By: Falon Wilson and Carly Ross

101st Airborne

Ed Fredericks was part of a glider crew of the 439th troop carrier group of the 101st Airborne Division. Gliders were used by the Americans to gain a foothold in Normandy, and 512 were used for the D-Day invasion. Gliders were made of metal tubing similar to the materials used in the manufacture of bicycles. The gliders were towed by C-47s by rope. This was an exciting experience for Ed, as they were propelled off the runway very suddenly. The glider that Ed was in landed about 10 miles beyond the shoreline. They also passed the Pont du Hoc. His group saw combat during the invasion, and returned to England 4 days later. The 101st Airborne Division were scheduled to seize positions west of Utah beach. They were also supposed to eliminate the Germans’ secondary beach defenses. During the invasion, the fog and weather conditions caused some of the planes to break formation. Paratroopers missed their landing zones and many became scattered around the wide areas.
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The Beaches

On June 6, 1944 in the early morning about 156,000 Allied troops stormed five beaches along the coast of Normandy, France. The beaches involved in the famous D-Day were Utah beach, Omaha beach, Gold beach, Juno beach, and Sword beach. Utah beach, the westernmost Normandy beach, added to the invasion plans by putting the Allies in striking distance of the port city Cherbourg. Thousands of U.S. paratroopers dropped behind enemy lines on Utah beach in the predawn darkness of June 6th. Many troopers drowned in the marshlands because of the heavy equipment they had to carry, and others were shot out of the sky by the enemies. The paratroopers that landed where a mile away from their destination and instead of going back to the destination, the troops moved inland because this area was less protected. The well protected cliffs of the Omaha beach, was the bloodiest of the Normandy beaches. About 2,400 U.S. troops were either killed, wounded, or missing. The U.S. troops underestimated the Germans in this area. The rough surf of this beach made it hard to reach by other Allied troops and the strong fortified German positions had little damage done by the aerial bombardments. British troops stormed Gold beach. An aerial bombardment wiped out most of the defenses in this area. The British captured a fishing city called Arromanches, which later became a harbor for the Allies to unload their supplies. The surf at Juno beach was also rough making it difficult for the Allies to land. Offshore shoals and enemy mines also made invasion of Juno beach difficult. The first hour of the fight on Juno was brutal but eventually German forces slowed. British and Canadian airborne troops dropped behind enemy line on Sword beach securing their position. The troops gained control of Pegasus Bridge of the Caen Canal and Horsa Bridge of River Orne. German reinforcements arrived and fought in a bloody air-battle. Other German forces made it all the way to Sword beach only to be turned back by the Allied forces. All five beaches were finally reunited on June 12, 1944. Then by late August Paris, France had finally been liberated.
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The D-Day invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 yielded casualties for many different armies. The US had the most casualties. The US Airborne alone had 2500, and the US Omaha had 2000. These were extreme amounts of casualties compared to the US at Utah beach, where they only suffered 197. Overall, the Allies had about 9000 casualties total from D-Day. 3000 of these were estimated to be fatal. The UK and Canadian troops experienced the remainder of those casualties among them. The section of UK army that had the most casualties was the UK Airborne, who had 1500. Omaha Beach saw the most casualties out of all areas involved. Overall, the German army only saw about 1000 casualties. D-Day was the largest seaborne invasion to occur. 156,115 total Allied troops landed in Normandy, 73,000 of which were American. By June 11, 1944 (D-Day +5), 326,547 troops, 54,186 vehicles, and 104,428 tons of supplies had been landed on the beaches. This was a pivotal moment for the Allies to begin the invasion of Hitler’s European monopoly.

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