D-Day reenactment at Conneaut, Ohio - the largest such event in the country. Hundreds of reenactors were present to recreate the airborne and amphibious landings in Normandy on June 6, 1944. Friday evening and Saturday morning witnessed skirmishes between paratroopers and German infantry. However, the main event takes place on Saturday afternoon when U. S. Infantrymen board landing craft and "storm" the beaches. Unlike most of the participants, I was portraying a war correspondent, armed with only a camera and pencil. (The pen is mightier than the sword anyway, right?) Throughout my adventures, I was snapping photos all along the way. Many of them are included here for your viewing pleasure.
Joining the men of the 5th Rangers Infantry Battalion during embarkation of the landing craft (LC), I suddenly heard a roar in the skies above and all present peered out toward the lake. . .
DUKW ("Duck") and a Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT). Simultaneously, P-51 Mustang planes continued to fly over. At the actual embarkation in 1944 England, over 130,000 Allied troops were being prepared to go in on the first wave of the invasion. Having spent many months in England, countless GIs formed great friendships with locals. One American engineer billeted with a British family before the invasion noted, "When we left, [they] cried just as if they were our parents. It was quite a touching thing for us. It seemed like the general public seemed to know pretty much what was going on" (Antony Beevor, D-Day, 9). Understandably, many of the British families envisioned their own sons and brothers going off to war when the witnessed the Americans' departure.
John Gallagher once joked that the first "beach party" should have been greeted with "wine, woman and song." Rather, he was greeted with shot and shell, being struck in the gums by a piece of shrapnel - which remained there unknowingly for nearly two decades. Despite this wound, Gallagher continued to relay communications back and forth to the ships to establish beachhead operations.
Ronald J. Drez, Voices of D-Day, 290).
Needless to say, your adrenaline surely gets going when you're doing something like this. Obviously, it compares nothing to the actual sense of fear or anxiety of war. Corporal Robert H. Miller of the 149th Engineer Combat Battalion recalled, "I got about ten feet up the beach when I saw just a big white ball of nothingness, and the next thing I knew I was flat on my back looking up at the sky. My first thought was that my legs were blown off because I had tried to move them and nothing happened. . . . [But] for some reason I just couldn't move and couldn't operate at all" (Drez, 237). Fear proved just as able of injuring or stalling a man as easily as a bullet could.
some protection against enemy fire, the shingle itself became a trench of sorts. It also became the location to accumulate ammunition and additional gear needed before the final push into the enemy lines. Here, a Tommy gun-toting GI makes a mad dash toward the shingle as medics run out to drag the wounded to the base of the wall.
But it would be another seventy-five days before the Allies broke out of Normandy's hedgerow country and make the final pushes into the hearts of France and Germany. However, the actions of the 175,000 Allied troops who traversed the English Channel that early June initiated a turning point of the Second World War. As a "reporter," (above) I enjoy retelling some of their stories and will have some more tales and photographs to share very soon. Until then, "hang tough."