Normandy, France 6-6-44
World War II was the largest and most violent armed conflict in the history of mankind. However, the half century that now separates us from that conflict has exacted its toll on our collective knowledge. While World War II continues to absorb the interest of military scholars and historians, as well as its veterans, a generation of Americans has grown to maturity largely unaware of the political, social, and military implications of a war that, more than any other, united us as a people with a common purpose.
Highly relevant today, World War II has much to teach us, not only about the profession of arms, but also about military preparedness, global strategy, and combined operations in the coalition war against fascism. During the next several years, the U.S. Army will participate in the nation's 50th anniversary commemoration of World War II. The commemoration will include the publication of various materials to help educate Americans about that war. The works produced will provide great opportunities to learn about and renew pride in an Army that fought so magnificently in what has been called "the mighty endeavor."World War II was waged on land, on sea, and in the air over several diverse theaters of operation for approximately six years.
A great invasion force stood off the Normandy coast of France as dawn broke on 6 June 1944: 9 battleships, 23 cruisers, 104 destroyers, and 71 large landing craft of various descriptions as well as troop transports, mine sweepers, and merchantmen—in all, nearly 5,000 ships of every type, the largest armada ever assembled. The naval bombardment that began at 0550 that morning detonated large minefields along the shoreline and destroyed a number of the enemy’s defensive positions. To one correspondent, reporting from the deck of the cruiser HMS Hillary, it sounded like “the rhythmic beating of a gigantic drum” all along the coast. In the hours following the bombardment, more than 100,000 fighting men swept ashore to begin one of the epic assaults of history, a “mighty endeavor,” as President Franklin D. Roosevelt described it to the American people, “to preserve … our civilization and to set free a suffering humanity.”
The attack had been long in coming. From the moment British forces had been forced to withdraw from France in 1940 in the face of an overwhelming German onslaught, planners had plotted a return to the Continent. Only in that way would the Allies be able to confront the enemy’s power on the ground, liberate northwestern Europe, and put an end to the Nazi regime. Approximate Casualties of the Allied Armies by Sectors, Normandy, 6 June 1944
|U.S. / UTAH||197|
|U.S. / OMAHA||2,000|
|U.K. / GOLD||413|
|CAN. / JUNO||1,204|
|U.K. / SWORD||630|
|9,000 total (of which 3,000 may have been fatalities)|
It was the greatest amphibious operation in history. The fighting was indescribably intense, the casualties were extremely heavy, but the task was accomplished. The Allied fighting men who survived D-Day would go on to crush Hitler and build a new Europe out of the ashes, and then begin the staring contest against Stalin and the USSR. They’ll never let themselves be called heroes, but heroes is the best word to describe them.
U.S. Divisions Active in the Normandy Campaign 6 June-24 July l944
|1st Infantry Division||79th Infantry Division|
|2d Infantry Division||83d Infantry Division|
|4th Infantry Division||90th Infantry Division|
|5th Infantry Division||2d Armored Division|
|8th Infantry Division||3d Armored Division|
|9th Infantry Division||4th Armored Division|
|28th Infantry Division||6th Armored Division|
|29th Infantry Division||82d Airborne Division|
|30th Infantry Division||101st Airborne Division|
|35th Infantry Division|
WW2 Normandie Heroes Honored @ John Dingell VA Medical Center