5 facts you didn’t know about D-Day

1. A forecast that may have won the war

D-Day was originally scheduled for June 5, 1944 but poor weather predictions influenced General Dwight D. Eisenhower to delay the invasion. Eisenhower’s chief meteorologist, British Capt. James Stagg stood alone in his assessment of impending rough seas and high winds for the English Channel against the predictions of his colleagues. The improved weather on June 6, while not ideal, is often cited in the overall success of Operation Overlord.

Read more: http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2014/06/03/d-day-weather-forecast/9914207/

2. The landing craft boats were originally designed for use in Louisiana swamps

Land Craft Vehicle Personnel Ship

Land Craft Vehicle Personnel Ship

Lumber businessman and former Nebraska National Guard Infantry Officer Andrew Higgins had a hard time extracting hardwood trees from the back swamps of Louisiana. His early 1900s era boats kept running aground in the shallow waters. To remedy this, he designed a shallow draft boat and continued to improve the design over the next few decades. After several unsuccessful years of trying to sell his boats, he finally landed a contract with the U.S. Government which purchased more than 20,000 of the Land Craft Vehicle Personnel ships. His boats served in North Africa, Italy, Normandy and the islands of the Pacific.

General Eisenhower once called Higgins “the man who won the war for us.”

Read more: http://www.higginsmemorial.com/higgins.asp

3. The son of a U.S. President stormed the beaches of Normandy

Theodore Roosevelt Jr., son of U.S. President and Spanish-American War Rough Rider Teddy Roosevelt, was no stranger to combat. He had been gassed and wounded in the battle of Soissons during World War I and was quick to volunteer for WWII. Brigadier General Roosevelt had already led troops in Northern Africa and Sicily when he was reassigned to England to assist in the Normandy Invasion. Roosevelt’s several requests to land with the first wave of the invasion were denied, but his final petition was accepted.

Theodore Roosevelt Jr.

Theodore Roosevelt Jr.

Roosevelt at 56 was the oldest man and only general in the first wave to storm the beaches of Normandy. In addition he was the only father to serve with his son on D-Day. His son Capt. Quentin Roosevelt II landed at Omaha beach.

General Roosevelt who had longstanding health problems, arthritis, a heart condition and injuries sustained in WWI, charged the beach with his cane and pistol. Upon learning that the unit had drifted a mile off course during the landing he modified the original plans under fire to attain objective success. Gen. Omar Bradley later recalled that Ted Roosevelt displayed the single most heroic action he had ever seen in combat.

A little over a month after D-Day, Theodore Roosevelt Jr. died of a heart attack. He was buried at the American Cemetery in Normandy. Roosevelt was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the beach landing on Sept. 28 1944.

Read more: http://www.history.army.mil/html/moh/wwII-m-s.html

4. Eisenhower and Churchill both feared defeat

Eisenhower's letter in case "the Nazi's won"

Eisenhower’s letter “In case the Nazis won”

General Eisenhower prepared a letter that was to be opened in the event of the invasion’s defeat. It reads “Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.” He dated the letter July 5 instead of June 5, a simple error from a man under extreme pressure. The contingency letter was labeled “In case the Nazis won.”

Winston Churchill knew defeat all too well. It was his decisions that resulted in the deaths of as many as 58,000 French and British troops during the Gallipoli campaign during WWI. Churchill was removed from his position as First Admiralty of the Navy and the botched invasion weighed so heavily on him that he volunteered to serve in the trenches on the western front.

The invasion of Normandy brought back all too familiar feelings of sending men to their deaths. The charismatic and confident leader confided in his wife on the night of June 5, “Do you realize that by the time you wake up in the morning 20,000 men may have been killed?”

Read more: http://www.euronews.com/2014/06/03/70-years-on-amazing-facts-you-may-not-know-about-d-day/

5. At Omaha Beach, 9,387 Americans are buried 

Thousands of Americans died during the invasion on D-Day and following operations. On D+2 (June 8) the U.S. Army created the American St. Laurent Cemetery adjacent to normandy american cemeteryOmaha Beach to begin the burials of those who died in the past 36 hours. After the war, the cemetery was moved closer to the beach and rededicated as the Normandy American Cemetery. The next of kin of all the deceased were given the option to repatriate their loved ones to the United States or have them be buried at an American cemetery overseas.

The cemetery includes 3 Medal of Honor recipients, Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., his brother Quentin who was killed in WWI, Army Air Corps crews who were shot down over France as early as 1942 and two of the Niland brothers which the movie Saving Private Ryan is based on.

Read more: http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries-memorials/europe/normandy-american-cemetery

6. What did we miss? Tell us in the comments.

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30 Comments to “5 facts you didn’t know about D-Day”

  1. John Sharp, USAFSS says:

    As a Korean War Veteran it further enrages me that to my available information the misfit president Obama has NEVER VISITED THE NORMANDY SITE MEMORIAL..but realizing that as a Community Orgie izer his LACK of patriotic military involvement & ongoing purge of dedicated military personnel & investment into our NATIONAL SECURITY also tells me that the oath that he, & so many others..military, presidents..etal..took to preserve, protect & defend against ALL enemies, foreign & domestic ( him for sure ) our Constitution means & has meant absolutely NOTHING to him..which is an absolute disrespectful & demeaning to ALL WHO HAVE SERVED & HONORED THAT OATH..PAST & PRESENT..!

    • Dave S says:

      Mr. Sharp,

      President Obama has visited the Normandy sites twice — on the 65th and the 70th anniversaries of the invasion. You can see a photo of him arriving at the cemetery on the 65th anniversary here: http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/d-days-65th-anniversary/14/ and speaking in front of the colonnade here: http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/d-days-65th-anniversary/15/ . You surely know that immediately behind the camera is the US cemetery above Omaha Beach. Read the coverage of his trip here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/07/world/europe/07prexy.html

      And probably you saw the news today when the President gave remarks on the 70th anniversary from the same location. Transcript: http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/06/world/europe/obama-d-day-speech-transcript/

      Hope that clears up any misunderstanding!

      • Vietvet52 says:

        +1

        • Bonnie McGregor says:

          So sad Mr. Sharp that your palpable hatred of the President makes it impossible for you to know the facts. I suspect that people such as you, filled with hate, take every opportunity to cast aspersions, even on such a sadly, victorious day as June 6th.

          The Daughter of a WW11 Vet who landed at Omaha at 10:15am.
          BMc

        • Veronica (disabled Air Force Vet) says:

          Thank you for clearing that up, Dave. Many people don’t bother to do the research to back up their opinions. Mr. Sharp, please take the time to read the information that Dave provided.

        • John says:

          The facts probably won’t make any difference to Sharp. After all, haters need someone to hate.

        • Sean Thoman says:

          President Obama’s visits were about Obama, not about those who sacrificed, as always when it comes time for Veterans and the troops, it is only a feel good false gratitude speech and photo opportunity. His campaign style speech yesterday was disgusting. President Reagan’s 1984 visit and speech was about the heroes of D-Day in a different tone and ambition, compare and contrast…http://youtu.be/eEIqdcHbc8I

      • EAngel says:

        Classy response. Thank you for keeping it respectful. :)

      • IraqAfghVet314 says:

        What right looks like.

      • Gilbert Lucero says:

        Thank you for the information Dave S. Many forget that the President’s grandfather served under General Patton in WWII.

      • Mike Bankson says:

        Good job, Dave!

      • Kim Miller says:

        It was very nice of you to correct him. I suspect it won’t make any difference, though. Some people are determined to view our President in a bad light, regardless.

      • Melissa Baker says:

        Great job Dave! Not an Obama fan but facts are facts.
        Well done.

    • Russ Suereth says:

      Perhaps you should take some anger management classes. Especially if you get real angry when you are wrong.

    • Bruce Thiel says:

      Seriously Mr Sharp? You use a very solemn event to spew your ill informed hatred? Very sad.

    • M.V. says:

      I wonder why that information wasn’t given to you. Anyway, as stated President Obama did visit and did visit today. And I, being dutch and owing my life to the liberators simply want to say thank you to all alies who helped us.

  2. isaac nass says:

    God bless d soul of all d veterance dat hav served n sacrifice 2d freedom of all goodspeed 2all d families of d veterans.

  3. isaac nass says:

    herose hav fallin, some herose hav raisen am so proud of all d airmen aviation is my life go! u air.1.

  4. Robert L. Cooper says:

    Mr. Sharp,
    Thank you for your service in Korea. I also thank Dave for setting your closed-minded rant straight. Sounds to me like you don’t like black people being President of the United States. Fortunately, minority does not rule. Capt.

  5. Thank you to all the brave soldiers. I pray for peace and that this never happens again.

  6. The greatest speech ever given at a commemoration address by a sitting US president was given by President Ronald Regan on the 400th anniversary of D-Day. The speach called The Boys of Pointe du Hoc’ speech give honor to the men and women of the allied forces who are members of “The Greatest Generation”.

  7. James Jackson says:

    Speaking as a Airborne Infantry combat veteran of the Viet-Nam War; I am offended by Mr. Sharp’s hateful remarks. So many hate our President, I can’t help but believe that it goes beyond his politics. I thank Dave S for challenging his thoughtless comment.

  8. What did you miss? Oh that’s easy. You failed to state how many British, Canadian & Commonwealth forces were also involved, but that’s the Americans for you. Hollywood is the worst damned offender at rewriting history to show that the British were never involved or they insist that Americans take credit for actions carried out by others. The film U571 is a classic example. Us Brits are sick of the American version of history which is wildly distorted and inaccurate!

    • Rock A says:

      Richard,
      As an American serviceman I was grateful for the opportunity to see Gold,Sword,and Juno which were the responsibility of the Brits And Canadians. I came away humbled while at the same time amazed at what is left of the “floating” docks at Gold. I salute the Brits,Canadians, and our allies from down under. I am glad/proud We are all on the same side Mate.

    • jIM dANDY says:

      You are absolutely correct about the distortion by Hollywood of just about all of WW II. But you haven’t even begun to describe the true scope of that distortion. The fact is that the Germans sent about seventy percent of all their war production to the Eastern front. I don’t know the casualty figures offhand, but I suspect that they were at least as great.

      Also, be advised that the British — and Churchill especially — wanted to delay the landings for at least another year. They actually liked the idea of Nazi Germany and the communist Soviet Union tearing each other to pieces and hoped to extend the effect as long as possible.

      So, the Nazis lost WW II thanks to the valiant efforts of the Soviet soldier who did most of the heavy lifting to accomplish that. By comparison to some of the battles out East, Normandy was just a sideshow. But the ensuing “Cold War” era prevented these facts and that conclusion from being acknowledged.

      In fact, the original plan for defeating the Nazis called for an invasion of western Europe as early as 1942. But Churchill managed to persuade FDR to change the plan to North Africa and Italy first. Even during 1944, Churchill wanted to invade the Balkans next rather than the main front. But FDR and Eisenhower had had enough of his delaying tactics and insisted that western Europe was next.

      (Here is a link that gives an expanded narrative of this concise summary although the author goes on to make a different point: http://goo.gl/gK8XI8 )

  9. Andrea says:

    The point is, (with Mr. Sharp,) Obama is a traitor. A domestic enemy who does not give a rat’s ass about our Constitution! !

  10. Michael S says:

    Touche’

  11. Donna says:

    Let us hope that the person who had such misinformation and such anger based on no truths will share the facts about the President’s visits with those to whom he told the incorrect stories. Please.

  12. kathpm says:

    Heroics on ALL 5 beaches. All HEROES in my book. As well as the French civilians who also lost their lives during the invasion.

    Daughter of Utah Beach, D-Day, H-Hour, 1st wave
    AND proud of it.

    God Bless America