retired in 1972. Today, he and Alice have three daughters, eight grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and a great-great-grandson.
Cook remains proud of his war service.
"I don't think I'd have missed it."
Facts on Canadians on D-Day
15,000 Canadian troops landed in France's Normandy region June 6, 1944.
Canadians flew among the 171 Allied air force squadrons involved in the invasion.
The Royal Canadian Navy provided 109 vessels and 10,000 sailors, joining the Allied armada of 7,000 vessels.
450 Canadian paratroopers dropped behind enemy lines on parachutes or in gliders in the pre-dawn darkness.
340 Canadians were killed; 574 were wounded; 47 were taken prisoner. There are 5,000 Canadian war graves in Normandy as a result of the campaign.
As of March 2007, there were 205,500 living Canadian veterans; their average age was 84. One year earlier, there were 227,530 veterans, including 27,415 women.
D-Day Slide Show
with the famous speech made by Dwight. D Eisenhower
A tribute to D-day
D-Day vet recalls storming Omaha Beach
Charles Conner still gets emotional when he talks about June 6, 1944.
For many years, the Pennsylvania Avenue resident didn't talk about D-Day at all.
Sixty-three years ago today, Conner headed for Omaha Beach in the first wave as part of the greatest invasion force ever assembled.
Of 30 soldiers in his landing craft, only three survived.
Charleston native Charles Conner, 82, survived D-Day, also known as the Battle of Normandy, on June 6, 1944. Conner was 19 years old when he stormed Omaha Beach with thousands of other American soldiers. Of the 30 men on his landing craft, Conner was one of three who survived. After D-Day, Charles Conner and members of the 116 Infantry Regiment liberated six German-occupied towns in France. His war experience ended after his leg was injured during a mortar shell attack. He was shipped home to the United States shortly after that. ..
Conner, now 82, was then a 19-year-old private with Company B, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Division.
Conner grew up in Charleston. His parents, Janet and Clyde, operated a flower shop -- Conner's Greenhouse -- on the West Side.
After graduating from Elkview High School, Conner enlisted in the Army. It was 1943, two years after the United States' entry into World War II.
"There were 12 of us boys who went down one day and enlisted," Conner said. "In those days, every young man wanted to defend their country. It was a proud job."
He spent 16 weeks in basic training at Camp Fannin in Tyler, Texas.
After a two-week stint at Camp Sheets in Orangeburg, N.Y., Conner and other members of the 116th Regiment headed across the Atlantic.
They were stationed in Plymouth, England, which was one of the main staging areas for the Battle of Normandy.
In the days prior to the invasion, high-ranking officers briefed Conner's regiment about the mission. They used models to illustrate the battle plan.
But Conner said the estimated number of casualties was never clarified, and Omaha Beach turned out to be the bloodiest of all the beaches, including Sword, Juneau, Utah, and Gold, where Allied troops waded ashore.
"They had it all rigged up to look like a beach as they explained it to us," Conner said. "But they didn't tell us it would be a suicide mission."
Equipped with an ammunition belt, gas mask and his M1 rifle, Conner could never have imagined what awaited him as he rode across the English Channel on D-Day.
Choppy water and nervousness caused many soldiers throw up on the way to Normandy.
"It was rough out there," he said. "It was a rough time for all of us."
He was fourth soldier in line when the men jumped out of the landing craft.
"When the ramp lowered, everybody went out in front of that boat," Conner said. "I'm the only one that didn't get shot. The rest of them got killed in the water."
Conner said another survivor, Roy Perkins, dodged the German machine-gun fire by jumping over the side of the landing craft before it hit shore. A third man, Hal Baumgartner, was shot five times including in the face and legs, but survived.
The beach and surf were littered with the bodies of soldiers, Conner said.
Conner remembers seeing his closest friend, Bill Steadman, lying face down in blood-soaked water. He drowned after being shot in the chest.
It's estimated more than 2,500 Allied soldiers died on D-Day.
After the battle, Conner and the remnants of his battalion joined other soldiers in liberating towns throughout France.
Seven days and six liberated towns later, Conner was injured in a mortar shell attack. The blast shattered his right leg.
He returned back to U.S soil, arriving at Charleston, S.C., to recuperate. He was then transferred to White Sulfur Springs, where The Greenbrier had been converted into Ashford General Hospital.
Conner spent two years there undergoing surgeries and rehabilitation.
In 1946, Conner was discharged and returned to Charleston. He found work as an operating engineer for road construction projects. He has been retired since 1985.
Conner has been married to his wife, Dolores, for 59 years. The couple has four children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Dolores Conner said it took 50 years before Charles would discuss with anybody what happened on Omaha Beach.
"He never told us anything," Conner said. "The children and grandchildren would ask him about it, but he never mentioned a thing."
After reading stories and watching commemorations surrounding the 50th anniversary in 1994, Conner was able to open up.
Conner said all these years later, it's impossible to erase the memories.
"Every day I think about my buddies," Conner said. "They're all gone."
The invasion of Normandy on June 6th, 1944
Voices of the Veterans: D-Day
Veterans share stories of D-Day
Like many Second World War veterans, 83-year-old Wilbert Spencer considers himself lucky to be alive. On D-Day, June 6, 1945, the man was one of a wave of soldiers who braved enemy fire to wade onto the beaches of Normandy, France.
Spencer’s unit consisted of 30 men, but by the time the day was over, only seven of them were still alive.
D-Day was the beginning of the Battle of Normandy, which ended August 19, 1944 when the allies crossed the River Seine. The D-Day invasion remains the largest seaborne invasion in history, involving over three million troops.
Spencer shared his story with Northern Life Sunday at a D-Day memorial service put on by the War Pensioners of Canada.
The service took place at the Civic Memorial Cemetery, where many war veterans are buried and a war monument has been put up.
“D-Day was significant because if we would have left the Germans go the way they were going, they were going to take the war,” said Spencer. “I volunteered because I wanted to fight for my country and help them as much as I could.”
Spencer said although he wasn’t physically injured in the battle, he carried psychological scars home with him that continued to haunt him for years.
“I had post-traumatic stress and wouldn’t talk about it until they sent me to see a psychiatrist. They told you that you can’t keep it in you,” he said.
“You’re trained to kill or be killed. That stays with you the rest of your life. When I used to have these nightmares, my wife would take a hold of me and say ‘You’re not in the war anymore, you’re at home, you’re in peace. Be quiet now’.”
Spencer attended the memorial service with his son, Tim, daughter-in-law Diane Berthiaume and young grandson, Jesse.
“I was raised where I didn’t have anybody in my family who fought in the war, and I was very naïve and didn’t understand it,” said Berthiaume.
“Now, knowing about it more, I respect them (veterans) more. I think my son and the next generation should know about it.”
Eighty-eight-year-old Omer Asselin was at the ceremony with his wife, Joan. Asselin was also present at D-Day, but as a sailor in the navy, he didn’t land on the Normandy beach.
“We were quite far away. We couldn’t see action from where we were,” he said. “We were clearing the channel for submarines. I was on a Corvette.”
Bill Lee, the president of the Sudbury branch of the War Pensioners of Canada, said it’s important to commemorate D-Day because it was the “beginning of the end, and it finally put Herr Hitler on the run.”
It’s also important to remember the battle because “if we don’t remember the past, we’re doomed to repeat it,” he said.
War- The Meaning of the Supreme Sacrifice of Heroes
World War II vet recalls horrors of battle
Joe Trevino, 81, helped liberate Nazi-torn Europe
Sixty-three years ago today, as Allied troops invaded Normandy, France, during World War II, Jose "Joe" Montalvo Treviño was aboard a troop train bound for Fort Meade, Md., before embarking for Europe.
Also called Operation Overlord, the invasion of western Europe on June 6, 1944, with the simultaneous landing of U.S., British and Canadian forces on five beachheads, D-Day became the most celebrated Allied invasion of the war. Yet for Treviño, now 81, and many others, the worst battle followed the war.
It was more than two years before the invasion that Treviño stood on second base, at age 16, during a baseball game in his hometown of Kenedy, while car radios blasted the field with news that Pearl Harbor, a place he'd never heard of, was just bombed. He didn't know then that he'd be one of about 3,000 troops in the Army's 89th Infantry Division, spilling onto Normandy sands where decaying bodies of German military men and civilians still remained, he said.
"Our guys hadn't gained but just a few yards past the beach," said Treviño, a tire salesman and sales manager in Corpus Christi for 30 years.
Despite steadfast Nazi resistance, by the end of August all of northern France was liberated, and the invading Allied forces reorganized for the drive into Germany. In the push through France, Treviño went ahead of his division as a scout, hand-motioning comrades forward, down for cover, or halting them with a spit of tracer fire at suspicious terrain. "It seemed every time I turned something there was a machine gun," Treviño said, his eyes blazing open. "But most of the time the Germans didn't want to shoot at one guy," he said, "they'd wait on the group behind. They were trying to do the same thing we were trying to do to them -- kill us."
The fiercest fighting for Treviño's bunch came after more than 100 tanks lined up near the Rhine River, met Gen. George S. Patton and his troops, and they began zig-zagging across the river into the German city of Oberwesel.
"Dad's not one of those blowhards who brags about their war times," said Steve Treviño, 44, one of Treviño's four children and a a middle school teacher and coach. "But he took knocks."
Treviño made it across the river but was hit by shrapnel in Oberwesel while trying to liberate prisoners in a small prison camp.
"Those German air bursts explode 50 feet in the air and shrapnel came down like rain," Treviño said. "It wasn't a wound to keep me out of combat," he said, stretching his left hand to a spot on his lower back. "It was later it got infected and slowed me down."
Following the war, Treviño felt the aftermath as a result of exposure to tuberculosis infecting people he helped liberate. "All those people were sick, malnourished, and many had TB," Treviño said. "They would hug and kiss you -- you couldn't get them away from you, and it wasn't just the death camps, every little village had prisoners -- Polish, French and Russians.
After a stint at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, then more than two years at a veterans hospital in Kerrville, trying to overcome lung damage that still provides him 60 percent disability income, Treviño married his small-town sweetheart, Ofelia De Leon Treviño, who died in 1999 after 51 years of marriage.
"Wars never have a good outcome," Treviño said.
"We just get into things we have no business in," he said. "People love us when they need us," he said, "but as soon as war is over, they don't take care of those suffering, and that's what I worry about for my nephew and daughter, now in Iraq."
The Jump D-Day
France and US mark D-Day anniversary
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and his French counterpart were today marking the 63rd anniversary of the D-Day landings that turned the tide of the Second World War.
Mr Gates was to attend the anniversary ceremony and dedication of a visitor's centre at the Normandy American Cemetery, the burial ground for 9,387 war dead, most of whom lost their lives in the June 6, 1944 landings and subsequent operations.
Mr Gates was to be accompanied by the new French defence minister, Herve Morin. When Mr Gates arrived in Paris yesterday evening, he became the first US defence secretary to visit the French capital in nearly 10 years.
French-US relations were strained earlier this decade largely by the war in Iraq, though new French President Nicolas Sarkozy's stance toward Washington is expectedly to be somewhat more friendly than Jacques Chirac's.
The D-Day landings on June 6, 1944, changed the course of the Second World War, piercing Adolf Hitler's western defences.
In remarks prepared for delivery at the midday ceremony, Mr Gates said US and allied soldiers landed at Normandy to destroy entrenched forces of oppression "so that this nation, this continent and this world could one day know the tidings of peace".
He also tied the memory of Normandy to the challenge of today's war on terrorism.
From D-Day to today, we honor and remember
It was called the Great Crusade by the general in charge, Dwight D. Eisenhower. It was D-Day, June 6, 1944, when the Allies would launch the attack that would lead to the end of World War II.
The largest gathering of men and materiel of its kind ever assembled, 130,000 men landed on five beaches in Normandy to, as Eisenhower said in his message to the troops, "bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world."
The scene was terrifying and deadly. Stories of great sacrifice and bravery abound.
There were the Bedford Boys of Bedford, Va. -- 34 members from the same town who were part of a company that was in the first wave to assault the beach. Nineteen Bedford Boys died in the assault, three more died in the next few days.
There were the boys of Pointe du Hoc, as immortalized by President Reagan in a speech on the 40th anniversary of D-Day. They were a group of Rangers charged with climbing sheer cliffs to silence enemy guns that would try to kill their brothers in arms storming the beach. With some of those who survived that day present, Reagan said, "These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.
"Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender's poem. You are men who in your 'lives fought for life ... and left the vivid air signed with your honor.'"
More than 60 years later, America finds itself in another war. Just as then, brave men and women serve overseas as families and friends wait, hoping for their swift and safe return.
As then, communities join together to send care packages to the troops who serve in harm's way for their fellow citizens and their country.
As then, they serve well and bravely; the stories of their courage in places such as Fallujah and Anbar Province continue to be written.
May we never forget then or now. And, as it eventually did after D-Day then, may peace return as soon as possible now.
D-day, Omaha Beach June 6 2004
D-Day, The Lost Evidence
June 6th 1944
THE WAR AND THE GERMAN YEARS 1941-1944