From the Archives: 70th anniversary of D-Day invasion

We look back at United Press' coverage from D-Day 70 years ago Friday, with dispatches from Walter Cronkite, Meriman Smith and other Unipressers all over the world.

By Gabrielle Levy
Troops in an LCVP landing craft approach Omaha Beach in Normandy, France on D-Day, June 6, 1944. (UPI Photo/U.S. Army)
Troops in an LCVP landing craft approach Omaha Beach in Normandy, France on D-Day, June 6, 1944. (UPI Photo/U.S. Army) | License Photo

NORMANDY, D.C., June 6 (UPI) -- {b:Seventy years ago Friday, on June 6, 1944, Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, and began an invasion that would turn the tide of World War II.

More than 150,000 American, British and Canadian troops stormed the shore following aerial and naval bombardment of the coast, and an estimated 5,000 Allied and another 4,000 Germans died.


On Friday, world leaders gathered at Sword Beach for a somber ceremony looking back at the pivotal battle. While U.S. President Barack Obama took the moment to send a message of the strength of European alliances -- a pointed message at Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was also present -- we look back at UPI's coverage from June 1944, in the words of Walter Cronkite, Meriman Smith and other Unipressers reporting from around the world.}


RAF bombers strike Nazi rail targets in Western Europe

LONDON, June 2, 1944 (UP) -- R.A.F. heavy bombers, embarked upon a campaign to ruin Nazi rail communications in Western Europe, attacked German targets in enemy-occupied territory again during the night, it was disclosed Friday, following up daylight attacks upon the French invasion coast by strong formations of United States Ninth Air Force Marauder medium bombers. Thursday, storms which swept up and down the Channel gave the Germans a 14-hour respite in air attack until the Marauders went out in the evening. All the Marauders returned, encountering moderate flak and no German fighters.

The United States planes were escorted by Thunderbolt fighters. Paris radio said the Belgian rail center of Antwerp was attacked during the day, but there was no immediate Allied confirmation. Overnight up to 750 R.A.F. heavy bombers battled storms, ice, enemy fighters and flak to unload nearly 3,500 tons of bombs on the French rail centers of Tergnier, Trappes and Saumur, and on military objectives along the French coast. The heavy R.A.F. attacks were part of what the Air Ministry called "the systematic offensive against railways in Northwest Europe." Reviewing this offensive, the Air Ministry disclosed that the number of attacks and the accuracy of bombing on ail nerve centers extending roughly to a depth of 100 to 150 miles from the French coast had been so devastating that the "Germans seem to have abandoned all idea of getting all yards in full working order again." Since the opening of the offensive, the R.A.F. Bomber Command has attacked 38 key rail points, many of which have been hammered with such effect that second attacks have not been necessary. The heaviest of the R.A.F.'s overnight attacks apparently was directed against Trappes, which in pre-war days handled nearly 4,000 freight cars daily. British coastal observers said attacks on the Atlantic Wall were the mightiest ever. During the night other R.A.F. bombers laid mines in enemy waters. Eight R.A.F. planes were missing. Italy-based Allied planes were over Hungary during the night and laid mines in the Danube River, according to Hungarian broadcasts. Naples announcements revealed that United States 15th Air Force Flying Fortresses and Liberators which raided the Ploesti oil refineries in Romania Wednesday also attacked rail yards at Turnu-Severin near the Danube's Iron Gate.


Forty-three enemy planes were destroyed and 14 heavy bombers were missing.

A LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) from the U.S. Coast Guard-manned USS Samuel Chase disembarks troops of Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division (the Big Red One) wading onto the Fox Green section of Omaha Beach (Calvados, Basse-Normandie, France) on the morning of June 6, 1944. (Chief Photographer's Mate Robert F. Sargent)

4,000 Allied planes smash at invasion coast defenses

By Walter Cronkite

(Editor's note: Dateline date uncertain, most likely June 3 but may have been filed early June 4. Saturday in lead refers to June 3)

LONDON, June 3, 1944 (UP) - United States Flying Fortresses and Liberators twice hammered the Pas de Calais and Boulogne areas of the French invasion coast Saturday while at least 2,000 other Allied warplanes swept over Northern France and Belgium in the greatest Nazi hunt since the pre-invasion blitz opened nearly two months ago. These attacks were part of a great twenty-four hour offensive by some 4,000 Allied planes to smash Nazi Atlantic Wall defenses. In a thirty-six hour period, Adolf Hitler's fortifications and installations along and behind the French invasion coast were ripped and torn with an estimated 8,000 tons of bombs. Nearly 1,000 heavy bombers and fighters took part in the great double United States Eighth Air Force blows to blast gaps in Nazi coast defenses for Allied invasion armies. Only one fighter was lost. In their explosive dragnet, American, British and Allied fighters and fighter bombers caught railway tracks, highway bridges, radio stations, fuel dumps, airfields, warehouses, military convoys and lone dispatch riders. As the Air Ministry announced that British planes were completely wrecking the entire German radio network in Northwest Europe, Allied planes, some with rockets, roamed over hundreds of square miles of France and Belgium attacking isolated German targets.


The mighty United States Eighth Air Force assault followed a 3,000 ton RAF night attack on the French invasion coast, on the great Trappes freight assembly yards on the outskirts of Paris and on the German chemical center of Leverkusen. Seven Nazi planes were downed in the Trappes attack. Seventeen British aircraft were missing from all operations.

Nazis seek to calm people, say Allied invasion is nowhere near

By Joseph W. Grigg

LONDON, June 3, 1944 (UP) - The Berlin radio Saturday night began broadcasting reports that the "invasion is nowhere near." Apparently fearing German nerves would be unable to stand the double strain of day and night bombing from the east, west and south and the threat of invasion, German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels' radio experts who had been predicting the drive into Europe would come any day suddenly switched tactics and said it would not come for some time. Berlin offered the explanation that "D-day" was fixed for a few days before Whit Sunday last week but claimed that it was "called off by Roosevelt." However, according to Stockholm reports, the German press was warning the people that "exceptional circumstances" may cause a stoppage of all private telegraph traffic. Here in Britain, Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower sent a message to salute the Soldier week gathering, saying: "Never in the history of the United Nations has it been more vital that every single one of us, whether in civil life or the armed forces, should make his greatest effort now in the name of peace and freedom." It was revealed that thousands of portable packs, each containing sufficient supplies to last 30 men 21 days were being distributed to units of the Allied Expeditionary Force.


Allied planes twice hit invasion coast

By Walter Cronkite

LONDON, June 4, 1944 (UP) - Some 4,000 Allied warplanes gave Nazi Atlantic wall fortifications and Nazi military road and rail transport in France and Belgium their worst pasting Saturday, with nearly 1,000 American heavy bombers and fighters pacing the assault with twin attacks on France's Pas-De-Calais and Boulogne areas. Only one fighter plane was lost. (Early Sunday, the German radio said Allied "nuisance" raiders were over western Germany, approaching the southwestern Reich, the F.C.C. reported.) More than 2,000 American and British fighters and fighter-bombers swept over hundreds of square miles of occupied territory, bringing railway right-of-ways, highway bridges, radio stations, fuel dumps, air fields, warehouses, military convoys and lone German dispatch riders under their rocket, cannon and machine gun fire. The air ministry said the attacks on road transport were "among the most comprehensive and successful yet attempted" and disclosed that British planes were completely wrecking the German radio network in northwest Europe - an essential objective of pre-invasion tactical strategy. While fighters and fighter-bombers staged the greatest Nazi hunt since the pre-invasion blitz opened nearly two months ago, U.S. Flying Fortresses and Liberators twice hammered the French invasion coast, ripped and torn in a 36-hour period under an estimated 8,000 tons of bombs. Joining the heavy bombers' assault blasting gaps for Allied invasion armies in Field Marshal Gen. Karl von Runstedt's coastal defenses, were hundreds of British and American medium and light bombers. In a 24-hour period from just before midnight Friday it was estimated that some 4,500 Allied planes attacked France and Belgium. It was the second time in two days that a great American heavy bomber fleet shuttled the short 22 miles across the English channel to Pas-de-Calais and Boulogne. The mighty United States Eighth Air Force assault followed a 3,000-ton R.A.F. night attack on the French invasion coast, on the great Trappes freight assembly yards on the outskirts of Paris and on the German chemical center of Leverkusen. Overnight, too, Italy-based R.A.F. bombers continued attacks on eastern Europe, bombing loading quays and storage tanks at the great Danubian oil port of Giurgiu, 35 miles south of Bucharest, in Romania. The Pas-de-Calais and Boulogne areas were hit both in the morning and afternoon by the big planes whose bombs were heard clearly from the British cliffs. The attack marked an almost uninterrupted 50 days of assault on the invasion coast. Escorted by Lightning, Mustang and Thunderbolt fighters, the Flying Fortresses and Liberators flew over a solid cloud blanket. They met no enemy fighters, but some squadrons ran into intense flak, including concentrations of ground rockets - seldom encountered over the coast itself. Some 500 R.A.F. Halifaxes and Lancasters also encountered strengthened ground rocket defenses over France during the night. Nazi night fighters also rose to defend the already-shattered trapped rail yards and seven were shot down. Seventeen British aircraft were missing from operations that also included mine-laying in German shipping lanes. The British bombers also reported new enemy ground lights which they believed constituted a German attempt to mark the bombers' course for enemy fighters. The lights were described as an oblong patch slightly larger than a tennis court. Other R.A.F. forces kept residents in Britain's "Hell Fire Corner" awake as they hurled block-busters on military installations in the Pas-de-Calais area. The Germans reported that the force that kept up the almost unceasing harassment of German chemical industry with an attack on Leverkusen, north of Cologne, included fast-flying Mosquitos. Meanwhile, the air ministry in London revealed that rocket-firing Typhoons and precision bombing Spitfires piloted by specially trained airmen have been making a series of surprise attacks on radio installations recently, diving to within a few hundred feet of the ground before releasing their rockets. The air ministry also revealed that during the past four days pilots of Allied tactical air forces had flown another 7,000 sorties, adding greatly to the serious damage inflicted on French transport systems.


Meeting of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), 1 February 1944. Front row: Air Chief Marshal Arthur Tedder; General Dwight D. Eisenhower; General Bernard Montgomery. Back row: Lieutenant General Omar Bradley; Admiral Bertram Ramsay; Air Chief Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory; Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith (British official photographer)

Allies land in France in greatest amphibious assault of all time

By Virgil Pinkley, United Press War Correspondent

SUPREME HEADQUARTERS, Allied Expeditionary Force, London, June 6, 1944 (UP) - American, British and Canadian invasion forces landed in Northwestern France today, established beachheads in Normandy, and by evening had "gotten over the first five or six hurdles" in the greatest amphibious assault of all time. Prime Minister Churchill revealed that allied troops were fighting inside Caen, 9 1/2 miles inside Northwest France, that the invasion penetrations had reached several miles in depth in some cases, and that footholds had been established on a broad front as the operation proceeded "in a thoroughly satisfactory manner." General Dwight D. Eisenhower's supreme headquarters revealed that the Allied armies, carried and supported by 4000 ships and 11,000 planes, encountered considerably less resistance than had been expected in the storming of Adolf Hitler's vaunted west wall. Nazi broadcasts reported Allied troops pouring ashore most of the day along a broad reach of the Norman coast and to the east, and admitted that invasion landing barges had penetrated two estuaries behind the Atlantic wall. Apparent key to the lightness of the Nazi opposition to invasion forces opening the battle of Europe was contained in a disclosure that thousands of Allied planes dropped more than 11,200 tons of bombs on German coastal fortifications in 8 1/2 hours last night and early today. As massive Allied air fleets took over complete command of the skies over the invasion zone, Reichsmarshal Hermann Goering issued an order of the day to his air force declaring that the invasion "must be fought off, even if it means the death of the luftwaffe." Late in the day, Churchill, making his second statement of the day to commons, said the invasion was proceeding "in a thoroughly satisfactory manner." Earlier, he told commons it was going "according to plan - and what a plan!" Simultaneously, the German DNB news agency reported that the invasion front" has been further widened." Nazi broadcasts throughout the day told of the amphibious assault developing on a grand scale, with fighting as deep as 10 miles inland - a figure apparently extended by the last enemy report. Supreme headquarters revealed late in the day that bad weather had forced a 24-hour postponement of the invasion. The Allied command gave the go-ahead order last night despite strong northwest winds and rain squalls when weather experts forecast improving conditions today. The weather still was somewhat unfavorable, however, impeding the support given the land armies by the air force. Although detailed official reports were lacking as the tense first day wore toward a close, it was summed up by one source at headquarters in the words: "We have gotten over the first five or six hurdles." The surmounted hurdles were described as: The German air force did little or no bombing of ports from which the invasion was mounted in the last critical days. Attacks on invasion convoys failed to reach the expected scale. Minesweepers succeeded in sweeping channels to the beaches without much opposition from shore batteries or from the air.


The troops got ashore with less opposition from shore guns than was believed possible.

Opposition generally was well below expectations; for instance, up to a certain time this morning, the German air force had flown only 50 battle area sorties. Allied overall casualties appeared to have been relatively light. Headquarters announced that they were light among air-borne troops and "surprisingly small - very small at sea." The disembarkation went according to plan. Warships succeeded in silencing shore batteries and laying smoke screens on schedule. A United States battleship moved in much closer to shore than scheduled in order to silence a troublesome group of fortifications. The minesweeping was described as the biggest and probably most difficult operation of its kind ever attempted.

Hundreds of sweepers headed the invasion fleets, clearing the water and marking channels. The German DNB news agency said this afternoon that Allied landing barges had pushed into the estuaries of the Orne and Vire rivers in the coastal stretch between Cherbourg and Le Havre "in the rear of the Atlantic wall" - the vaunted defense line that Hitler hoped would keep invaders off the soil of Germany. Nazi broadcasters also acknowledged that Allied tanks had cut several kilometers inland between the towns of Caen and Isigny, and admitted Allied penetrations ranging up to 10 miles. The Germans reported heavy fighting in the area of Caen, 9 1/2 miles inland and 115 miles from Paris on a direct railroad line.


Control of skies assured in first hour of battle

By Walter Cronkite

LONDON, June 6, 1944 (UP) -- Drawing upon the reservoir of 11,000 first line planes, the supreme Allied command Tuesday sent the greatest air fleet in history over the French coast in support of the invasion, winning complete mastery of the air within the first hour of the landings. In one eight-hour period alone -- from midnight to 8 a.m. -- planes manned by airmen of the United Nations flew 7,500 sorties and dropped 11,120 tons of bombs on enemy coastal installations. By early evening, it appeared that despite bad weather which hampered U.S. heavy bomber operations, the Allied air forces had run their sorties to at least 10,000 and their tonnage to well over 14,000 tons. By day's end, with clearing conditions over the English channel favoring operations, it seemed possible that 20,000 to 25,000 sorties might be flown. If the attacks go on relentlessly until midnight, the figure might grow to an all-time high of 30,000 sorties. (A sortie is a single flight by a single plane.)

The impact of Allied air might staggered the Luftwaffe, outnumbered by more than three to one. Reichsmarshal Herman Goering issued a desperate appeal to Nazi airmen. "The invasion must be fought off even if it means the death of the Luftwaffe," he said in an order of the day. Despite his plea, however, the Luftwaffe apeared over the beachheads only momentarily and in strength only 1/40th of what is believed to have available. During the first landings, about 50 Nazi single-engined fighters appeared briefly. They soon vanished, however, and mastery of the skies was ours. By mid-morning Allied fighters swept 75 miles inland without encountering a single German plane. The German D.N.B. agency, heard in New York, claimed that five Allied planes were shot down over the French coast, and asserted that "visibility in the Channel handicapped German fighters very much." Coinciding with the western invasion, U.S. heavy bombers based in Russia flew over their first combat mission from Soviet bases and returned to Russian territory after bombing an airdrome at the Danube river port of Galati in Romania. Escorting Mustang fighters, two of which were missing, shot down six enemy planes. Another Nazi broadcast reported air battles over Romania this morning between U.S. heavy bombers and enemy fighters, possibly indicating an American attack, from bases in Italy or Russia. An official announcement from supreme headquarters reported the greatest eight-hour blitz ever directed against tiny stretch of territory. Swarming in endless streams over the French coast from midnight until 8 a.m., Allied bombers hurled 1,300 tons of high explosives an hour on coastal defenses -- more than 25 tons a minute. The assault was the climax of almost daily poundings of the invasion areas since mid-December, a pounding that rocketed to its apex of intensity during the past week. The hammering of the coastal installations began just a few minutes before midnight and continued all day. At the same time, medium bombers, fighter bombers and fighters roamed far behind the beachheads to shoot up and bomb railways and roads, bridges, highway junctions and Nazi troops rushing to invasion areas. Air opposition was slight, a communique said.


French Resistance members and Allied paratroopers discuss the situation during the Battle of Normandy in 1944 (U.S. Army Signal Corps)

Frenchmen in Algiers rejoice at news of Allied landings ALGIERS, June 6, 1944 (UP) - Frenchmen and women gasped, embraced and then wept this morning as the first reports of Allied landings in France as announced by the Germans came from early morning radio programs. Tears of joy rolled down the cheeks of many, but rejoicing was muted by the realization of the death and suffering the news will mean to many Frenchmen and others alike. It was disclosed that General Charles De Gaulle flew from Algiers Saturday to be in London in time for the invasion. Shortly after the word began to get around, every radio in French North Africa and Corsica undoubtedly was tuned to the BBC for news of further landings. The invasion of liberation has become a fixation not only with Frenchmen but with Belgians, Hollanders and Norwegians as well. Now the men of the Maquis - the "French forces of the interior" - can swing into action at the word of the Allied command, not as mobs but as disciplined groups acting on orders radioed from Britain by their commander, General Joseph Koenig. Frenchmen clustered about their radios to hear General Dwight D. Eisenhower's message to the people of France. "Noble," they murmured as his voice went on.


Details of "jump off" elaborately prepared

WASHINGTON, June 6, 1944 (UP) - A war department report from "a front line town" on the coast of England said today that the jump off of Allied troops for the invasion of Europe "began in a small way" from that point. "First, several advance parties of the assault troops marched into the landing stages of this port, clambered aboard the blunt-nosed assault craft and a little later climbed on the larger craft swinging at anchor farther out in the harbor," the report said. "Second, gangs of service troops began loading the rations that sustained the task force while seaborne between England and the European continent. "An officer said that there were enough rations put aboard LCI's to last eight days, plus one day of emergency combat rations." None of the food loaded by the service troops was intended for use on the beaches after the assault troops land. For the first day of land operations, each soldier was issued one day's emergency rations. After that time, field kitchens will be in operation, and hot food served, the war department promised. These final preparations were carried out "very quietly and without tension" by the army and navy, "almost under the noses of the civilian populace of this town without attracting the slightest bit of attention," the army dispatch said. The report said that the assembly areas along the British coastline were changed into marshalling areas beginning Sunday and troops were briefed as to their exact missions and reshuffled from battalions into "craft loads" ready to move at a moment's notice. During this time, the marshalling point was attacked by German aircraft. The results of the enemy action were "comparatively minor," the report said. For a week before the jump-off, the troops were billeted in the town and closely restricted to quarters. They were ordered not to talk to civilians or to unbriefed soldiers. Another report from the European headquarters revealed that U.S. troops were relieved of their overcoats, their money and "practically everything else except their arms and ammunition" before they jumped off for the invasion of Europe. "You are going to have a nice holiday by the seaside," the troops were told by their officers jokingly. "You won't have any KP or fatigue details or training or anything. Just relax." Before they set out for the coast of France, the troops learned to say "Halt! Put up your hands!" in German, and "Which way is the Boche?" The assault units were not assembled by divisions, regiments, battalions and companies as such, but by craft loads, the department said. This was necessary so that they could be assembled in Europe for the attack in their normal tactical formations. The headquarters' report described each man as "a walking arsenal." "Besides his 80 rounds of Garand rifle ammunition, each soldier carried three grenades, placed in an extra canteen carrier attached to the rifle belt," the report said. "Some were armed with Springfields which had grenade launchers, some had Browning automatic rifles, others had bazookas, flame-throwers, TNT pole charges, and all the other equipment necessary to reduce fortified positions. "They can't stop us," one sergeant said. "We've got more fire power than anybody ever heard of before." Still another report released by the war department said 125 million maps had been prepared so that the invasion forces could "know exactly where they were going" after they landed. The making of these maps was "one of the most elaborate projects of the war" and depended largely on aerial photography and "thousands of tiny pieces of information smuggled out under the noses of the Germans," the department said. "In war, maps are as important as food; you can't travel without them," the headquarters report explained. "They have to be accurate, and strange as it may seem, before the war no usable maps of Europe existed." There were plenty of maps, but they were out of date; they showed roads and buildings that no longer existed, and they failed to show many terrain features.


Carrying full equipment, American assault troops move onto Utah Beach on the northern coast of France. Landing craft, in the background, jams the harbor. (Photographer: Wall. ARC-Identifier: SC189902.)

Marshall puzzles Soviets by leaving reception

WASHINGTON, June 6, 1944 (UP) - General George C. Marshall, army chief of staff, whose forces now are committed to their greatest test, declared in a pre-invasion address that the final action in the European war would come in a "battle to the death for the Nazis and a battle to victory for the Allies." His confident words were voiced at a special ceremony in the Soviet embassy last night where he was awarded the Order of Suvorov, one of the highest Russian military decorations. An imposing list of dignitaries was puzzled when Marshall left the embassy almost immediately after the ceremony without waiting for the customary buffet supper. The explanation came a few hours later with the announcement that Allied troops were landing in France. Soviet Ambassador Andrei A. Gromyko presented the award to the army chief of staff.

FDR pleads for divine aid as Allies invade Europe

By Merriman Smith

WASHINGTON, June 6, 1944 (UP) -- In solemn words that went out to a newly hopeful world, President Roosevelt Tuesday night beseeched Almighty God to give strength and victory to Allied invasion forces now launched upon the greatest crusade of modern times -- the emancipation of Europe's suffering peoples. "Lead them straight and true," he supplicated. "They will need thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard...(but) we know that by thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph." Mr. Roosevelt composed the prayer last night as the mighty Allied invasion armada swung out across the channel and into France. It was heard by a radio audience of perhaps 100,000,000 persons who had been asked to recite it with him in this hour of national trial. It was perhaps the greatest mass prayer in all history. Across the entire land, in every city and hamlet, Americans sat or knelt and joined with their President in begging divine guidance for their sons and brothers and friends who now are engaged in the battle against "the unholy forces of our enemy...the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies." The prayer was published many hours in advance so that the people might have it before them when Mr. Roosevelt went on the air. Many more millions in the far lands also heard it, for it was immediately re-broadcast by the Office of War Information in 28 languages and 11 dialects. Mr. Roosevelt asked Almighty God to "help us to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade." The prayer was published many hours in advance that the people might have it before them when the President went on the air. "Almighty God," he implored, "our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set up on a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. "Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness to their faith. "They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. The enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph." Then he asked that the Heavenly Father "lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace -- a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil. "Thy will be done, Almighty God."


Soviets welcome news of Normandy invasion

MOSCOW, June 6, 1944 (UP) - The three-year-long dream of a western land front came true for the Russian people today when they heard by radio that the Allies had invaded France. At the same time the Red army was understood to be massing for its expected blow from the east following up the assault from the west. News of the invasion was welcomed with a heart-warming reaction - the full import of the action being realized gradually here as successive broadcasts brought the people word of the developments from London. There was no public shouting and cheering, but Russian citizens and officials alike were discussing events with lively enthusiasm. Foreign diplomats expected the reaction to the news to grow as operations developed and the Russians saw concrete results. Loud speakers had been switched on in the streets and squares of the capital for the announcements. The German commentator Ernst von Hammer broadcast from Berlin that with the attack from the west a big Russian offensive would open soon along the lower Dnestr "where a strong Soviet offensive army has taken action, stations and where Soviet artillery and mortar fire is gaining in intensity." Other German commentators said multiple assaults could be expected. Tuesday night's broadcast Russian communiqué, recorded by the Soviet Monitor in London, said the Red army had repulsed continuing Nazi attacks north and northwest of Iasi in Romania and that Russian bombers had carried out a mass raid Monday night on Iasi itself. Ninety fires were started, the bulletin stated, and the fires were accompanied by big explosions, machine-gun and cannon fire. Several trains were burned. All Soviet planes returned to their bases. There were no changes on other sectors of the front, the communiqué added.


Allies storm history's mightiest defense wall

By Malcolm Muir Jr., United Press International Allied troops are assaulting the defense wall believed to be the mightiest ever erected - a vast, miles-deep, coastal bulwark of steel, explosives and concrete, stretching from Norway to the Pyrenees. Blocking the path of our invasion forces are miles of huge, rock-entrenched coastal guns, acres of supersensitive minefields, scores of great man-made swamps and countless mazes of anti-tank barriers, German sources have warned us. The Germans have labored for two years to render their Fortress impregnable. All winter, Adolf Hitler's most trusted general, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, raced up and down the coast from Trondheim to Biarritz, patching and reinforcing their defenses. In February, Rommel declared himself ready and challenged the Allies to shoot the works. Marshal Karl Rudolf Gerd von Rundstedt, charged with the defense of the French coast, also threw down the gantlet. He boasted his forces were prepared to "smash Allied attacks from many direction." "Our Atlantic wall contains fortresses of steel and concrete in which all the experience gained in the battle for the Maginot line has been used," Von Rundstedt said. "They are protected against bomb attacks and they cannot be outflanked. "Water obstacles against enemy landing-barges and broad mine-strips on the beaches will create difficulties for any attack; even in the first stages before the enemy can get a firm foothold." Behind the immediate coastal defenses, Von Rundstedt said a vast system of field fortifications and strong-points has been built up, "including large-scale mining of the ground, flooding arrangements for artificially turning the ground into a swamp and diversified anti-tank obstacles." Swedish reports from German sources said the mine-fields in some areas stretched a full day's march into the country. In the inland sectors, these reports said, the Germans have laid broad mesh mine nets with explosives of particularly sensitive priming, intended for defense against Allied parachute troops. Dispatches in some Stockholm papers reported the Germans were using a new type of mine with a magnetic feature calculated to cause great difficulty for sappers equipped with ordinary steel detecting apparatus.


Orders sent to French underground

LONDON, June 7, 1944 (UP) - Allied orders to the French underground went out Wednesday by courier plane and radio broadcast for the sabotage of German communications and the immediate evacuation of towns about to be attacked by Allied bombers. Other instructions were broadcast as "personal messages" to leaders of French resistance groups, in codes which they alone could understand, such as "Jacques Leporte please immediately deliver your fresh cakes to grandmother in Paris." "Madeleine the flowers which you planted have wilted," and "Roger your laundry will be ready Tuesday." One immediate result, according to a Vichy report reaching here by way of Stockholm, was the blowing up at 42 points of the LaCluse-Nantua-Bellegarde railway by French partisans. This is one of the routes over which German troops in Italy and southeastern France might be sent to the French Atlantic or channel coasts.

German public bewildered at Allied landings

By Aldo Forte

BERN, June 7, 1944 (UP) - Reports from the German frontier early today said that the German public was surprised, bewildered, angered and dumbfounded by the German high command communiqué admitting the Allied landing in France was successful at certain points. Months of intensive propaganda actually had convinced the average German that the west wall was impregnable, these reports said, and the Germans simply could not understand how the Allied landings had cracked the beach defenses. Travelers from the Third Reich asserted, however, that the only sign of tension in Germany was a mass assault on newsstands for the latest reports of the fighting. The only internal measure taken for the time being has been against foreign workers, the Germans claimed, saying that all permits for foreigners to leave their dwellings and factories had been withdrawn. There apparently was fear in Germany of widespread trouble among the Slav laborers from occupied countries who have been employed to alleviate Germany's crying demand for manpower. While censorship on communications abroad was considerably tightened Tuesday, an early edition of the Volkischer Beobachter assumed a calm tone of confidence and urged German citizens to continue with their duties "which is the only manner in which the soldiers fighting in the west can be aided." The newspaper added that the German "withdrawal from Rome is of secondary importance; our destinies are being decided in the west." The same paper said that Adolf Hitler, himself, is directing operations in Berlin against the Allied landings and that there is nothing leading to belief that he would find it necessary to depart from the capital.


D-Day Plus One -- Allies battle inland from Normandy coast

By Edward W. Beattie

SUPREME HEADQUARTERS, ALLIED EXPEDITIONARY FORCE, SOMEWHERE IN GREAT BRITAIN, June 7, 1944 (UP) -- American, Canadian and British invasion troops, landed yesterday on the French Normandy coast, battled their way into the streets of ancient Caen within a few hours and German reports indicated early today that they had pushed inland between 7 1/2 and 10 miles at key points on a 60-mile front. Under Gen. Sir Bernard Montgomery, the Allied troops -- many of them seasick after their channel trip in bad weather -- fought ashore through waist-deep mud and slime past under-water obstacles of concrete and wood, capped with deadly mines, to make good their landing against surprisingly light resistance. There was no sign of an immediate German counter-attack. German broadcasts reported that Field Marshals Gerd von Runstedt and Erwin Rommel, the anti-invasion chiefs, were in command on the spot and there were unconfirmed reports that Adolf Hitler had assumed supreme command. Unfavorable weather -- worse than in the Sicilian landings -- was the chief Allied hazard. The first German prisoners and Allied casualties were landed in England late yesterday -- the wounded brought back by mine sweepers. Stockholm reported that the Germans had thrown czarist Russian cossacks "volunteers" against American paratroops and that the Germans were using a "secret weapon" -- a so-called land torpedo. Prime Minister Churchill paid a visit to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower Tuesday at the supreme commander's secret headquarters in a motor caravan in the English countryside to hear late reports. Eisenhower, after announcing the invasion in one sentence in his first communiqué, issued a second one early Tuesday saying that the initial landings succeeded and that fighting continued. Apparently effecting a complete strategic and tactical surprise by landing on a soft spot between the heavily defended ports of Le Havre and Cherbourg, the Allied force at remarkably low cost made good their landings in the "great crusade" and fought their way into the streets of Caen. German reports said our forces also were astride the Cherbourg-Valognes-Carentan road running along the east side of the Cherbourg peninsula nearly 10 miles inland. There also were German reports that the Allies had seized an airdrome between Calais and Boulogne up the coast on the Dover strait and that a landing force threatened the Calais-Dunkerque area immediately to the east. But the main attack, according to detailed German broadcast reports, was developing between the mouth of the Orne river, in the Caen area, and the east side of the peninsula below Cherbourg. The Germans reported that Allied troops had landed in the channel islands of Guernsey and Jersey off the west side of the Cherbourg peninsula. Allied leaders were astonished at the relatively low cost of the first phase of the operation, in ships and men, and at the weakness of the German opposition in the air and on the ground. The greatest military operation of all time, carried out with the protection of 11,000 airplanes, 4,000 ships and thousands of smaller craft, was started despite unfavorable weather which, it was revealed, had caused its postponement by 24 hours. So great was its success, apparently, in the first phase that it was understood Gen. Charles De Gaulle, who had come here from Algiers, might land on the coast of his motherland at any time. Eisenhower's communiqué No. 2, a review of the first phase of the invasion, said:


"Reports of operations so far show that our troops succeeded in their initial landings. Fighting continues." Allied night bombers opened the assault shortly before midnight Monday, Eisenhower said, and continued attacks in very great strength until dawn. Between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m. (12:30 and 1:30 a.m. E.W.T.) two naval task forces, commanded by Rear Adml. Sir Philip Viam, in the British cruiser Scylia, and Rear Adml. Alan Goodrich, U.S.N. in the American cruiser Augusta--President Roosevelt's former vacation ship -- launched the assault forces at the beaches, Eisenhower said. Sinking one enemy trawler on the way and severely damaging another, the assault forces moved toward the beaches under cover of a heavy bombardment by destroyers and other support craft while heavier warships engaged the German batteries which the planes already had attacked. "Some of these were silenced," Eisenhower said. "The Allied forces continued to engage other batteries. Landing were effected under cover of the air and naval bombardment and air-borne landings involving troops in carrying aircraft and gliders carrying large forces of troops were also made successfully at a number of points." Allied heavy and medium bombers, which had dropped 11,120 tons of bombs in the 7,500 sorties in the first 8 1/2 hours of the assault continued their attacks in "very great strength" throughout the day with attacks on gun emplacements, defensive works and communications, Eisenhower said. Fighter planes covered the beaches and the ships during the day after night fighters had covered the air-borne troop landings. "Our aircraft met with little enemy fighter opposition or anti-aircraft gun fire," Eisenhower said. "Naval casualties were reported as being very light, especially when the magnitude of the operation was taken into account." President Roosevelt said at Washington that up to noon Tuesday two American destroyers and one escort ship were lost. He said that the invasion was running "up to schedule," and Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson said that it was going "very nicely." Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who revealed the gigantic size of the invasion, said that the airborne phase was the greatest ever. While Allied leaders withheld specific information about their operation to increase the difficulties of the Germans, the enemy broadcasts contained many but unconfirmed details. At first they had reported the invasion developing around the mouth of the Seine at Le Havre, but they said last night that it was being pressed to the west. Caen, inland from the mouth of the Orne river, was one center. The mouth of the Vire river, around Isigny at the base of the east side of the Cherbourg peninsula, was the second center. Tuesday night the Germans said that Allied paratroops were astride the Cherbourg-Valognes-Carentan road running along the east side of the peninsula. Enemy broadcasts reported sighting reinforcement convoys, containing up to 200 ships, at points along the Seine bay between the mouth of the Seine and the tip of the peninsula. Churchill said there was every indication that the Allied invasion forces, commanded by Gen. Sir Bernard Montgomery, had obtained a tactical surprise. He added that everything was going "according to plan -- and what a plan." Military power of almost unimaginable magnitude, including many secret weapons never used before, supported the Allied attack. In the first eight hours of the invasion operations, from midnight until after beachheads had been established, Allied planes in 7,500 sorties dropped 11,120 tons of bombs on the invasion coast. Warships, including United States battleships, hurled death from 640 guns on coastal positions. By the time the sun was sinking, the Germans had not yet used the secret rocket guns which, they had threatened, might devastate southeast England. More than 1,000,000 British home guardsmen and the entire military defense forces of Britain watched for signs of a counter-attack on the British Isles by air-borne troops. It was reported that Adolf Hitler had taken over personal command of the anti-invasion forces. German Field Marshal Herman Goering an in order of the day to the German air force, hardly seen in the sky all day, said: "The invasion must be fought off even if it means the death of the Luftwaffe." German and Allied reports indicated that there were three main beachheads: 1--At the mouth of the Orne river. There the Allies had driven into the stone-housed streets of Caen, where William the Conquerer in 1066 assembled the fleet with which he invaded England, and where his crumbled bones lie in St. Etienne church. 2--At the mouth of the Vire river, about 40 miles to the west at the base of the east side of the Normany peninsula, near Isigny. 3--On the east side of the peninsula where the Allied troops according to the Germans straddled the Arentan-Valognes road.


The Allied radio France quoted an unconfirmed report, credited to a German radio, that air-borne troops had seized an airdrome 125 miles up the coast between Calais and Boulogne on the Dover strait.

Every type of weapon from the sheath knives of the troops to the 16-inch guns of the battleships; every type of plane from Flying Fortresses to reconnaissance flying jeeps; every type of soldier from paratroops to the infantry, engineers and auxiliary units, took part in the invasion operation. Minesweepers by the hundreds raked channels for the invasion craft while guns of warships and bombs of planes hit the enemy defenses. Eye-witnesses who flew over the beaches reported troops landed in countless thousands. Invasion craft landed tanks, bulldozers, trucks, jeeps, prime movers, ducks. The Allied troops include American Indian paratroopers wearing scalp locks -- their heads shaven except for the tuft on top which is an implicit invitation to a German to try to get it. As the invasion started, Gen. Eisenhower in messages broadcast to the people of France and the Netherlands gave special instructions to the people. French civilians along the coast were told that they must leave their homes for the country when Allied leaftlets told them an attack was coming. Patriots including the organized underground were told to obey instructions and not to rise prematurely. President Roosevelt and King George asked national prayer for the invasion and Eisenhower, in an order of the day to the assault troops, invoked God's blessing on the Allied crusade. President Roosevelt, in a prayer he wrote himself, prayed God to lead the Allies "straight and true" and expressed his faith that with God's grace and the righteousness of their cause "our sons will triumph." "I solemnly call my people to prayer and dedication," King George said in a broadcast. "We shall not ask that God may do our ill but that we may be enabled to do the will of God." Prime Minister Churchill made two statements to the House of Commons during the day, announcing the invasion and revealing developments. He told the house that the air-borne landings were on a scale "far larger than anything seen so far in the world." Everything was on a mammoth scale; everything but the remarkably low Allied losses in the first phase. Churchill said, in his second statement, that the German defense batteries had been greatly weakened by the bombardment of warships and planes and that they did not affect the landing. "The troops are well established and the landings and followups in the area are all proceeding with very much less loss than we expected," Churchill said. "Fighting is proceeding at various points and we have captured bridges which were not blown up by the enemy." Gen. Montgomery in a personal message to assault troops said: "The time has come to deal the enemy a terrific blow in western Europe...I want every soldier to know that I have complete confidence in the successful outcome of the operation that we are now about to begin."


Allied planes maintain Normandy air protection

By Walter Cronkite

LONDON, June 8, 1944 (UP) - Allied air forces, outnumbering the luftwaffe 200 to 1, maintained a constant cloud of 2,000 fighters over Allied invasion troops Wednesday and early Thursday were nearing another 24-hour record of 13,000 sorties. From dawn to midnight they had flown 10,000 sorties. By daybreak Thursday it was estimated that the record 13,000 sorties established from sun up Tuesday to sun up Wednesday will have been equaled or surpassed. Setting records beyond the dreams of many military men, the Allied air forces were approaching a sortie total of 33,000 since midnight Monday, a sortie being a flight by a single plane. The luftwaffe stiffened its resistance Wednesday and at least 24 enemy planes were shot down, bringing a two-day bag to 66, but over-shadowed by the Allied air fleets, not one enemy plane succeeded in strafing Allied troops on landing beaches. From 10,000 daylight sorties, 35 Allied planes were missing - 23 British and 12 U.S. Ninth Air force fighter bombers - according to first announcements. Constantly, every hour and every minute throughout Wednesday, 2,000 Allied aircraft were over a 60-mile square area between Cherbourg and Le Havre protecting Allied invasion forces. Wherever the luftwaffe reared its head, it was smitten by patrolling fighters. Two waves of 12 Junkers and 88 bombers each attempted to approach the invasion beaches. Vigilant Allied fighters destroyed 16 and damaged four. Fighters on offensive patrol encountered enemy planes in a few regions. They destroyed four and damaged five. Meanwhile, Allied airmen controlled the skies over highways, railways, beaches and ocean approaches. German troops have been unable to make a single move without observation from spying British and American reconnaissance planes. During darkness, nearly 1,100 R.A.F. Halifaxes and Liberators attacked communications behind the invasion areas, including the rail junction of Chatteaudun, with the loss of 13 planes. During Wednesday, the U.S. 9th Air Force announced its first troop carrier assignment was completed 33 hours after H-hour. It was officially called history's biggest airborne operation, exceeding the German landing on Crete and that of the Allies on Sicily. During the day, up to 500 U.S. 8th Air Force Flying Fortresses and Liberators roamed the area in front of Allied troops without fighter or flak opposition, unloading 1,500 tons of bombs on road intersections south of Caen. Five Junkers 52-troop-carrying planes were shot down by Canadian Mosquitos during intruder operations. Supreme headquarters communiqué No. 4 said that large troops concentrations were attacked in two operations by medium and light bombers during the morning, together with military buildings close behind enemy lines, gun positions in the battle area and railway lines south of the battle area.


Fighters escorting U.S. heavy bombers bombed and strafed rail yards, locomotives, trains of oil tank cars, flak towers, radio installations and airfields over a 40 to 50-mile arc south and southeast of the battle area.

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