69 years ago....around 1:00 AM paratroopers were landing in Normandy France. Around 6:30 AM the amphibious landings had commenced in what would be the largest amphibious invasion in world history. The task of moving the troops and supplies involved an invasion fleet that was drawn from eight different navies, comprising 6,939 vessels: 1,213 warships, 4,126 transport vessels (landing ships and landing craft), and 736 ancillary craft and 864 merchant vessels! Casualties for the 1st day was an estimated 10,000 (4414 dead) and these figure seems to keep changing as record keeping was chaotic back then. If it had failed (pushed off the beaches), than your looking at 1945 before the Allies could try again. History today would be different and many more lives would have been lost.
"A few moments after 1 a.m. on June 6, the boots of American and British paratroopers thudded upon the soil of France."
So begins U.S. News's detailed description of one of the largest invasions by land, sea and air in the history of the world.
In this day and age, detailed information flies around the world within minutes of news breaking. But 69 years ago, things were a little different. It took several weeks for U.S. News & World Report (known at the time as The United States News) to get a detailed description of what happened on five beaches in Northwest France on Tuesday, June 6, 1944.
In an article that ran 24 days after the invasion, U.S. News paints a picture reminiscent of the opening scenes of Steven Spielberg's 1998 film "Saving Private Ryan," with troops descending "in misty darkness on the narrowest part of Normandy, where the shore swings north" and a "death trap" of machine guns and cannons encountered by the American invaders.
"On this beach, losses were high. Even men who got through that fire were able to advance only 100 yards inland in several hours of fighting."
John Keegan, a renowned British military historian, has called World War II the greatest single event in the history of mankind. - Tom Brokaw, NBC special correspondent and author of "The Greatest Generation"