D-Day

By: Audie Moore and Noah Edwards

U.S. Troops

On June 6, 1944 the battle that changed WWII began. That morning the Allied forces stormed the beaches at Normandy. The beach’s frontline spanned out across 6 miles. With that being said, it made attacking for the Americans very hard let alone dealing with the jagged metal pieces of metal placed their by Rommel. The Germans had the beach pretty secure with mines along the shore and machine guns pointed at every point along the beach. The troops that led the first charge were the U.S. 1st Army led by Omar Banks. The battle was planned on beginning at 6:30 where U.S. amphibian Sherman tanks would land on shore, unfortunately those tanks never made taking away serious firepower from the Americans. Tides also played a role in throwing off where the Americans were supposed to land making the run to their safe zone much more dangerous. The Rangers had to scale cliffs while trying to get to the German machine gun fire, they eventually get there which helped because there was not as much gunfire from the bunkers. They suffered 2,400 casualties taking that beach.

Beaches

The battle at Utah beach consisted of the 4th division from the Americans and the 709th division from the Germans. There were two landing zones for the Americans which were Utah Beach and Omaha Beach, Utah being the first. The beach was thought be a good way to get into Europe and English General Bernard Montgomery wanted to seize it. There were two parts of the beach which were called Uncle Red and Tare Green. The Germans had seven main strong points which consisted of 20 batteries. They spanned out across the three mile wide beach that consisted of dunes and many other man made obstacles, consisting of metal posts pointing out towards sea and barbed wire. Behind the front enemy line there was much more firepower, being blockhouses, armored turrets, trenches and underground tunnels. The whole 4th division landed within 15 hours and lost only 197 men, much better than the raid and Omaha. By the end of the night America had 20,000 men and 1,700 vehicles stacked on the beach at Utah.


101st Airborne Unit

The 101st airborne did a lot of dirty work for the ground troops. They landed at Utah beach the night before the raid was supposed to happen and took out the machine guns facing the English canal. After that, they moved to Omaha beach, which was densely populated with German troops making it much more difficult. Once they took over Saint Lo and the two beaches were taken they move towards Caen and closer to Germany.


Sergeant Bob Slaughter

Before D-Day started, Bob was very excited and anxious when he got the message from General Eisenhower. He and his team was lowered into the water and into boats and went to Normandy. He said that the voyage to Normandy was very rough, as the water was cold and the current was rough, causing everyone on the landing craft to get soaked by the water. Slaughter detailed that some of the Landing crafts sank even before they arrived at Normandy because of the rough conditions of the sea. The overboard passengers from the sunken ship had to board other ships that were still afloat. It got to a point where there was no more space for extra passengers, so they couldn't get on the carriers. Eventually, they got to the beach and a battle began. Slaughter recalled the battleship Texas firing at opposing forces, which would cause a miniature tsunami causing soldiers in the water to get seasickness. Once they started getting on shore they started to face artillery and mortar shells. Slaughter then described it as absolute chaos, with so many weapons firing everywhere.
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Riffle Sergeant Thomas Valence

Valence described him approaching the beach as a terrible experience as many soldiers experienced sea sickness and it was difficult navigating through choppy waters. Valence served in one of the 6 boats in the first wave. The tide was low, which allowed the German troops to create items to impair the landing of the american ships. He was a riffle sergeant so he followed his lieutenant off the boat and tried to identify where the German soldiers where. He recalled that he couldn't find the German soldiers, but he heard their gunshots coming at the American troops. His training told him to advance position, and then crouch and fire. Since the German troops were hard to find, he said that it was difficult to know what to fire at. He saw that many of his comrades were being killed. The tide made it difficult for him and other soldiers to keep their balance, so he decided to abandon his heavy equipment. He lost his balance in the water and struggled to regain control. During the struggle he was shot in his left hand. However, it only felt like a little sting at the time. A private turned to Valence and said “Sergeant, they're leaving us here to die like rats. Just to die like rats." He tried his best to push forward, but while advancing his rifle jammed. Luckily, he was able to acquire a carbine. He continued to advance position, but while advancing he got shot again, this time in his left thigh. He was also shot a few times back, but he had some equipment to shield him from some of the damage. Also, he was shot in the chinstrap of his helmet. He hobbled up to the wall and sat down. He sat there and observed all the dead bodies being washed away by the shore, and how some of his friends were blown to pieces. But, he realized he was lucky to survive.

Bombardier A. L. Corry

Corry was a bombardier on the B-26 Marauder for the invasion of Normandy. He was woke up by his officer at 2 a.m. and was ordered to get ready. They had breakfast and a morning briefing to go over their tasks. Nobody knew what was going on before the briefing, as they are never woken up this early. The morning briefing was very quiet and tense as everyone knew something was different. A colonel came into the room and he said “"This is the big day we're waiting for. That's what you all came here for. That's what we're here to do." Still, nobody had any idea what the “big day” was referring to. He finally said “We're going in there at six in the morning in France as air support for the Allied forces invading the Normandy coast of Europe. This will be the invasion." Corry recalled that the silence broke, as people began exclaiming various things, and everyone was pretty excited. He was given orders about where to bomb. A line distinguished where the allied controlled land was and where the enemy territory was. He recalled that it wasn't your typical day and that there was a lot of preparatory work going into this invasion.