D-Day: June 6, 1944

By: McKenna & Zelinda

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Accounts of Soldiers

Robert Edlin

Robert was a member of the 2nd Ranger Battalion, which was in the first wave of the assault on Omaha Beach. His boat hit a sandbar, forcing the soldiers to evacuate when they were still seventy-five yards from the shore. Once they jumped in the water, Robert noticed a ship next to him carrying B Company. This ship hit a mortar and at least half of the men were killed there before they even reached the water. He was swimming to shore, and there were many men floating in the water. Some were so tired they were unable to swim to shore, but most were dead. He was hit by a sniper bullet when he was about twenty yards inland. This bullet shattered his right leg. He immediately fell, and once he stood up, he was shot in the left leg. A sergeant saw Robert and carried him to the cover of the sand wall. While fighting was still occurring, Robert looked out to the sea. There were no reinforcements. He thought he would be dead, or a prisoner once the fighting stopped.

A. L. Corry

He was a bombardier on a B-26 Marauder for D-Day. He was woken at two in the morning. He was told breakfast would be in half an hour, and then there would be a briefing. In the briefing room, the men knew something was wrong. It was very quiet in there, not even murmuring. They were told by Colonel Story, “This is it.” The men were told that at six in the morning, they were going to invade Normandy. The room erupted with yelling. The men were overall glad about the invasion. The maps of each men were marked with a red line. One side was Allied forces, and the other was German forces. They had the line so they knew which side bombs should be dropped on.

Allen W. Stephens

I was awakened at two in the morning on June 6. We were taking off at four twenty in the morning. The weather was not cooperating, but we could not miss our chance. Flying was dangerous because vision was limited. The plane in front was barely able to be seen. Once we broke through the clouds, a magnificent sight of planes was around us. Our targets were the coastal guns and blockhouses along Utah Beach. My aircraft was one of the first to hit the invasion target. The number of ships below was astonishing. There were many parachutes abandoned by paratroopers who had already landed. Planes around us were exploding. The air was alive with fire. I was not sure how anyone could jump without being hit. The smoke was everywhere. The bombing was successful, occurring on time at six thirty. Every move was timed to the second.

Omaha invasion

Previously, 101st airborne had tried bombing the large guns on the beaches of D-Day however it was very overcast and the cloudiness caused for the pilots to not be able to see where they were bombing. These air raids failed in every section except for Utah beach where the US invaded at 6:30 on June 6th.

The invasion of Omaha also commenced at 6:30 by US troops. During this battle, the US came up to shore at low tide which resulted in soldiers have to run in the damp sand without any form of cover. This battles resulted in many casualties. There were roughly 90% US casualties during the first wave of Omaha. The waves to follow however, went by a bit more smoothly as Germany didn’t have much of a defense past the first line. The remaining US troops were able to fight their way through the first defense and take Omaha beach.

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101st Airborne

The 101st airborne along with the 82nd are very well known. During D-day, these US air forces bombed Utah beach allowing for the US to successfully take Utah. The airborne did however run into some problems when trying to bomb Omaha beach (as previously mentioned). As the assaults on the airborne assaults occurred and approached the French coast, the 101st airborne entered a heavy fog and aircraft fire. Paratroopers from both airborne's missed their landings as the fog and fire caused the to have to break their formation. The planes were scattered and their new goal was to find the others at their meeting place. Over 1,500 soldiers were killed or captured from the division before they were able to meet and continue to take land. It was a struggle, but the airborne dealt with all they were given and were lucky to make it out alive.