Tuesday, June 6, 2017

D-Day + 75!

A study of history over the past several years has made me more convinced than ever that the perceived "inevitability" of past events is a distorting lens created by the passage of time.  Fundamentally, History is Contingent and NOT Inevitable.   It was not inevitable that the Allies would win World War II.  It was contingent upon the decisions made by millions of individuals.  Had the Japanese prevailed at Midway and the Germans at Stalingrad the outcome of the war might have been dramatically different and the Axis might even have won the war.  Had Churchill, FDR and Stalin not collaborated and cooperated as Allies fascist forces could have won World War II (https://americanconservativeinlondon.blogspot.com/2019/03/how-west-colluded-with-russia-to-win-ww2.html).  Had millions of Allied soldiers and sailors not landed on June 6, 1944 in Normandy the war would have taken much longer and cost even more lives on both sides.

The world would be a much darker place had it not been for the Allied invasion at Normandy that was kicked off 75 years ago today.  Less than a year after the June 6 invasion the Nazi death camps were liberated, Hitler committed suicide in his bunker and the war in Europe was at an end.

From Christchurch to Sri Lanka, global terror is a world wide problem that plagues our world in 2019.  The past teaches us valuable lessons about how evil can and must be defeated.  It teaches us that it is better to fight a war with allies rather than isolated and on our own.  On D-Day 1944 British (Sword, Gold beaches) and Canadian forces (Juno beach) played a major part in the successful landings.

The French Remember
Americans have surely invaded France.  In the France chapter of America Invades (www.americainvades.comwe discussed the American role in fighting World War II in France from the landings on Corsica that preceded D-Day to the liberation of Paris...

"Even before D-Day, Americans began the liberation of France with the invasion of Corsica in the fall of 1943. Joseph Heller, the author of Catch 22, served as a bombardier on a B-25 based on Corsica. The USAAF dropped its share of the six hundred thousand tons of bombs on occupied France. The French national railway system was smashed to prevent the Germans from making a strategic redeployment against the Normandy landings.

Ike with Airborne
Airborne Museum, St. Mere Eglise, France
D-Day, June 6, 1944, marked the start of the most famous American invasion in all history. With a terse, “OK, let’s go,” Eisenhower had resolved all doubts in the Allied deliberations over weather conditions prior to the invasion. The time had finally arrived. Ike later wrote comparing the invasion force to a coiled spring ready to “vault the English Channel.”

John Steele Mannequin
St. Mere Eglise

The vaulting began on the night of June 5 when private John Steele, a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne, got his chute caught on the tower of the church at Ste.-Mère-Église. He survived the conflagration and firefight that shook the sleepy Norman town that night by playing dead. A visitor to Ste.-Mère-Église today will find a stained-glass window in the church has the Virgin Mary surrounded by American paratroopers. The American paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Divisions would secure the western flank of the Normandy invasion.
Pointe du Hoc
Normandy, France
On Utah Beach, fifty-six-year-old Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr. (oldest son of President TR) was landed about a mile away from his intended target and, when asked whether to re-embark the 4th Infantry Division, said simply, “We’ll start the war from right here!” Bloody Omaha had received an abbreviated naval bombardment from ships such as the battleship Texas lasting only thirty-five minutes. Its bare beaches offered no cover for the American invaders as German machine guns from fortified gun emplacements swept the beaches. The US Rangers, who had trained earlier on the cliffs of Dorset, scaled the sheer cliffs of Pointe Du Hoc while being shot at by German soldiers; their mission was to destroy artillery pieces that threatened to sweep the landing zones. Their commander that day was Lieutenant Colonel James Rudder. Unknown to Rudder’s Rangers, most of the artillery had already been moved by the Germans. They held the position for two days in the face of fierce counterattacks by the 916th Grenadiers. At the Ranger memorial at Pointe du Hoc, one can still see massive craters created by Allied naval bombardment on D-Day.

With Patton
Luxembourg American Cemetery

As commander of the US Third Army after D-Day, Patton, led an army that advanced farther and faster than just about any army in military history, crossing twenty-four major rivers and capturing 81,500 square miles of territory, including more than twelve thousand cities and towns. Patton loved to quote Danton who said, “De l’audace, et encore de l’audace, toujours de l’audace!” (“Audacity, more audacity, always audacity”).

In August of 1944, American troops participated in a much less widely known invasion, Operation Dragoon that landed in the south of France. Everyone knows about June 6, 1944, but how many know about August 15, 1944? Yet the parachute drop by the 1st Airborne Task Force, landings by American troops, primarily the 3rd, 36th, and 45th Infantry Divisions, and a French armored division were highly successful. Allied casualties were light, and German resistance mainly crumbled fairly fast. By mid- September, they had pushed their way up the Rhone Valley near the German border. Some of the invasion targets, like the beach of St. Tropez, famous for film stars in the post-war era, are now more readily associated with pleasure than with war, which may be one reason Dragoon is less familiar to Americans.

Commander Kelly with DeGaulle
London, UK

Meanwhile to the north, on August 25, 1944, the French 2nd Armored Division, led by General Leclerc, was allowed the honor of being the first Allied force to liberate Paris. Ernest Hemingway personally led a group of irregulars that liberated the Ritz Hotel drinking seventy-three martinis that night in its bar. General de Gaulle spoke from a balcony at the Hotel de Ville, “Paris outraged! Paris broken! Paris martyred! But Paris liberated! Liberated by itself, liberated by its people, with the help of the whole of France!” De Gaulle seems to have temporarily ignored the contribution of the Americans, British, Polish, Canadian, and other Allied troops that fought so hard to liberate France.

Robert Capa, the famous war photographer, rode into Paris on an American-built tank that day."

Source: America Invadeswww.americainvades.com

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