June 6th, and June 15th, 1944

Tomorrow is D-Day in Europe – 73 years ago.

On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline, to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which, “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end, the Allies gained a foot-hold in Continental Europe. The cost in lives on D-Day was high. More than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 Soldiers to begin the slow, hard slog across Europe, to defeat Adolf Hitler’s crack troops. During World War II (1939-1945), the Battle of Normandy, which lasted from June 1944 to August 1944, resulted in the Allied liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany’s control.

Codenamed Operation Overlord, the battle that began on June 6, 1944. Also known as D-Day, some 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily fortified coast of France’s Normandy region. The invasion was one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history and required extensive planning. Prior to D-Day, the Allies conducted a large-scale deception campaign designed to mislead the Germans about the intended invasion target. By late August 1944, all of northern France had been liberated, and by the following spring the Allies had defeated the Germans. The Normandy landings have been called the beginning of the end of war in Europe.

(The above comes from the WWII history as reported on internet websites).

Nine days later in the Pacific theater of operations of WWII:

The Battle of Saipan:

What follows comes from an article by Jeff Kingston.
The book “Pain and Purpose in the Pacific” by Richard Carl Bright tells the story. See www.painandpurposeinthepacific.org .

The American invasion of the Japanese stronghold of Saipan in the western Pacific was an incredibly brutal battle, claiming 55,000 soldiers’ and civilians’ lives in just over three weeks in the summer of 1944. The U.S. Marines spearheaded the amphibious landing, encountering a fierce and well-prepared resistance from the Japanese troops who controlled the commanding heights looming over the beach.

Artillery, snipers and automatic weapons took a deadly toll with casualties mounting under the remorseless barrage. Marines later commented on the precision of the Japanese mortars and artillery fire. A battalion caught out in the open took heavy casualties as it desperately tried to dig in and find shelter, with one of its officers recalling: “it’s hard to dig a hole when you’re lying on your stomach digging with your chin, your elbows, your knees, and your toes. … (But) it is possible to dig a hole that way, I found.” Such was a precarious beachhead established on the first day of the invasion.

The U.S. forces confronted about 30,000 Japanese troops, double pre-invasion estimates. On June 14, some of the battleships that had been severely damaged during the attack on Pearl Harbor and since repaired, commenced the softening-up phase, pounding the Japanese defenses with their heavy guns, launching shells nearly the size of a VW Beetle. It was payback time.

The U.S. forces faced an implacable foe ready to die rather than surrender and from the outset everyone knew this would be a bloodbath. On the second night, the Japanese counterattacked with 44 tanks, losing 24 of them to the marines’ intense fusillade. In the first four days alone, the marines suffered 5,000 casualties.

Of the 71,000 U.S. troops that landed, nearly 3,000 were killed and more than 10,000 wounded. Out of the entire Japanese garrison of 30,000 troops, only 921 prisoners were captured; the rest died. The Japanese commanders, and some 5,000 others committed suicide rather than surrender.

It could have been much worse. As one survey concluded, the “unfinished state of the Japanese defenses was, in fact, a critical factor in the final American victory on Saipan. The blockading success of far-ranging submarines of the U.S. Navy had drastically reduced the supplies of cement and other construction materials destined for elaborate Saipan defenses, as well as the number of troop ships carrying Japanese reinforcements to the island.” One Japanese POW observed during an interrogation that had the American assault come three months later, the island would have been impregnable and thus the casualty rate much higher.

You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply