Today, June 5, would be the 70th anniversary of D-Day if not for the last-minute prognostication of British meteorologist James Stagg. The planners of the Normandy landings originally designated June 5, 1944 as D-Day, basing their decision on a favorable combination of tide patterns and a full moon, which would help with pilot visibility. On the evening of June 4, however, Royal Air Force meteorologist Captain James Stagg met with Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower with a dire last-minute warning: a large storm brewing just north of Scotland would bring heavy winds, turbulent seas, and thick cloud cover over the English Channel. Ike's decision to change the invasion to June 6, on the advice of a lone meteorologist practicing an emergent and unreliable science, may have been the turning point of the war. Historian John Ross, author of The Forecast for D-Day and the Weatherman Behind Ike’s Greatest Gamble, contends, "Had Ike listened to his countrymen's predictions and launched D-day on June 5, it would have failed with catastrophic consequences for the Western Allies and world history."
PhotosNormandie is a collaborative collection of more than 3,000 royalty-free photos from World War II's Battle of Normandy and its aftermath. (Photos date from June 6 to late August 1944). The main link goes to the photostream. You can also peruse sets, which include 2700+ images from the US and Canadian National Archives.
"[It's] all the more staggering when you realize that more people were killed in the rehearsal for the landing at Utah beach than were killed in the actual landing at Utah beach." Operation Tiger, the disastrous secret rehearsal for D-Day, marks its 68th anniversary today.
Back in July 1994, a patrol of French blue helmets discovered, to their utter bemusement, a derelict Douglas C-47 "Dakota" in the midst of MiG carcasses in the Rajlovac airfield in Bosnia. They were intrigued enough to write down its serial number: Serial Nr. 43/15073 turned out to be a veteran of Normandy, Provence, Market Garden, the Bulge, and the Rhine. Now SNAFU Special is back in Normandy, where it is being restored to become a centerpiece of the Merville Battery Museum. [more inside]
World War II Glider Pilots; none had ever been before and probably none will ever be again; a hybrid breed like jackasses with no need to reproduce themselves...
Gliders spearheaded many major invasions and other operations in the European theatre of World War II, including the invasion of Normandy. I had no idea, but it turns out the House of Representatives recently passed a resolution honoring the glider pilots, and there's a Silent Wings Museum in Lubbock, TX. The World War II Glider Pilots Association site gives more background on the men, the planes, and the missions, as well as the memorable title quote. There's even a movie. [More Inside]
D-Day was 57 years ago yesterday. It was 16 years before an article in the Atlantic finally provided Americans an unvarnished account of the carnage that was Omaha Beach that day. I'm in awe of what these 19-year-olds went through.
It's D-Day Someone at work shared this Ernie Pyle column published just 10 days after the 1944 invasion of Normandy. It put a lump in my throat. Maybe it'll do the same for you. Excerpt: "I took a walk along the historic coast of Normandy in the country of France. It was a lovely day for strolling along the seashore. Men were sleeping on the sand, some of them sleeping forever. Men were floating in the water, but they didn't know they were in the water, for they were dead."