The mail, more and more, brings tidings of historical documents that need our support to reach a wide audience.
I am looking at a small poster, done in full color, of “Operation Overlord,” which took place on June 6, 1944.
The poster shows drop zones for paratroopers who bailed out of the military version of DC-3 cargo planes.
At this point it is hard to imagine what courage it took to drop into beach zones held by Hitler’s troops. There were five named beaches, the first two held by General Dwight Eisenhower’s Army divisions.
The poster show that 23,250 troops led by the U.S. 4th Infantry Division Jumped into Utah Beach early that morning. They fulfilled their objectives while suffering 300 casualties.
NOT SO fortunate were the 34,250 troops led by the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, who dropped into Omaha Beach and suffered 2,400 casualties without achieving their goals.
British infantry divisions led drops into Gold Beach and Sword Beach, while Canada’s 3rd Infantry Division dropped 21,400 troops into Juno Beach and suffered 1,200 casualties, half of them in the first hour.
The map is a replica of an original map owned by the Eisenhower Foundation. It includes an “interesting quote” from General Dwight D. Eisenhower, as follows:
“This operation is not being planned with any alternatives. This operation is planned as a victory, and that’s the way it’s going to be. We’re going down there, and we’re throwing everything we have into it, and we’re going to make it a success”
It’s been noted that Dwight Eisenhower, who blew in off the plains of Kansas after an unremarkable boyhood, is unique in holding the highest military rank and also serving as president of the United States.
Inside is reprinted a part of the general’s speech to his troops on June 6, 1944:
“You are about to embark upon the great crusade toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you . . .I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle . . . We will accept nothing less than full victory!
“Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”
IT WOULD be interesting to know whether 100 years from now, the general-president is better remembered for his military or his political leadership.