Tag Archives: D-Day

D-Day — Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial


All this week I’ll be rerunning my six-part series on the D-Day Invasion of Normandy, France. Next week I’ll return you to our Baltic trip and beyond. In the meantime, in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Operation Neptune (the Normandy landings) and Operation Overlord (the Battle of Normandy) in the event we now collectively refer to as D-Day:

Map of the D-Day Normandy Invasion

The map depicted above overlooks Omaha Beach. Behind that map lies the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

This military cemetery is a territorial concession granted by France to the United States, so this ground is fully administered and maintained by the U.S. government.

Some of the 1,557 names of unrecovered or missing U.S. servicemen from D-Day

There are 9,387 graves here, of which 307 contain the remains of unknown persons. All but one of those interred lost their lives during WWII. The exception is a grave from a lone casualty from WWI. Quentin Roosevelt, who was reinterred next to his brother Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

The memorial and reflection pond face east toward the closest point of the United States, between Lubec and Eastport in Maine.

The Memorial faces east toward the U.S.

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D-Day — Remembering John Steele, 82nd Airborne


All this week I’ll be rerunning my six-part series on the D-Day Invasion of Normandy, France. Next week I’ll return you to our Baltic trip and beyond. In the meantime, in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Operation Neptune (the Normandy landings) and Operation Overlord (the Battle of Normandy) in the event we now collectively refer to as D-Day:

Paratroopers in Stained Glass

Paratroopers in Stained Glass

In keeping with Monday’s Memorial Day post and Wednesday’s commemoration of D-Day, I dedicate today’s post to the memory of John Steele, Sainte-Mère-Église, and the church upon which Private Steele of the 82nd Airborne hung suspended for two hours before briefly being taken prisoner by the German Army, escaping, and later rejoining his brigade.

You will recall this famous incident from the movie The Longest Day, in which Private Steele was portrayed by Red Buttons.  That church remains to this day standing silent sentinel over the town square.  Hanging from a spire is a continuing memorial to Private Steels (see black-and-white photograph below) — a mannequin dressed in battle gear and uniform suspended by a parachute canopy and shroud lines.

John Steele — Still Hanging in Memorium

John Steele — Still Hanging in Memorium

Inside that church you will find some decidedly unusual stained glass windows.  Look at them carefully.  You’ll see reminders of that day in the form of airborne patches and armed troops gliding to earth beneath silk canopies.

Stained Tribute to the 82nd Airborne

Stained Tribute to the 82nd Airborne

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D-Day — Omaha


All this week I’ll be rerunning my six-part series on the D-Day Invasion of Normandy, France. Next week I’ll return you to our Baltic trip and beyond. In the meantime, in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Operation Neptune (the Normandy landings) and Operation Overlord (the Battle of Normandy) in the event we now collectively refer to as D-Day:

Omaha Beach

On D-Day, the 6th of June, 1944, Omaha Beach was bleak. U.S. V Corps under the direct command of Major General Leonard Gerow would sustain the most casualties by far of any of the five invasion beaches. Between 2,000 and 4,700 U.S. servicemen would lose their lives on the bloody sands of Omaha.

Omaha Beach

Had U.S. forces failed in taking Omaha, the entire invasion would have been a disaster, as Utah would have been completely cut off from Sword, Juno, and Gold. Fortunately, after a long and brutal battle with Army forces caught between the shoreline and the bluffs overlooking the beach, elements of V Corps led heroically by on-site Brigadier General Norman Cota (played by Robert Mitchum in the superlative film The Longest Day) were able to break through stiff German resistance and rush inland.

Killing bluff overlooking Omaha Beach

 

Omaha Beach

Omaha Beach

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