The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge – and pray God we have not lost it – that there is a profound, moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt… Ronald Reagan


Photo shows General Eisenhower talking with American paratroopers on the evening of June 5, 1944, as they prepared for the Battle of Normandy. The men are part of Company E, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, at the 101st Airborne Division's camp in Greenham Common, England.

Photo shows General Eisenhower talking with American paratroopers on the evening of June 5, 1944, as they prepared for the Battle of Normandy. The men are part of Company E, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, at the 101st Airborne Division’s camp in Greenham Common, England.

Normandy crucible : the decisive battle that shaped World War II in Europe  John Prados  New York : NAL Caliber, c 2011  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xiii, 320 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 24 cm.  Includes bibliographical references (p. 297-307) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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Assault landing. One of the first waves at Omaha. The Coast Guard caption identifies the unit as Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.

The Battle of Normandy was the greatest offensive campaign the world had ever seen. Millions of soldiers struggling for the control of Europe were thrust onto the front lines of a massive war unlike any experienced in history. But this greatest of clashes would prove to be the crucible in which the outcome of World War II would be decided.

FIRST WAVE AT OMAHA: THE ORDEAL OF THE BLUE AND GRAY Omaha Beach, D-Day, June 6, 1944 Behind them was a great invasion armada and the powerful sinews of war. But in the first wave of assault troops of the 29th (Blue and Gray) Infantry Division, it was four rifle companies landing on a hostile shore at H-hour, D-Day - 6:30 a.m., on June 6, 1944. The long-awaited liberation of France was underway. After long months in England, National Guardsmen from Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia found themselves in the vanguard of the Allied attack. In those early hours on the fire-swept beach the 116th Infantry Combat Team, the old Stonewall Brigade of Virginia, clawed its way through Les Moulins draw toward its objective, Vierville-sur-Mer. It was during the movement from Les Moulins that the battered but gallant 2d Battalion broke loose from the beach, clambered over the embankment, and a small party, led by the battalion commander, fought its way to a farmhouse which became its first Command Post in France. The 116th suffered monre than 800 casualties this day - a day which will long be remembered as the beginning of the Allies' "Great Crusade" to rekindle the lamp of liberty and freedom on the continent of Europe.

FIRST WAVE AT OMAHA: THE ORDEAL OF THE BLUE AND GRAY
Omaha Beach, D-Day, June 6, 1944 Behind them was a great invasion armada and the powerful sinews of war. But in the first wave of assault troops of the 29th (Blue and Gray) Infantry Division, it was four rifle companies landing on a hostile shore at H-hour, D-Day – 6:30 a.m., on June 6, 1944. The long-awaited liberation of France was underway. After long months in England, National Guardsmen from Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia found themselves in the vanguard of the Allied attack. In those early hours on the fire-swept beach the 116th Infantry Combat Team, the old Stonewall Brigade of Virginia, clawed its way through Les Moulins draw toward its objective, Vierville-sur-Mer. It was during the movement from Les Moulins that the battered but gallant 2d Battalion broke loose from the beach, clambered over the embankment, and a small party, led by the battalion commander, fought its way to a farmhouse which became its first Command Post in France. The 116th suffered monre than 800 casualties this day – a day which will long be remembered as the beginning of the Allies’ “Great Crusade” to rekindle the lamp of liberty and freedom on the continent of Europe.

It began on D-Day. June 6, 1944 – the day that the Allied Forces launched Operation Overlord: the great crusade to free Europe from the iron grip of Nazi Germany. But only when the troops were ashore did the real battle begin.

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Photo taken on D+2, after relief forces reached the Rangers at Point Du Hoc. The American flag had been spread out to stop fire of friendly tanks coming from inland. Some German prisoners are being moved in after capture by the relieving forces.

With Nazi defenders marshaling to stop the invaders, Hitler and his generals schemed to counterattack. Tightly constricted hedgerow country and bitter German resistance held the Allied advance to a crawl. Suddenly the Allies broke through and trapped the Nazi armies. Yet within weeks of this stunning disaster, the Germans smashed the most dangerous Allied offensive yet.

A group of paratroopers in a French village at St. Marcouf, Utah Beach, France. From here they will move on into the continent, accomplishing their assigned objectives. 8 June 1944.

A group of paratroopers in a French village at St. Marcouf, Utah Beach, France. From here they will move on into the continent, accomplishing their assigned objectives. 8 June 1944.

How was this possible? In Normandy Crucible, noted author John Prados offers a penetrating account that reframes the Normandy breakout to answer that question. For the first time he melds intelligence into the combat narrative. Shifting between battle action and command decisions on both sides, Normandy Crucible shows in fascinating detail how this campaign molded the climactic battle for Europe.

Evacuating Wounded Soldiers England, World War II Harrison Standley, 1944 Stretcher bearers of a medical battalion carry a casualty from the hold of an LST to a waiting ambulance which will take them to a nearby field hospital. The LST had just returned from Normandy bringing about 300 ambulatory casualties and about 30 stretcher cases. Seamen from the LST's and soldiers about to embark for France watch with interest. On board the evacuating LST's the cases are cared for by Navy medical personnel, June 1944.

Evacuating Wounded Soldiers England, World War II Harrison Standley, 1944 Stretcher bearers of a medical battalion carry a casualty from the hold of an LST to a waiting ambulance which will take them to a nearby field hospital. The LST had just returned from Normandy bringing about 300 ambulatory casualties and about 30 stretcher cases. Seamen from the LST’s and soldiers about to embark for France watch with interest. On board the evacuating LST’s the cases are cared for by Navy medical personnel, June 1944.

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