Remembering D-Day

By: Tyler Fitzgerald and Christian Lett

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Utah on D-Day (TF)

June 6, 1944, the westernmost of the five landing beaches, Utah is on the Cotentin Peninsula. The objective at Utah was to secure a beachhead on the Cotentin Peninsula in order to capture Cherbourg faster, since it has a deep water harbor. English General Bernard Montgomery was in charge.

This beach was defended by the 709th german infantry division which installed 7 strong points and 20 batteries. The guns at Utah has a firing range of almost 30 km.

The attack had to be done in the morning, 6:30 am, a schedule which corresponds to a very low tide: then the German beach obstacles are uncovered.

The attack happened Tuesday June 6th, at 3 o’clock in the morning. They approached the beach in two assault waves (12 D.D. tanks and 16 for the second).

The heavy long distance guns from the Germans open fire on the U.S. The guns were camouflaged so the allied planes could not see them.

The Allied forces accidentally came at low tide instead of at high tide so they had to walk up the shore farther than expected, this was easy for the Germans to shoot us.

28 of the 32 tanks planned for the attack of the first wave succeeded in landing, cleaning the German strong points with a strong fire power.

At the end of the day in Utah Beach, on June 6, 1944, 1,700 vehicles have landed and also nearly 23,250 american soldiers. 197 soldiers have been killed and 60 are missing.

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Omaha Beach on D-Day (CL)

The primary objective at Omaha was to secure a beachhead of some five miles depth, between Port-en-Bessin and the Vire River, linking with the British landings at Gold to the east, and reaching the area of Isigny to the west to link up with VII Corps landing at Utah

The beach at Omaha Beach sector was about 7,000 yards long with a gentle slope that forms a crescent with bluffs located at each end.

Axis defenses

7,800 infantry

8 artillery bunkers

35 pillboxes

4 artillery pieces

6 mortar pits

18 anti-tank guns

45 rocket launcher sites

85 machine gun sites

6 tank turrets

Casualties: 10,000

Losses: 4,200

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101st division “Screamin Eagles” (CL)

The 101st Airborne Division's objectives were to secure the four causeway exits behind Utah Beach between St Martin-de-Varreville and Pouppeville to ensure the exit route for the 4th Infantry Division from the beach later that morning.

They gained control of La Barquette locks, and established a bridgehead over Douve River which was located north-east of Carentan

In the process units also disrupted German communications, established roadblocks to hamper the movement of German reinforcements, established a defensive line between the beachhead and Valognes, cleared the area of the drop zones to the unit boundary at Les Forges, and linked up with the 82nd Airborne Division.

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Troop Casualties

156,000 Allied troops:

Utah- 22,350 US troops……. 197 killed/wounded

Omaha- 34,250 US troops…...2,400 killed/wounded

Gold- 24,970 Great Britain troops…...400 killed/wounded

Juno- 21,400 Canadian troops…...1,200 killed/wounded

Sword- 28,845 Great Britain troops…...630 killed/wounded

Letter from Eisenhower (TF)

Message from Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower to Gen. George C. Marshall about the Invasion of Normandy

This draft, written by Eisenhower, captures the suspense of this memorable day. Eisenhower’s statements reflect his lack of information about how the landing were going, even though at the moment, they were under way. He shows great pride and and confidence in this letter, saying the “enthusiasm, toughness, and obvious fitness of every man was high and the light of Battle was in their eyes.”

The letter also briefly described the weather and how the next few days the weather was looking better, making it possible to proceed with the June 6th invasion.

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John Trippon- Survivor in Omaha (TF)

John Trippon personally experienced what it was like on the Omaha Beach on D-Day. As machine guns were firing at him and the 30 other US Army men, he continued on his way towards the cliffs across the vast expanse of sand. Six of the 30 men made it to the cliff alive. John had to shed his kit, ammunition, grenades and weapons and swim to shore. John stated “Why the hell I didn’t die there I can’t say. I guess he was too busy killing other guys.” There were so much dead bodies in the water they had to bring bulldozers to push the bodies into a trench so they couldn’t be seen. The cliff was so steep that when the men got there, the macine guns couldn’t fire down at them. The soldiers could advance and use their guns to take out the pill-boxes. Mr. Trippon, still bears scars on his legs from his role as a ‘human bridge’ assigned to lie across concertina barbed wire to allow his comrades to run over him in safety. At one state, the men ran into a field to collect dismembered limbs of cows, they soon discovered the field was a minefield. It is crazy to think what John had to go through to protect his country. D-Day is one of the most devastating days in US History, and it will never be forgotten. John Trippon is a hero for his great bravery of running up the coast while machine guns were shooting down his army men, all for his country. John was able to make it to safety and continue to help the U.S. take out enemy pill boxes. John recently went to the re-enactment of the bloodiest battle of D-Day on the Omaha Beach, but he says it was nothing like the actual thing. Seeing men die in person right next to him is a life changing moment and John truly is an American Hero.

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Robert Coupe (TF)

Robert saw his heaviest fighting during the push on Caen, in the weeks following the landing. Only 18 of his 100 man infantry unit reached their objective. He landed in Sword Beach on D-Day morning, saying it was a relief to get ashore, despite enemy fire. Robert said, “We were all seasick. I didn’t care whether I got shot or not.” When ashore, Mr. Coupe and his unit was given orders to march on German-occupied Caen as part of Operation Charnwood. On the evening of July 7th, Robert and the combined divisions secured positions for a three pincer attack on Caen. As he was there, a major Allied air attack on the city was launched. In Caen, the soldiers advanced through field that were filled with mines. The Germans were ready for them. As the unit continued to head north through Caen, machine gun fire started heading at them. Despite the losses, they carried on. His main objective was to take out the 1st and the 12th Panzer Divisions and elements of the 21st Panzer Grenadiers. These elite troops played every dirty trick in the book and would do anything for Hitler. Mr. Coupe was hit by a bullet which slammed into his helmet knocking him unconscious for three days. He later woke up in a Bayeux Hospital. His experience in Caen was over and he had survived. Mr. Coupe was later called up shortly after his 18th birthday and underwent basic training before being posted to the 5th Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment, part of 197 Brigade of the 59th Infantry Division being prepared for the invasion of Europe.

As you can see, Robert was a hero and a very brave man. Even after being him in the helmet by a bullet, Robert continued to serve for his country with great bravery and pride. Roberts help in the war is greatly appreciated and he will forever be an American hero.

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Roger Airgood (CL)

Robert was a twin engineer pilot that flew a C-47 as a second Lieutenant. He was also a radio operator as well as a maintenance instructor. Soon he would find himself escorting paratroopers into Normandy as he flew above on June 6th. Although he was not entirely in the chaos of the battle he did play a big part in delviring the troops safely and keeping himself alive as well. Once his job was done he later returned to his base and began transporting more troops to Normandy much after all the fighting.

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