D-DAY

Jul

15

1944

Rommel’s last report on the battle in France

Panzer VI "Tiger II" (Königstiger) or King Tiger parked under trees in Normandy.

The destruction of the railroad network, and the great danger of enemy air attacks on all the roads and paths for 150 kilometres behind the front has made the supply position so difiicult that only the absolutely essential things could be brought up, and above all artillery and mortar ammunition was at a premium. These conditions are not likely to improve, as convoy vehicles are decreasing as a result of enemy action, and with the enemy capturing airfields in the bridgehead it can be expected that their air activities will increase.

Jul

3

1944

Montgomery explains the “Big Picture”

General Montgomery with his puppies "Hitler" and "Rommel" at his mobile headquarters in Normandy, 6 July 1944. Behind can be seen his cage of canaries which also travelled with him.

Big picture — Hitler taken charge. Monty doesn’t think he’s decided whether to try and annihilate Allies in West and face losses in East, or to try and hold Russians. If he decides to concentrate on us, no bridges over Seine below Paris or on Loire between Orleans and the sea leaves a bottleneck. Hitler would probably go for writing us off here and with effect of buzz-bombs on England, try for peace. Monty says a successful German offensive is impossible against superior air forces.

Jun

26

1944

‘Epsom’ – Scottish troops v 12th SS Panzer ‘Hitlerjugend’

Troops of 6th Royal Scots Fusiliers, 15th (Scottish) Division, fire from their positions in a sunken lane during Operation 'Epsom', 26 June 1944.

We stared after them: trying to comprehend the actuality of our enemies. A Regimental Provost corporal, taking charge of one, flicked him contemptuously across the shoulders with his driving-gauntlets, rearwards. And morale soared. Prisoners already! Things must be going well. The sight did a world of good to the younger ones among us, upon whom the strain of composure had been beginning to tell.

Jun

21

1944

Mortar Platoon in the the front line in Normandy

Men of the 5/7th Gordon Highlanders occupy a defensive position in a hedgerow, Normandy, 17 June 1944.

1015 Polish boots (yes, I swear that’s correct), pick up Sten gun, and report with map to command- ing officer for conference. Nine times out of ten the Germans would mortar the area while the conference was taking place. We would all rush for the few available slit trenches. Howie would usually lose the race and be the last man under cover. While everybody else grabbed steel helmets Frank Waters, seemingly carefree, would content himself with placing a thin wooden mapboard over his head muttering: ‘Bastards!’

Jun

19

1944

The ‘Great Gale’ wrecks the Mulberry harbours

The storm which hit the Channel from 19th -21st June was of unprecedented strength for the time of year.

Landing craft out of control pounded against us. Our anchors dragged, and we lost one. We, too, were drifting, and before we could tackle the situation the ship was flung heavily on a sandy bottom and pounded by a terrifying surf. In another second we would have been rolled over, a plaything of the storm, but just in time we managed to get our engines going and headed for deeper water. The appalling sight of the beach in the dreary grey of the morning told its own tale of craft that had piled together and been ground to matchwood.

Jun

14

1944

US infantry v Fallschirmjäger in the ‘bocage’

Three US soldiers advance beside a typical thickly grown hedge in the bocage.

Picking myself up to brush off my uniform, I saw a strange and shocking sight. On the edge of the ditch lay a German forearm. Part of the uniform sleeve was there, with the elbow, arm, hand, and all fingers intact. I wondered what had happened to the rest of that poor bastard. I never did find out.

Jun

12

1944

Churchill makes a day trip to Normandy

Winston Churchill lights a cigar in the back of a jeep as he and General Montgomery, commanding 21st Army Group, set out on a tour inland, 12 June 1944.

Then we returned to our destroyer and went right back to the east end of the beach where several ships were bombarding the Germans. Winston wanted to take part in the war, and was longing to draw some retaliation. However the Boche refused to take any notice of any of the rounds we fired. We therefore started back about 6.15 and by 9.15 were back at Portsmouth after having spent a wonderfully interesting day.

Feb

25

1944

The plans for Overlord come together

Mary Malcolm (from North Adams, Massachusetts) of the American Red Cross and driver Steve Wilczynski (from Omaha, Nebraska) collect flowers from the American Information Bureau in Winchester to take to the American hospital, also in Winchester. The flowers have been collected from local gardens for this purpose. The various signs on the windows of the Bureau read "The services of this bureau are placed at the disposal of all members of the USA forces. Information and advice on travelling and hospitality will be readily given"; "Canadians we are at your service"; and "Americans welcome to this city". The Bureau is housed in what was once the shop of the J R Wood Coal and Coke Company Ltd.

On D day alone, First Army was to put ashore the equivalent of more than 200 trainloads of troops. By D plus 14 the U.S. build-up would more than double the strength of the U. S. Army at the outbreak of World War II in 1939. Within two weeks after crashing the wall we would have landed enough vehicles to form a double column from Pittsburgh to Chicago.