On June 6, 1944 the Anglo-American led alliance invaded Nazi occupied France. Known today as D-Day it would be the greatest invasion in history. And though the Red Army was by June of 1944 well into the process of bleeding the Wehrmacht white, inflicting approximately 80% of Germany's Second World War military casualties, this should not take away from the considerable achievement that is since remembered today and forever since as D-Day.
It was actually on June 5, 1944 that D-Day could really be said to have begun.
On this Memorial Day, and with the pending 70 year anniversary of the June 6, 1944 D-Day landings in Normandy, France, I want to highlight the often overlooked sacrifice of those U.S. servicemen killed while preparing for the most famous invasion in modern military history.
In the months leading up to the June 6th Allied invasion of Nazi occupied France the assault divisions went through an intensive training regimen. Needless to say there were many fatal mistakes.
Today is the anniversary of the largest amphibious assault in history; codenamed Operation Overlord by the Allies, but universally known since as "D-Day". Exactly 69 years ago approximately 160,000 Allied soldiers landed on the coast of Nazi occupied Normandy, France thus beginning the Second World War's final act. Though thousands of Allied soldiers, mostly U.S. and British, would be killed or wounded on June 6th the day's greatest carnage was centered on one location - the invasion beach code-named Omaha.
One of the favorite topics of alternative history (and one of the scenarios endlessly replayed in war games such as Axis & Allies and 3rd Reich) is what if Germany had attempted Operation Sea Lion. Assuming a Luftwaffe victory over the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain was Sea Lion feasible in other respects? Could Hitler have knocked the United Kingdom out of the war in the summer of 1940 or would the attempt have led to his first major defeat?
As we celebrate yet another anniversary of the tremendous Allied victory of June 6, 1944, or D-Day, let us take a closer look at the role played by German command decisions as one element in enabling the Allied establishment of a lodgment in France. From the beginning, Germany's approach to defending against an Allied liberation of Western Europe was overshadowed by the war waged in Eastern Europe. In particular an early focus of the Wehrmacht's defensive efforts revolved around preventing special operations conducted primarily by the British.
The USS Laffey is best remembered today as the "ship that would not die" - this moniker given after the 2,200 ton destroyer survived five kamikaze and four bomb strikes that caused 103 casualties, from a crew of 336, all while the ship was on picket duty off Okinawa in the spring of 1945. However, what also must be remembered is that the USS Laffey, launched in 1943, is also the sole surviving World War era US Navy destroyer to have participated in the epic Battle for the Atlantic fought between the Allies and Nazi Germany.