View Full Version : D-Day, the 6th of June 1944

Mike Henderson
06-06-2015, 11:50 AM
Today is the anniversary of the Normandy invasion. There are not many people alive who participated in that invasion. You can find a famous picture from the invasion here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Into_the_Jaws_of_Death).

And to give credit where credit is due, it was on the Eastern Front that the German army was essentially destroyed. If the German army had not been defeated there, it's unlikely that the Normandy invasion could have been successful. The Soviet Union lost between 25 to 30 million people KILLED (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties) in that war, about 14% of their population. Can you imagine what the US would be like if we had lost 14% of our population in that war?

When the history of WWII was taught in the west, the Soviet contribution was rarely mentioned because of the cold war that set in after WWII.

Let's all hope that we never experience another war of such magnitude and global scope.


[The US lost about 420,000 people killed, about 0.32% of our population]

Malcolm Schweizer
06-06-2015, 1:54 PM
My father was a bombardier/navigator in WWII. He was one of few who knew how to properly use the Norden Bombsight. He said it was way complicated, but if done right it took you right to the target. He also said he used roadmaps in addition to aerial maps so he could avoid roads where artillery could travel, and also he could see where churches were for visuals of each town.

His is expertise led to him being assigned to lead a bombing raid on June 6. He told the other squadrons to watch him drop his bombs, wait four minutes, and then drop theirs. (He said they often followed his lead, but would drop when he dropped, so they missed. That's why he had them wait and that put them over the site when they dropped.) Yes, my dad dropped the first bombs on D-Day. I actually did not know this until recently, as he does not often talk about it. I was speechless as he told the story in detail.

Chuck Wintle
06-06-2015, 2:11 PM
I never knew any vets that went thru the DDay invasion but i cannot imagine what i would have been like. We owe our freedom to those that died.

Matt Day
06-06-2015, 2:20 PM
I hope you take the time to thoroughly document your father's stories Malcolm. You should consider StoryCorp too.

Mike Henderson
06-06-2015, 2:25 PM
I visited the Normandy beaches last year (Omaha beach). There's nothing really left from the war - just people sunbathing and swimming. There is a monument to the divisions that came ashore there and the American cemetery is close by. Technically, the land that makes up the American Cemetery is American soil, not French.



David Ragan
06-06-2015, 5:58 PM
We went there about 10 years ago.

The cemetery was very poignant, and absorbing----I just stood there trying to take it all in. (I remember being horrified by some idiot walking on the graves--you never walk directly on them, right?)

It was the same kind of experience that I had in DC a few years ago. We went there in the winter. Only time we'd ever been. We didn't plan it to turn out like that, but the place was deserted.

My wife and I were alone as we stood in the Lincoln Memorial; there was one person on the Mall, . Overcast. Silent. Like in Normandy.

I stood there transfixed. Unable to really move-just trying to soak in all the vibes of each place. Naturally, my wife kept starting to talk. Too funny.

The other thing was how small the bunkers were, the height of the people back then. (I guess all the hormones in our food, nutrition, etc.)

We did get some lucky breaks in WWII. Here's the story:

I met a fellow a few years ago who was a GI in Europe during WWII.

As he was guarding German POWs, he ran across one that spoke fluent English. As it turned out, after they had been talking for some time, the POW knew a lot about the topography of this GI's hometown in CT. This would be where two fairly small streams cross, and so forth. The GI was understandably struck by this knowledge. He asked the German POW how come for him to know that?

The POW said-"I was in school for administrators" The GI asked what did he mean by that?

The POW said---"I was in school to learn about the US so we could manage the territory when we won the war."

So, thanks to all you veterans out there. War time and peace-time.

Mel Fulks
06-06-2015, 11:38 PM
I had an aunt who was engaged to a guy killed on D Day. So strange to see film of those guys calmly seated in the boats as if on a bus to the office.

Mark Blatter
06-06-2015, 11:48 PM
I have often wondered how the Soviets would have done if their armed forces had not been decimated by Stalin. He was likely the greatest mass murderer in the history of the world, or at least in the top five.

I have never made it to Normandy, but have been to Bowl in Pearl Harbor and the Arizona several times. It was humbling to see the graves and hear the stories of the raid on Pearl. I have read a fair amount on the war in the Pacific and have great respect for those that fought in that theater. I agree with Tom Brokaw that theirs was the greatest generation. They were prepared for the war years by the depression. My father served in the US Navy during the war and that undoubtedly impacted my decision as to which branch of the military I served in.

There are two dates that I remember every year, June 6th and December 7th.

Frederick Skelly
06-07-2015, 7:50 AM
I had an aunt who was engaged to a guy killed on D Day. So strange to see film of those guys calmly seated in the boats as if on a bus to the office.

Yes. Do you ever find yourself wondering if you could have done that?

Two scenes from the movies always stick out for me when I think about that. The first is the opening scene from Saving Private Ryan. They captured exactly my vision of what it must have looked like coming in to that shore. Of course, they had a lot of real footage on which to base it - but still. The second scene is from the movie Gettysburg. During Pickett's Charge (literally 10,000 men marching uphill directly into Union artillery), a Confederate General stops to urge-on a terribly frightened Private, saying "Come on son. What will you think of yourself in the morning?"

I guess you do what you have to do sometimes. But I sure admire those guys.

Thanks to all our veterans.

Chuck Wintle
06-07-2015, 8:08 AM
Yes. Do you ever find yourself wondering if you could have done that?

Thanks to all our veterans.

Soldiers by necessity are young men with little or no sense of their own fatality. This was explained to me once by an ex army guy. he told me that a man over a certain age will never be a good soldier and that younger men will obey without question an order to go to their certain death.

Frederick Skelly
06-07-2015, 8:30 AM
Soldiers by necessity are young men with little or no sense of their own fatality. This was explained to me once by an ex army guy. he told me that a man over a certain age will never be a good soldier and that younger men will obey without question an order to go to their certain death.

Good point Chuck - we're all "bullet proof" when we're young, aren't we? And that certainly changes with age. I think there are other factors involved too - loyalty to your comrades, etc. Whatever the combination of factors, it's humbling to me to see that kind of courage.

jared herbert
06-07-2015, 10:15 AM
I was acquainted with one fellow in our community that went ashore on D-day. A nice guy but a terrible alcoholic. I am sure his addiction was a results of what we would now call ptsd. He had a family and always was able to hold a job but everyone around him paid the price eventually. He went in on one of the landing craft. The guys that were standing by the ramp were all killed as soon as the ramp was lowered. He bailed out over the side but nearly drowned, some how surviving. He said very little about his experiences, somehow he lived well into his 70s but I am sure the things he saw and did haunted him till the day he died. Ya you wonder how many people would be capable of doing something like that now. Jared

Dave Anderson NH
06-08-2015, 9:52 AM
Those of us who have seen combat no matter what the war will always carry somewhere in our conscious or subconscious minds the memories. It is impossible to explain or show someone what it is like. The closest I've seen to giving the feel were the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan. Combat is a totally sensory experience in addition to a mental one. No book, movie, or personal narrative can adequately convey something that includes all of the senses. Specifically you can't mimic the smell or taste that accompanies the noise, vibration, sights, and feelings. That is one of the major reasons combat veterans are reticent to discuss their experiences with those who haven't "seen the elephant". There just isn't a way to adequately convey the message.

Young men make the best combatants for the reasons already stated. In addition physical conditioning and youth somewhat mitigates the physical and mental stresses that are the lot of the infantryman. Grunts are always tired, dirty, hungry, live like animals, and most of the time are sleep deprived. Men, and now women, into their thirties and forties just can't hack the whole package for prolonged periods of time no matter what their physical conditioning. If they try they usually suffer debilitating injuries both physical and mental.

Bert Kemp
06-08-2015, 4:35 PM
Please take a min and watch this, its an awesome story of a little boys Project and salute to WW11 veterans who stormed the beach on D-Day


Mark Blatter
06-08-2015, 6:01 PM
My father was a machinists mate in the Navy and was assigned a landing craft. He maintained it, as well as drove it, as I recall. He was part of the planned invasion of Japan home islands, when they got the word that the war was over due what turned out to Fat Man and Little Boy being dropped. If the US had invaded, I don't believe he would have made it out alive.