OPERATION OVERLORD 6 JUNE 1944
Today 6 June 2010 is the sixty sixth anniversary of Operation Overlord/Neptune which is commonly referred to as D-Day. On 6 June 1944 the largest Amphibious operation in history commenced on the Normandy coast of France and was the beginning of the end for Nazi forces in Europe. The combined fighting force of the amphibious operation was comprised of American, Canadian, English, “Free” French and Polish fighting men.
D-Day was a one of the most complicated military operations in the history of the world. In the most basic sense it was a three part operation. First around midnight 25,000 Airborne troopers organized under the American and British airborne commands began vertical envelopment operations in support of the planned amphibious assault scheduled to begin 0630hrs local time. That is when the brave warriors of the combined free forces of the west assaulted Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha and Utah beaches. The bravery these fine men showed on this day can never be spoken of enough. To wade ashore under withering small arms, artillery and mortar fire to attack reinforced enemy strong points is so brave that I can’t even begin to imagine what it took to get yourself out of the assault craft.
The third prong of the attack consisted of Glider operations(another exercise in having a bellyful of guts) and the operations code named Glimmer and Taxable that were deceptive operations to convince the Nazi that that Pais De Caille and not Normandy was the primary objective. The Nazis bought into this hook line and sinker and realized to late that the main assaults were to the south.
The purpose of this post isn’t to go over the order of battle for D-Day but to talk about one mans involvement in the operation as way to talk about all the brave men who fought that day. I’m going to talk about my grandfather who was a member of 2nd Ranger battalion even though he was in his late thirties when WW2 started.
The Old Man was typical of his generation and wouldn’t say squat about his service even though I annoyed him relentlessly to tell me stories. Most of what I learned I got from his friends, my grandmother and shamelessly looking through boxes in the closet and books. I learned that the Old Man was cited for bravery during WW2 three times and that was, unlike today, a rare thing. He also got a purple heart near the end of the war.
On D-Day the 2nd Rangers assaulted the Point-Du Hoc area of Utah Beach in the first wave. 200 Rangers scaled the cliffs of Point Du Hoc without any climbing gear while carrying weapons and ammunition in order to take out 88mm cannons that was menacing the beach and ships in the water.
Among those that scaled the cliff was the Old Man. After scaling the cliffs The Rangers were cut of from help and supplies and had to withstand several very determined assaults by Nazi forces to recapture the artillery. Rangers stood tall and defeated all the Nazi threw at them.
If the Rangers hadn’t completed the mission there was a very good possibility that the landing at Utah Beach might have turned out differently. If even one of the beach assaults failed or took much longer then projected D-Day might not have worked and the allied forces could have been pushed back into the ocean. If that happened we could all be speaking German today and celebrating Hitler’s birthday. That is if wasn’t for the guts, will and determination of American, Canadian, English, French and Polish forces.
The last sentence above the reason for this post to put a human face on one man involved in D Day. Now I am not singling the Old Man for praise or to hold him up as somebody special, far from it. I can hear his raspy voice in my head telling me to stop now!(which I heard A LOT because as a kid I was usually doing something way stupid. Not much has changed as an adult) and I know many people here had grandparents involved in/affected by WW2. I’m not claiming any special niche or anything like that. I did this to recognize everybody’s family and every countries sacrifice. I wanted to say thanks I feel I owe the men that fought that day for what they accomplished sixty six years ago.
Grandpa this is for you up in Ranger Heaven even though my ticket is punched for that place I won’t be joining you or Uncle Mike but as a former member of 2nd Ranger I am justifiably proud to say RANGERS LEAD THE WAY!