D-day

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D-Day, June 6 1944. Air-Power: Significant or not? A private who was aboard one of the first few gliders to reach Normandy expresses his feeling: "I experienced an interesting psychological change in the few minutes before and immediately after take off. As I had climbed aboard and strapped myself into my seat I felt tense, strange and extremely nervous. It was as if I was in a fantasy dream world and thought that at any moment I would wake up from this unreality and find that I was back in the barrack room at Bulford Camp. Whilst we laughed and sang to raise our spirits - and perhaps to show others that we were no scared - personally I knew that I was frightened to death. The very idea of carrying out a night-time airborne landing of such a small force into the midst of the German army seemed to me to be little more than a suicide mission. Yet at the moment that the glider parted company with the ground I experienced an inexplicable change. The feeling of terror vanished and was replaced by exhilaration. I felt literally on top of the world. I remember thinking, 'you've had it chum, its no good worrying anymore - the die has been cast and what is to be, will be, and there is nothing you can do about it.' I sat back and enjoyed my first trip to Europe." Yet another rifleman who was carried to the beach in the LCVP’s relates one of his incidents: "I got on the gun. I set the gun up, and we’re looking, we’re looking. He says, "See if you can spot him." All of a sudden I spotted him, about 200 yards away, and I’d say maybe 30 or 40 feet higher than me. He wasn’t firing at me. He was firing down across. So when he opened up again – the Germans, when they fire, they fire fast, they don’t fire like we did, because they change the barrels of their machine guns in seconds. Ours were a pain. We had to take the whole gun apart and screw the barrel off, and then put another barrel on. They would get hot if you fired like the Germans. We only fired bursts of three or four at a time. The Germans put their finger down, they’d run a hundred off. Because they just push a button, the barrel falls out, and they put another one on. We couldn’t do that. We had to take the whole gun down, screw the barrel off, put a new barrel on, then loosen it three clicks, it was a pain. So he fired, I picked him up, I got about ten rounds in there, that sonofag... ... middle of paper ... ... ever to hit Western Europe hit in late June, the Allies became entrenched enough to avoid being driven "into the sea." It is at this point that Hitler lost the war. The Germans were forced to fight a two-front war again (three with Italy). This had proved disastrous during the First World War, and it proved to be again during the Second as well. This was realized by some in the German military who started to display defeatist attitudes. The assassination attempt on June 20, 1944 against Hitler was a natural outgrowth of these attitudes. By the end of August, most of France was liberated. Paris fell on August 25. The Germans, however, hung on for another nine months. They launched one "last hurrah," the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944; this surprised the Allies but did not affect the outcome of the war. By this point, it was a foregone conclusion that the Germans had lost. Four months later, Adolf Hitler ended the "Thousand Year Reich" with a bullet to his head. Bibliography: - D-Day R.W. Thompson. - World War- II – Milton Dark - The Story of D-Day- Bruce Bliven, Jr. - Microsoft Encarta 99 Reference Suite. - D-day website: http://normandy.eb.com/

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