"They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate."
The Battle at Utah Beach
Utah Beach was the beach furthest west of the D-Day landing sight and it was over three miles wide. German defense mechanisms were minuscule, unlike those at Omaha Beach. Germans were not as concerned with Utah beach. Paratroopers came from inland to meet up with the forces that arrived on Utah Beach, stunning Germans with troops from either side. The sea borne landing did not go as well as planned because of strong currents. This did not keep the landing crafts from reaching their target. Soldiers experienced fewer casualties during the ascent from the landing to the beach since there were considerably less means of defense. By the middle of the day, the men of the infantry met up with the paratroopers and the battle commenced. At the end of the first full day at Utah Beach, only 300 out of 20,000 men experienced casualties.
D-Day. 1944. Utah Beach, le débarquement
Thomas Valence: Squad Leader, 11th Infantry
Thomas Valence was a squad leader from the 11th infantry. His boat was one of the six boats involved in the first wave of attack. He was being shot at while unloading from the boat, but he, nor any of the other men were able to see who exactly was shooting them, so they made sure to stay low. He was soon shot in his left hand. He recalls one of his men saying to him, "Sergeant, they're leaving us here to die like rats. Just to die like rats." Valence exclaims that him and his men struggled when it came to being in combat versus training. He was then hit again in the thigh, breaking his hip bone along with his broken knuckles. He then collapsed on the beach, along with the other men, who were often "blown to pieces."
Fascinating Facts about D-Day
- The units conduction the attack on Normandy were not aware of the location of their landing.
- The Germans had 55 divisions in France while the Allies could only transport 8.
- There are 9,386 graves of Americans who died during this battle, and they face the direction of America.
- Death tolls would have been far greater if Penicillin were not invented.
- The name Operation Overlord came from Winston Churchill.
- The use of code names actually came from the Germans.