On This Day in History: D-Day, the 78th Anniversary

Veterans return to Normandy to mark 78th anniversary of D-Day landing




Read my original short story in memory of D-Day titled Forever and a Day.


Classified British Life-savers in D-Day Landings

In Remembrance of the 75th Anniversary of D-Day on June 6th, I am going to start posting articles like this between now and then.

Amazing stuff!

Tribute to Veterans

Acme 470 clicker used during 1944 D-Day landings as a means of communicating with allied troops
Photo – Evening Standard

In approaching the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, perhaps there is history, unbeknownst to many, on safeguards instilled for British and American paratroopers prior to 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces landing at Normandy, June 6, 1944 – along a 50-mile stretch of heavily fortified coast.

This particular defense was secretly crafted and classified by the British and also used by American forces.  “I had my pistol in one hand, my ‘cricket’ in the other… I crept along the hedgerow looking for a gate. Just as I found it, I heard a stir on the other side. I drew my pistol and got all set. Then I heard the click. That was the most pleasant sound I ever heard in the entire war.” ~ General Maxwell D. Taylor, Commander of…

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A “What If” Memorial Day

As a Veteran and Historian, I appreciate Post like this, I hope you do too. Happy Memorial Day Weekend to all my readers and subscribers.  -SF



The news could not have been worse. Starvation, malnutrition, diseases such as typhoid, smallpox, dysentery, and pneumonia, along with freezing temperatures that assaulted thousands of shoeless feet bloodying the snow, attached to bands of “walking skeletons” exposed to the elements by threadbare garments.

They all combined to claim 2,500 lives from General George Washington’s army of 12,000 Continentals, who struggled through their encampment at Valley Forge during the 1777-78 winter.

One bitter soldier wrote, “Poor food—hard lodging—cold weather—fatigue—nasty cloaths—nasty cookery—vomit half my time—smoak’d out of my senses—the devil’s in it—I can’t endure it—Why are we sent here to starve and freeze…?”

Why, indeed? Desertions were rife—“astonishing,” according to one observer—and mutterings of mutiny escaped from cracked lips of desperate, shivering volunteers, many of whom vowed to liberate themselves from their confinement as soon as their enlistments were up. Rumors of replacing General Washington were whispered in some ears—was there a conspiracy lurking in this misery? Finally, a detachment from the Continental Congress showed up to query the good general about what was going on.

Washington exploded: “I’ve been leading this band of rabble under the worst conditions imaginable against the most powerful country the world has ever seen, and you have the unbridled impudence to question my leadership? That’s it, I’m done, I resign!”

And he stomped off in fury, mounted his horse, and galloped away. Within three months, the British attacked what was left of the garrison, and the Americans aborted attempt to gain their independence and secure their rights for themselves and their posterity was quashed. History took a different and very uncertain turn.

That is not what happened, of course; but Valley Forge is just one instance representing many scores of crucial “What If” experiences in American history, involving the battles, agonies, and wartime hardships that American soldiers have endured on behalf of their country, often receiving due credit for their sacrifices, and, to our country’s shame, occasionally not. Indeed, who can plunge into the soul-numbing specifics of any combat in America’s wars without being humbled by accounts of bodies blown to bits, of mortally wounded soldiers still leading charges, of bravery so profound that it mocks our efforts to describe it? But describe such bravery and sacrifice, we must. And remember, we must. Indeed, who could forget?

Who could forget a “What If” scenario of the Normandy invasion, to cite another instance? What might have happened if Erwin Rommel had persuaded Hitler and General von Rundstedt to alter the Reich’s Festung Europa defense in ways that would have slaughtered Allied forces on the beaches? A re-energized Germany is one answer, perhaps in a position to bolster its position on the Eastern front and fight the war to a stalemate with the Soviet Union, leaving the continent enslaved by two totalitarian powers while a demoralized United States, Great Britain, and Canada contemplate another invasion attempt in a year or so. All the while Americans at home wonder why we got into that war to begin with, as they read about General Dwight Eisenhower getting sacked and President Roosevelt dying even more prematurely from a heart attack.

Indeed, the “What Ifs” about the brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our country fill books, all of them fascinating, all of them disturbing. One last point needs to be made. I’ve had the privilege of visiting the Normandy American Cemetery—several times, in fact—bereft of speech and breath as my lonely steps walked softly and lightly among those perfectly aligned rows of crosses, with a scattering of tiny flags fluttering here and there. Then you come to a particular cross and stop. And read:

Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms known but to God

I ponder this, of course. Silently. Reverently. I think of those intrepid 18, 19, and 20-year-olds storming the beaches of Normandy, facing murderous volleys of German machine-gun fire from MG-34s, and the terrifyingly high muzzle reports of Maschinengewehr 42s. Then my thoughts wander from those young heroes to some of their counterparts on American college campuses today, clamoring for “safe spaces,” demanding “trigger warnings” for speech that hurts their feelings, and sobbing about “micro-aggressions” that make them “uncomfortable.”

I, for one, love the America that has survived all those horrible “What Ifs” of our history. I love the America where our fallen heroes are revered and our serving men and women are held in the highest esteem.

Let us all thank God that He has blessed the America that we have, and always remember those courageous men and women who sacrificed their lives to secure it, for us and future generations.

Read the Original Article at Ammo-Land

How the US Army Rangers the Became Bad-Asses They are Today

Rangers on D-Day, near Pointe-Du-Hoc

Rangers on D-Day, near Pointe-Du-Hoc

By Christian Beekman

During World War II, Darby’s Rangers embodied the spirit of today’s forces: Rangers lead the way.
June 19, 1942, is not a familiar date to most. But members of the Army’s elite 75th Ranger Regiment know it well; it’s the date of activation of the 1st Ranger Battalion, under the command of Lt. Col. William Darby. Colloquially known as “Darby’s Rangers,” 1st Battalion and several subsequent Ranger battalions formed during World War II represented the genesis of the modern Ranger role of performing large-scale objective raids and direct-action missions. The 1st Ranger Battalion was created in order to address a daunting problem faced in 1942 by Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Marshall: The American troops fighting in Europe had no combat experience. Marshall needed a force extender — a method to gain combat experience early in the war and disseminate that expertise to other units. He looked to the British for inspiration; they had developed the legendary Commando units, designed to strike back early in the war and gather intelligence on German forces. The American equivalent would have a similar mission, but would not be a permanent formation.

As author Ross Hall relates in his comprehensive history of the Rangers, “The Ranger Book,” this was done to “mollify stubborn commanders when they figured they would get their soldiers back with a lot more education.” Darby was selected to head this new special unit named after a particularly elite group of soldiers from the early day of the American colonies: Rangers. On June 19, 1942, the 1st Ranger Battalion was activated.

As Darby’s Rangers trained with Commando teachers in Scotland, separate Ranger training facilities were being established back in the United States. Aside from a few Rangers who participated in the Dieppe raid in August 1942, as detailed by James DeFelice, Darby’s 1st Ranger Battalion would not face its first action until North Africa.

The Ranger involvement in Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of the North African coast, provided the first indication that American military commanders did not fully understand or grasp the capabilities that Darby’s unit provided. After the Torch landings, no suitable Ranger missions presented themselves. As Hall explains, American commanders had little clue on how to employ the new unit. “In fact, the whole concept of raiding Rangers, a quick-strike force without heavy weapons, was so new that most of the field commanders had little knowledge of how to use them properly. In many cases they were fed into the mill, and did so well they kept being sent back,” Hall writes. The beginning of this meat-grinder mentality foreshadowed eventual tragedy.

Read the Remainder at Task and Purpose.