American paratrooper in action
in France - June,6,1944
American tank in action
The metal cricket used by the American Paratroopers on the night of the 5th to 6th June 1944, in their landing zone in Normandy, around of Saint Mère Eglise. This cricket helped the Paratroopers to communicate wich each other, without alerting the German Soldiers.
On 6 June 1944 , the Normandy coast witnessed
the heaviest landings in History : The operation « Overlord ».
Closed to 5 000 ships crossed the English Channel over
night, in a very short time. Earlier on, that same night,
three parachutists divisions had come and had already moved
inland, on either side of the 80-kilometre coastal stretch
where the bridgehead had to be established.
In the early hours of the morning, the huge fleet lined
up on the French side, where, during the occupation, the
German command, under Field Marshal Von Rundstedt had asked
the Todt organization to put up several fortifications equipped
with powerful gun batteries. These fortifications were christened « the
Atlantic Wall ». After the navy artillery had
been prepared, the landing barges, the "Liberty
Ships", started forging ahead towards the beaches
while thousands of allied troops sprang out from their flanks
to return German machine-gun fire.
And fierce fighting started :
That was the « longest
day », the « D-Day ».
Allied forces, under General
Ike Eisenhower, who later on became an American president,
assigned the five attack divisions to a beach sector each,
between Valognes and Caen , under code names which have since
then become famous: Utah Beach , Omaha Beach , Gold, Juno,
In order to protect the flanks of the bridgehead, the 82 nd
and 101 st US parachutists divisions were dropped overnight
in the western sector of the landing zone between Sainte Mère
Eglise and Utah Beach , while the 6 th Airborne British unit
was dropped on the flank between Orne and Dives. Several powerful
British units were transported by air in gliders.
« Ivy », the 4 th US Infantry division
landed in Utah, in the south east of Cotentin, while further
east, the « Big Red One », the 1
st Infantry division, and the « Blue and Grey »,
the 19 th Infantry division, arrived Omaha Beach, located
between Vierville and Colleville.
« Northumbrian », the 50 th British
Infantry division controlled the central sector, between
the villages of Rivière and Hamel.
Finally, the 3 rd Canadian Infantry division occupied
Sword Beach on the east, between Hermanville and Colleville
On that day
of June 6, intense fighting went on all daylong.
On that day of June 6, intense
fighting went on all daylong ; German troops resisted fiercely.
Convinced the cause for which they were taking this extreme
risk was a just one, coming under fire meant nothing to these
Arromanches, Pointe du Hoc, Sainte Mère Eglise,
Pegasus Bridge, Ouistreham, are some of the strategic sites,
where, in order to liberate Europe which had been under the
yoke of Axis powers for several years, many new American,
English and Canadian volunteer combatants, including French
soldiers within their ranks, were killed.
At Omaha Beach alone, the toll was just so
terrifying : 2 000 men put out of action. Seeing this, the
soldiers said to Taylor , the American Colonel at the heart
of this hell : « Two types of people have
to remain on this beach, those who have died and those who
will die. Let’s get out of here… ».
The message was clear. Since they did not have any possibility
of withdrawing, the only way out was to conquer enemy positions, « Lets
get out of here » simply meant : ahead !
- Omaha Beach
Normandy - 6 Juin 1944
At night fall that day, « the
longest day», as it will forever be called, 170 000
soldiers, who had been parachuted, airborne or landed, were
already in Normandy , fighting against German troops.
Blindé léger américain - Photo : Vaccaro Tony - Musée de Blérancourt
The door of Europe is open
Ten thousand Allied soldiers were reported killed, injured
or missing. But thanks to this sacrifice, the major corridor,
through which German troops were pushed right back to Berlin
, was opened.
At this time when the world is once more under threat
and going through a real tumultuous period, characterized
by conflicts whose rationale or legitimacy we sometimes
are unable to come to grips with, it is worthwhile remembering
that it is thanks to the intervention of these volunteer
allied combatants, and the blood of thousands of them,
that the gates of Paris and those of Europe, were thrown
open to the wind of liberty which blew over the beaches
of Normandy on that fateful day of June 6, 1944.
In the Morse language, the first four bar lines of Beethoven’s
5 th symphony, the musical arrangement of this chapter
on the 6 June 1944 landings, (the famous pom pom pom pooom)
correspond to letter V, like Victory and like Victoire. That
is why the Allies decided to announce to the initiates and
particularly to those of them in the French Resistance that
the great day had come, by broadcasting this symphony on
the air waves.