Posted July 10th, 2007 by lex
The Oxford Medievalist is conducting another poll that’s just down our lane:
I was driving to work – on the freeway, when I had my usual news station on. They were talking about the World Trade Center, and I had assumed that it must have been an anniversary to the 1993 bombing. It wasn’t for 5 minutes or so that I realized that this was in real time.
In subsequent years, I got a DvD documentary – filmed by the Naudet brothers – Jules and Giden – 2 Frenchmen who were embedded with the firemen. They had come to America in June with the intent of just filming about the life of a “Probe” – a new fireman just learning the ropes. If you haven’t seen this 2 hour documentary, I recommend it.
By lex, on June 6th, 2009
Sixty-five years after the fact, I still wonder how they did it.
156,000 US and allied forces crossed the English channel to face 380,000 battle hardened, well-entrenched Axis soldiers that had industriously used two years of relative calm to build reinforced concrete bunkers and overlapping fields of fire. By the end of the day, over 6,000 US servicemen would fall, nearly 1500 of whom would never rise again. And there would be much more hard fighting left to come before the landing force would breakout from the Normandy beachhead.
The Armorer has much more, including this letter from a grateful French liaison officer serving alongside the 82nd in Afghanistan. The French government has not forgotten either – John “Harry” Kellers returns to France to be recognized as a Chevalier in the Légion d’honneur. His first trip there was as an 18-year old sailor serving a gun on an amphibious landing craft.
Naval forces * played their role both on the on the beaches as well as offshore, according to German Field Marshall Gerd von Rundstedt:**
The enemy had deployed very strong Naval forces off the shores of the bridgehead. These can be used as quickly mobile, constantly available artillery, at points where they are necessary as defence against our attacks or as support for enemy attacks. During the day their fire is skillfully directed by . . . plane observers, and by advanced ground fire spotters. Because of the high rapid-fire capacity of Naval guns they play an important part in the battle within their range. The movement of tanks by day, in open country, within the range of these naval guns is hardly possible.
The liberation of France started when each, individual man on those landing craft as the ramp came down – each paratroop in his transport when the light turned green – made the individual decision to step off with the only life he had and face the fire.
How did they do it?
By lex, on December 16th, 2008
Today that’s often taken to mean bravely foregoing a second croissant. Sixty-four years ago today, the term had a very different connotation indeed.
Having successfully lodged and expanded a beach head in Normandy in June of 1944, Allied forces spent the rest of that month and most of July trying to breakout through the French hedgerows – a brutal battle of attrition requiring on-the-battlefield innovation.
By lex, on November 1st, 2008
When the submarine USS Ohio surfaced at sea and Machinist Mate 1st Class Jason Witty emerged from the hatch to look around, he saw calm, blue water under a peaceful sky — perfect for the solemn task he was about to perform.
On the map, the Ohio was afloat in just another indistinguishable expanse of the Pacific Ocean. As Witty stood on deck holding a silver pitcher, the vessel was alone.
Just like the ill-fated USS Indianapolis, 63 years earlier.
The pitcher contained the ashes of Witty’s grandfather, Boatswain Mate 2nd Class Eugene Morgan, who had survived the sinking of the Indianapolis — one of the worst tragedies for the U.S. Navy in World War II.
Morgan had died of a heart attack in June at age 87, just before Witty went to sea, and among his last wishes was the desire to be rejoined with his shipmates at roughly the same spot in the Pacific where the Indianapolis went down.