The Man Who Told America the Truth About D-Day – The New York Times

By David Chrisinger

“Most of the men in the first wave never stood a chance. In the predawn darkness of June 6, 1944, thousands of American soldiers crawled down swaying cargo nets and thudded into steel landing craft bound for the Normandy coast. Their senses were soon choked with the smells of wet canvas gear, seawater and acrid clouds of powder from the huge naval guns firing just over their heads. As the landing craft drew close to shore, the deafening roar stopped, quickly replaced by German artillery rounds crashing into the water all around them. The flesh under the men’s sea-soaked uniforms prickled. They waited, like trapped mice, barely daring to breathe.

A blanket of smoke hid the heavily defended bluffs above the strip of sand code-named Omaha Beach. Concentrated in concrete pill boxes, nearly 2,000 German defenders lay in wait. The landing ramps slapped down into the surf, and a catastrophic hail of gunfire erupted from the bluffs. The ensuing slaughter was merciless.

But Allied troops kept landing, wave after wave, and by midday they had crossed the 300 yards of sandy killing ground, scaled the bluffs and overpowered the German defenses. By the end of the day, the beaches had been secured and the heaviest fighting had moved at least a mile inland. In the biggest and most complicated amphibious operation in military history, it wasn’t bombs, artillery or tanks that overwhelmed the Germans; it was men — many of them boys, really — slogging up the beaches and crawling over the corpses of their friends that won the Allies a toehold at the western edge of Europe.

Pyle was beloved by readers and service members alike for his coverage of the war through the eyes of the regular infantrymen on the front lines.”
CreditBettmann Archive/Getty Images
David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comments
Thank you David Chrisinger. I loved this piece. I must find a book by Ernie Pyle. My favorite story about the invasion of Normandy is the story of Hobart’s Funnies. This Englishman saw the slaughter which occurred attacking entrenched Germans, and invented weird tanks and vehicles, to save the lives of the attackers on the beach. The vehicles looked like they were from a cartoon, and the Americans laughed at their looks and the novelty of their idea. They worked. The British causalties using these bizarre vehicals was a small fraction of the Americans.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth Century Vietnam” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net and sings about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction.