By: Jamie Riedle and Taylor Bartolozzi

101st Airborne Division

The U.S. 101st Airborne division was created on August 16, 1942. The 101st Airborne Division parachuted in the very early morning into Normandy, France, near Utah Beach on June 6th, 1944, or D-Day. At Normandy, the "Screaming Eagles" division engaged in fierce fighting with German forces. They were very important and prominent in the victory at Normandy that day. In September 1944, the unit was dropped into the Netherlands, where it captured the city of Eindhoven. They were then deployed to Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. The unit saw difficulty with german troops but refused to surrender and held out until the 4th Armored Division arrived to provide it with support. In January 1945, the 101st moved into Alsace. Then in April, its troops advanced into the Rhineland. By the end of the war, the division had reached the Bavarian Alps.

D-Day Landings

Tuesday, June 6th 1944 at 6:30am

Normanday Beaches

Thousands of paratroopers and glider troops were on the ground securing bridges and exit roads behind the enemy line. The sea invasion began at 6:30 a.m. The British and Canadians were sent out to capture beaches code-named Gold, Juno and Sword. The Americans were to capture Utah Beach, and also Omaha beach as well. There were heavy casualties at Omaha Beach, with over 2,000 American casualties. By the end of the day, 156,000 American troops successfully stormed Normandy's beaches. Less than a week later, on June 11th, the beaches were fully secured and over 326,000 troops, more than 50,000 vehicles and some 100,000 tons of equipment had landed at Normandy.

Utah Beach:

  • Westernmost of the D-Day beaches
  • By noon, General Theodore Roosevelt Jr. and his men had linked up with some of the paratroopers, and by the end of the day, they had advanced four miles inland, suffering relatively few casualties along the way.

Omaha Beach:

  • Surrounded by steep cliffs and heavily defended.
  • Bloodiest of the D-Day beaches with 2,400 US troops either dead, missing, or wounded.
  • Many problems presented themselves during the battle, but by the end of the night, the Americans had carved a tenuous toehold about 1.5 miles deep.

Gold Beach:

  • British troops stormed Gold, the middle of the five D-Day beaches.
  • Within a hour the British had secured a few beach exits, and from that point, the pushed further inland.

Juno Beach

  • Allied landing craft went through rough seas, offshore shoals, and enemy mines.
  • The Canadians advanced further inland than the American or British counterparts. They didn't meet their objective, but they were able to capture several towns and linked up with the British on the adjacent Gold Beach.

Sword Beach:

  • British airborne troops dropped behind enemy lines to secure the invasions eastern flank, like the Americans were doing near Utah.
  • In the late afternoon, German forces tried retaliating, only to be turned back the way they came.
  • The Allies weren't able to unite all the five D-Day beaches until June 12th.

US Landings

Utah Beach was the first of the two landings for United States Troops designated on June 6th 1944. It was the furthest west of the five beaches, located at the base of the Cotentin Peninsula, it was added by General Dwight Eisenhower to the original D-Day plan to ensure the early capture of the vital port of Cherbourg, at the north of the peninsula. It is only about three miles wide, much of it being made up of sandy dunes. On D'Day, the paratroopers were dropped at 1:30 at night here.

Omaha Beach was another US landing. It was also the most intensely fought on beach during D-Day. It was 6 miles wide making it the largest of the 5 beaches. The whole beach was overlooked by cliffs which made attacking the area very difficult. The Americans were given the task of doing just this. The Germans had built formidable defences around Omaha. This beach saw the casualties of 2,400 american troops, making the attack one of the most rememberable.

Casualties of D-Day

"Casualties" is used to refer to all losses suffered by the armed forces: killed, wounded, missing in actions and prisoners of war.

Most of the troops that landed on the D-Day beaches were from the United Kingdom, Canada and the U.S.. Some other countries participated as well: Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Poland.

Allied Troops:

  • 156,00 troops in Normandy.
  • 73,000 American troops on Utah Beach, 34,250 on Omaha Beach and 15,500 airborne troops.
  • British and Canadian sector, 83,115 troops landed, 24,970 on Gold Beach, 21,400 on Juno Beach, 28,845 on Sword Beach, and 7900 airborne troops.
  • On D-Day, Allied aircraft flew 14,674 sorties, and 127 were lost.
  • In the airborne landings on both flanks on the beaches, 2,395 aircraft and 867 gliders of the RAF and USAAF were used on D-Day.

Allied and German Casualties:

  • Allied casulaties were estimated at 10,000, including 2,500 dead.
  • According to the US National D-Day Memorial Foundation there were a total of 4,413 dead in Operation Overlord. 2,499 were American, and 1,914 were from other Allied nations.
  • Utah Beach- 589
  • Omaha Beach- 3,683
  • Gold Beach- 1,023
  • Juno Beach- 1,242
  • Sword Beach- 1,304

Over 425,000 Allied and German troops were killed, wounded or went missing during the Battle of Normandy. Over 209,000 Allied casualties, nearly 37,000 dead among the ground forces and a further 16,714 deaths among the Allied air forces. Of the Allied casualties, 83,045 were from the 21st Army Groups, 125,847 from the US ground forces. Roughly 200,00 German troops were killed or wounded.

Today, twenty-seven was cemeteries hold the remains of over 110,000 dead from both sides: 77,866 German, 9,386 American, 17,769 British, 5,002 Canadian and 650 Poles.

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Voices of D-Day

Ralph Jenkins

Jenkins was a 24 year old pilot on the Morning of June 6th, or otherwise known as D'Day. He was the squadron operations officer of the 510th based at Christchurch. He was summoned by his intelligence officers to the ready rooms where they were informed on their missions for the day, and was disappointed to learn that he had not been chosen to do air support or fighter bombing on the ground for the invasion forces. But instead, they were to go out over the English Channel, out toward the tip of the Brest Peninsula, and look for members of the German navy that could invade the invasion troops. Jenkins was very disappointed in the lack of action they were given and saw. Until however, Jenkins and his men saw a large ship heading for the Cotentin Peninsula. He scooped down in his plane and noticed the sky was filled with antiaircraft fire coming from this ship, which was suspected to be a German ship heading toward the invasion area. He reported this action to headquarters. He was awarded a silver star for his heroic actions that day.

Allen W. Stephens

Allen Stephens was a pilot in the 397th Bomb Group. He was a part of the Superhead invasion, which was a plan to enter the coast of France near Cherbourg over Utah Beach. Him and his group woke up at two o'clock in the morning on June 6th, it was his 21st mission and they were to leave at 4:20 in the morning. They left in the morning barely able to see anything in front of them, when they left the runway they were finally able to see the B-26s and all kinds of planes around them. They had signals that they were to follow, and they tacked onto their squandron leader, and were on their way across the Channel.

When they got there, their targets were coastal guns and blockhouses along the beach. They were one of the first group of aircraft to actually hit the invasion target. They also saw invasion vessels below them as they move toward the beach. Stephens had a feeling that he was sitting on the greatest show ever staged, one that would make history, and as they got closer, that feeling got stronger.

As the moved toward the coast of France they saw hundreds and hundreds of ships below them. They had to go through the heaviest concentration on antiaircraft fire he had ever saw. There were many explosions around him, the air was literally filled with barrage and flak explosions made the air alive with fire. The Landing craft was moving up as we turned off the target area after dropping our bombs. Every move was timed to the split second, our bombs went away at 6:30 a.m. at the precise time they were supposed to.

Bob Slaughter

Bob Slaughter was the rifle sergeant of the 116th infantry on the D’Day invasion, but that day is still a vivid memory to him. As his teams were called, by general Eisenhower they assembled on the landing craft and were lowered into the very cold water. He remembers the rough sea and the water coming up onto the ship, soaking him and his crew. Because of how rough the sea was, some of the landing crafts sank before they got in. They had picked up some extra people, who had struggle eight or nine miles from shore, but also leaving some behind because of the lack of room on the ship.The ride over to the beach was described by Slaughter as being “terrible”. From the right, the battleship Texas was firing into the cliffs. Every time that gun went off it, “a tremendous tsunami of waves” immersed their boat. It wasn’t long before Slaughter and his crew started taking some mortar shells and artillery, exploding them off the side of the boat. As they got close they could hear the small arms, that were being fired right at them.