D-Day Project

By: Vince Eller and Maddie Gleeson

U.S. Troop Landings/Beaches

  • 13,100 paratroopers of the U.S. 82nd Airborne and 101st Airborne Divisions landed on June 6, 1944 in Normandy
  • German forces were unable to exploit the chaos the U.S. caused and many units tried to defend their main and strong points, but were defeated within a week
  • forty two C-47s were completely destroyed within two days and twenty one of the losses happened on D-Day during the parachute assault, seven more happened while towing gliders, and the last fourteens during a parachute resupply mission


"Early in the morning on June 6, 1944, about 156,000 Allied soldiers stormed a handful of beaches along the coast of Normandy, France."

Utah Beach:

  • Utah was the westernmost of the D-Day beaches
  • thousands of U.S. paratroopers landed behind enemy lines; however, being weighed down by heavy equipment, many of the trooper drowned in the marshlands while others were shot out of the sky
  • the troopers who landed were dropped outside of their drop zones, but seized the four causeways that served as the beach's only exit points
  • U.S. forces landed over a mile away from their destination and Roosevelt Jr. shouted, "We'll start the war from here!"
  • by the end of the day they moved four miles inland

Omaha Beach:

  • bloodiest of the D-Day beaches (2,400 U.S. troops dead, wounded, or missing)
  • trouble started early when Army intelligence underestimated the amount of German soldiers in the area and an aerial bombardment did little damage to German position
  • Army Rangers assisted by scaling a massive promontory between Omaha and Utah and by nightfall, the U.S. had carved out a toehold nearly 1.5 miles deep

Gold Beach:
  • about an hour after the fighting in Utah and Omaha, British warships proved to be helpful
  • HMS Ajax cruiser showed great accuracy from miles away that one shell shot through a "small slot in a German artillery battery's concrete exterior"
  • armored vehicles (funnies) cleared obstacles and within an hour, the British captured a few beach exits and pushed inland
  • they also captured Arromanches and "became the site of an artificial harbor used by the Allies to unload supplies"

Juno Beach:

  • Allied landings struggled with rough seas and enemy mines offshore
  • Canadian soldiers were cut down by Germans firing from seaside places
  • the casualty rate was 50% by the end of the first hour of fighting and an Allied tank ran over some of the wounded and was stopped when a Canadian captain blew its track off with a grenade
  • German resistance slowed quickly after fighting their way off the beach and the march interior began quickly
  • even though Canada didn't capture Carpiquet airport, they captured several towns and linked with the British on Gold Beach

Sword Beach:

  • British airborne troops and a battalion of Canadians dropped behind enemy lines, around midnight, to secure the eastern flank (just like the U.S. at Utah Beach)
  • Pegasus Bridge and Horsa Bridge were taken over within a matter of minutes
  • bridges over the River Dives were destroyed to prevent German reinforcements and also took out a main German artillery battery
  • at 7:25 a.m., the British laded on Sword Beach and in the late afternoon counterattacked
  • German forces made it to the beach, but quickly tuned back and weren't able to unite the five D-Day beaches until June 12, 1944

Source: http://www.history.com/news/landing-at-normandy-the-5-beaches-of-d-day

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101st Airborne

The 101st was originally organized in November of 1918 and was demobilized the next month. That September, the division was organized in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with reservists (most were individually called into federal service after the war outbreak). On August 15, 1942, the reserve division was disband and "reconstituted in the Army of the United States as the 101st Airborne Division." The division, part of the VII Corps assault, jumped in the morning to take positions west of Utah Beach on June 6,1944. " In the division's southern sector, it was to seize the la Barquette lock and destroy a highway bridge northwest of the town of Carentan and a railroad bridge further west. At the same time elements of the division were to establish two bridgeheads on the Douve River at le Port, northeast of Carentan." When the assault approached the French coast, fog and antiaircraft fire began, forcing some planes to break formation. "Paratroopers from both the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions missed their landing zones and were scattered over wide areas." By the end, 1,500 soldiers from the division were killed or captured.

Source: http://www.ww2-airborne.us/18corps/101abn/101_overview.html


101st Airborne Division and 82nd Airborne:
  • total of 2,499

Utah Beach:

  • total of 197

Omaha Beach:

  • total of 200

Gold Beach:

  • total of 413

Juno Beach:

  • total of 1,204

Sword Beach:

  • total of 630

British Airborne Sector:

  • total of 1,500

Source: http://warchronicle.com/numbers/WWII/ddaycasualtyest.htm

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Roger Airgood

Roger Airgood was a twin-engine pilot flying C-47s as a second Lieutenant. Before becoming a pilot he was radio operating instructor and a teletype maintenance instructor, then one day he entered pilot training in June 1942. His part that he played in D-Day was dropping paratroopers in Normandy. He said, “we had worked with the airborne before and they were cocky, unruly characters but this time they were very serious”. They started the engines at 10:40 and took off and formed their V position very quickly. They then went through thick clouds, which complicated the success of the mission but provided good coverage. All of the pilots let out their paratroopers and prepared to dive, but before Airgood to dive the plane ahead was out of sight. He continued to listen and follow the instructions from his superiors and landed safely to tell his story despite his previous setbacks.

Source: http://www.military.com/Content/MoreContent1/?file=dday_index

Roy Arnn

Roy Arnn took part in the Invasion of Omaha Beach, which was the bloodiest battle of the five beaches. His story comes from a letter that he wrote to his two daughters explaining some events of the war. He states that a lot of the men were seasick most of the time, this was not good considering that he was part of the Boat Crew #8. As the battle neared, a week before the invasion they were loaded on an LCT (landing craft tank) and were told to shave their beards in case they were to get gassed and had to use the gas masks, the captains wanted to interference from a beard. The ships all advanced on June 4th and were eventually, that night, returned back to the port due to bad weather, but the next night the crews were able to take off and hit the beach the day of June 6th. In the assault boat all of the men including Roy were pretty seasick until the machine gun fire was heard hitting around the boats. As they hopped off and had little cover to protect themselves they were forced to complete tasks given to them. Roy was trying to get a mine detector out of the box when he saw a tank came up out of the water and a sniper shot at him, hitting the sand in front of him, causing him to flatten out. At the same time of all the chaos happening Roy also was shot at by a German 88 artillery piece and said that if he wouldn't have flattened out the shrapnel would have killed him, but instead it hit his right shoulder and leg. As he was laying on the ground, cut up all over his body and bleeding he yelled for his Corporal to get the medic. The medic came and gave him some shots, drugs, and bandages, while at the same time Roy was getting fixed up he recalled that many of other soldiers were yelling for the medic too. Roy was the first to be hit and go down, and as he stayed in the water helpless his Lieutenant yelled at him to stay down. As men tried to get Roy off the island they were being heavily shot at by the German soldiers, some of the shots causing the soldiers to drop Roy. There were wounded and dead soldiers all around him and he writes about one by him calling for his parents. Finally able to be transported to the aid station and underwent scary symptoms due to his wound, but the medic that helped Roy out before came in and saved Roy.

Source: http://www.military.com/Content/MoreContent1/?file=dday_0043p3

Lawrence Taylor

Now 95 years old, Lawrence Taylor is one of the oldest Normandy veterans to travel to France. Being a pilot in his prime, he flew and participated in bombing raids to assist the advancement of the Allied ground forces. Taylor in an interview says “I've always carried a burden of guilt about the bombing of civilians. Despite directing attacks against military targets, we all knew that civilians would be caught in the destruction. This was especially true of Caen”. Then later, in 2011, Taylor visited Normandy. There he met a woman from France that told him how she lost a loved one in a bombing, the most important part of what she said was that she forgave him and understood why he had to do it. This lifted a huge burden off of Taylor's shoulders and made him feel much better.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/britain-at-war/10103659/D-Day-survivors-tell-their-stories.html