Pvt. Martin Teahan’s M1 Found 72 Years after D-Day

H/T AmmoLand.

R.I.P. Private Martin Teahan

Private Martin Teahan's M1 Garand Engraved Name
Private Martin Teahan’s M1 Garand Engraved Name

East Brunswick, NJ USA –  -(Ammoland.com)- If I were to report the facts, I would tell you Private Martin Teahan of HQ Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR), died on June 6, 1944, near a church in Picauville, Normandy.

 

While scouting a position, he was shot in the leg, captured, and then killed by a German soldier who thought he was reaching for a weapon.

A few weeks after D-Day, a French farmer in the area found a rifle with the name M. Teahan engraved on the butt of the rifle. No one knew what the farmer did with the rifle for 72 years, until it was discovered in February 2016 by a French Army Paratrooper Commander named Colonel Patrick Collet.

Those are the facts, but the story associated with the rifle tugs on something much deeper for me.

You see, Private Martin was my Uncle “Matty.” A poor Irish Immigrant, who’s stories of his bravery resonated with me as I grew up in the same rough Irish neighborhood in the South Bronx. Five days prior to the discovery of the rifle, I visited my roots for the first time since childhood. I stood in grand St Jerome’s Church, and thought of my Uncle Matty as I looked at his name, engraved in the cool stone of the somber building.

Private Martin Teahan's M1 Garand back at Home
Private Martin Teahan’s M1 Garand back at Home

Then, as if by fate, we received an email (On Saint Patrick’s Day) from Colonel Patrick Collet, a French Army Paratrooper commander who grew up in Normandy. He had acquired an M1 Garand rifle from a decedent of the farmer in Picauville. Once he saw the named M. Teahan engraved on the rifle, he knew he had something special and was determined to find who M. Teahan was.

My sister Liz and I long ago became members of the 508th PIR to honor our uncle Matty. Liz setup a profile page on the 508th PIR website, listing her as a contact. Who knew, this simple process would result in such a life altering discovery, as the first place Colonel Collet searched was the 508th PIR website. He found the match and notified Liz.

I knew, she knew, the moment we found out, the rifle was our Uncle Matty coming home after 72 years.

Colonel Collet invited my wife Monica and me to visit that June. We got to hold the rifle; I felt the cold metal of the weapon on my fingertips, and envisioned my Uncle, bravely marching forward through enemy territory. I was also in the army, many years later, but never engaged in the sort of battle for which so many young men of WW II fought and died. We decided this majestic representation of history should be returned to Martin Tehan’s brothers-in-arms, the 82nd Airborne Division, 508th PIR.

Our visit didn’t end there; Colonel Collet had arranged an unbelievable itinerary for us. We were directed to the site of Uncle Matty’s grave, where we met the U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Milley to salute and say a prayer. A man of quiet authority, I immediately jumped to attention and snapped “Yes Sir” at his direction. Monica of course found this to be hilarious, but she understood, as I did, the magic of the moments we were sharing on this trip.

And what a trip! After the cemetery, we visited Omaha and Utah beaches, including an amazing jaunt to Point du Hoc. This moment, staring at the cliff of Point Du Hoc, will forever blaze in my memory. General Milley and his staff guided us through each site, and their descriptive stories provided the fields for our imaginations to roam.

Martin Teahan’s rifle will be brought over to General Milley by Colonel Collet and the French Army Chief of Staff General Bosser later this year. General Milley has invited my entire family to officially donate the rifle at a ceremony at the Pentagon. I suspect the plaque will look something like my first paragraph, with some added words about bravery and duty. As appropriate as it will be, I doubt it can ever capture the emotion, the power, and the change we experienced as a result of the rifle’s discovery.

Thank you, for a piece of my heritage is now coming home.

Private Martin Teahan
Private Martin Teahan

Jim has since written a book on the whole experience entitled Uncle Matty Comes Home. A Facebook page has been created in Martin Teahan’s honor and had over 25,000 fans in its first 3 months (now 81,000+), www.facebook.com/unclemattycomeshome General Milley was committed to bringing the rifle back and honoring his memory.

To all 82nd Airborne brothers, this is a reminder that no matter how much time has passed, what you have done for our freedom will never be forgotten.

A Bicycle Troop Peddled Through Minefields To Help Defeat The Germans

H/T War History OnLine.

When we think of the D-Day landings, the last thing most of us envision are bicycle troops taking the lead and scouting ahead, yet these troops played a pivotal part in the operation.

 

During WWII, the British Army under the request of Winston Churchill established the No. 10 Commando. No. 10 Commando was a multinational unit, consisting of volunteers from all over German-occupied Europe.

The unit was highly trained and would assist in spearheading amphibious landings. Their multilingual abilities made them exceptionally useful in the war across Europe, and their own personal experiences gave them extreme motivation to take down the German war machine.

The birth of X Troop

No. 10 Commando was divided into individual sub-units of recruits from different areas, which were referred to as troops. One of the most interesting of these groups was No. 3 Troop, also known as “X Troop.” X Troop contained 130 men from enemy countries who were technically “enemy aliens.”

One of X Troop’s members was Peter Masters, who had fled Vienna with his family in 1939. As Austrian Jews, they were persecuted by the Nazis and anxiously awaited the dreaded knock at their door from the SS. While in Vienna, they had to report hourly to local authorities. Once the family saw a car belonging to the Gestapo outside their home, they made the wise decision to flee.

Peter Masters and other members of X Troop enjoying some downtime, circa 1941.
Peter Masters and other members of X Troop enjoying some downtime, circa 1941. (Photo Credit: Imperial War Museums)

While preparing to escape, Peter’s grandfather bravely chose to stay, as he believed he would slow the family down. He would eventually be arrested and murdered by the Nazis, a testament to his extreme bravery, but it also shows the terrifying proximity to this same fate the rest of the family was in if they hadn’t escaped.

After successfully fleeing continental Europe and reaching England, Peter’s hopes of joining the fight against the Nazis were destroyed when he was subsequently locked away as an enemy alien.

Luckily for him, he was offered to join the top-secret X Troop, which finally gave him the opportunity to fight for his home and his family, many of whom were still in Austria. Each man in the unit had to adopt an entirely new British life story for themselves, which included changing their name. Peter had changed to his more British-sounding name from Peter Arany.

After extensive training, Peter found himself returning to Europe on June the 6th 1944 as part of the D-Day invasion.

Bicycle Troop on D-Day

X Troop never operated in combat as a single force, as its members were instead attached to other units participating in actions. On D-Day, Peter was attached to a bicycle troop, as this would enable him to move much faster than the massive numbers of men landing on the beaches.

Troops of the Canadian 3rd Division, leaving their ship with their bicycles, at Juno beach along the coast of Normandy, France on D-Day.
Photo Credit: G. Milne/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

He exited the landing craft with his Thompson submachine gun, a bicycle, and a pack laden with grenades, ammunition, a 200-foot rope, and a pickaxe. He reached the blood-stained sand and paused, catching his breath and processing the horrific sights all around him, despite being instructed to move inland as fast as possible.

Joining the death and chaos was legendary figure Brigadier Lord Lovat, coming ashore behind Peter. Next to him was his piper Bill Millin, who Lovat had told to play his pipes during the assault, something which was banned by military command.

Lovat defied these orders and said to Millin, “Ah, but that’s the English War Office. You and I are both Scottish, and that doesn’t apply.” This sight inspired the men, including Peter, to move, following Lovat and Millin across the beach.

Bill Millin, piping for the troops in June 1944
Bill Millin, piping for the troops in June 1944. (Photo Credit: War Office official photographer, Evans, J L)

After crossing the beach, Peter’s personal mission began, linking up with the rest of his bicycle troop rapidly heading inland and leaving the scene on the beach behind. Their destination was Pegasus Bridge that spanned the Caen Canal, which, if all had gone to plan, would have already been captured by a small group of British paratroopers.

As the bridge was far behind enemy lines, the men would need reinforcements as soon as possible. The Bicycle Troop encountered Lord Lovat once again before continuing on past the mined, cratered, and flooded landscape that was Normandy at the time.

As the unit approached the village of Bénouville, the lead cyclist was killed by gunfire. The troop’s commander ordered the men to take cover, and chose Peter to scout ahead in the village and establish the situation. Peter was likely chosen by this officer due to being an Austrian, which made many in the British ranks uncomfortable and regard the men of X Troop as cannon fodder.

Peter Masters (right) with other members of X Troop, circa 1941.
Peter Masters (right) with other members of X Troop, circa 1941. (Photo Credit: Imperial War Museums)

After explaining he would circle around the village to gather information, the officer ordered him to take the main approach into the village, which Peter saw as a suicide mission. However, with his orders, he headed into Bénouville.

On his way, he believed the best odds of success were if he came in with the confidence of a man with overwhelming forces behind him, something he didn’t have in reality.

In German, he shouted into the village “All right! Surrender, all of you! You are completely surrounded and don’t have a chance! Throw away your weapons and come out with your hands up if you want to go on living. The war is over for all of you.”

After a brief pause, the Germans in the village responded with gunfire. Unleashing a burst from his weapon, Peter’s weapon jammed and he dove for cover. Alone and defenseless, he thought this would be his end — until he saw the Bicycle Troop charging into the village to meet the Germans with fixed bayonets, most of whom fled at this sight.

Leaving the village, they dashed to Pegasus Bridge, which thankfully they discovered was in British hands upon their arrival. Just under an hour after, Lovat and his men would also arrive.

Later, Peter would interrogate a German officer and march 40 prisoners of war to British lines.

After fleeing his home to escape the Nazis in 1939, Peter returned to Europe four years later, taking the fight to them and doing his bit on one of the most decisive days of the war.

The ‘Wild’ History Behind America’s Counterintelligence Service

H/T War History OnLine.

R.I.P. William “Wild Bill” Donovan 

William “Wild Bill” Donovan is widely known as the “father of American Intelligence.” His determination to create a centralized counterintelligence unit paved the way for the modern CIA. Despite pushback from various government agencies and personnel, he persevered, showing everyone the meaning behind his infamous moniker.

A decorated war hero

Bill Donovan fought with the 165th Regiment during WWI. He’s said to have been a demanding leader who often pushed his troops to the limit. His team was an integral part of the Second Battle of the Marne in July 1918, and their presence was noted during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in October 1918.

It’s rumored that Bill got his nickname during the war. Legend has it that he made his battalion run a three-mile obstacle course, after which the men fell to the ground, out of breath. The 35-year-old chastised them, saying, “What the hell’s the matter with you guys?” to which a soldier responded, “But hell, we are not as wild as you are, Bill.” From that day on, he was known as Wild Bill, a moniker he publicly denounced, but secretly loved.

Donovan walking along railway tracks during WWI
Donovan during WWI. (Photo Credit: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons)

When the war came to an end in November 1918, Bill had been injured a total of three times. He’d risen to the rank of full colonel and had become one of the war’s most honored and decorated soldiers. Not only did he receive two Purple Hearts, but he was also awarded the Silver Star, the Medal of Honor, and the Distinguished Service Medal, among others.

A need for central intelligence

When WWII broke out in 1939, intelligence operations in the U.S. were split between nearly a dozen government agencies. They didn’t get along and viewed each other as rivals, especially when it came to getting a portion of the government’s annual budget. This didn’t go unnoticed by other nations, with Britain in particular pointing out it would impact America’s effort during the war.

In the summer of 1940, Bill Donovan, by then a successful lawyer, was invited by Canadian airman William Stephenson to be the President’s envoy to Britain. President Franklin D. Roosevelt hoped the trip would allow the war hero to see if the U.K. had the capabilities to withstand an attack by the Nazis. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill also saw an advantage in the trip, as he hoped Donovan could convince Roosevelt to provide more aid in exchange for intelligence information.

Bill Donovan presents a medal for merit to William Stephenson
Donovan presenting a medal of merit to William Stephenson, 1946. (Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images)

Donovan was briefed on Britain’s new Special Operations Executive (S.O.E.) unit, designed to infiltrate occupied Europe and help anti-Nazi resistance groups. It provided them with supplies and directed them in attacks against German communication and supply lines, hindering their primary method for spreading propaganda.

Upon his return to the U.S., Donovan met with Roosevelt to share his belief that the country needed something similar to the British unit. While the president was cautious about the idea, the other intelligence agencies were against it, with F.B.I. director J. Edgar Hoover calling the idea “Roosevelt’s folly.”

The creation of the Coordinator of Information

On June 18, 1941, President Roosevelt used his executive powers to create the Office of the Coordinator of Information (C.O.I.), with Bill Donovan at the helm. His plan was for the agency to gather and analyze information that would then be used to engage in secret operations.

Headquartered in a nondescript building overlooking the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, the C.O.I. was a largely civilian operation. With control over the hiring process, Donovan brought aboard associates, those with travel experience, and individuals with knowledge of global affairs.

He was also not a typical leader. He urged his employees to be creative and think outside of the box, and he wanted them to find innovative solutions to difficult problems.

Franklin D. Roosevelt standing in front of a building
Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1930. (Photo Credit: Unknown Author / Wikimedia Commons)

Once he had his staff, the first order of business was to evaluate incoming information that in-house propagandists could use to demoralize the German Army. He also set up espionage schools; oversaw the invention of new guns, bombs and cameras; hired female spies; and made connections globally — all to engage in his unorthodox version of warfare.

On the outside, the C.O.I. was simply gathering information and releasing propaganda. However, the public was not informed of these espionage activities, as the U.S. had not officially entered the war. That changed after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

The COI becomes the Office of Strategic Services

A few months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, on July 11, 1941, President Roosevelt changed the C.O.I. to the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.). While Donovan was allowed access to more government funding to “wage secret war around the globe,” it meant it was no longer a White House agency.

Placed under the rule of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the O.S.S. began allowing military personnel into its ranks. While still considered a civilian agency, its staff was three-quarters military. It was during this time that Donovan donned his uniform and rejoined the U.S. Army as it officially joined the war.

Bill Donovan sitting at his desk
Donovan, 1945. (Photo Credit: National Archives / Wikimedia Commons)

The espionage work done by the O.S.S. allowed for many successes during the war. It allowed for the successful Allied Invasion of North Africa in 1942, and it was credited with the 1944 Allied landing on the French Riviera.

However, despite this success, the O.S.S. did have its detractors. While initially the inspiration behind its inception, the U.K. was suspicious of the agency and incredibly distrustful of any O.S.S. operations occurring on British soil. The Philippines also blocked the O.S.S. access, on account of General Douglas McArthur’s antipathy.

The C.I.A. emerges during the Cold War

Donovan was interested in keeping some version of the O.S.S. around after the end of the war. In November 1944, he sent a memo to Roosevelt, requesting the establishment of a permanent worldwide intelligence agency.

The O.S.S. would be dismantled after the war, but another central counterintelligence agency replaced it: the CIA. It emerged a few years into the Cold War and was similar to its predecessor in many ways — it was even operated by old O.S.S. members.

However, there was one key difference, in that then-President Truman refused to allow Bill Donovan to head the agency. Instead, he gave the position to Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter.

The C.I.A. floor seal at its original headquarters
The C.I.A.’s seal was created in February 1950. (Photo Credit: Duffman / Wikimedia Commons)

Donovan continued to aid in the CIA’s formation behind the scenes and offered them intelligence whenever he could. This was to the disapproval of Truman, who considered him a “meddler.” He was eventually offered the position of American Ambassador to Thailand, which he accepted, before returning to his law career.

While stationed in Thailand, Donovan started showing signs of dementia, which ultimately took his life on February 8, 1959. In his memory, a statue was placed within the lobby of the C.I.A.’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, honoring his role in the agency’s history.

The Gross But Life-Saving Chocolate Of WW2

H/T War History OnLine.

Milton Hershey’s not so tasty chocolate line.

Chocolate lovers tend to obsess over this treat’s yummy taste. However, chocolate has not always had such a great taste. Hershey’s developed some chocolate bars during the Second World War with the purpose of not tasting great. The Field Ration D bars, while not tasting great, contained life-saving ingredients if soldiers needed them. 

 
World War I soldiers eating chocolate
Soldiers from the First World War snacking on chocolate. (Photo Credit: George Rinhart/ Getty Images)

Origins

In April 1937, Captain Paul Logan from the office of the U.S. Army Quartermaster General met with Hershey Chocolate Corporation President William Murrie and chief chemist Sam Hinkle.

Captain Logan was looking for a life-preserving chocolate bar that could be given to American soldiers in conflict. More specifically, he was looking for Hershey to manufacture a pocket-sized bar that could survive high heat and provide soldiers with lots of nutrients quickly.

The kicker? This chocolate bar shouldn’t taste any better than “a boiled potato.” 

Hershey's Factory
Hershey’s Chocolate factory in Hershey, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: Joe Sohm/ Visions of America/ Getty Images)

Murrie and Hinkle brought this prospective business deal to Milton Hershey, who was very interested in this project. They got started right away on developing Logan’s vision.

Field Ration D Bar

Logan had four main requirements for the Field Ration D Bar. It must weigh four ounces, have a high caloric value, and withstand high temperatures, all while ensuring it not be too tasty. The final result developed by Hershey was called the “Field Ration D Bar.” It was essentially a blend of chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, skim milk powder, and oat flour. Each four-ounce chocolate bar contained 600 calories.

The mixture created was essentially a heavy paste that had to be pressed rather than poured into molds. The chocolate bar was so dense that the instructions attached to the bar suggested that the bar should be eaten slowly, over the span of about half an hour. 

Portrait of Milton Hershey
Portrait of Milton Hershey, founder of Hershey Chocolate, circa 1923. (Photo Credit: Bettmann/ Getty Images)

However, after the United States entered the Second World War, Congress planned to shut down the candy industry for the duration of the conflict, deeming the industry non-essential.

In an attempt to keep his business operating, Milton Hershey argued that Hershey’s chocolate was an essential source of nutrients for American troops. Thus, the bulk of Hershey’s wartime production was aimed at producing chocolate for the American forces.

D Ration Chocolate Bar
The Army Field Ration D Chocolate Bar. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Center of Military History / Wikimedia Commons)

Although Hershey’s was producing a large amount of Field Ration D Bars during the Second World War, American soldiers were certainly not the biggest fans of them. Soldiers jokingly nicknamed the bars “Hitler’s secret weapons” due to the chocolate bars’ effect on their digestive systems.

Soldiers were also known to trade these chocolate bars for better tasting food with unsuspecting civilians who were not well acquainted with the chocolate. 

Nonetheless, even though the taste of the Field Ration D Bar was not popular among soldiers, in 1942, Hershey’s won an Army-Navy “E” Production Award. This was a prestigious award given to companies and factories during the Second World War for excellence in the production of top-quality war equipment for the American military. 

Hershey’s Tropical Bar 

In 1943, the United States Army once again approached Hershey’s about the possibility of developing a new chocolate bar that could be eaten in the Pacific theater of the war. The goal of this new chocolate bar was to withstand high, tropical temperatures and taste a little bit better than the Field Ration D Bar.

Hershey Tropical Chocolate
Hershey’s Tropical Chocolate. (Photo Credit: Hershey Chocolate Corporation/ National Museum of American History)

The Hershey’s Tropical Bars were one- or two-ounce pieces of chocolate that could hold their shape after one hour in 120 degrees Fahrenheit weather. The Tropical Bar was made from many of the same ingredients as the Field Ration D Bar, but also included vitamin B-1. Vitamin B-1 helped prevent beriberi — a condition common to troops in the tropics that resulted from a B-1 deficiency that could cause nerve, heart, and muscle damage, as well as overall weaknesses. 

It is estimated that by the end of 1945, over three billion Field D-Ration Bars had been produced and distributed to soldiers all over the world. Similarly, by the end of the Second World War, almost 38o million two-ounce Tropical Chocolate Bars had been produced for the United States military.

In fact, in July of 1971, Hershey’s Tropical Chocolate Bar went to the moon with the Apollo 15 astronauts. Although these chocolate bars might not have had the best taste, they sure were widespread. 

David Dushman: Last Surviving Soviet Solider To Liberate Auschwitz Dies At 98

H/T War History OnLine.

R.I.P. David Dushman

David Dushman was a 21-year-old serviceman with the Red Army when he took part in the liberation of Auschwitz. The last surviving Soviet soldier to take part in the military operation, he passed away on June 5, 2021, at the age of 98.

The death of a war hero

Dushman’s death was confirmed by Charlotte Knobloch, President of the Jewish Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria. In a statement shared on the community’s website, Knobloch announced the “hero of Auschwitz” died at a Munich hospital.

David Dushman during a memorial service in Ukraine in 2015
Photo Credit: NurPhoto / Getty Images

“It is with great sadness that I learned of David Dushman’s death,” Knobloch, herself a Holocaust survivor, wrote. “Every contemporary witness that leaves us is a loss, but saying goodbye to David Dushman is particularly painful.

“With him we lose a brave, honest and sincere man and an honorary member of our religious community,” she continued. “We remain deeply grateful to him and will keep him an honorable memory.”

The Liberation of Auschwitz

The Auschwitz concentration camp was the largest under Hitler’s Nazi regime. Located in Poland, it was responsible for the deaths of over a million people, primarily Jews, through the use of gas chambers, medical experiments, systemic starvation, disease, and forced labor.

Black and white photograph of the gate at Auschwitz concentration camp in 1945
Gate at Auschwitz, with the phrase “Work makes you free.” (Photo Credit: Unknown Author / Wikimedia Commons)

On the early afternoon of January 27, 1945, Dushman drove his T-34 tank over the electric fence at Auschwitz. Once the fence was down, ground soldiers with the 332nd Soviet Rifle Division were able to enter, initiating the camp’s liberation.

During a later interview, Dushman recalled that they weren’t aware of Auschwitz’s existence and didn’t immediately realize the scope of the horrors that had taken place there. “They stumbled out of the barracks, they sat and lay among the dead,” he said, adding troops offered food before moving on “to hunt fascists.”

Not long after arriving at Auschwitz, Dushman was ordered to leave and make his way to Berlin. This was just one of the many significant military events he took part in during the conflict, along with the Battles of Stalingrad and Kursk.

Frontal view of the entrance at Auschwitz
Auschwitz (Photo Credit: Jason M Ramos / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0)

At the end of the war, he was one of only 69 members of his division to survive. This was despite being severely injured three times, with one injury requiring the removal of part of his lung. For his service, he was awarded more than 40 decorations and distinctions, including the Order of the Patriotic War.

David Dushman’s life after the war

Dushman became a professional fencer for the Soviet Union after the war. From 1952 to 1988, he coached the country’s women’s national fencing team. His involvement resulted in him being present at the 1972 Munich Olympics, which saw an event that later became known as the Munich Massacre.

On September 5, 1972, eight armed members of the Palestinian group Black September broke into the Olympic compound, killed two members of the Israeli team, and abducted nine more. During the rescue attempt, the remaining hostages were killed, along with five Black September members and a police officer from West Germany. The remaining three members were taken into custody.

David Dushman overcome with emotion during a memorial service in Ukraine in 2015
Photo Credit: NurPhoto / Getty Images

During his later life, Dushman lived in Austria before moving to Munich-Neuperlach in 1996 with his wife, Zoja. He visited schools to educate students about the war and the events of the Holocaust, and often attended veterans gatherings.

‘Skins’ Star to Play SAS Hero Paddy Mayne in New Series

H/T War History OnLine.

R.I.P. Paddy Mayne.

Filming of a new TV mini-series has begun and is set to finally show the exploits of one of the SAS’s most notable members, Robert Blair “Paddy” Mayne. The series, named SAS: Rogue Heroes, has been created by Steven Knight, who also created Peaky Blinders, and will be directed by Tom Shankland, who recently directed The Serpent.

Paddy Mayne near Kabrit, 1942.
Paddy Mayne in Egypt, 1942. (Photo Credit: Imperial War Museums)

The series will focus on the founding of the notorious and secretive SAS and is based on the book of the same name from historian Ben McIntrye. McIntrye was given access to the SAS archives in 2016 while writing his book.

One of the series’ main characters is the battle-hardened Mayne, who is to be portrayed by Jack O’Connell, known for his role in Skins. Mayne fought throughout WWII, helping to turn the SAS into the world-leading special forces it is known as today, and he finished the war as one of the British Army’s most decorated soldiers.

A Gloucestershire quarry has been used for some of the filming, where O’Connell, wearing a green flight suit, helmet, and boots, was seen crash-landing with a parachute. This is believed to be the series’ recreation of the newly formed regiment’s first action in November 1941, which involved a parachute drop. Due to unexpected weather and resistance, the mission was a complete failure, ending in the deaths of 22 men.

Paddy Mayne (second from the right) stands at attention.
Paddy Mayne (second from the right) stands at attention. (Photo Credit: Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

Their second mission was the total opposite, however. Using Jeeps for speed, the regiment used hit-and-run raids on three airfields and destroyed 60 aircraft for the loss of two men. This established the SAS as a serious force to be reckoned with.

Alongside ‘Paddy’ Mayne on these missions was David Stirling, the founder of the SAS. Connor Swindells is to play Stirling in the series. He was another larger-than-life officer who created the concept of the SAS as a covert small-sized group operating behind enemy lines. Mayne was one of Stirling’s first recruits into the new regiment, and they fought together on their daring missions.

In 1943, these daring missions would lead to Stirling’s capture by German troops. He escaped shortly thereafter but was again captured, this time by Italians. The Germans sent him to Colditz Castle after he attempted to escape a further four times. He would remain there until the end of the war. Before his capture, Stirling and his men managed to destroy huge amounts of enemy equipment, including 250 aircraft.

With Stirling gone, Mayne became the new leader of the SAS. Under his command, the SAS perfected their tactics and continued successful operations throughout Europe all the way until the end of the war.

For his actions in the war, Mayne was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) a remarkable four times. Like Mayne did to his enemies, a full-fledged film about his experiences has eluded viewers. SAS: Rogue Heroes will probably be the best chance to see a portrayal of Mayne in his glory.

The TV series is expected to do just that too, showing him as a soldier who never backed down from a fight, and led his men with the utmost bravery. The author of the book the series is based on said Mayne had “an unparalleled standard of courage and leadership in the SAS.”

Actor Jack O'Connell, who will play Paddy Mayne, attends the UK Premiere of "Unbroken" at Odeon Leicester Square on November 25, 2014 in London, England.
Jack O’Connell, who will play Paddy Mayne, attends the UK Premiere of Unbroken, 2014. (Photo Credit: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)

Throughout the war, Mayne earned an incredible list of accolades. In one operation, he destroyed 47 grounded aircraft, which may be more than the RAF’s highest-scoring ace. Despite his courage and daring, Mayne was controversially refused the Victoria Cross.

In April 1945, he led his men in their Jeeps in Oldenburg, Germany, to assist the 4th Canadian Armoured Division, who had been ambushed and pinned down by German forces. Using his Jeep, Mayne drove up and down a length of road while his gunner fired a .50 caliber machine gun into the German positions, killing some and driving the rest off.

For his gallantry in Oldenburg saving the pinned down men, multiple officers recommended for him to be awarded the Victoria Cross. Even Field Marshal Montgomery approved of this recommendation, but it was not to be. It was later downgraded to a fourth DSO.

After the war, Mayne struggled to return to civilian life and would frequent local bars in Belfast and Newtownards (his hometown), challenging men to fights after a night of drinking. On 13 December, 1955, after a night of drinking, he drove home and fatally crashed into a farm vehicle. Hundreds attended his funeral.

In 2005, a request to posthumously award Mayne the VC was presented to the House of Commons, which was supported by 100 MPs. Let’s hope that this mini-series does one of the SAS’s most significant members justice.

Iva Toguri D’Aquino: The ‘Tokyo Rose’ Who Tried To Help The Allies

H/T War History OnLine.

Many Americans found themselves stranded abroad during WWII. One such individual was a woman named Iva D’Aquino (née Toguri). She spent part of the war stranded in Japan, where she worked in radio and attempted to turn the Japanese propaganda machine on its head.

Iva’s voyage to Japan

Iva Toguri was born on July 4, 1916, to Japanese immigrant parents. The family resided in Los Angeles, California. Growing up, Iva’s father discouraged his children from engaging in Japanese activities, wanting the family to appear as American as possible. This meant Iva wasn’t allowed to speak Japanese or attend cultural events, and her meals were often a blend of Asian and Western cuisine.

In 1941, Iva’s parents sent her to Japan to care for her ailing aunt, who was bedridden with high blood pressure and diabetes. Travel to Japan was fraught with difficulties by that time, as it and the U.S. weren’t on the best terms. As such, Japanese-Americans fell under suspicion whenever they requested travel documents.

Iva Toguri D'Aquino sitting with a book
Photo Credit: Pictorial Parade / Getty Images

Iva traveled to Japan with a Certificate of Identification, as she didn’t possess a passport. She had a hard time adjusting to life there, as she was unable to speak the language and found people to be “discourteous.”

The language barrier was her biggest hurdle, as she couldn’t read local newspapers and learn that tensions between Japan and America were reaching a boiling point.

Japan attacks Pearl Harbor and war is declared

It wasn’t until November 1941 that Iva decided to return to Los Angeles. However, an issue with her paperwork meant she would miss her California-bound boat scheduled for December 2, 1941. Less than a week later, Japan attacked Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor and the U.S. declared war.

Iva was immediately approached by the Japanese government with a request to renounce her American citizenship. When she declined to do so, she was barred from obtaining a war ration card. She was deemed an “enemy alien” and watched closely. When she requested to be interned with other “enemy aliens,” she was denied due to her gender and Japanese ancestry.

Iva Toguri D'Aquino during a correspondents interview
Photo Credit: Unknown Author / Wikimedia Commons

Unable to return home, Iva remained at her aunt’s residence. She soon found herself forced out by neighbors who believed her to be an “American Spy.” In need of somewhere to live, Iva relocated to a boardinghouse in Tokyo.

Iva’s beginnings in Japanese radio

Iva obtained a part-time transcribing job with the country’s national news agency, Dōmei Tsūshinsha. It was there she learned of her family’s relocation to an internment camp in Arizona, a fate many Japanese-Americans living on the west coast faced. She also met her future husband, Portuguese-Japanese pacifist Felipe D’Aquino, while at the station. An act of generosity on his part would lead her to obtain another job, this time at Radio Tokyo.

While with Radio Tokyo (formally known as Nippon Hoso Kyokai), Iva worked as an English-language typist. It was during this time that she began smuggling food to inmates at a local P.O.W. camp, resulting in a meeting with Australian Captain Charles Cousens and U.S. Army Captain Wallace Ince.

Iva Toguri D'Aquino leaving the parole board office
Iva Toguri D’Aquino leaving the parole board office, 1956. (Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images)

Cousens and Ince, along with Philippine Lieutenant Normando “Norman” Reyes, were approached by Japanese officials to host a propaganda radio show. Titled Zero Hour, it aimed to lower the morale of troops stationed in the Pacific by reporting on disasters back in the U.S.

Initially written by the Japanese, complaints over poor English grammar and syntax eventually allowed the three soldiers to gain full control over the content. Due to the language barrier, they were able to fill their broadcasts with sarcasm and double entendres aimed toward the Japanese, without retribution.

Iva Toguri becomes “Orphan Ann”

The group soon approached Iva and requested she join them. She agreed, but under one condition: that she not be made to say anything anti-American on air. Soon, she was broadcasting under the pseudonym “Orphan Ann” — a play on the Little Orphan Annie comics and the phrase used by Australian soldiers to describe those cut off from allies: “Orphans of the Pacific.”

During Zero Hour‘s year and a half run, Iva performed various comedy sketches and introduced music, but never participated in newscasts. She called listeners “honorable boneheads” in mock contempt and refused to travel down the typical propagandist route.

Iva Toguri D'Aquino behind bars in Yokohama, Japan in 1945
Iva Toguri D’Aquino behind bars in Yokohama, Japan. (Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images)

Her on-air time eventually dropped to two to three minutes per broadcast, and her voice became known across the Pacific. While her identity and that of other female propagandists remained largely unknown, troops dubbed them the “Tokyo Rose.” This name became legendary and caused a lot of legal hardship for Iva.

Accusations of treason

At the end of the war, reporters with Cosmopolitan Magazine and the International News Service put out a reward for $2,000 for an interview with the “Tokyo Rose.”

Despite not identifying as such, Iva took the offer, as she was in need of money to fund her voyage back to America. However, when she arrived in Yokohama on September 5, 1945, she was taken into custody by the U.S. Army. Her offense was treason for aiding the enemy with her radio broadcasts.

Iva was released from custody a year later, after the Army and other counterintelligence agencies found no evidence of treason during her time on Japanese radio. However, anti-Japanese sentiment was rampant in post-war America, meaning she was in for a rough ride upon returning home.

1946 mugshot of Iva Toguri D'Aquino
Photo Credit: David Shapinsky / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0

Arrested for the second time on September 25, 1948, Ida faced eight charges of treason. Her trial hinged on two key pieces of evidence. The first was a group of Japanese witnesses who claimed she’d spoken badly about the U.S. on-air.

The second was a supposed line — “Orphans of the Pacific, you are really orphans now. How will you get home now that your ships are sunk?” — that she’s said to have uttered in October 1944.

Despite the quote not appearing in the show’s transcripts, it proved to be the deciding factor in the case. Iva was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Her U.S. citizenship was also revoked.

She spent six years and two months at the Federal Reformatory for Women in Alderson, West Virginia, before being granted parole.

Presidential pardon

Iva moved to Chicago to work for her father’s business upon her release, but she couldn’t escape the trouble of being known as the “Tokyo Rose.” The federal government issued a deportation order against her, and she was consistently denied a presidential pardon for her conviction.

Things turned around in 1976 after two witnesses from the trial claimed they’d been threatened into testifying against Iva. This led the jury foreman to admit the presiding judge had pressured the jury to come back with a guilty verdict.

Journalists and government agencies investigated Iva’s conviction and found numerous other issues, which led advocacy groups to petition again for a presidential pardon.

Iva Toguri D'Aquino speaking to the press in San Francisco in 1976
Iva Toguri D’Aquino speaking with the press in San Francisco, 1976. (Photo Credit: Janet Fries / Getty Images)

On the last full day of his presidency in 1977, President Gerald Ford granted Iva a presidential pardon, nullifying her conviction. The pardon also restored her U.S. citizenship.

After being pardoned, Iva continued to live in Chicago. She unfortunately had to divorce her husband in 1980, after he was denied entry into the U.S., but she lived a relatively private life and died of natural causes in September 2006.

D-Day: Facts on the Epic 1944 Invasion That Changed the Course of WWII

H/T History.com.

Tuesday June 6,1944 changed the course of the war.

The Allied invasion of Normandy was among the largest military operations ever staged. Learn how many fighting forces took part, why it was called D-Day, stats on its planning, execution and more.

Without the brilliant planning and heroic sacrifices of the D-Day invasion, the Allies may have never defeated the Nazi forces in Europe. On June 6, 1944, more than 156,000 American, British and Canadian troops stormed 50 miles of Normandy’s fiercely defended beaches in northern France in an operation that proved to be a critical turning point in World War II. Below are key facts on the planning and execution of the epic Allied invasion.

1. D-Day Meaning: The ‘D’ in D-Day doesn’t actually stand for anything.

Unlike V-E Day (“Victory in Europe”) or V-J Day (“Victory over Japan”), the “D” in D-Day isn’t short for “departure” or “decision.” As early as World War I, the U.S. military used the term D-Day to designate the launch date of a mission. One reason was to keep the actual date out of the hands of spies; another was to serve as a placeholder until an actual date was chosen. They also used H-Hour for the specific time of the launch.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill orchestrated the D-Day plans.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill orchestrated the D-Day plans.

Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

2. The D-Day invasion took years of planning.


Allied leaders Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill knew from the start of the war that a massive invasion of mainland Europe would be critical to relieve pressure from the Soviet army fighting the Nazis in the east. Initially, a plan called “Operation Sledgehammer” called for an Allied invasion of ports in northwest France as early as 1943, but Roosevelt and Churchill decided to invade Northern Africa first and attack Europe’s “soft underbelly” through Italy.

3. D-Day was the largest amphibious invasion in military history.

According to the D-Day Center, the invasion, officially called “Operation Overlord,” combined the forces of 156,115 U.S., British and Canadian troops, 6,939 ships and landing vessels, and 2,395 aircraft and 867 gliders that delivered airborne troops.

4. Allied forces carried out a massive deception campaign in advance of D-Day.


The idea behind the ruse was to trick the Nazis into thinking that the invasion would occur at Pas-de-Calais, the closest French coastline to England. The Allies used fake radio transmissions, double agents, and even a “phantom army,” commanded by American General George Patton, to throw Germany off the scent.

5. A D-Day dress rehearsal was a fiasco.


Two months before D-Day, Allied forces conducted a disastrous dress rehearsal of the Normandy invasion on an evacuated English beach called Slapton Sands. Known as “Exercise Tiger,” 749 U.S. troops lost their lives after a fleet of German E-boats caught wind of the mock invasion and torpedoed American tank landing ships. Survivors described the Exercise Tiger fiasco as more terrifying than the D-Day landing on Omaha Beach.

Engineers of the 531st Engineer Shore Regiment explode a German landmine during the Allied invasion of France. 

Engineers of the 531st Engineer Shore Regiment explode a German landmine during the Allied invasion of France.

Keystone/Getty Images

6. Germany had fortified France’s coast.


Anticipating an Allied invasion somewhere along the French coast, Adolf Hitler charged Field Marshal Erwin Rommel with fortifying Nazi defenses in France. In 1943, Rommel completed construction of the “Atlantic Wall,” Germany’s 2,400-mile line of bunkers, landmines and beach and water obstacles. It’s estimated that the Nazis planted 4 million landmines along Normandy’s beaches.

Ammunition stored in the town square of Morten-in-Marsh, England in May 1944 in preparation for D-Day.

Ammunition stored in the town square of Morten-in-Marsh, England in May 1944 in preparation for D-Day.

Frank Scherschel/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

7. The U.S. shipped tons of supplies to the staging area in England.


Since Operation Overlord was launched from England, the U.S. military had to ship 7 million tons of supplies to the staging area, including 450,000 tons of ammunition.

8. Bad weather delayed the invasion.


Troops and supplies were in place by May, but bad weather delayed the launch date of the invasion. On June 5, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander in charge of Operation Overlord, decided that the invasion would happen the next day, in part because the weather was still rough and Nazi planes were grounded. That same day, 1,000 British bombers dropped 5,000 tons of munitions on Nazi gun batteries along the Normandy coast to cripple Germany’s defenses before the imminent invasion.

U.S. Army infantry men approaching Omaha Beach, Normandy, France on June 6, 1944.

U.S. Army infantry men approaching Omaha Beach, Normandy, France on June 6, 1944.

Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images

9. D-Day was carried out along five sections of beachfront.


Operation Overlord was divided among sections of beachfront along the Normandy coast codenamed, from West to East: “Utah,” “Omaha,” “Gold,” “Juno” and “Sword.”

American paratroopers attached to the static line just prior to jumping during the invasion of Normandy, France.

American paratroopers attached to the static line just prior to jumping during the invasion of Normandy, France.

/US Army Air Force/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

10. Paratroopers launched the operation before dawn .


The D-Day invasion began in the pre-dawn hours of June 6 with thousands of paratroopers landing inland on the Utah and Sword beaches in an attempt to cut off exits and destroy bridges to slow Nazi reinforcements. American paratroopers suffered high casualties at Utah beach, some drowning under heavy equipment in flooded marshland, others shot out of the sky by Nazi snipers. The British and Canadian paratroopers met less resistance at Sword beach and quickly took two key bridges.

Video: Guy Whidden, Paratrooper

11. More than 156,000 Allied ground troops stormed the beaches.


In wave after wave of thousands of landing ships, more than 156,000 Allied infantrymen stormed the five beaches. Facing them were around 50,000 Germans troops. Stormy seas made the landings incredibly difficult, with many regiments coming ashore far from their target destinations. At Omaha Beach, only two of the 29 amphibious tanks even made it to land on their own power (three were later transported to the beach). At Utah Beach, the American troops included 14 Comanche “code-talkers” who relayed critical tactical messages in their Native American tongue.

Massive landing and deployment of U.S. troops, supplies and equipment day after victorious D-Day action on Omaha Beach, barrage balloons keep watch overhead for German aircraft while scores of ships unload men and materials.

Massive landing and deployment of U.S. troops, supplies and equipment day after victorious D-Day action on Omaha Beach, barrage balloons keep watch overhead for German aircraft while scores of ships unload men and materials.

Time Life Pictures/National Archives/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

12. The toughest fighting was on Omaha Beach.


At Omaha Beach, bombing runs had failed to take out heavily fortified Nazi artillery positions. The first waves of American fighters were cut down in droves by German machine gun fire as they scrambled across the mine-riddled beach. But U.S. forces persisted through the day-long slog, pushing forward to a fortified seawall and then up steep bluffs to take out the Nazi artillery posts by nightfall. All told, around 2,400 American troops were killed, wounded or unaccounted for after the fighting at Omaha Beach.

Video: Frank DeVita describes landing at Omaha Beach

13. Canadian troops at Juno Beach captured the most territory.


Canadian soldiers also suffered terrible casualties at Juno Beach, battling rough seas before landing on a heavily defended strip of shoreline. Similar to the Americans at Omaha Beach, the first lines of Canadian troops were gunned down en masse by Nazi artillery—estimates put the initial casualty rate at 50 percent—before pushing beyond the beachfront and chasing the Germans inland. In the end, the Canadians at Juno captured more towns and territory than any other battalions in Operation Overlord.

14. All five beaches were secured by Allied forces by June 11.

Five days after the D-Day invasion, troops immediately began installing two massive temporary harbors that had taken six months to construct back in England. All told, the Allies unloaded approximately 2,500,000 men, 500,000 vehicles and 4,000,000 tons of supplies at the temporary harbors over the remaining course of the war.

Wounded U.S. soldiers of the 3rd Battery, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st US Infantry Division, lean against chalk cliffs while eating and smoking after storming Omaha Beach in Normandy on D-Day.

Wounded U.S. soldiers of the 3rd Battery, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st US Infantry Division, lean against chalk cliffs while eating and smoking after storming Omaha Beach in Normandy on D-Day.

Taylor/US Army/Getty Images

15. The D-Day invasion marked a turning point in the war.


The total Allied losses at Normandy are estimated to be at least 4,413. Total Allied casualties in the Battle of Normandy, which dragged on until August, topped 226,000. But thanks in part to the massive influx of troops and equipment, D-Day marked a decisive turning point in the war. Less than a year later, on May 7, 1945, Germany signed an unconditional surrender.

Top 10 Things To See When Visiting The D-Day Beaches In Normandy

 

 H/T  War History OnLine. 

Normandy Visit

The Normandy landings took place on D-Day, 6 June 1944, it was the largest seaborne invasion in history. Today millions of people visit Normandy every year to see for themselves where the battle was fought. We have compiled a list of 10 things we think you should see when you visit the battlefields of Normandy.

1. Pegasus Bridge & Museum

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On the night of 5 June 1944, a force of 181 men, led by Major John Howard took off from southern England in six Horsa gliders to capture what was to become known as Pegasus Bridge. The force was composed of D Company (reinforced with two platoons of B Company), 2nd Battalion, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry; 20 sappers of the Royal Engineers of 249 Field Company (Airborne); and men of the Glider Pilot Regiment.

The object of this action was to prevent German armour from crossing the bridges and thus stop them from attacking the eastern flank of the landings at Sword Beach.

Five of the gliders landed as close as 47 yards from their objectives from 16 minutes past midnight. The attackers poured out of their battered gliders, completely surprising the German defenders, and took the bridges within 10 minutes.

The original Pegasus Bridge now resides in the grounds of the Pegasus Museum. The museum was inaugurated by HRH The Prince of Wales on 4 June 2000, Brigadier James Hill, Françoise Gondrée foundress with General Sir Richard Nelson Gale as Président and lies at the Eastern end of the current bridge.

Click for more info on the Pegasus bridge museum

2. Sword Beach – German Command bunker Ouistreham

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Just a stone’s throw from the beach and only a few minutes away from Pegasus Bridge, the Atlantic Wall Museum is housed in the former German Army HQ that controlled the batteries guarding the Orne Estuary.

Built from 5,000 tonnes of steel and concrete, this massive 17m tower which overlooks the seaside villas of Riva-Bella is unique of its kind. The tower has been restored so that it looks exactly as it did on the morning of June 6, 1944.

Inside the rooms on each of its six storeys have been entirely refurbished and returned to their original functions, including an engine room, barrack room, pharmacy, armory, ammunition store, map room, radio room, switchboard, model room and observation post with a powerful telemeter.

Spaces are also dedicated to the crack troops who breached the Atlantic Wall and the special equipment they used. The battle damage is still clearly visible.

More information can be found on their website or  Tripadvisor

3. Juno Beach Center

Juno_Beach_Centre

The Juno Beach Centre is Canada’s Second World War museum and cultural centre located in Normandy, France. The Centre pays homage to the 45,000 Canadians who lost their lives during the War, of which 5,500 were killed during the Battle of Normandy and 359 on D-Day.

Opened in 2003 by veterans and volunteers with a vision to create a permanent memorial to all Canadians who served during the Second World War, the Centre’s mandate is to preserve this legacy for future generations through education and remembrance.

Since 2004, the Juno Beach Centre’s Canadian guides have conducted guided tours of Juno Park, leading visitors through the remains of the Atlantic Wall, recounting the history of the D-Day Landings. The guided tour gives local context specific to Courseulles and the Battle of Normandy and complements the visit of the museum which conveys the role of Canada throughout the entire Second World War.

The bunker located in front of the Juno Beach Centre was uncovered and its access was cleared with the creation of Juno Park in 2004. This bunker was a German observation post that was part of the Atlantic Wall defence system. In 1944, it contained radio equipment that allowed its occupants to communicate with other bunkers and coordinate the defence of the beach. A machine gun post was positioned on the top of the bunker. A steel dome (removed in the late 1970s) protected the “look-out”. It is a great example of the German strategy to fortify the port of Courseulles.

Guided tours now include visiting the tunnels that lead to the underground Command Post of the 6th Company, 736th Infantry Regiment of Hauptmann Grote which controlled the site in 1944.

More information on the Juno Beach website

4. D-Day Museum Arromanches

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It was on the beach of Arromanches that, during the Invasion of Normandy immediately after D-Day, the Allies established an artificial temporary harbour to allow the unloading of heavy equipment without waiting for the conquest of deep water ports such as Le Havre or Cherbourg.

Although at the centre of the Gold Beach landing zone, Arromanches was spared the brunt of the fighting on D-Day so the installation and operation of the port could proceed as quickly as possible without damaging the beach and destroying surrounding lines of communication. The port was commissioned on 14 June 1944.

This location was one of two sites chosen to establish the port facilities to unload the massive quantities of supplies and troops needed for the invasion during June 1944, the other was built further West at Omaha Beach. The British built huge floating concrete caissons which, after being towed from England, then were formed the walls and piers forming and defining the artificial port called the Mulberry harbour.

Even today sections of the Mulberry Harbour still remain with huge concrete blocks sitting on the sand and more can be seen further out at sea.

Learn more about the harbor in the D-Day Museum

5. Batterie de Longues

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The battery at Longues was situated between the landing beaches Omaha and Gold. On the night before the D-Day landings of 6 June 1944, the battery was subjected to a barrage comprising approximately 1,500 tons of bombs, although much of this landed on a nearby village.

The bombing was followed from 0537hrs on the morning of the landings by bombardment from the French cruiser Georges Leygues as well as the U.S. battleship Arkansas. The battery itself opened fire at 0605hrs and fired a total of 170 shots throughout the day, forcing the headquarters ship HMS Bulolo to retreat to safer water.

Three of the four guns were eventually disabled by British cruisers Ajax and Argonaut, though a single gun continued to operate intermittently until 1900hrs that evening. The crew of the battery (184 men, half of them over 40 years old) surrendered to the 231st Infantry Brigade the following day.

The heaviest damage was caused by the explosion of the ammunition for an AA gun, mounted by the British on the roof of casemate No.4, which killed several British soldiers.

Open to the public are four casemates with artillery plus the observation bunker (which was used in the movie “The Longest Day”)

More information can be found on Tripadvisor

6. Overlord Museum

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Located at a short distance of the famous “Omaha beach”, on the D514 facing the roundabout that provides access to the American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-mer. Overlord Museum chronicles the period of the Allied landing until the liberation of Paris.

The collection was collected by someone who was both a witness to the conflict and involved in the reconstruction of Normandy.

The museum contains the Leloup collection which has been built up over half a century of research, salvage and purchases of historic pieces from the Normandy battlefields. Everything from a reconnaissance plane, V1 flying bomb, more than 10 armoured fighting vehicles, 30 soft skin vehicles, artillery pieces, poster, signs, documents and personal objects all bearing witness to the terrible fighting in 1944.

Restoration of many of the vehicles to full running order , accurately equipped and painted have taken many thousands of hours by a dedicated team of skilled specialists. Some of the vehicles developed for war are unique as the factories and companies that produced them no longer exist, illustrating the preservation of the past technologies realized by the Overlord Museum Omaha beach

More information can be found on their website.

7. American Cemetery

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The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France is located in Colleville-sur-Mer, on the site of the temporary American St. Laurent Cemetery, established by the U.S. First Army on June 8, 1944 as the first American cemetery on European soil in World War II.

The cemetery site, at the north end of its half mile access road, covers 172.5 acres and contains the graves of 9,387 of our military dead, most of whom lost their lives in the D-Day landings and ensuing operations. On the Walls of the Missing, in a semicircular garden on the east side of the memorial, are inscribed 1,557 names. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified.

Normandy is ABMC’s most visited cemetery, receiving approximately one million visitors each year.

The visitors center depicts the significance and meaning of Operation OVERLORD and honors the values and sacrifices of the World War II generation.

More information can be found on the ABMC Website

8. Pointe Du Hoc & Range memorial

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The World War II Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument is located on a cliff eight miles west of Normandy American Cemetery, which overlooks Omaha Beach, France. It was erected by the French to honor elements of the American Second Ranger Battalion under the command of Lt. Col. James E. Rudder. During the American assault of Omaha and Utah beaches on June 6, 1944, these U.S. Army Rangers scaled the 100-foot cliffs and seized the German artillery pieces that could have fired on the American landing troops at Omaha and Utah beaches. At a high cost of life, they successfully defended against determined German counterattacks.

 

The monument consists of a simple granite pylon positioned atop a German concrete bunker with tablets at its base inscribed in French and English. The monument was formally transferred to ABMC for perpetual care and maintenance on January 11, 1979. This battle-scarred area on the left flank of Omaha Beach remains much as the Rangers left it.

More information can be found on the ABMC Website

9. Utah Beach Museum

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In 1962, the mayor of Saint Marie du Mont, Michel de Vallavieille, decides to create the Utah Beach D-Day Museum as a living expression of the town’s appreciation and gratitude for the Allies’ sacrifices. The Museum will initially be housed in one of the German command bunkers of strongpoint WN5.
The Museum’s unique collection of artifacts is largely the result of his tireless efforts, and the friendships he developed over the years with officers and American veterans.

Almost 45 years later the Utah Beach Museum now recounts the story of D-Day in 10 sequences, from the preparation of the landing, to the final outcome and success. This comprehensive chronological journey immerses visitors in the history of the landing through a rich collection of objects, vehicles, materials, and oral histories.

Admire an original B26 bomber, one of only six remaining examples of this airplane still in existence worldwide, and relive the epic experience of American soldiers through the film “VICTORY IN THE SAND,”.

By the end of your visit, you will understand the strategic choices for the Allied invasion of Normandy and the reasons for the success at Utah Beach. Thanks to your visit, you will also have contributed to the safeguard of the site and the preservation of the memory of the Allied soldiers’ extraordinary sacrifices.

More information can be found on the Utah Beach Museum Website

10. Dead Mans Corner Museum

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Normandy, France, 6 June 1944. It is only just 00:15 when the American paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division of General Maxwell D. Taylor parachute over the Normandy, thus becoming the first soldiers to reach the French territory; their main mission is to capture Carentan. This town is defended by the elite of the German troops, the paratroopers of Major von der Heydte, the “Green Devils” of the 6th Fallschirmjäger Regiment.

 

The Germans are entrenched in Saint-Côme-du-Mont, the last bastion before Carentan. They have the order to defend the town until their last man dies. It is crucial for the Americans to capture Carentan as quick as possible. They are waiting for the support of the light tanks of the 70th Battalion that landed in Utah Beach. The road from the beach is the only way they can go.

It comes from the beach, passes through Sainte-Marie-du-Mont and ends half way on the road Carentan/Saint-Côme-du-Mont, at a crossroads named – since then – the « Dead Man’s Corner” by the Americans.

A sole house stands at this crossroads; it is used by the German paratroopers as headquarters, then as aid post. The Dead Man’s Corner Museum is located in this very building, in the highly historical place of Saint-Côme-du-Mont.

Indeed, the house of the Dead Man’s Corner has been acquired by the Carentan Historical Center and turned into a museum.

During the first development phase of the D-Day Paratroopers Historical Center, it has gathered within this historical building an impressive and authentic collection of material used by the American and German paratroopers, related to this legendary site.

In 2015 the museum opened the D-Day Experience in which you have the chance of boarding a C-47 Dakota that participated in the invasion in a simulated parachute drop!

Learn more about the museum on the Dead Mans Corner website

More, Much More

We have selected but 10 of the museums and attractions that Normandy has to offer, there are dozens more museums, locations, towns and memorials that are well worth a visit.

 

Normandy honours D-Day veterans

H/T  War History OnLine.

The French and others around Europe, while Americans,  including Obama, have chosen to forget.

My family and I will always remember the price paid by The Greatest Generation to keep the world free.

Normandy

The northern district of Normandy in France is preparing to honour and commemorate the veterans and soldiers who gave their lives during World War Two

The D-Day landings took place on 6th June 1944. It was the beginning of the liberation of France as thousands of Allied troops stormed the beaches at Normandy against the Nazi German invaders.

Now, Normandy’s local authorities have been honouring the veterans who took part in the landings with a commemorative 70th anniversary medal. The medal is to say a special thank you to all of those who took part in the operation and liberated France.

Joseph Stott from Utah is now 90 years old, and was just 19 when he landed at Omaha beach, has received the medal from French authorities. Joseph will join other veterans on an Honorary flight back to France this autumn with their families. They will visit the World War Two memorial in Normandy and take part in commemoration ceremonies.

Operation Neptune, as the beach landings were known and part of the overall Operation Overlord, was one of the biggest sea to land invasions in world history. The operation was the beginning of liberating France and the rest of Europe from Nazi Germany. It was the pinnacle to an attack that led all the way to Berlin and the fall of the Third Reich.

The operation was planned from 1943 onwards. There was a huge deception plan underway alongside the actual D-Day landings, so that the Germans would not suspect when and where the real attack was going to be made, the KSL.com reports.

Operation Bodyguard was the deception plan. In the lead up to D-Day the weather was not ideal, but if the Allies postponed they would have to wait another two weeks to allow for the phases of the moon. So military leaders decided to go ahead. Germany was anticipating an attack from the Allies, and Nazi Field Marshal Rommel had been put in charge of German troops in France, as well as ensuring coastal fortifications were suitable to fend off an Allied attack.

The first part of Operation Overlord was a huge air and sea attack onto the French mainland. Around 25,000 Allied paratroopers were dropped behind enemy lines during the night, followed by hundreds of divisions of land troops being shipped to the French coast early the next morning. Normandy’s beaches had been divided into five sections by Allied commanders, these were Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword Beach. The entire section stretched 80kms of the French coastline.

There were strong winds and many landing craft were blown off position, so many troops landed under heavy enemy fire. The beaches were littered with mines and defence obstacles put there by the Germans.The most casualties were at Omaha beach since it has very high cliff faces from which the Germans could defend well. Only Juno and Gold beaches were taken by the Allies in the first day of the invasion. The other beaches were all take around six days later.