Today marks the 66th anniversary of what has come to be known as “The Longest Day.” The invasion of Normandy, also known as D-Day and Operation Overlord, was the day the world held their breath. The all out assault by the allies was launched with the winner likely to win the war. Either Nazi Germany would win our Europe would be reclaimed. This may have been the most important day in modern history, such were the stakes.
150,000 troops landed on the beaches during the early morning hours to be welcomed by German fortifications and guns on the cliffs above.
The PBS website describes it as follows:
D-Day’s Impressive Numbers
An invading army had not crossed the unpredictable, dangerous English Channel since 1688 — and once the massive force set out, there was no turning back. The 5000-vessel armada stretched as far as the eye could see, transporting over 150,000 men and nearly 30,000 vehicles across the channel to the French beaches. Six parachute regiments — over 13,000 men — were flown from nine British airfields in over 800 planes. More than 300 planes dropped 13,000 bombs over coastal Normandy immediately in advance of the invasion.
War planners had projected that 5,000 tons of gasoline would be needed daily for the first 20 days after the initial assault. In one planning scenario, 3,489 long tons of soap would be required for the first four months in France.
By nightfall on June 6, more than 9,000 Allied soldiers were dead or wounded, but more than 100,000 had made it ashore, securing French coastal villages. And within weeks, supplies were being unloaded at UTAH and OMAHA beachheads at the rate of over 20,000 tons per day.
Captured Germans were sent to American prisoner of war camps at the rate of 30,000 POWs per month from D-Day until Christmas 1944. Thirty-three detention facilities were in Texas alone.
On the 40th anniversary of D-Day President Regan gave a memorable speech above the Normandy Beaches that sums up the reason that men would sacrifice their lives. I wonder today, who could give such a speech.