June 6, 1944

Neptunus Lex:  The liberation of France started when each, individual man on those landing craft as the ramp came down – each paratroop in his transport when the light turned green – made the individual decision to step off with the only life he had and face the fire.

American Digest:  A walk across a beach in Normandy

Don Sensing points out that success was by no means assured:  The pivot day of history

A collection of D-day color photos from Life Magazine

See Bookworm’s post from 2012, and Michael Kennedy’s photos from 2007

The Battle of Midway took place from June 4 through June 7, 1942. Bookworm attended a Battle of Midway commemoration event in 2010 and also in 2011: Our Navy–a sentimental service in a cynical society.

See also  Sgt Mom’s History Friday post from 2014.

General Electric remembers the factory workers at home who made victory possible.  Also, women building airplanes during WWII, in color and the story of the Willow Run bomber plant.

A very interesting piece on  the radio news coverage of the invasion

Before D-day, there was Dieppe

Transmission ends

14 thoughts on “June 6, 1944”

  1. If the D-Day invasion fails, then Dresden gets nuked a year later, no?

    The most amazing thing to me about WWII photos, and I thought this decades ago, is that the soldiers all look like men. What I mean is that they look like adults, and now 18-22 year olds look like children.

    It’s impossible to overstate the permanent cultural destruction caused by the twin traumas of the Depression followed by the war. Can you blame the generation who survived and prevailed over them for the overall disgrace that their children’s generation became?

  2. Funny you should mention photos. My great uncle (mother’s side uncle) was in the 101st Airborne and parachuted behind the pillboxes into some pasture the night before. He was a relatively short and stout individual who ran his own auto garage well into his 80s. Just the type of guy you want to be a paratrooper. Maybe because he worked on his feet and with his hands his whole life, but he really looked pretty much the same in old army photos as he did later in life. All his life he had this half smirk for a smile, as if he had recently been punched in the other cheek.

  3. “Neptunus Lex: The liberation of France started when each, individual man on those landing craft as the ramp came down – each paratroop in his transport when the light turned green – made the individual decision to step off with the only life he had and face the fire.”

    A man who does not understand how war works. That’s a lovely sentiment but when the chips are down its long been arranged that masses of men move into battle, no matter how enthusiastically or reluctantly, because the rest are. Its unit cohesion which makes fighting forces fight, not any higher sentiment, as fear of death is the greatest and most powerful human emotion. Only a very good reason makes men stand and fight, and its not patriotism. ;)

  4. I’m guessing that the writer of the preceding comment must not be aware of who Neptunus Lex was.

  5. My father-in-law served in the Pacific sailing on some bucket of bolts during the last year of the war. His ship crisscrossed dozens of times the same route through the Philippines Sea as the USS Indianapolis.

    Something he told me once comes to mind. He joined the navy straight out of high school. He had always been a pretty serious person even at a young age, and he said he made the conscious decision that the best possible way to get through the war on the other side of the earth was to forget everything about home. He never wrote any letters back to his family. He put them out of his mind. They in turn understood and probably even expected that attitude. They all knew what was in store for them and adjusted accordingly.

    This was a real stoic outlook expressed by everyone from the battlefront to the homefront. Does this mean they were robots or ants just following the transmitted signal given by the person next to them?

    None of us can say for sure what motivations were truly in the hearts of the boys who fought back then, but I have my suspicions there was more to it than that.

    As luck would have it I happened to be watching an unrelated video of an interview with Roger Scruton today when he proposed a helpful point. The subject was the overwhelming liberal bias in academia. Scruton said that what sets liberals and conservatives apart is that intellectuals naturally start off as liberals. The rational, material, and systemic solutions of the Left fit so well with their pursuit of knowledge and intellectual fulfillment.

    But then when you think about it some more, you move back to the point of not thinking at all. It might be better to call this moving beyond not back, but I guess it’s the same thing. His exact words were a “Conservative is someone who articulates the real reasons for not having reasons.”

    In other words, it’s impossible to deduce and assign the value of human relations and then somehow systematize them into a rational package. We just know there are certain fundamental elements of society that are to be preserved and defended unquestionably.

    So this is what I think was going. This is why no one wanted to talk about it during the war or for years after. It’s because there was really no way to say it. There was only the way of doing it.

  6. Neptunus Lex was a naval aviator, so may not have quite had the same view of war as the grunts.

    The bagpipes in Mike Kennedy’s post are a set of Piper Bill Millin’s. From Wikipedia:

    Millin is best remembered for playing the pipes whilst under fire during the D-Day landing in Normandy. Pipers had traditionally been used in battle by Scottish and Irish soldiers. However, the use of bagpipes was restricted to rear areas by the time of the Second World War by the British Army. Lovat, nevertheless, ignored these orders and ordered Millin, then aged 21, to play. When Private Millin demurred, citing the regulations, he recalled later, Lord Lovat replied: “Ah, but that’s the English War Office. You and I are both Scottish, and that doesn’t apply.” He played “Highland Laddie” “The Road to the Isles” and “All the blue bonnets are over the border” as his comrades fell around him on Sword. Millin states that he later talked to captured German snipers who claimed they did not shoot at him because they thought he had gone mad.

    Millin, whom Lovat had appointed his personal piper during commando training at Achnacarry, near Fort William in Scotland, was the only man during the landing who wore a kilt – it was the same Cameron tartan kilt his father had worn in Flanders during World War I – and he was armed only with his pipes and the sgian-dubh, or “black knife”, sheathed inside his kilt-hose on the right side. In keeping with Scottish tradition, he wore no underwear beneath the kilt. He later told author Peter Caddick-Adams that the coldness of the water took his breath away. There’s a statue to him on Sword Beach now https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Millin#/media/File:Piper_Bill_Millin_Statue_at_Sword_beach.JPG

    Had a neighbor (now deceased) that went ashore on Omaha. Never talked about it, too painful even 50 years later. I only found out later from another neighbor. My uncle went ashore a week after D-day and spent the rest of the war on the front (multiple promotions and a Silver Star and Bronze Star) never said much about it either. Different world from todays social-media culture.

  7. “I’m guessing that the writer of the preceding comment must not be aware of who Neptunus Lex was.”

    Oh I am aware of who he is. That sentiment is always voiced in one way or another, but that’s not why.

    We have been at war for thousands of years. One of the prime reasons for religion is to unify and give a higher purpose to those who will fight. Its a lie but it works very well indeed. You can only get the mass of men to move into serious danger, if they have no choice, and if they see that they need to support their fellows. Its leveraging pretty basic stuff. A need to not let down your fellows and be seen as an outlier is paramount, and the need to stand together is almost primal, for a tribal grouping of any kind of animal.

    That’s how you get men to fight. They will risk all for each other, not for some ideal. That evaporates real quick when the carnage starts.

    My family has been killing people for the crown for nearly 600 years, that we know about, I do know how this works.

  8. Well having done my bit, and having known Lex tangentially, I think you miss his point. His point was that it was the conscious decision of the individual that led to a free Europe. Yes, your motivation may be to lock shields with your squadmate… but you know your life is in danger. The scourge of Nazism and eventually Communism were ended in Europe because free men sacrificed their lives… maybe they did it for the man to the left and right of them, but in the end they did it of free will.

  9. SAPguy:

    Once you decide something is worth standing and fighting for, which much of this society does not always do, you might not want to let down your brothers in arms. But first, you have to decide to fight, and then keep your word.

    I did not have the honor of knowing Lex. Just read him. But part of the difference expressed is that PenGun has no regard for the individual, except himself. His God, such as it is, is the Collective. And it is a jealous God.

  10. I think I’ve let enough time go by, so that I won’t be attacked for being a troll by saying this:

    The importance of D-Day is way overblown.

    There’s a lot to be said for following the Churchill Strategy in 1943- 1944. Don’t invade France. Instead, wipe out the Germans in Italy, and then invade the Balkans.

    That would’ve cause Hungary and Romania to drop out of the war, and also allowed us to keep out Stalin. With the Red Army pushing through Poland, and US/UK attacking from the South, we’d have beaten Hitler.

    We lost 110,000 GI’s invading France, the Balkan strategy would’ve cost far fewer lives.

  11. I can see why you waited. So what did you like so much about Italian campaign? The disastrous landing at Anzio, Mark Clark’s utter incompetence, impenetrable narrow mountain passes laden with mines – so many to choose from.

    We should’ve won in August 1944, but our United Nations strategy of marching arm-in-arm in a straight line hobbled the war effort for another year. What’s that old saying, ‘God protect me from my allies, I can take care of my enemies myself.’

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