by William A. Mayer
Tragic French Offensive Stalled on Beaches (Normandy, France - June 6, 1944) - Pandemonium, shock and sheer terror predominate today’s events in Europe.
In an as yet unfolding apparent fiasco, Supreme Allied Commander, Gen. Dwight David Eisenhower’s troops got a rude awakening this morning at Omaha Beach here in Normandy.
Due to insufficient planning and lack of a workable entrance strategy, soldiers of the 1st and 29th Infantry as well as Army Rangers are now bogged down and sustaining heavy casualties inflicted on them by dug-in insurgent positions located 170 feet above them on cliffs overlooking the beaches which now resemble blood soaked killing fields at the time of this mid-morning filing.
Bodies, parts of bodies, and blood are the order of the day here, the screams of the dying and the stillness of the dead mingle in testament to this terrible event.
Morale can only be described as extremely poor–in some companies all the officers have been either killed or incapacitated, leaving only poorly trained privates to fend for themselves.
Things appear to be going so poorly that Lt. General Omar Bradley has been rumored to be considering breaking off the attack entirely. As we go to press embattled U.S. president Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s
spokesman has not made himself available for comment at all, fueling fires that something has gone disastrously awry.
The government at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is in a distinct lock-down mode and the Vice President’s location is presently and officially undisclosed.
Whether the second in command should have gone into hiding during such a crisis will have to be answered at some future time, but many agree it does not send a good signal.
Miles behind the beaches and adding to the chaos, U.S. Naval gunships have inflicted many friendly fire casualties, as huge high explosive projectiles rain death and destruction on unsuspecting Allied positions.
The lack of training of Naval gunners has been called into question numerous times before and today’s demonstration seems to underlie those concerns.
At Utah Beach the situation is also grim, elements of the 82nd and 101st Airborne seemed to be in disarray as they missed their primary drop zones behind the area believed to comprise the militant’s front lines. Errant paratroopers have been hung up in trees, breaking arms and legs, rendering themselves easy targets for those defending this territory.
On the beach front itself the landing area was missed, catapulting U.S. forces nearly 2,000 yards South of the intended coordinates, thus placing them that much farther away from the German insurgents and unable to direct covering fire or materially add to the operation.
Casualties at day’s end are nothing short of horrific; at least 8,000 and possibly as many as 9,000 were wounded in the haphazardly coordinated attack, which seems to have no unifying purpose or intent. Of this number at least 3,000 have been estimated as having been killed, making June 6th by far, the worst single day of the war which has dragged on now–with no exit strategy in sight–as the American economy still struggles to recover from Herbert Hoover’s depression and its 25% unemployment.
Military spending has skyrocketed the national debt into uncharted regions, lending another cause for concern. When and if the current hostilities finally end it may take generations for the huge debt to be repaid.
On the planning end of things, experts wonder privately if enough troops were committed to the initial offensive and whether at least another 100,000 troops should have been added to the force structure before such an audacious undertaking. Communication problems also have made their presence felt making that an area for further investigation by the appropriate governmental committees.
On the home front, questions and concern have been voiced. A telephone poll has shown dwindling support for the wheel-chair bound Commander In Chief, which might indicate a further erosion of support for his now three year-old global war.
Of course, the President’s precarious health has always been a question. He has just recently recovered from pneumonia and speculation persists whether or not he has sufficient stamina to properly sustain the war effort. This remains a topic of furious discussion among those questioning his competency.
Today’s costly and chaotic landing compounds the President’s already large credibility problem.
More darkly, this phase of the war, commencing less than six months before the next general election, gives some the impression that Roosevelt may be using this offensive simply as a means to secure re-election in the fall.
Underlining the less than effective Allied attack, German casualties–most of them innocent and hapless conscripts–seem not to be as severe as would be imagined. A German minister who requested anonymity stated categorically that “the aggressors were being driven back into the sea amidst heavy casualties, the German people seek no wider war.”
“The news couldn’t be better,” Adolph Hitler said when he was first informed of the D-Day assault earlier this afternoon.
“As long as they were in Britain we couldn’t get at them. Now we have them where we can destroy them.”
German minister Goebbels had been told of the Allied airborne landings at 0400 hours.
“Thank God, at last,” he said. “This is the final round.”