THUNDER BAY – Seventy-five years ago on June 6, 1944 Allied soldiers, paratrooper, pilots, sailors, doctors, nurses along with resistance fighters in France embarked on what Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight Eisenhower called ‘a great crusade’. D-Day the allied invasion of Adolf Hitler’s fortress Europe began as Allied paratroopers began landing in drop zones behind the Normandy coast of France.
Allied aircraft were bombing targets across the region.
The Allied Forces had, what is arguably a “perfect storm” of circumstances. The weather helped. A storm blowing in across the English Channel had Germans convinced there was no way that the Allies would launch the attack. The German commander Erwin Rommel seized the opportunity to go to his home for his wife’s birthday. German Generals were participating in war games. And Adolf Hitler had stayed up late watching a movie, and had taken a sedative to help him to sleep – and none of his staff dared to wake him up.
The Germans also had expected the attack to come at the Pas de Calais – the shortest distance between England and France. The Allied Commanders realizing that put General George Patton in command of an army that didn’t exist manned with fake radio traffic, and dummy planes and tanks.
First Media Reports of the Invasion – on German Radio
Something not well known about the D-Day Invasion is that the first media reports of the attack were made – not by Allied sources, but rather by German radio. In short-wave broadcasts to North America, German media reported that “the invasion is on”.
NBC and CBS Radio started reporting the news – with great care to make sure that they reported these were not Allied reports, and that they could be false. Repeatedly as news broke, the news readers remarked how there was no reason to believe the reports, as the morning continued, it started to look more and more like the invasion was happening.
However it was real and the brave men and women in the armed forces, army, navy, airforce and support staff all helped bring World War Two closer to the end.
Canadians on D-Day
On June 6, 1944 Canadian soldiers waded ashore onto the sands of Juno Beach in France. The long-awaited invasion of Europe was finally underway. There were 14,000 Canadians who assaulted the beach. There were 359 Canadian who died on D-Day. As well there were another 715 Canadians who were wounded in battle by the end of the day.
The weather heading into the D-Day invasion across Britain and the English Channel was not summer-like at all. Rain and wind heading into the invasion almost led Allied Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower to call off the invasion. It had been originally planned for June 5th, but had been postponed.
More than 9,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded on the beaches of Normandy, but by day’s end, the Allies had gained a foothold to begin liberating Europe.Canadian soldiers, landing at Juno Beach made their way furthest inland of all of the Allied forces.