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YOU ARE HERE > COMMUNITY > IN THE PAST > D-DAY 70TH
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D Day70th Anniversary

Many hundreds of old comrades who at a young age jumped ashore on the beaches of Normandy under constant machine – gun , mortar and artillery fire in the early hours and during the day of 6th June 1944, met this week for a reunion when they fought for their lives on French soil - 70 years ago.
 

   
  Proud and steadfast, they all stood with row upon row of medals of Heroism and Bravery pinned on their chests. They all were Heroes of that day and the many days that followed, fighting some of the most ferocious battles of WW2, with every attempt of Courage to defeat the enemy that had held France to a terrible ransom for 5 long years.
Many soldiers met French residents and children in the villages and towns they fought and their mates died in. Their stories are in their thousands of what happened that Day, they all fought their best actions, whether on land, in the air or on the seas, as well as the French Resistance who without question brought the Battle to the Enemy before any Allied soldier had landed.
 

   
To these men and women standing there today, remember it was their duty to accomplish and Win at all costs…Despite the horrendous losses encountered on just D – Day alone with over 16, 000 casualties from all the Allied Forces. They finally met every objective and Won…and they gave the Liberation of France back to its people…We Remember Them…!!!
 
The German High Command was desperate to begin launching V2’s against England, and the coastal ports all along the English Channel, where they believed the massed armies of the Allies were preparing to invade French soil. To try and destroy the build – up of ships, men, boats and warships using the V2 in an attempt to halt the imminent invasion by the Allies, which they knew would soon begin by landing on the shores of France.
The messages sent by the B.B.C. to the waiting and listening French Resistance heralded the beginning of their own Liberation of their beloved country that had for five long years been terrorized by the Nazi regime, they took to their duty as loyal Frenchmen and Frenchwomen on a personal crusade in destroying anything that was German, and assisting the Allies in literally hundreds if not thousands of acts of sabotage. The cost would be very high for the French, it is estimated that over 150, 000 lost their lives in acts of resisting the dreaded enemy during its occupation of their country.
The V2 was constantly plagued by problems, taking far longer to rectify than the German High Command anticipated, therefore, none were ready to be launched before the Invasion took place.
In the early morning of June 6th 1944, D-Day...had arrived for the Liberation of France, and Europe.
 
An armada of over 5, 000 ships, code named Operation “Neptune” neared the coast of Normandy, the greatest seaborne assault ever witnessed would soon begin. Operation “PLUTO” (Pipe Line Under The Ocean) would supply all the fuel for the thousands of vehicles once in landed in France.
Operation “Overlord” would herald the first arrival of over 150,000 men, they would soon be setting foot on the shores of enemy occupied territory. Tens of thousands of Allied troops continued to climb aboard troop ships all along Britain’s coast and were soon on their way to support the first troops ashore.

British ships near Normandy for “The Great Crusade”…The Invasion!

   
At 12.16 am British time, the first attempts to take a German held position were in operation as three gliders swooped down towards the river Orne landing only yards from the bridge, on board were D Company of the 2nd Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, after confronting the enemy in battle, they successfully captured it.
 

Gliders landed near “Pegasus Bridge” named in their Honour!

   
The three crashed gliders, with the men who captured the bridge, the first house Liberated in France is the café Gondree on the left
 
Ian (the author) at the first house liberated in France by the British and Inside of café Gondree with all the souvenirs left by servicemen in the last 70 years, with Madame Gondree in the background (Copyright – www.edenbridgetown.com )
   

The 101st and 82nd Airborne Division …preparing for landing in France.

The 82nd and 101st US Airborne Divisions parachute into occupied France at Normandy

   
Over to the west of Normandy the United States 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions leapt from their C-47’s into the black skies, many planes were shot down in flames before the men disembarked, killing all on board. After landing far from the originally planned drop zones they regrouped and continued fighting in ferocious gun battles with the entrenched enemy, incurring many losses, all the way until they reached their objective. By 04.30am in the morning Ste-Mere-Eglise, was firmly in American hand’s, this was the first town in France to be liberated by the American Forces, in fact the first town in Europe to enjoy their Freedom, at long, long last!
 
St - Mere - Eglise was the first town Liberated by US troops…The man on the church is a true story as he parachuted in and got his parachute stuck on the tower. (Left)
While the Americans fought pitched battles in the west, fierce fighting in the east by the British army eventually captured the town of Ranville. This was to become the first town in France to be liberated by the British Army.

Omaha beach….was to become the US Troops deadliest landing place in all of Normandy. There it would take the lives of thousands of soldiers as there was no cover, no protection from the enemy fire, just a straight run up the beach and confront the hail of MG 42’s horrendous machine-gun fire.
They had to slog their way up the beach and head for the nearest cover which they could unfortunately not find, only the iron posts that Rommel had placed into the sand as defences was their only hope of cover. Despite the cover of these thin and feeble defences they desperately tried to find, hundreds were mown down and killed without mercy. The massive Allied Forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, secured a beachhead and continued their drive inland. They fought many heroic, bloody battles against the fanatical Waffen S.S. infantry and panzer divisions.
 

Omaha beach on D-Day…a massacre for the U.S. troops

 
The many who were killed would find their resting place in the magnificent cemetery on top of the beaches above the beach which became their…Resting Place!
 
   
The Town of Arromanches and the ruins of the “Mulberry Harbour” (2013)
 

German officers and infantry are now prisoners.

The Allies were slowly pushing them out of Normandy, and on the way back to Germany.
The once mighty invincible German Army was now on the run from the advancing Allies.
 
   
During their years in power they strutted about like peacocks full of arrogance and pride, now they were dragging their feet, humiliated, defeated, and desperate, their morale smashed and broken.
The vast columns of troops stretched for miles along the roads of France, shuffling along on their way back to their homeland.
In the Falaise pocket, tens of thousands of German troops were surrounded by the Allied forces. They would soon feel what it was like to become prisoner’s as they had done too many thousands across Europe. Many other battles raged along the route as pockets or German resistance remained to fight to the bitter end rather than surrender, with many thousands of German casualties being wounded and killed.
 

Captured Germans in the Falaise Pocket, all now prisoners.

   
In the Falaise pocket, tens of thousands of German troops were surrounded by the Allied forces. They would soon feel what it was like to become prisoner’s as they had done too many thousands across Europe. Many other battles raged along the route as pockets or German resistance remained to fight to the bitter end rather than surrender, with many thousands of German casualties being wounded and killed.
 
For many they had army wagons and trucks for transport, most of them walked, others would use every conceivable vehicle they could find or steal, cars, trucks, horses and carts, bicycles, donkeys, some even sharing a wheelbarrow taking turns to ride in it…Such was the glory of the “Third Reich”, their humiliation clearly evident to the smiling, joyous, ecstatic French.
Each and every town Liberated would herald the utmost delight and unbelievable joy by the French people, many came out with food and wine, celebrating with song and music…in all its darkest years of oppression and fear….They were now Free…and Jubilant…!!!

The Allied Air Forces now took the fight to the enemy, during their many purges across France the fighter pilots mopped up by strafing these German army columns, fear and dread gripped them as the fighters closed in with rockets and cannons blazing, they jumped into ditches to escape the murderous fire, many hundreds were killed on these strafing runs, even the Great Field Marshal Erwin Rommel couldn’t escape the allied fighters as his car was hit…now the Germans realized how the French felt when they had the same terrible fear and dread, as stuka’s gunned their people down on the roads of France…The retribution had come…!
Had the V2’s been ready to launch prior to D-Day then it could have well been a deciding factor in the outcome of the Second World War. If these rockets had been targeted at the beaches of Normandy…the utter destruction to the Allied forces would have certainly have been catastrophic..!
The invasion may not have taken place and the war could have gone on for many more years. It could have lost the war for the Allies completely…It could have lost us England…the thought unimaginable…!
The Allied Air Forces were now “Masters of the Skies” and were given a free hand to destroy every suspected V1 and V2 rocket site they spotted from the air. Their fighter planes fully armed with rockets slung under the wings, roamed the skies at their “leisure” scouring the countryside’s of France, Belgium and Holland, strafing and blasting rocket sites, transporters, railway wagons and supply depots, all thought to be housing the deadly rockets.
 

P- 51 Mustangs delivering a deadly blow to the Germans

   
Considering the great assault on Fortress Europe by the Allied forces, the V2’s continued to fall on London, but the morale of the people still remained absolute in their defiance of…Never giving in to Hitler and his terror weapons.
By the time the Allied Forces had reached the very gates of Germany at Remagen, all the V2 rocket sites had been totally destroyed in France, Belgium, and Holland.
Even as the Allied troops were trying to cross the Ludendorff Bridge on the Rhine, Hitler commanded that V2 rockets be launched against the bridge, in a final hope that the V2’s would destroy it, thus preventing the Allies crossing.
As the massive Russian Army started its invasion of Germany from the east, the Victorious Allies eventually crossed into Germany from the west, and continued their advance right into the heart of the now doomed…”The Third Reich”.
 
Please read my account of D-Day on  www.edenbridgetown.com 
The Road to War...Thankyou.
 
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