American Elephants


D-Day, June 6, 1944: 76 Years Ago! by The Elephant's Child

Every year, the remembrance of D-Day grows a little weaker, as it fades into history. A young man of 18 on June 6, 1944 would now be 94. There are not many left, and now it is only those who were children then who remember events as they were happening. I always post something about the anniversary, but many years it is just a re-post of what I wrote a previous year. You can access them all by entering “D-Day” in the blank over Bob Hope’s head in the sidebar.  Last year’s post of a book review of “D-Day Through German Eyes” is interesting and the links still work.

They All Hate Us, Right?” was a post in 2008 about the French reenacters. I don’t know if they are still doing it, but it’s interesting simply because it points out that it isn’t just the current media who don’t know what they are writing about, it’s been going on for a long time. Piper Millin’s story is a good one as well.

One of my favorite stories I don’t know if I ever wrote about, but it is some real evidence of our common humanity. It concerns the photo which all of us have probably seen many times of the GI in the water on D-Day, huddled behind a beach obstacle, trying to avoid the rifle fire, and looking terrified, but determined. There are hundreds of men all across the United States who claim to have been that guy. Don’t give me any of your “toxic masculinity” nonsense. Men are useful far, far beyond their ability to open jars and eliminate scary spiders.

Once again I want to urge you, if you have an interest in history or maybe more if you don’t, to buy and read Victor Davis Hanson’s The Second World Wars. Europe does seem, at present, to be slowly committing suicide. They are realizing that a good many of their migrants have no intention of assimilating and some of the countries are considering ways to block more migrants and if they can, to remove some who are already there. Here are a couple of brief excerpts:

The D-Day invasion of Normandy (Operation Overlord) was the largest combined land and sea operation conducted since the invasion of Greece by King Xerxes of Persia in spring 480 B.C. It dwarfed all of history’s star-crossed beach landings from Marathon to Gallipoli (April 1915). Normandy would serve as a model for large subsequent America seaborne operations from Iwo Jima (February 1945) and Okinawa (April 1945) to Inchon (September 1950). It made all prior iconic cross-Channel invasions in either direction—Caesar’s (55 BC), William the Conqueror’s (1066), Henry V’s (1415), or the 1809 British landing in Flanders—seem minor amphibious operations in comparison.  …

Over 150,000 Allied troops landed the first day on five British, Canadian, and American  assigned beaches, along with over twenty-five thousand airborne soldiers dropped behind German lines. Unlike possible spots in the Cotentin Peninsula or at Calais, the Allies believed that landings in Normandy would pose far more of a surprise, given the somewhat greater distance from Britain. More important, the expansive geography of the Normandy beaches would not box in the invading Allied armies on a confined peninsula or allow the  Germans to focus on a narrow front. Unlike the prior landings in Sicily and Italy, Operation Overlord had been carefully planned for over a year, drawing on the lessons from the Allies past amphibious problems at Dieppe, Sicily, Salerno and Anzio. New inventions and weapons were crafted for the invasion, from portable “Mulberry ” harbors to PLUTO (“pipelines under the ocean”) fuel lines laid under the English Channel and to Sherman and Churchill tanks modified  to uncover mines, cut barbed wire, provide pathways over the soft beaches, and bridge obstacles.

At this point I always have a flashback to the Robin Hood movie with Russell Crowe, when history deficient Hollywood had Robin headed for the beaches to prevent the landing of Henry V, and Henry’s troops were landing in Higgins Boats made out of driftwood, with the iconic front panel that drops down to allow the troops to run (or swim) for the beach. There were Higgins boats in the Lord of the Rings trilogy as well, but fortunately not so obvious. Andrew Jackson Higgins’ little plywood landing crafts played a big part in winning the war.

The youngest recruit in 1944 would have been 18 years old, 94 this year if he is still alive. I have posted this annually, but it gradually becomes something familiar only to history buffs. If you enter June 6, 1944 or D-Day in the blank space over Bob Hope’s head in the sidebar, you will find other stories. I like the one about Piper Millin.


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If you should ever find yourself on this side of the country, and you have the time, in Bedford, VA (about a half-hour east of Roanoke), is the National D-Day Monument. It’s divided into sections, covering the planning, execution, and aftermath of Operation: Overlord, and is a fascinating attraction, well worth the trip.

Bedford was chosen for the location because the designers didn’t want it in or near DC, and the National Park Service objected to it being placed near Gettysburg (near the Eisenhower Farm) because they felt it would take away from the Gettysburg battlefield. So, the designers settled on Bedford because the town had the distinction of having lost more lost more residents, per capita, in the Normandy landings than anywhere else in the U.S. – out of a population (in 1944) of approximately 3,400, 19 died on June 6th during the assault, and three more later died from wounds sustained in the battle.

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Comment by Lon Mead

Thanks Lon. I had never heard of the D-Day Monument. I have read a lot about D-Day and the preparations, the secrets, the intelligence, and the German reaction. I’m old, and I can remember.

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Comment by The Elephant's Child




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