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About day “D” During the Second World War

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Anthony Nolan US History Various Accounts of D-Day In the Second World War, one of the most significant days was June 6, 1944- D-Day. D-Day, or Department Day, is known as the turning part of the war when Allied forces invaded a German occupied France in Normandy. Being such as notable event, collections of information exist on the topic ranging from history textbooks to first person accounts, and there is even an entire exhibit devoted to D-Day at the National WWII Museum. In my research concerning D-Day, I have gone through five accounts: the account in The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People textbook by Paul Boyer and others, a picture of soldiers landing at Omaha Beach, a letter from Lieutenant Hugh Bone of the 2nd Battalion to his mother, “D-Day at Normandy Revisited” by Thomas D. Morgan, and an account in The Usborne Introduction to the Second World War by Paul Dowsell.

This research changed my understanding of D-Day by offering different perspectives especially through what the piece’s purpose was from personal sentiments to class material; furthermore, these accounts showed me specific details of D-Day that the textbook’s account could not because it is a single paragraph in a 953-page book and made for a US History class, not a World History class. Through researching D-Day, my narrow understanding has greatly broadened especially by all of the planning that took place. I knew D-Day was a very significant event, but I didn’t realize how large the operation was until I read that Australia, Canada, Belgium, France, Czechoslovakia, Greece, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States all provided around a combined 200,000 troops for the invasion. There were many events leading up to D-Day such as Stalin pleading for a western front to divert the Germans from the east which was one of the things the textbook highlighted and the Quebec Conference of 1943 where Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winton Churchill discussed a future invasion of Normandy.

Also, many strategic preparations were made by both the Allies and Axis Germany’s preparation for D-Day which was one of the main things that the textbook did not cover because its focus is on the U.S. involvement. The Axis knew an attack was impeding, but they did not know its exact location which caused them to be stretch across the coast. The Germans built concrete fortresses, heavy gun positions, barbed wire, and anti-tank obstacles, and two new divisions were created to defend an invasion, the 352nd and the 91st. This was 1,500-mile defense was known as the Atlantic Wall. The Allies had Sherman tanks outfitted with propellers and floatation collars to help them float ashore. To trick the Germans, fake fuel and equipment dumps were built in Kent. French resistance forces were also tipped off to help destroy railway lines. Everything was in place for the invasion. The textbook addresses D-Day lightly and mainly provides numbers rather than what D-Day was actually like; however, the other accounts I researched do. 200,000 troops, 600 warships, and 10,000 planes-all numbers the textbook provides-invaded the sixty-mile long coast of Normandy. A picture from the back of an open Higgins shows the backs of the soldiers who had just jumped into the shore wading throw the water towards the beach filled with Czech hedgehogs laden with equipment. Lieutenant Hugh Bone’s letter to his mother expresses the emotions cold numbers cannot.

He stormed the beach on a misty morning. Running to the beach with heavy equipment on, he heard enemy machine guns and mortars roaring. He saw others being gunned down as he looked back at the water, but he was unable to help. D-Day would be the largest amphibious assault in history. The invasion began on June 6 at 12.16am. On Utah beach, 23,000 US troops made it on the beach by nightfall and were a mile in with only 200 casualties. The Allies would then advance into and liberate France. Each account is a piece of a bigger picture. One must look beyond each individual account and see them as a whole. The textbook gave a good overview expressing its significance in numbers while the other accounts gave more specific information that a US History textbook could not. My own view of D-Day has been greatly expanded from reading all these different accounts; even if I only read the textbook I would’ve learned something. Different perspectives are crucial to people not becoming narrow minded so people do not fall into the trap of ignorance.  

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