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D-Day Remembrance: Eisenhower and His Paratroopers
Self | June 6, 2020 | Self

Posted on 06/06/2020 10:02:06 AM PDT by Retain Mike

General Dwight D. Eisenhower arrived in London January 2, 1944 to command Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) and to direct the last five months of planning for D-Day; the most difficult and complicated military operation ever attempted. Eisenhower’s study of leadership skills required he ignore opportunities for fear and doubt, which inevitably arise as strain and tension wear away endurance. He persevered to present confidence and optimism to those around him. For that reason, he brought with him a confident, battle tested team that had led successful landings in North Africa, Sicily, and Salerno, despite experiencing German counterattacks nearly driving the Allies into the sea on the last two beaches. He was able to select his own division commanders, to enlist the help of the French Resistance, and to direct the strategic bombers for a campaign isolating the area of assault by destroying the French and Belgian railroads. These achievements called for extraordinary skill in persuading and directing the military/political alliance.

Ike’s leadership also required sustaining unprecedented initiatives in the face of well-reasoned apprehensions. The air assault exemplifies the frightful uncertainties plaguing this “Day of Days”. The night before D-Day, 20,400 American and British paratroopers were scheduled to drop behind the Normandy beaches from 1,250 C-47 aircraft plus gliders. No other initiative offered greater rewards and risked greater tragedies. This massive assault was to be attempted just seventeen years after Charles Lindberg flew the Atlantic solo for the first time.

To the last moment Ike's air commander, British Air Chief Marshall Leigh-Mallory, saw only tragic forebodings reinforced by memories of American paratroop losses in Italy and Sicily, and the German catastrophe on Crete. The German losses there were so severe that Hitler forbid any further massive air assaults. Leigh-Mallory anticipated over half the planes and gliders would be destroyed before reaching the drop zones with surviving paratroopers fighting isolated until they were killed or captured.

The unescorted air transports would arrive over Normandy the night of June 5 in three streams from 160 to 300 miles long; thereby allowing the Germans up to two hours to reposition night fighters and anti-aircraft artillery for maximum slaughter of the transports. Most pilots were flying their first combat mission, and many would make multiple trips that night. Leigh-Mallory had received specific intelligence the German 91st Air Landing Division, specialists in fighting paratroopers, and the 6th Parachute Regiment inexplicably moved into the area around St. Mere-Eglise, where the American divisions were scheduled to land. The question arose whether these movements meant the deception plan for D-Day directing attention to Pas de Calais was breaking down.

Despite ongoing doleful estimates, Ike remained strategically committed to the airborne assault. In the American sector it would enable the seaborne infantry to get through the causeways behind Utah beach and allow the early capture of Cherbourg. Without port facilities, the limited logistic support across the beaches could doom the entire invasion. In the British sector the paratroopers would secure the left flank of the entire invasion by destroying or capturing seven bridges needed by the Germans for an armored counterattack. They would also silence a German heavy artillery battery that could devastate the Sword Beach landing.

At the same time, Eisenhower was devoted to the men. Since arriving in England, he had visited over 50 divisions, airfields and ships as well as countless other facilities and personally talked to hundreds of men. The evening before D-Day, Eisenhower left SHAEF headquarters at 6 PM and traveled to Newbury where the 101st Airborne was boarding for its first combat mission. Ike arrived at 8 PM and did not leave until the last C-47 was airborne over three hours later.

In My Three Years with Eisenhower, Navy Captain Harry C. Butcher says, "We saw hundreds of paratroopers with blackened and grotesque faces, packing up for the big hop and jump. Ike wandered through them, stepping over, packs, guns, and a variety of equipment such as only paratroop people can devise, chinning with this and that one. All were put at ease. He was promised a job after the war by a Texan who said he roped, not dallied, his cows, and at least there was enough to eat in the work. Ike has developed or disclosed an informality and friendliness with troopers that almost amazed me". The famous picture of Eisenhower supposedly forcefully delivering last minute encouragement to the troopers actually involved talking about his experience working in a store when he was a kid.

In Crusade in Europe, General Eisenhower says, "I found the men in fine fettle, many of them joshingly admonishing me that I had no cause for worry, since the 101st was on the job, and everything would be taken care of in fine shape. I stayed with them until the last of them were in the air, somewhere about midnight. After a two-hour trip back to my own camp, I had only a short time to wait until the first news should come in”.

One of the first D-Day reports was from Leigh-Mallory with news only 29 of 1,250 C-47's were missing and only four gliders were unaccounted for. That morning Leigh-Mallory sent Ike a message frankly saying it is sometimes difficult to admit that one is wrong, but he had never had a greater pleasure than in doing so on this occasion. He expressed regret for finding necessary an analysis adding to Ike’s personal burdens during those last tense days before D-Day and congratulated him on the wisdom and courage of his command decision.

Today we rest in the comfort of historic certainty and can never understand the courage required to live into and through this history. The above represents only one of many crushing uncertainties Eisenhower persevered through. Planning discussions often aroused the specter of Gallipoli, the Somme, and Passchendaele, where the British incurred murderous losses for gains of only yards. And this time the allies were intending to undertake an amphibious and air assault much more daunting than any campaign of WW I


Partial bibliography:

Crusade in Europe by General Dwight Eisenhower

My Three Years with Eisenhower by Captain Harry C. Butcher

The Secret Life of Stewart Menzies Spymaster to Winston Churchill by Anthony Cave Brown

D-Day by Steven E. Ambrose

Summary of the 6th Airborne Division engagements

Top 10 Deadliest Battles of World War I

Battle of Messines (1917)

Invasion of Normandy

The Battle of Messines, 1917

The Battle of Messiness helps one appreciate the anxieties aroused from memories of Gallipoli, the Somme and Passchendaele, where the British suffered catastrophic losses for gains of only yards. By some historian assessments, the most successful attack by British forces in WW I was the Battle of Messines in 1917. The battle lasted June 1-12, and involved 216,000 men of whom 24,562 became casualties. They attacked on a five-mile front and penetrated 10 miles.

Taking this battle as a starting point, the Normandy invasion from five beachheads established a lodgment about 10 miles deep on a 40 miles front. The effort required 50 days. Therefore, a WW I veteran could make an optimistic estimate of about 400,000 casualties, and that after completely disregarded the fact D-Day landings were significantly more hazardous than any offensive attempted on the Western Front. By July 24 the allies had incurred about 120,000 casualties.

Partial Bibliography:

Picture of Eisenhower

D-Day Pictures

D-Day: Presidential radio address to the nation

History in Audio Form: The D-Day Broadcast of George Hicks


List of German World War II night fighter aces

Complete Broadcast D-Day NBC

Ronald Reagan’s D-Day Address

WWII Widow Lasting Love

FDR D-Day Speech

Blood on the risers LYRICS (Gory gory what a helluva way to die

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!

I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

SIGNED: Dwight D. Eisenhower

My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war. For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home – fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas – whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them – help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too – strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.


Franklin Delano Roosevelt

D-Day: King George VI’s 1944 Speech To The Nation In Full

"Four years ago, our Nation and Empire stood alone against an overwhelming enemy, with our backs to the wall. Tested as never before in our history, in God’s providence we survived that test; the spirit of the people, resolute, dedicated, burned like a bright flame, lit surely from those unseen fires which nothing can quench.

Now once more a supreme test has to be faced. This time, the challenge is not to fight to survive but to fight to win the final victory for the good cause. Once again what is demanded from us all is something more than courage and endurance; we need a revival of spirit, a new unconquerable resolve. After nearly five years of toil and suffering, we must renew that crusading impulse on which we entered the war and met its darkest hour. We and our Allies are sure that our fight is against evil and for a world in which goodness and honour may be the foundation of the life of men in every land.

That we may be worthily matched with this new summons of destiny, I desire solemnly to call my people to prayer and dedication. We are not unmindful of our own shortcomings, past and present. We shall ask not that God may do our will, but that we may be enabled to do the will of God: and we dare to believe that God has used our Nation and Empire as an instrument for fulfilling his high purpose.

I hope that throughout the present crisis of the liberation of Europe there may be offered up earnest, continuous and widespread prayer. We who remain in this land can most effectively enter into the sufferings of subjugated Europe by prayer, whereby we can fortify the determination of our sailors, soldiers and airmen who go forth to set the captives free.

The Queen joins with me in sending you this message. She well understands the anxieties and cares of our womenfolk at this time and she knows that many of them will find, as she does herself, fresh strength and comfort in such waiting upon God. She feels that many women will be glad in this way to keep vigil with their menfolk as they man the ships, storm the beaches and fill the skies.

At this historic moment surely not one of us is too busy, too young or too old to play a part in a nationwide, perchance a worldwide, vigil of prayer as the great crusade sets forth. If from every place of worship, from home and factory, from men and women of all ages and many races and occupations, our intercessions rise, then, please God, both now and in a future not remote, the predictions of an ancient Psalm may be fulfilled: “The Lord will give strength unto his people: the Lord will give his people the blessing of peace.

TOPICS: History; Military/Veterans
KEYWORDS: dday; eisenhower; paratrooper; wwii
The speeches included such phrases as, “ “beseech the blessing of Almighty God”, “join with me in prayer”, “play a part in a nationwide, perchance a worldwide, vigil of prayer”, “O Lord I desire solemnly to call my people to prayer and dedication, “give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee”; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other”,and “Thy will be done, Almighty God”.

In his book D-day Steven E, Ambrose he said,” Others heard the news broadcast on loudspeakers during their night shifts on assembly lines around the country. Men and women paused over their machines, prayed, and returned to work with renewed dedication. Across the United States and Canada, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the Arctic to the Gulf Coat, the Church bell rang. Not in triumph or celebration but as a solemn reminder of national unity and a call to formal prayer. Special services were held in every church and synagogue in the land. Pews were jammed.”

1 posted on 06/06/2020 10:02:06 AM PDT by Retain Mike
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To: Retain Mike

A very different time and a very different pair of nations.

I imagine that millions of Americans knelt beside their radios as FDR read his prayer.

2 posted on 06/06/2020 10:08:18 AM PDT by CondorFlight
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To: Retain Mike

This happen only a few years before I was born,its amazing how far this nation has fallen in what to me seems like such a short time...

3 posted on 06/06/2020 10:23:08 AM PDT by montanajoe
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To: Retain Mike

Use this as inspiration. America is worth fighting for, then and now. Let’s repel the current enemy as our ancestors did the Nazis.

4 posted on 06/06/2020 11:58:53 AM PDT by TBP (Progressives lack compassion and tolerance. Their self-aggrandizement is all that matters.)
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To: montanajoe
its amazing how far this nation has fallen in what to me seems like such a short time.

5 posted on 06/06/2020 1:57:06 PM PDT by Oatka
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To: Oatka

Cornelius Ryan wrote 3 books that are very good.
The Longest Day: The Classic Epic of D-Day
A Bridge Too Far: The Classic History of the Greatest Battle of World War II
The Last Battle: The Classic History of the Battle for Berlin

6 posted on 06/06/2020 8:12:23 PM PDT by minnesota_bound (homeless guy. He just has more money....He the master will plant more cotton for the democrat party)
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