Observations From Normandy’s D-Day Invasion Site15 Φεβρουαρίου, 2022
I recently visited the historic site of the D-Day invasion by the Allied Forces on June 6, 1944. Being a history buff I had studied this remarkable event in human history, and there have of course been numerous movies depicting that famous day. But when you see the actual site of the event it almost always takes on an entirely new meaning. Some of the impressions that I came away with vary quite a bit from the one I imagined previous to the tours. Here are a few points I came away with:
1. The size of the entire landing area. I knew it was big, but when you look down the beach and you can’t see either end of it, then it becomes massive. In total the five designated landing areas encompass about 50 miles.
2. The difficulties at Omaha Beach. For most Americans when we hear of D-Day the first thing that probably comes to mind is Omaha Beach. But why was this particular landing so difficult? With an operation this massive things are going to go wrong, and a lot went wrong at Omaha Beach. First, this was the most heavily defended area, with more defense than was anticipated. Secondly, the pre-attack bombing of the German defense installations was largely ineffective, as low cloud cover made targets difficult to hit.
3. The courage of Commanding General Dwight Eisenhower. I’ve always had respect for this great man, but seeing the enormity of his decision to proceed considering the odds gave me an even greater admiration for this leader.
4. The importance of the French resistance. Speaking of courage, these people with incredible risk to themselves and their families played a major role in the success of the operation. Cutting enemy communication lines and providing invaluable intelligence was part of their contribution. It is estimated that 3000 citizens were killed during those first 24 hours, with many more dying later because of German retaliations.
5. What the allies didn’t accomplish on D-Day. Although the operations on the first day were considered a major success, they fell far short of what they hoped to accomplish. Several towns such as the major city of Caen were targeted to be captured that day, but were not. The goal was to link all of the beachheads except Utah Beach, but that was not accomplished for another six days.
6. Little has changed in some areas. Pointe du Hoc, which has become famous from movies depicting Rangers storming this gun placement, is little changed from 1944. The terrain is still covered with bomb craters and most of the concrete bunkers are still in place.