Sitting in a hotel room that lay on the coast of England, allied commander Eisenhower knew that a small window of opportunity was all that he had with which to work. Weather was terrible. But if it broke, as they had been notified it might, 150,000 Allied soldiers would be deployed to land on the shores of Normandy.
The General’s 5000-vessel armada stretched as far as the eye could see. Over 150,000 men and nearly 30,000 vehicles were now making their way across the channel to France.
- Six parachute regiments with over 13,000 men. These guys were flown from nine British airfields in over 800 planes.
- More than 300 planes dropped 13,000 bombs over coastal Normandy before they got there to prepare the way.
- Paratroopers would drop at 1am. But, would the weather hold? At a height of only 300 feet, in complete darkness, they would have think and move fast!
- Men in PT boats were racing towards the shore as well. Many would get close. Some would fall short. As soldiers poured out into the waters, the 70 pound packs would sink and drown many who thought the sand lay directly beneath their feet.
By nightfall, more than 9,000 Allied soldiers would be dead or wounded, but… more than 100,000 would make it ashore! They would manage to secure French coastal villages previously held hostage by Hitler’s regime.
These were depression-era kids. Teens really. The scrappy boys that had learned to make it on their own. Those innate tricks of survival that only come through hard times. Could there have been any better training ground to prepare them for the day ahead? Horrible conditions, impossible orders, and a ruthless world tyrant to boot. Truly, an awesome task.
Today, survivors and those wishing to remember gathered once again on those French beaches. To honor. To think. It’s a very solemn day.
May we remember, as well.