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June 07, 2009

First Wave

Russ and Drew noted the passing of the anniversary yesterday with a couple of very good posts. I didn't really have anything to add until xbradtc pointed me to this article in the Atlantic, November 1960, recounting the first wave landings of two companies, Able and Baker, 116th Infantry, 29th Division, at Omaha Beach.

Most who have read accounts of the Normandy invasion of June 6 1944 are aware, at some level, that it was bad at Omaha Beach. We know, the outcome was not at all certain. We have some awareness about how the first units that came ashore suffered horrendous casualties, foundered. Fought to enter the fight, and fought to survive that entry.

Within seven minutes after the ramps drop, Able Company is inert and leaderless. At Boat No. 2, Lieutenant Tidrick takes a bullet through the throat as he jumps from the ramp into the water. He staggers onto the sand and flops down ten feet from Private First Class Leo J. Nash. Nash sees the blood spurting and hears the strangled words gasped by Tidrick: "Advance with the wire cutters!" It's futile; Nash has no cutters. To give the order, Tidrick has raised himself up on his hands and made himself a target for an instant. Nash, burrowing into the sand, sees machine gun bullets rip Tidrick from crown to pelvis. From the cliff above, the German gunners are shooting into the survivors as from a roof top.

Inspiring and heartbreaking stuff.

Sixteen screen scrolls or so (if that makes any sense). Very much worth your time.


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posted by Dave In Texas at 05:46 PM

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