Allies drive 41 miles on D-Day: Offensive rolls into Normandy
Beachheads in France are made secure in first rush
By Wes Gallagher, Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force
The Allies landed in the Normandy section of northwest France early today and by evening had smashed their way inland on a broad front, making good a gigantic air and sea invasion against unexpectedly slight German opposition.
Prime Minister Churchill said part of the record-shattering number of parachute and glidertroops were fighting in Caen, nine miles inland, and had seized a number of important bridges in the invasion area.
Four thousand ships and thousands of smaller landing craft took the thousands of American, British and Canadian seaborne forces from England to France under protection of 11,000 Allied bombers and.fighters which wrought gigantic havoc with the whole elaborate coastal defense system that the Nazis had spent four years building. Naval gunfire completed the job, and the beachheads were secured quickly.
Allied losses small
Allied losses in every branch were declared to be far less than had been counted upon in advance.
The Germans said the landings took place from Cherbourg to Le Havre, a front of about 100 miles, and that a strong airborne force was fighting as far inland as Rouen, 41 miles east of Le Havre.
Churchill told Commons: “All this, of course, although very valuable as a first and vitally essential step, gives no indication whatever of what may be the course of the battle in the next days and weeks, because the enemy will now probably endeavor to concentrate on this area.
“In that event, heavy fighting will soon begin and will continue. It is therefore a most serious time that we are entering upon.”
Invasion postponed day
The grand assault — scheduled for yesterday but postponed until today because of bad weather — found the highly-vaunted German defenses much less formidable in every department than had been feared.
Airborne troops who led the assault before daylight on a history-making scale suffered “extremely small” losses in the air, headquarters disclosed tonight, even though the great plane fleets extended across 200 miles of sky and used navigation lights to keep formation.
Naval losses for the seaborn forces were described at headquarters as “very, very small,” although 4,000 ships and several thousand smaller craft participated in taking the American, Canadian and British troops to France.
Enemy guns silenced
Coastal batteries were virtually silenced by the guns of the British, American and allied fleets, including beside their allies, they will play a worthy par; in the liberation of their homeland. Because the initial landing has been made on the soil of your country. I repeat to you with even greater emphasis my message to the peoples of other occupied countries in western Europe, Follow the instructions of your leaders. A premature uprising or all Frenchmen may prevent you from being of maximum help to your country in the critical hour. Be patient. Prepare.
“As supreme commander of the allied expeditionary forces, there is imposed on me the duty and responsibility of taking all measures necessary to the prosecution of the war. Prompt and willing obedience to the orders that I shall issue is essential. Effective civil administration of France must be provided by Frenchmen. All persons must continue in their present duties unless otherwise instructed. Those who have common cause with the enemy and so betray their country will be removed. As France is liberated from her oppressors, you yourselves will choose your representatives and the government under which you wish to live.
“In the course of this campaign for the final defeat of the enemy you may sustain further loss and damage. Tragic though they may be, they are part of the price of victory. I assure you that I shall do all in my power to mitigate your hardships.
“I know that I can count on your steadfastness now, no less than in the past. The heroic deeds of Frenchmen who have continued their struggle against the Nazis and their Vichy satellites, in France and throughout the French empire, have been an example and an inspiration to all of us.
“This landing is but the opening phase of the campaign in western Europe. Great battles lie ahead. I call upon all who love freedom to stand with us. Keep your faith staunch — our arms are resolute — together we shall achieve victory.”
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Source publication: Benton Harbor News Palladium (Michigan)
Publication date: June 6, 1944