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Hear the Men Who Saw D-Day from Both Sides

Accounts of The Invasion of Normandy From the Men Who Were There

Friday, June 06, 2014 - 04:00 AM

"Soldiers, sailors and airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force.  You are about to embark upon the great crusade toward which we have striven these many months....In company with our brace allies and brother in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe and security for ourselves in a free world.....Good luck and let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking."

                              - General Dwight D. Eisenhower 6/6/1944

According to Captain Hank Hangsterfer, the beach in Normandy “was not the place to be” on June 6, 1944, the day of the largest amphibious invasion to ever take place. When he landed, Capt. Hangsterfer took a paper bag with an orange and an apple, trudged through a swap with a rifle over his head, and sat down on the other side to eat his fruit. If the enemy kept firing, he recalled, he might as well have died with an apple in his mouth.

In this special from Cinema Sound Ltd, voices from both sides of the battle recount the day that Allied forces — including 156,000 American, British and Canadian troops — landed on five French beaches from more than 5,000 ships and landing crafts. One German soldier remembers what marked the beginning of the end for the Nazis’ “Fortress Europe”:

“It was in the night and I was sleeping, and my sergeant came running and said, ‘There are a thousand different ships coming in the English Channel.’ ...Then came thousands of men at one time coming on land and running over the beach. This is the first time I shoot on living men, and I go to the machine gun and I shoot, I shoot, I shoot! For each American I see fall, there came ten hundred other ones!” -Corporal Franz Rachmann

The exact number of Allied soldiers who died in the landing remains unclear, although the American cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach holds the remains of 9,383 servicemen and four women. Today marks the 70th anniversary of their death. But these voices are preserved.

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Comments [4]

Jeff from NJ

I as an American is so thankful for these Heros to display such bravery & courage
so others could live in peace years later. There are no words to say Thank You
for what they accomplished. May G-d Bless you all. You are Americ's Best!

Jun. 06 2014 04:04 PM
Ray Dujack from Tewksbury Twp., NJ

On D-Day, I was a barely 18 year old infantryman at the Ft. McClellan, Ala. Infantry Replacement Training Center, preparing to join an infantry division and be sent into combat. Our CO made the invasion announcement to a hushed and solemn D-Company at about 7 AM CDT. Our guys had already been on the beaches getting their asses shot off for several hours. The reaction of the troops back in Alabama was complete silence and some audible prayer. There were no loud cheers and "hurrahs" like in the movies. We all knew there was a rough job facing us. (My outfit, the 70th Infantry Div., went into action on a few days after Christmas 1944 just in time for the tail-end of the Bulge).

Although this was a very heroic invasion, it is unfortunate that many Americans believe today that this was the turning point of the war in the European Theater of Operations -- and that the credit for ETO victory belongs to the U.S. soldiers. This is a blatant disregard of the fact that this credit belongs mostly to the valiant Soviet (mostly Russian) men and women who turned the tide on the ground by the summer of 1942. Indeed, by D-Day, Russian troop had advanced over 1000 mi. from Moscow, Leningrad, and Stalingrad to within almost 100 miles of Berlin. In terms of casualties, the Russians suffered approximately 5 times as many as the Western Allies. I can very realistically thank the gallant Soviet troops for the fact that I survived the U.S. Infantry.

Jun. 06 2014 12:22 PM
joanne Theodorou

This day must always be respected. Watching coverage on CNN. I had the honor of visiting the D Day beaches, and Colleville (the American Cemetery at "Omaha" Beach) some 3 summers back, an experience I will NEVER forget.
Glad to see such a moving ceremony and all the remarkable veterans and world leaders that made the journey.

Jun. 06 2014 11:04 AM
Kenneth Berv from Stamford, CT

I was born on D-Day. My father was a corporal in the Army Air Corps Band stationed at Mitchell Field. As he drove my Mom to the hospital, he was not put in the brig for going AWOL as he was a "D-Day" Daddy. Impossible to fudge my age, as the whole world celebrates each birthday with me....

Jun. 06 2014 08:21 AM

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