It’s been 74 years.
To children today, this war seems like ancient history.
For me, it was fought in my grandparents’ lifetime.
It was not uncommon during the World Wars to have some forge their age to enlist. So on those landing craft, you might have had some as young as 16. Naval shelling. Planes overhead dropping bombs. You’re about to become part of the largest seaborne invasion in history. You can only hope that others did their part.
We know about the bombardments. We know about the sabotage carried on by special forces and French resistance fighters. In addition to the paratroopers that dropped behind enemy lines, we also know about the troops that landed in gliders. Most of those glider pilots were trained in my hometown. (Silent Wings Museum)
There were also many others who ran campaigns of deception. Resistance by the German military could not be prevented, but it could be reduced. So many people were tasked with creating narratives for the Germans that would make invasion of the European continent appear to come from MANY directions.
While sidelined, General George Patton was still the number one feared opponent of the German High Command. He played his part to make the Germans think he was leading an entirely different invasion force.
A Spanish double agent got rich off the Germans because he faked a large intelligence gathering network. He also received the Iron Cross from Germany AND the MBE from the United Kingdom after D-Day.
Two Norwegian double agents broadcasts messages that led the Germans believe there would be an invasion in Norway!
Planning and strategy got the Allies to where they were on this morning 74 years ago. Now it was up to the grit and determination of those on the ground, dodging mines, avoiding bullets, and taking on the German military machine head on.
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
Also published on Medium.