by Hailey Hollinshead & Megan Kay

Operation Overlord

Tuesday, June 6th 1944 at 6:30am


Invasion of German-occupied western Europe with over 186,000 American, British and Canadian troops.
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Omaha Beach

  • Most heavily guarded beach of the Atlantic wall

  • Of all the beaches that were invaded, this was the largest. It was 6 miles long.

  • Rommel had his troops build “dragon’s teeth” on the beach. Dragon’s teeth were built to take out any landing aircraft. The teeth even had explosives.

  • Germans were stationed in “resistance nests” on cliffs off the beach. German positions were all connected by trenches for easier movement

  • Us troops were going to invade at 6:30 am, June 6th, 1944.

  • Troops from the US 1st army were led by Omar Bradley

  • The plan was to invade the beach with amphibious Sherman tanks, and land infantry troops alongside them.

  • Sherman tanks would’ve allowed for much more protection and a major blow to the Germans. However, the Sherman tanks never made it because they were released from the landing crafts too far away from the beach.

  • Another problem was that many units were landed in the wrong place. Tides and winds carried the landing crafts off target. This caused a lot of confusion

  • German guns were strategically placed, and many died while trying to get off the beach onto the seawall.

  • Americans escaped the beach by scaling cliffs

  • Naval craft attacked german gun emplacement

  • By nightfall, Americans had gained a hold on the beach and surrounding areas 34,000 troops had landed by the end of the day. There were 2,400 casualties in the battle of Omaha.

Utah Beach

  • furthest west of the 5 beaches on D-day & located at the base of the Cotentin Peninsula

  • necessary to ensure the early capture of Cherbourg (vital port)

  • target was about 3 miles wide - it was made up of sandy dunes

  • fortifications were weak compared to Omaha

  • scheduled for 06.30

  • Allied Force came from the U.S. 4th Infantry Division

  • paratroopers were dropped at 01.30 and caused the chaos the Allied Forces desired

  • the airborne drop worked well but the seaborne landing went unexpectedly - the strong ocean currents sent the crafts 2000 meters off their intended target

  • 20,000 men landed along with 1,700 military vehicles

  • casualties: less than 300

101st Airborne

  • 101st Airborne Division was activated after the U.S. entry into World War II, 15 August 1942 at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana

  • In October 1942 the division moved to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and joined by the 502d PIR, began its training under the Airborne Command

  • On May 27, 1944, the paratroopers of 3rd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne waited at the railway station in Hungerford, England to be taken to their D-Day marshaling area.

  • Played an essential role in D-Day (June 6th, 1944)

  • The paratroopers jumped in the dark the morning before H-Hour to secure positions west of Utah beach.

  • The 101st encountered fog and antiaircraft fire, which forced some of the planes to break formation. Many paratroopers landed miles away from one another, often without their equipment due to poor weather conditions, and searched for their squad mates in the dark, joining up with men from other companies and divisions as they made their way toward the bridges.

  • The objectives of the unit on D-Day were to secure the nearby towns of Carentan and Ste Mere Eglese along with capturing the bridges between St. Martin-de-Varreville and Pouppeville.

  • The commanders in charge were MG William C. Lee, BG/MG Maxwell D. Taylor and BG Anthony C. McAuliffe.

  • The unit’s WWII Campaigns included Normandy, Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe.

  • They were nicknamed the Screaming Eagles and known for their motto “Rendezvous with Destiny”.

  • mascot was the Bald Eagle a.k.a. Old Abe

  • The map below was constructed by survivors. They placed a pin on a map suggesting where they ended up landing after the weather issues faced on D-Day.

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Allied Casualties

(U.S.) AIRBORNE: 2,499

(U.S.) UTAH: 197

(U.S.) OMAHA: 2,000

(U.K.) GOLD: 413

(U.K) SWORD: 630

(U.K.) AIRBORNE: 1,500

(CAN.) JUNO: 1,204

Roy Arnn - Battle at Omaha Beach

Roy Arnn was living with his mother and siblings in Ruth, Nevada during World War II. At first he was not concerned with the draft, and did not feel like he would go to war. One day Roy decided to look into buying a car since his family had no way to get around. As he was test driving a car, he heard the news about Pearl Harbor on the radio. Roy was drafted on January 28th, 1943. He was sent to Ft. DOuglas, Utah and was sworn into the army on February 4th. He went to basic training in Texas and attended demolition school. At the end of training, he became a Sergeant. Several months later, he learned of his assignment for Omaha Beach. He was in boat crew #8 and was assigned to land in the first wave with the 1st Infantry Division. Boat Crew 8 was supposed to make gaps through obstacles at low tide so the second wave could make it as the tide came in. Roys assignment as Sgt. was to clear the area of mines and booby traps inland, about 50 yards away from obstacles in the tide. Roy mentioned on June 4th his captain told everyone to shave their beards, but he refused. When the captain threatened to punish him, Roy replied by saying “Go ahead as none of us might be alive tomorrow anyway.” On June 5th they headed out in the boats so they could arrive the next morning. Everyone was sea sick from the rough waters. As soon as they were on shore, machine guns were fired at them without stop. Soon a shell from a German 88 artillery piece exploded near him, and broke his clavicle and scapula, and caused deep wounds in his leg. German firing did not stop as a Lieutenant came to his aid, and dragged him back to the assault boats. Artillery was flying all over, and even blew him off a stretcher. He lay on the ground and watched many soldiers get severely injured and die. Years later at a reunion, a medic told him that his two pairs of pants had stopped him from bleeding to death because they had stopped up in his wounds.

Thomas Shanley

Thomas Shanley was in the 82nd Airborne Division, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion. He states that his original mission was to capture the town of Etienville, and blow the bridge there. On the flight to drop, his battalion did not experience much antiaircraft fire. The closer they got though, the experienced heavy flak. The planes had to begin taking evasive action. He threw a radio bundle out but the shoot failed, and there was no light as there was supposed to be. When Thomas jumped out he had to use a flashlight to light up the trees. There was fire all around. At that time there were only 35 men with him, and they experienced heavy resistance. He retreated with most of his men and eventually joined with about 200 men, and some separated from the 508th infantry. They only had 2 machine guns, and no other automatic weapons, as most of the bundles had not made it to the ground. With the use of a radio, he found out that there were 500 or more Germans in Etienville. Having this knowledge, he decided the only mission his regiment could do was seize a crossing of the Merderet River. Without all of his men, there objectives for the day were not met. Thomas says he wishes that they had had flares to assemble his people, but he was also afraid that Germans would have flares and his men would go to the wrong side.

Thomas Valence

Thomas Valence’s boat was in the A company, and he was in the first wave to attack the beaches. He recalls that the tide was low, and they could plainly see the defenses the Germans had set up. No Germans were to be seen, but they were firing rapidly. Thomas was a rifle sergeant, and him and others had to abandon the plan that they had practiced for so many months in England, and just try to survive. They were trained to move forward, crouch, and fire. However, nobody knew what to fire at. Thomas saw a huge tracer, and says he never knew that gun emplacement could be so large. He had no clue what was going on around him, and it was extremely hard to stay standing in the rough waters, and was forced to abandon his heavy equipment. As he was trying to get his balance, he was shot through his hand twice. However, he still moved forward. His rifle was jammed, and he had to use a carbine. He had no hope of taking out any emplacements with a .30-caliber rifle. He was hit again in his thigh, breaking his hip bone, and in his back. He collapsed further up the beach against a wall. Private Henry G. Witt said to him “Sergeant, they’re leaving us here to die like rats. Just to die like rats.” He had to sit there and watch many of his friends wash up on shore who had died, and more than just a few of than had been blown to pieces.