Daily Briefing: D-DAY: 24 Hours That Changed A Century (June 6, 2019)

D-day British Forces during the Invasion of Normandy 6 June 1944 B5246. (Source: wikimedia.org)

 

75 Years Ago, Today, The Normandy Invasion Marked the Beginning Of The End Of Nazi Rule: Frederick Krantz, Israfax, June 6, 2019

Dropped Onto D-Day:  Machla Abramovitz, Mishpacha, June 2, 2014

D-Day’s 24 Hours Changed 20th Century and Europe Forever:  Newsmax World, June 2, 2019

Nothing Prepares You for Visiting Omaha Beach: Rachel Donadio, The Atlantic, Jun. 2, 2019

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75 Years Ago, Today, The Normandy Invasion Marked the Beginning of The End of Nazi Rule

Frederick Krantz

Isranet, June 6, 2019

6 June 1944 marks the 75th anniversary of “D” Day” [either “The Day”, or “Deliverance Day”], the Allied landings on the Normandy coast of France. The invasion of Hitler’s “Festung [Fortress] Europa”, opening the “Second Front” long demanded by Stalin, was the beginning of the final chapter in the defeat of the Nazis’ “1,000-Year Reich”.

By now, the Russians in the East, absorbing unimaginable military and civilian casualties (totalling over 23 million by the end of World War II), had defeated the Germans at Stalingrad (winter, 1942-3) and begun their unstoppable advance towards Berlin. The Western Allies’ day-and-night strategic bombing of Germany was long underway, North Africa and Italy had already been occupied, and almost complete control of the air and sea (“Battle of the Atlantic”) secured

Operation Overlord was the greatest amphibious landing of all previous history. 6,939 ships (including six battleships, twenty-three cruisers, 102 destroyers, 800 cargo ships, 4,000 landing craft), 12,000 aircraft (flying 11,000 sorties), and a total of 2 million personnel transported and supported 154,000 soldiers (including 24,000 parachutists and glider-borne troops). Seventy-thousand five-hundred Americans, 69,000 British and 14,000 Canadians–with innumerable tanks, artillery pieces, trucks, and materiel—alighted on the French coast.

American forces landed on Utah and Omaha beaches, to the west, Canadians on Juno, and the British on Gold and Sword to the east, a front stretching some 50 miles between Cherbourg and Caen.

Part of the landing plan ordered by Allied Commander-in-Chief Dwight D. Eisenhower was a successful deception campaign. Massive false installations in England, including a phony “First U.S. Army Group” opposite Calais supposedly led by General George S. Patton (much feared by the Nazis), and clever disinformation, convinced the Germans that the imminent landing would probably come at Calais, the point nearest the English coast and far west of the actual landing beaches.

As a consequence, the Germans—who under General Erwin Rommel, the “Desert Fox”, had fortified much of the “Atlantic Wall” along the Channel coast–concentrated their forces, including their best Panzer (armored) divisions, near Calais.

These forces were not inconsiderable: Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt, who as Commander-in-Chief West was Rommel’s superior officer, commanded almost 1 1/2 million Wehrmacht troops, 850,000 in army units. But they were widely-dispersed, of varying quality and often poorly equipped. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

(Prof. Frederick Krantz is Director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, and Editor of the Daily Isranet Briefing)

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Dropped Onto D-Day

Machla Abramovitz

Mishpacha, June 2, 2014

 

Second Lieutenant Edward Shames, age 92, has the voice and demeanor of a man ten years younger.  Speaking from his home in Virginia Beach, Virginia, he comes across as personable, straightforward, funny, and somewhat self-effacing.  “I’m no hero,” he insists.  “I did a job that I was trained to do, and I did it well because I was trained to do it well.”

Born in Norfolk, he was one of an elite group of paratroopers that served with the 3rd and later 2nd Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) of the 101st Airborne.  Both these battalions distinguished themselves on D-day and throughout World War II.  Their astonishing exploits are recounted in Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers, which was the basis of an HBO series by that name.  The 3rd Battalion’s exploits are also explored in Ian Leonard Gardner and Roger John Day’s Today We Die as Men.  Shames features prominently in both books.

Jewish, and of Russian origin, he was the youngest of four children raised by a single mother after his father died.  His mother raised him on strict principles:  Be respectful of others, helpful, honest, and the best, no matter what the task, at everything you undertake.  He lived by these principles.  Married for 68 years, he has two sons – one an attorney and the other an optometrist, both of whom served in the US Army – as well as many grandchildren.

He is somewhat elusive about what he’s done since retiring from combat.  He’s been back to Germany many times and to the Middle East 94 times.  He sees himself as a taskmaster, hates, slackers, and is a perfectionist.  “I’ve obviously never attained perfection.  But I strive for it,” he says.

Shames saw lots of combat while serving in the US military.  But, from what he experienced, his most deadly and brutal challenges took place on the coast of Normandy on D-day and the weeks that followed 70 years ago, when the 506th PIR went head-to-head with the Germans at the Battle of Bloody Gully.  He recounts what it was like to live through those critical days, which contributed to the Allied victory in World War II.                                                                                                                 *

D-day almost never happened.  It hinged on one long-term weather forecast.  The weather over the English Channel and in the skies of Normandy was so bad that it would have been impossible for the Allies to breach the European continent. Weather radar indicated only one day – June 6, 1944 – when it would slightly improve.  None of us knew that at the time. All we knew was that we would be jumping into the fray but had no idea the day or the time. We only found that out while stationed in Exeter, England, three days before we actually jumped.

I was 21 years old then and raring to go.  The job of the 3rd Battalion Airborne Division was to seize key bridges and crossings to prevent the Germans from coming to the beaches where the British, Canadian, and American forces were landing.  Our mission was to give them a chance to get a foothold onto the continent of Europe.  That’s why it was important we get there first.

The plan was to fly us over on the 4th and for us to jump into Normandy on the 5th.  That day, we anxiously waited on the planes, but the weather was so bad that they had to call it off.  The next afternoon we were back inside and, at midnight, took off for Normandy.  There were about 4,000 of us that left that night, in three separate shifts spaced at specific time intervals.  In all, 30,000 paratroopers would jump into Normandy. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

(Machla Abramovitz is the Publications Editor, of the CIJR Daily Isranet Briefing)

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 D-Day’s 24 Hours Changed the 20th Century, and Europe, Forever

Newsmax World, June 2, 2019

 

All at once, Charles Shay tried to staunch the bleeding from a ripped-open stomach, dull the pain with morphine and soothe the mind of a dying fellow American army medic. It was a tall order for a 19-year-old who had just set foot on the European mainland for the first time.

But nothing could have prepared him for what happened on June 6, 1944, on five cold, forbidding beaches in northern France. It was D-Day, one of the most significant 24-hour periods of the 20th century, the horrifying tipping point in World War II that defined the future of Europe.

That morning, Shay could not yet fathom what the event would ultimately mean. He was more concerned with the bleeding soldiers, body parts and corpses were strewn around him, and the machine-gun fire and shells that filled the air. “You have to realize my vision of the beach was very small. I could only experience what I could see,” he told The Associated Press, speaking from the now-glimmering Omaha Beach, where he landed 75 years ago.

International leaders will gather again this week to honor the dwindling number of D-Day veterans. U.S. President Donald Trump is set to join a commemoration Wednesday on the southern English coast in Portsmouth before traveling to Normandy and the U.S. cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, which stands on a bluff overlooking the English Channel where some 160,000 made the perilous D-Day crossing. There, Shay plans to be among the crowd Thursday to welcome Trump as he pays homage to 9,388 dead Americans, most of whom lost their lives on D-Day or in the aftermath of the Normandy offensive.

After World War II, Shay continued to witness history — fighting the Chinese during the Korean War, participating in U.S. atomic tests in the Marshall Islands and later working at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. With all the wisdom gathered in his 94 years, he knows another war can never be discounted. “Some men cannot get enough of power,” Shay said. “And it still continues today.”

These days, crimson wild roses bloom where blood seeped into the Normandy dunes, and American flags whip in the westerly winds, many flown by locals still grateful to the U.S. soldiers who liberated the first French soil from four years of Nazi occupation.

 

Omaha and adjacent Utah Beach were America’s to take, but similar acts of sacrifice and heroism happened on three other beachheads to the east where Britain and Canadian troops sought to break Hitler’s stranglehold on the continent. In all, the invasion covered 80 kilometers (50 miles) of French shoreline.

Shay survived, but he did not talk about the experience for well over half a century. “So many dead. So many young men, young boys, killed on the spot,” he said. “It was difficult to see and absorb.”

When Shay, a Penobscot native American from Indian Island, Maine, was born in 1924, the world was only starting to recover from World War I, which had been a coming-of-age moment for the United States. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

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Nothing Prepares You for Visiting Omaha Beach

Rachel Donadio

The Atlantic, Jun. 2, 2019

The first thing you notice, at the end of the narrow roads that lead to this precipice, is how peaceful this place is. The cliffs are thick with rough green vegetation and drop down—sharply, then more gradually—to a Prussian-blue sea and a windswept beach. Omaha Beach.

The morning I went, the sun was bright, and a few people were walking on the sand with a dog. I could see them from a lookout on the pathway to the Normandy American Cemetery here, where more than 9,300 servicemen and a few servicewomen are buried—neat rows of milk-white marble crosses, 150 Stars of David, and 307 graves of unknown dead that read, simply, “Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms, known but to God.”

I had been told nothing quite prepares you for this place, and it was true.

June 6 is the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. In the past, American presidents have used D-Day to mark a moment—from Ronald Reagan, who gave his “Boys of Pointe du Hoc” speech at the 40th anniversary in 1984, at the peak of the Cold War, to Barack Obama, who addressed the 9/11 generation of veterans at the 70th in 2014.

This year’s commemoration, though, will likely have a different tone. Donald Trump, who will attend a ceremony here with French President Emmanuel Macron, has been threatening—in words as powerful as actions—the solidarity and mutual understandings of NATO. He’s been lashing out at Europe, accusing it of trying to rip off the United States, which has provided for the Continent’s defense since the Second World War.

But something else will be different too: Ceremonies are held every five years, and this will likely be the last time D-Day veterans will attend. It’s hard not to see this year’s ceremony at the end of a cycle of history—one that began with the Allies, led by the United States, turning the course of war here in Normandy and ended with the president of “America First,” who has made questioning the transatlantic alliance a pillar of his presidency.

“I always liken D-Day at 75 to 1938 in Gettysburg,” says Robert Dalessandro, the deputy secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission, which maintains the cemetery here and many others around the world. In 1938, when the Civil War was just barely close enough to touch, President Franklin D. Roosevelt went to Gettysburg to inaugurate a memorial there. Invoking Abraham Lincoln, he spoke before veterans of the North and the South about how he was “thankful that they stand together under one flag now.” At the time, FDR knew that Civil War veterans would not live much longer, Dalessandro told me, adding, “In my heart, I know this is the last time we’re going to get D-Day veterans to this ceremony.” (This year, he said, about 35 D-Day veterans will attend.) … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

 

On Topic Link

D-Day: The Jewish Contribution To The Largest Seaborne Invasion In History:  Stephen Oryszczuk, Jewish News, June 5, 2019 — Intelligence (knowing what your enemy is thinking) and deception (making your enemy think you are thinking something else) were crucial in the run-up to Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Nazi Europe from Normandy on 6 June 1944.
A Soldier’s Path: How A Unique Interactive Map Is Bringing D-Day Back To Life:  Murray Brewster, CBC News, June 3, 2019 — Ethel Pollard had a nightly ritual, one she preserved for over four decades after her son was reported missing in the killing fields of Normandy.
Postcards from the Past Thanh Ha, Globe and Mail, June 1, 2019 – Murray MacLeod felt uneasy.
Effort Under Way to Memorialize D-Day as 75th Anniversary Approaches Roy MacGregor, Globe2Go, June 1, 2019 — From his fourth-floor apartment, 94-year-old Fred Turnbull looks down on Bedford Basin. It is the same magnificent harbour where, so very long ago, the then-17-year-old stared down from the train carrying him to Halifax and saw navy convoys gathering to cross the Atlantic.
75 Years Later, Legacy Of Canada’s Role In D-Day Landing Still Lingers:  Lee Berthiaume, National Post,  June 2, 2019 — When he jumped out of his landing craft into knee-deep water off the coast of Normandy on June 6, 1944, Jack Commerford wasn’t contemplating the role he was about to play in what would become one of the most pivotal events in history.