The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

2 historic events happened on this day...Normandy and Midway

What I am referring to are the D-Day invasion of Western Europe in 1944, it was the first direct attack on Western Europe and "Festung Europa", after the aborted attack on Dieppe in 1942.  Some believed that this was a practice run on the Germans to see how they reacted.  The British left a lot of material behind and a lot of casualties and prisoners from that raid.  The Canadians were not happy about the results.  But 2 years later the Allies tried again with much different results than the ill-fated raid.
 On June 6th, the allies struck in Normandy on 5 beaches, Gold, Sword,Juno,Utah and Omaha, after a major bombardment with aircraft, battleships, destroyers, cruisers and the French resistance and more aircraft attacking the rear areas including railroad marshaling yards, bridges and other gathering points, they kept the Germans from reinforcing the bridgehead.  Also a major factor was Adolph Hitler who refused to release the reserves because he believed that the main attack would come at Calais instead.  This belief was reinforced by a major misinformation campaign by the allies to keep the Germans pinned at Calais and not reinforcing the embattled Germans at Normandy.

    Some facts about D-day:
The D-Day Invasion at Normandy – June 6, 1944

 Invasion Date    
June 6, 1944 – The D in D-Day stands for “day” since the final invasion date was unknown and weather dependent
Allied Forces
156,000 Allied troops  from The United States, The United Kingdom, Canada,Free France and Norway
Invasion Location
The Allied code names for the beaches along the 50-mile stretch of Normandy coast targeted for landing were Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. Omaha was the costliest beach in terms of Allied casualties.
The Armada
5,000 ships and landing craft
50,000 vehicles
11,000 planes
The Commanders
United States – Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar Bradley
The United Kingdom – Bernard Law Montgomery, Trafford Leigh-Mallory, Arthur Tedder, Miles Dempsey, Bertram Ramsay
Germany – Erwin Rommel, Gerd von Rundstedt, Friedrich Dollmann

Numbers represent total killed, wounded, missing or captured
United States – 6,603 (1,465 killed)
United Kingdom – 2,700
Canada – 1,074 (359 fatal)Germany – Estimated between 4,000 – 9,000
By June 11, with the beachheads firmly secured, more than 326,000 troops had crossed with more than 100,000 tons of military equipment. Paris was liberated on August 25. Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945.

As a treat, a couple of weeks ago when we were at work, there was our annual  AMT appreciation day at the hanger, we had some free food, the tool vendors were out in force and we got some cool stuff. we had some airplanes show up in the hanger:
 This P51D is sporting the Stripes on the fuselage and wings that the allies had painted to make Identification easier so there would be less friendly fire incidents.
Here is a better look at the P51D.  It is the iconic fighter from WWII for the allies.  This plane protected the B-17's and B-24's all the way to Berlin and back.  This plane made the Strategic bombing strategy a success, as far as enabling the bombers to make it to their targets.  Schweinfurt in 1943 was very costly to allied bombing efforts.  This showed the folly of sending bombers unescorted against Luftwaffe fighters.  Hermann Goering commented later when he saw a crashed P51 near Berlin, he "Knew the jig was up". 
    After being invaded on both sides by the allies, with most of Germany occupied, Hitler committed suicide in his bunker as Russian guns blasted Berlin. 11 months later, the Germans surrendered unconditionally to the allies. and the War in Europe was over.

     Also on the other side of the world, in 1942 from June 4 through June 6 the Americans fought the Japanese at the battle of Midway.  At the end, the Japanese lost 4 carriers, 1 cruiser and 300+ airplanes and worse than that, they lost the creme of their aviation strike force.  the Japanese never recovered from that loss.  We lost 1 carrier, 1 destroyer  and 100+ airplanes.   The details that started this in motion was the Doolittle Raid , this overrode Admiral Yamamoto  caution in dealing with the United States.  After the raid he pushed through operation MI, the invasion of Midway island, which he believed would force the Americans to leave their Pearl Harbor base to save their last remaining outpost in the Pacific.  The Japanese Navy had to deal with the Americans at the Battle of the Coral Sea which they lost a light carrier Shoho a light carrier, but the dive bombing and torpedo planes of the Shokaku and the Zuikuku were savaged and the Shokaku was heavily damaged.  This forced the Japanese to use their other 4 heavy or fleet carriers.  the 6 carriers total, the Shokaku, Zuikaku, Akaki,Soryo,Hiryo and Kaga were the 6 carriers that attacked Pearl Harbor.  They represented the creme of Japanese Naval Aviation.  With Zuikaku depleted in their air arm and the Shokaku  heavily damaged, both were sidelined on the next battle.   The Americans lost the Lexington, a Destroyer U.S.S. Sims and many aircraft.  Also the U.S.S. Yorktown was damaged.  The Americans got her to Pearl Harbor and in 3 days got her repaired enough for combat operations to join the Enterprise and Hornet to defend Midway Island.  The American Cryptographers under Joe Rochefort were able to break the Japanese JN-25 imperial naval code which gave the Americans the plans of the Japanese to attack Midway Island.  The Japanese believed that the Americans only had 2 carriers, the Enterprise and Hornet, they believed that the Yorktown was sunk at Coral Sea.  The Americans met the Japanese at what was called the battle of Midway.  The end results was that the Japanese lost 4 of their fleet carriers, the creme of their naval aviation, and they never recovered from the blow.  It took 3 more years of hard fighting before the Japanese surrendered to the Americans on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri.
     The Plane that devastated the Japanese at Midway was the SBD Dauntlass, this plane was responsible the the destruction of the Japanese carriers at Midway.

          The diving brakes are evident in this picture. of a Dauntlass diving on a Japanese carrier.

    We got a treat along with the P51D we had visit, we also had a SBD Dauntlass visit us also.

            The diving brakes that made her so devastating are shown here retracted.    Here is another pic
of her from the other side.
I was very excited to see icons of American aviation in person.  I explained the significance of these planes to the other mechanics...especially the younger ones.  I wanted to crawl inside of them but I didn't want to insult the CAF by crawling all over their airplanes without permission. 

The number of remaining D-Day vets is estimated anywhere between 8,000 and 60,000. The Veterans Administration has detailed numbers on total WWII vets remaining available at www.nationalww2museum.org/the-greatest-generation



  1. Outstanding post, and those are great pics of the birds! And thanks for taking the time to 'explain' what they really mean to the younger folks!

  2. I don't believe that the "Strategic Bombing" was as successful as many American's believe it to be. While a useful tool, it is very hard to measure what the real effect "strategic bombing" had on the length or outcome of the war, which was decided by boots on the ground.

    1. Hey AM,
      You are correct, The Strategic bombing was useful tool, It did hurt the morale of the German civilians whom blamed Goeing for the failure to protect the Reich. What finally did end the war was invasion of Germany on both sides by the allies. The proponents of strategic bombing tried to say that it was a spectacular success when they interviewed Albert Speer whom actually increased the production of essential war munitions during the bombings.