D-Day plus 75 Years

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

14 thoughts on “D-Day plus 75 Years”

  1. Its interesting how this D-Day celebration seems to get bigger as time goes on. As opposed to say, Pearl Harbor or Midway, which USED TO BE remembered – but now completely forgotten.

    The first time I can remember anyone doing the D_day thing was 1984, with Reagan. But Clinton must have done the 50th anniversary in 1994, but I don’t remember it. Bush did the 60th, and now Trump is doing 75.

    I suppose “Saving Private Ryan” has something to do with it. Plus, it was the Brits big moment before they went into decline after WW2. So, they make a big deal out of it too.

    And its photogenic. And you can tie D-Day into support for NATO. And everyone loves to go to France and have some great French wine and a croissant. I suppose its that.

  2. I was going to comment on the amazingness of what happened at Willow Run and Sorenson’s autobiography but I see you were there before me a few years ago.

    I have built my career for the past 25 years on the Toyota Production System (Invented at Ford Motor Company 100 years ago) and am a big fan of Henry Ford and Charles Sorenson. Sorensen1 was, essentially head of all manufacturing at Ford from about 1908 to 1946. Hi Book “My 40 Years with Ford” includes a chapter on Willow Run, how he came up with the concept and a lot more. Once they got up and running, they were turning out a B-24 every 60 minutes. “A bomber an hour” as Sorenson said.

    One of the reasons they were so successful with cars, the Model T especially, is because they would lock the design in and then make car after car more or less the same. Exactly the same for the Model T. As the B-24s got experience, they found a lot of design flaws, improvements, fixes and so on. Sorensen says that his biggest problem running the line was the constant changes. He finally came up with a system where they would freeze changes a week at a time. I understand the reason and need for the changes. But they make a manufacturer’s life Hell.

    It’s a great a story. The whole book is a great read. The book is in print and available in paper or kindle at Amazon.

    Once correction, or clarification perhaps, to the earlier post. Henry Ford did not put of $200,000 of Ford’s money toward the war effort. He did but not in the same sense that a Jeffery Immelt might put up GE’s money for something. Henry Ford owned, essentially, 100% of Ford stock. Every dollar that Ford Motor Company put up for anything, came straight out of Henry’s pocket.

    I am a huge admirer of Henry Ford for the way he ran his business. Ditto Sorensen. Both men had some huge personality flaws though. I don’t admire them for those.

    I also recommend the video that Ford made in 1955 about the Willow Run plant. Available on YouTube https://youtu.be/p2zukteYbGQ

    I have a chapter from Henry Ford’s 1933 book “Moving Forward” on quality on my website. If you think the Japanese are fanatic on quality (defined as “absence of variation”) you should see Henry Ford. They learned it from him. You can read it at http://changeover.com/henryfordonquality.html

    I have his “My Life and Work” (1923) and “Moving Forward” (1933) available as PDFs for anyone who’d like a copy. I have his 1927 “Today and Tomorrow” scanned and mostly corrected and one of these days will finish it too. Best books ever written on manufacturing.

    I hope this is not too far off topic. I tend to get carried away talking about Ford.

    John Henry

  3. My son told me something last night that I had not heard before and have not had time to research today.

    The Higgins Boat was a pretty ingenious piece of gear. I thought I knew the story of how Higgins developed it in his boat building company and churned out thousands or tens of thousands of them.

    My son told me that Higgins had an employee that had spent some time in Japan pre-war. The Japanese had boats similar to what became the Higgins boat. This employee, after the war had started, recognized that the Marines and Army would need this kind of landing craft and convinced Higgins to adapt it to American requirements.

    Has anyone else heard this story?

    John Henry

  4. John Henry —

    from Wikipedia:

    The Japanese had been using ramp-bowed landing boats like Daihatsu-class landing craft in the Second Sino-Japanese War since the summer of 1937—boats that had come under intense scrutiny by Navy and Marine Corps observers at the Battle of Shanghai in particular, including from future general, Victor H. Krulak.[5] When Krulak showed Higgins a picture and suggested that Higgins develop a version of the ramped craft for the Navy, Higgins, at his own expense, started his designers working on adapting the idea to the boat design. He then had three of the craft built, again at his own expense.

    On May 26, 1941, Cdr. Ross Daggett, from BuShip, and Maj. Ernest Linsert, of the Marine Equipment Board, witnessed the testing of the three craft. One involved off-loading a truck; another the embarking and disembarking of 36 of Higgins’ employees, simulating troops. This craft later was designated LCVP—Landing Craft Vehicle, Personnel.

  5. Thanks, douglas,

    Interesting that Krulak was involved. He was one helluva Marine.

    I read the Kindle sample of Robert corams bio “Brute” last year. Still on my kindle, I need to get off the dime and buy it.

    The first chapter was pretty good.

    John Henry

  6. JH….my understanding, based on the Sorensen book, is that it was EDSEL Ford who committed the company to the B-24 project….that he was much more committed to the war effort that was his father.

  7. David,

    Henry Ford became less and less involved in the company after the mid 30s so yes, you are right. OTOH, as the sole shareholder (more or less) he could have stopped it at any time.

    In any event, it was still effectively Henry Ford’s personal money. As the principal heir, it would have been Edsel’s eventually too. So again, he was spending his own prospective money, not some stockholders money. Any losses would have come, eventually, out of his own pocket.

    My point was that it was effectively personal money, not stockholder’s money being spent by a hired CEO.

    During WWI, Henry resisted and refused to make armaments. He even spent quite a bit of his own money on the Peace Ship. It was a pretty dumb idea as he realized fairly quickly but he did spend money on it.

    Then, when the US got into WWI, Ford, and Ford Motor Co, jumped in heavily. They were very gung ho.

    I watched the Willow Run movie earlier while eating some dinner. I said 1955, which felt wrong but Roman numerals always give me trouble. It was 1945. It was also excellent.

    John Henry

  8. Never been to Willow Run but a few years ago I was working on Long Island and spent a week in a Holiday Inn next to Republic Airport.

    Republic is where they used to make the P-47 and other planes. It is enormous.

    At one end of the property there is a shopping center with WalMart, HoDe, several restaurants and a bunch of other stores. Not huge but a decent size.

    I had an afternoon off and went to the the WWII air museum that they have on the airport. It had some aerial photos of the old Republic Aviation when it was in full swing. Buildings everywhere. That shopping center would have made a tool shed for the facility. I never imagined how big it would be with tens of thousands of people working there.

    Pretty much nothing left of it now.

    If you are in the area, the museum is interesting. Nothing spectacular but I like going to museums and this was a pleasant place to spend an afternoon.

    John Henry

  9. I was reading up on it for my own post and didn’t realize that at Omaha Omar Bradley was on the verge of calling a withdrawal – his 1st and 29th Divisions in the 1st wave were so mauled. The 2nd wave that came at 0700 was supposed to be protected by the first wave, but the 1st was so scattered there was no protection.

    And Virginia Hall!

    Never knew about her – she was an American who came into France with the SOE, organized so many Resistance cells and armed them – was on the Gestapo’s most wanted list.

    I thought the Resistance was just a side show but on D-Day they sabotaged key bridges and tracks preventing reinforcements.

    Eisenhower said that they Resistance shortened the War by 9 months.

    And reading about Erwin Rommel – the assassination attempt on Hitler was a bit over a month after D-Day – and D-Day’s failure (from the Nazi perspective) brought a lot sympathetic high officers to the Staufenberg side.

    Well time for bed.

  10. The Imperial Japanese Military were very technically innovative in areas of their official interest.

    Their Daihatsu-class landing craft was invented by the Imperial Japanese Army for the war with China in 1937 and it was indeed copies by Higgens.



    The wikipedia article sources are first rate.

    Mark Parillo’ 1993 work “The Japanese Merchant Marine in World War II. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-677-9” is the reference and it is the best source in English on the development of Japanese Army and Navy landing craft and landing ships.

    See also this wikipedia article for the best Japanese landing ship of WW2, which was used in oil fired (Navy) and coal fired (Army) versions:


    “Several No.103 and SB class vessels were converted to use coal-fired boilers in January 1945. Detailed construction records do not exist, but photographic evidence confirms the conversion of No.147, SB No.101 and SB No.108 with the presence of a tall funnel.”

    No.101-class landing ship – Wikipedia

    These landing ships were incredibly important for the Japanese build up on Kyushu during and after the Okinawa campaign in that they were less and 500 tons displacement. Thus they did not set off the B-29 delivered influence fused magnetic and pressure sea mines. They could land troops to and from un-mined minor Japanese ports, and were fast enough to make several night time round trips and then hide in secluded spots on the coast during the day.

  11. I have a patient who was at D-Day, went on a Gulfstream to recognize this year’s anniversary. He was interviewed on NBC. Quite a few good videos where they interviewed these over 90 year olds. It is quite touching.
    Now, a frail old man, he remembers it as something he had to do, his duty.
    We are very removed from that past. We have nice, easy lives, even if we worked hard growing up it is nothing like that generation. I really worry about the future, that future generations will have the willingness for self sacrifice if needed.
    But I am old, will be gone before too long. I am glad to have known my father’s generation, maybe the world’s greatest.

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