Wednesday, July 10, 2019

His Dad and Gen. Eisenhower-- Part 2: "Doing Your Job"

"Before the general could do anything, the major standing next to me exploded.

" 'Private, do you know what you are doing?'  He was about to ream out the poor private in front of everyone standing there.

"That moment, Eisenhower came over to the major and spoke to him quite softly.  Because I was standing next to the major, I could hear what the general was saying.

" 'Major, that's OK.  He was just doing what he was trained to do.  There's no problem.'

"Then Eisenhower turned to the private, showed him some sort of identification, smiled at him and said, 'Good work private.  Doing your job'.

Just Doing His Job.  --GreGen

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

His Dad and General Eisenhower-- Part 1: Five Days After D-Day

From the June 6, 2019, Chicago Tribune "When service transcended party:  D-Day, my dad and Gen. Dwight Eisenhower" by Cory Franklin.

His family traditionally voted Democrat, except his father, who voted for Eisenhower in both 1952 and 1956.  And, he had a reason.  It came from the D-Day campaign.

His father had an Eisenhower story from that event.

"It was about five days after the Normandy beachhead was established, word came down that Gen. Eisenhower was coming to visit our company and talk to our chief officer in his tent.  Sure enough, on the appointed day, he came with a retinue that was surprisingly small.

"I was using a crutch but as third in command I stood with my superior, a major, outside the tent as our men stood at attention.  When Eisenhower approached the tent, everyone saluted, but before he entered, the private assigned to  guard the entrance stopped him and asked for his identification -- he was asking the supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe for identification."

Well, What Do You Think Happened?  --GreGen

Monday, July 8, 2019

Solemn Tribute to Mark D-Day-- Part 6: History Will Repeat Itself

British Prime Minister Theresa May said:  "If one day can be said to have determined the fate of generations to come, in France, in Britain, in Europe and the world, that day was the 6th of June, 1944."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hailed those who sacrificed their lives on the Normandy beaches for future generations, "for you and me."

Speaking at Juno Beach where 14,000 Canadians landed, Treadeau said they "took a gamble the world had never seen before."a

A group of five Americans parachuted into Normandy on Wednesday as part of a commemorative jump and showed up on the beach on Thursday still wearing their jumpsuits, all World War II-era uniforms, and carrying an American flag.  The group included Richard Clapp, and all five expressed concern the sacrifices of D-Day are being forgotten.

"If you forget history, it's doomed to repeat itself."

The 75th Anniverasy.  --GreGen

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Solemn Tribute to Mark D-Day-- Part 5: Ceremonies At Gold Beach

Hundreds of people packed the seaside square in the town of Arromanches to applaud veterans of the Battle of Normandy.  A wreath was placed outside the town's D-Day Museum.

At daybreak, a lone piper played in Mulberry Harbor, 75 years after British troops came ashore at Gold Beach.

"It is sobering, surreal to be able to stand here on this beach and admire the beautiful sunrise where they came ashore, being shot at, facing unspeakable atrocities," said former U.S. paratrooper Richard Clapp, 44, of Julian, North Carolina.

Gratitude was a common theme.

Macron thanked those who did not survive the assault "so that France could become free again" at an earlier ceremony overlooking Gold Beach with May and uniformed veterans to lay the cornerstone of a memorial that will record the names of thousands of troops under British command who died on D-Day and the  ensuing Battle of Normandy.


Friday, July 5, 2019

Solemn Tribute to Mark D-Day-- Part 4: At the Normandy American Cemetery

Up to 12,000 people gathered hours later at the ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery, where Macron and Trump spoke.  U.S. veterans, their numbers fast diminishing as years pass, were the guests of honor.

A 21-gun salute thundered into the waters below the cemetery, on a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach and across the rows of white crosses and Stars of David.

Britain's Prince Charles, his wife, Camilla, and Prime Minister Theresa May attended a remembrance service at the medieval cathedral in Bayeux, the first Normandy town liberated by Allied troops after D-Day.  Cardinal Marc Ouellet read a message from Pope Francis honoring those who "gave their lives for freedom and peace."


Solemn Tribute to Mark D-Day-- Part 3: Where the Water Ran Red

Leaders, veterans, their families and the grateful from France, Europe and elsewhere were present for the solemn day that begun under a radiant sun.

At dawn, hundreds of people, civilians and military alike gathered at the water's edge to remember the troops who stormed the fortified beaches to help turn the tide of the war and give birth to a new Europe.

Dick Jansen, 60, from the Netherlands, drank Canadian whiskey from an enamel cup on the water's edge.  Others scattered carnations into the waves.

Randall Atanay, to son of a medic who tended to the dying and wounded, waded barefoot into the water near Omaha Beach, where the waters ran red on D-Day.


Thursday, July 4, 2019

Movie Watching on 4th of July-- Part 4: Kind of Surprised Just One WW II Movie on the List: "The Dirty Dozen"

From the July 4, 2019, Chicago Tribune "Celebrate Independence Day with 13 all-American movies" by Rex Crum.  This began in my Not So Forgotten: War of 1812 blog.

I was surprised that the least had only one World War II movie, "The Dirty Dozen."  I would gave thought "Saving Private Ryan," "The Longest Day,"  "Tora, Tora, Tora," "Kelly's Heroes" and "Pearl Harbor" would have been good ones to see.


Jim Brown, Charles Bronson, Donald Sutherland a nine other military convicts lead a raid against the Nazis.  Their leader, Lee Marvin actually fought in the war and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

If that doesn't scream 'AMERICA" then nothing will.


Movie Watching on 4th of July-- Part 3: "Miracle" and "1776"

Continued from my today's  Not So Forgotten: War of 1812 blog.

Movies to watch if its too hot or rainy, or too many mosquitoes.

These movies show the American spirit.

"MIRACLE"  (2004)

Speaking of that "USA!  USA!  USA!" chant.  This originated from the "Miracle On Ice" Team USA's Olympic hockey  win over the Soviet Union in 1980.

This movie is about that event when a group of college hockey players defeated the heavily favored Soviet Army hockey team.

"1776"  (1972)

A less expensive experience than the ubiquitous "Hamilton."  See  the Founding Fathers singing and dancing their way through some of America's earliest days.

Getting In the Patriotic Mood.  --GreGen

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Solemn Tribute to Mark D-Day-- Part 2: "We Owe You, Veterans, Our Freedom"

French President Macron expressed France's debt to the United States for freeing his country from Hitler.

He then awarded five U.S. veterans of the battle with the Chevalier of Legion of Honor, France's highest award.  "We know what we owe you, veterans, our freedom," he said.  "On behalf of my nation I just want to say 'thank you.' "

D-Day was history's largest air and sea invasion, involving around 160,000 troops on the day itself and many more in the ensuing Battle of Normandy.  Of  those, 73,000 were from the United States, while 83,000 were from Britain and Canada.

Troops started landing overnight from the air, then were joined by a massive force from the sea on the beaches code-names Omaha, Utah, Juno, Sword and Gold.

The Battle of Normandy hastened Germany's defeat less than a year later.


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Solemn Tribute to Mark D-Day-- Part 1: "You Are the Pride of Our Nation"

From the June 7, 2019, Chicago Tribune by Raf Casert, John Leicaster and Elaine Ganley, AP.

"With silent remembrance and respect, nations honored the fallen and the singular bravery of all Allied troops who sloshed through bloodied beaches of Normandy 75 years ago on D-Day, the assault that portended the fall of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich.

"French President Emmanuel Macron and President Donald Trump praised the soldiers, sailors and airmen, the survivors and those who lost their lives in powerful speeches Thursday that credited the June 6, 1944, air and sea operations that brought tens of thousands of men to Normandy, each not knowing whether he would survive the day.

" 'You are the pride of our nation, you are the glory of our republic, and we thank you from the bottom of our heart," Trump said.

"Macron praised their courage, generosity and strength of spirit that made them press on 'to help men and women they didn't know, to liberate a land most hadn't seen before, for no other cause but freedom, democracy.' "


Reporting the D-Day Landing-- Part 8: Army's Correspondent Communications System Broke Down

"A runner came from an advance unit bearing a message for the general. (Brig. Gen. Norman Cota). He was John P. Foley, Trenton, New Jersey.

"Although nicked by a bullet over one eye, Foley came through enemy fire to carry an important message which resulted in the general sending reinforcements to a certain sector.

" 'You've done a fine job, lieutenant," said the general, "and shown great initiative and good judgement.'

"Then the general began working to get troops off the beach.  He sent a group to the right flank to help clean out the enemy firing directly on the beach.  Quietly he talked to the men, suggesting the next move.

"The Army's communication system for correspondents accompanying American troops broke down completely and for more than 28 hours we were unable to get news out.

"We were even more bitterly disappointed when we turned on the radio and heard a B.B.C. report from British correspondents accompanying British troops.  Their communications apparently functioned very well."

Obviously Not Happy That the Bristish Corerspondents Could get Their Reports Out Right Away.  --GreGen

Reporting the D-Day Landing-- Part 7: "Damn Glad To Get On The Beach"

"Wounded men , drenched by cold water, lay in gravel, some with water washing over their legs, shivering and waiting for stretcher bearers to take them aboard returning small craft.

" 'Oh, God, let me aboard a boat,' whimpered one youth in semi-delirium.  Near him a shivering youth dug with bare fingers into gravel.

"Shells burst on all sides of us, some so close they threw black water and dirt all over us in showers.  They smacked into the water around the boats, but in all the shelling I saw only one boat hit and she pulled out under her own power.

"An A.E.F. sergeant, William McFadden, Olean, New York, said, "I was damn glad to get onto the beach, and I'll be glad to get off."


Monday, July 1, 2019

Reporting the D-Day Landing-- Part 6: The Brave General and His Lieutenant

"In my books much credit must be given to the tall lean brigadier general who showed absolute disregard for his own safety in organizing his troops and getting them moving inland.

"I cannot name him.  But I can name the cool calm lieutenant who stayed by his side during the whole time.  He was Robert J. Rieske of Battle Creek, Mich..

"Eight hours after landing, not a single enemy plane made an appearance over our beach.

We had waded ashore to the rattle of machine guns and the bursting of shells.

"A soldier riding on the rear of a 'duck' at the water edge behind me suddenly gave a startled cry and toppled into the water.  A medic dragged him to the beach and treated a wound to his thigh."

After some research, I believe this brigadier general whom Don Whitehead could not identify because of censorship very likely was Norma Cota, who landed with the second wave.


Friday, June 28, 2019

Reporting the D-Day Landing-- Part 5: German Counter Attacks

"During the night,  German snipers infiltrated our lines and made life uncomfortable.  The troops were wet from wading through the surf and the bedding of most troops was lost in vehicles swamped on the beach.

"Big guns of our warships are standing offshore and belching flame and smoke.  Small craft are shuttling troops and guns to the strip of beach.  Big bulldozers are gouging out a road.

"Along the beach are still the khaki-clad bodies of the boys who gave their lives in the United Nations bid to crush Germany's armed might.  But there were not so many as I had expected to see, and I patrolled this strip from end to end.

"Canadians reported that German parachute troops were being dropped on a small scale behind American lines.

"American parachutists took one village."


Thursday, June 27, 2019

Reporting the D-Day Landing-- Part 4: Two Prisoners Didn't Want to Fight Anymore

Two young Germans were supposed to man the weapon (88-millimeter gun) but were in quarters when the naval bombardment began and a shell ripped squarely through the gunport.

"They ran out of their tunnel and hid under a bridge where Lieut. Carl W. Oelze, Cleveland, found them and took them prisoner.

"One was 17 years old and the other 18 and both said they were glad the invasion had come and that they were prisoners as they did not want to fight anyway.

"On the other side of the draw was a similar position and further inland above the exit from the beach was another concrete blockhouse with its 88-gun pointing down the approach.

The prisoners coming back to the rear looked rather small and scrawny.  They looked with wonder at the bigger and stronger American boys."


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Reporting the D-Day Landing-- Part 3: Some Really Strong German Defenses

"In the matter of a few hours the engineers had roads built from the beach and heavy equipment was pouring across.

"Along the beaches were underwater barriers, barbed wire, emplacements, concrete houses with 88-mm guns covering the beach approaches.  The walls of houses were of reinforced concrete four to six feet thick.

"Two hundred yards from the beach on the side of a steep bank the Germans had built one strong-point and had another under construction.  This blockhouse was about fifteen feet square with one opening through which was poked the snout of an 88-mm. gun.

"Behind the thick walls were cases of ammunition.  Behind the blockhouse the gun crew had tunneled into the side of a hill and installed living quarters."

Fortress Europe, the Vaunted Atlantic Wall.  --GreGen

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Reporting the D-Day Landing-- Part 2: The Beach Pile Up and Breakout

"When we landed behind the assault troops the enemy still was pouring a heavy machine-gun mortar and artillery fire into the boat as they drove ashore and had our troops pinned behind a gravel bank just above the water's edge.


"Troops, supplies and vehicles began to pile up on the beach at an alarming rate.  The enemy controlled the exits with accurate fire and the time schedule was being disrupted.

"One unforeseen difficulty here was that three fresh regiments of German infantry moved onto the beach area just before the landing for anti-invasion maneuvers.  They were sitting in their positions when the armada arrived offshore.

"But under the urging of a soft-spoken brigadier general the organized enemy positions were silenced and the great surge inland began."


Monday, June 24, 2019

Reporting the D-Day Landing, June 6, 1944-- Part 1: " With American Forces in France"

From the June 7, 2019, Chicago Tribune  "Reporting the D-Day landing in 1944" by Don Whitehead, AP>

A technical glitch delayed war story of historic invasion.

This story was first published on June 8, 1944, after AP journalist Don Whitehead landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy on D-Day with the 1st Infantry Division.  His story was delayed by more than a day as the Army's communication system for the war correspondents broke down, and journalists weren't able to get the news out for more than 28 hours.

This is his report:

WITH AMERICAN FORCES IN FRANCE --  Fighting as American troops did in Tunisia, Sicily and Italy, doughboys have smashed through the outer crust of Hitler's fortress in a gallant display of courage and skill.

Never before has an army attempted to land such vast numbers of men and materials in such a short time, but the job is being done after a shaky start.


D-Day +75 Years-- Part 14: "The Battle Belonged That Morning To..."

Troops poured through the opening and by nightfall, the Omaha Beach beachhead was secured.  However, the Allies held only a few miles of shoreline.  Their front lines wouldn't reach the hard-pressed parachutists until June 10.

"The ground troops have finally reached us," recalled Fayette Richardson.  "We've been surrounded for nearly five days, almost out of ammunition, with rumors that the invasion has failed, that we were done for.  Now, we are saved."

Tough battles lay ahead before Germany surrendered the following spring.  But after Operation Overlord, the end was never in doubt.

On June 6, 1944, 2,499 Americans and 1,915 soldiers of the Allied nations were killed.  Many of the GIs are buried under white crosses and Stars of David in a U.S. military cemetery on a bluff above Omaha Beach.  In the visitor center there is a quote from Gen. Bradley that, with simple eloquence, tells the D-Day story.

"The battle belonged that morning to the thin, wet line of khaki that dragged itself ashore on the channel coast of France."

Fitting.  --GreGen

Sunday, June 23, 2019

D-Day +75 Years-- Part 13: Rangers "Get Up There and Lead the Way"

General Norma Cota, born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, was told that one of the groups huddling on the shoreline were Rangers.  he went over to them and yelled "(Damn) it, if you are Rangers, then get up there and lead the way!"

Spotting an abandoned bulldozer, Cota asked for a volunteer to drive it.  A hand went up, and James Gilligan, a combat engineer, helped the redheaded GI load the bulldozer with explosives to blow a hole in the walls the Germans had built across an exit from the beach.

"The last I saw of (the volunteer) he was hightailing along the beach toward the draw, coolly sitting erect on the dozer, still with the complete load of TNT, seemingly protected by magic from harm,"  Gilligan recalled.  "By the time I got there walking, the mines were gone and the walls were down."