D-Day Remembered, June 6, 1944 to June 6, 2009

Posted on June 6, 2009. Filed under: American History, Book Reviews |

Today is the 65th anniversary of operation Overlord, known popularly as D-Day, the Invasion of Normandy, on June 6th, 1944. Although there were scores of famous battles and campaigns, this one is perhaps the most celebrated battle of WW2 for it marks the point where we invaded France. Though American forces had been in combat with German and Italian forces in Sicily and mainland Italy for many months, the invasion of Normandy was the main attack on Fortress Europe.

As a child I don’t recall a time when I did not know about D-Day. My father did not participate in this campaign, he entered the war in Europe in January. Perhaps it was the famous movie, “The Longest Day” in 1962 that I saw with my father as a 5 yr old. The movie, linked below:


based on the book and screenplay by Cornelius Ryan


has an all star cast that includes: Eddy Albert, Paul Anka, Henry Fonda, Richard Burton, Roddy McDowell, Robert Mitchum, Robert Wagner, and John Wayne.

And of course I read some childhood books about D-Day from the school library.

In recent days the battle has been depicted in film with Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” starring Tom Hanks and Tom Sizemore:


Why has this one battle achieved such everlasting honor and fame? There were other battles that were larger perhaps, other battles with higher casualties, but probably no other set piece battle that involved such a complete combined arms approach of armies, air forces and navies with units from 3 countries invading the land of a 4th country occupied by a 5th. While some could certainly point to earlier battles as the turning point in the war, or to the Eastern Front and the battle between Russia and Germany as the major turning points in the war, nonetheless, in our remembrance, it was D-Day that has been chosen as the turning point, as the greatest of battles in the European Theater.

Though we had been fighting in Sicily and Italy since July and September of 1943, we knew that in order to get to Germany a cross channel invasion to liberate France was a neccessity. The Russian had been pressuring us to attack since 1942. The allied command wisely decided to begin our European ground offensive with the invasion of North Africa first, then Sicily and Italy in order to give America time to gear up for the war, season its army and learn how to fight in this modern war of maneuver.

Operation Overlord was a remarkably complex campaign involving espionage, deception, special forces (Rangers, UDT, Airborne, Glider, the French Resistance guerillas, OSS) naval forces, air forces, infantry and armor. Despite the horrific casualties at bloody Omaha Beach, the invasion succeeded and the Nazis were sent reeling back.

If you could 2-3 books on this battle here are the ones I would recommend:

Cornelius Ryan’s “The Longest Day” linked above

Rendezvous with Destiny by Leonard Rapport is the history of the 101st Airborne and includes a lot about their role in operation Overlord. This classic seems to be out of print now, but is still available used:


D-Day, June 6, 1944, The Climactic Battle of World War II by Stephen Ambrose:


This week there have been some newspaper articles, as always, about remembering D-Day. One story, linked below


tells the story of the only all black Army unit to participate in the battle. They are seen in a lot of the photographs of the landing, but you cannot tell they are black and I never knew their story. This is the 320th Anti-Aircraft Barrage Balloon Battalion. When you look at pictures of the beaches you will see these funny balloons flying over head. I knew what they were for, to prevent enemy aircraft from coming in low over the beaches and strafing our troops, but I never really thought about the guys who were responsible for them.

The above article interviews the last known living member of the all black unit. This is an important piece of American history involving black soldiers in the most important battle of our war. So a special salute of gratitude to Corporal William G. Dabney, 84, of Roanoke, Va.

Another story about D-Day that came out this week about a training exercise that got caught unprepared by German E-Boats, costing us 749 troops.


This training exercise disaster I have read about before, but nowhere in as much detail as in this article. One account I read decades ago simply referred to it as a training accident. Another account I read did mention the E-boats (the German equivalent to our PT-Boats.)

And today we have congressional investigation because American soldiers threatened Iraqi POWs with women’s panties and a barking dog. Sheesh!

If you want to learn more about one of the greatest battles in American military history, buy the books and movies I have suggested and study up. The Greatest Generation is called that for many reasons, but one of the chief reasons, is the heroic battle of D-Day.

Lord Jesus, thank you for the freedoms we enjoy today, even as they are waning due to our sinful complacency, and thank you for the heroes you raised up for us when the hour was dark indeed. I pray Lord that you raise up more heroes today, who would understand the times and know what to do, and grant them the courage to do it well. Amen.

Here are some news links to what Pres. Obama is doing this June 6th:




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    This blog exists to study the bi-vocational ministry, explore the Bible & Theology, and look at current events, history and other world religions through scripture, and have fun doing it!


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