One gets dazed after a while. I am dazed by the sheer scale of landing areas.
So now for a bit of detail. Utah beach, the responsibility of VII Corps, where the landings went smoothly, better than
at any of the other beaches, aided by a bit of luck. Not only was the naval
bombardment more accurate, clearing minefields on which the Germans had
depended but the currents had also swept the landing craft 2000 yards further
south than intended onto beaches less heavily defended.
The first high-ranking officer to
come ashore was Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr, the son of Teddy and
cousin of Franklin. He decided to press on from there and by the end of the day
23.000 men had come ashore with only 200 casualties, the lightest casualty rate
on the first day of any of the beaches. General Roosevelt was known for his
incredible courage (he was a holder of The Medal of Honour), and much loved by
the troops. He wandered about with his walking stick, without a helmet under heavy fire cracking jokes with them. His bravery was so close to foolhardiness to that it was
thought he secretly wished to die in battle. Not long after the landings he did die, but
alas, from a heart attack. Patton and Bradley were among the pallbearers on the
In need of finding something to put a face on it all I managed to find his grave at the
American cemetery. Unlike the others, it was adorned as colourfully as he had
been as a soldier.