A German commander’s assessment of the D-Day invasion

A field report submitted by Adolf Hitler’s commander-in-chief on the western front said the Allies’ invading D-Day forces gained a foothold in occupied Europe due to four key factors. In the report filed two weeks after the June 6, 1944, invasion, Field Marshal Karl R. Gerd von Rundstedt said the Allies’ “complete mastery in...
  • James Strachan: Old enough to die; too young to drink

    May 29, 2019 by Stephen J. Thorne
    The grim cost of the D-Day invasion still haunts James Strachan, 75 years after he delivered troops to the beaches of Normandy. Strachan was a signaller aboard a Landing Craft, Infantry (Large), manning the Oerlikon gun as his assault vessel shuttled back and forth across...
  • The mighty word on D-Day

    May 23, 2019 by Stephen J. Thorne
    The American employed soaring oratory in calling D-Day troops to “the Great Crusade.” The Brit summoned the words of a 17th-century soldier-poet as he urged the “team” on in their “great and righteous cause.” The Canadian, on the other hand, reminded his troops of the...
  • For whom the ship’s bell tolls

    May 15, 2019 by Stephen J. Thorne
    Ships’ bells mark the watch, sound alarms, send signals, declare a ship’s presence in foggy weather and even serve as baptismal fonts. Usually engraved, the ship’s bell is often the primary identifying element of an historic wreck, as was the bronze bell from HMS Erebus,...
  • ‘And all who sail in her. . . .’

    May 8, 2019 by Stephen J. Thorne
    There was a bit of a row across the pond recently after the Scottish Maritime Museum decided to adopt gender-neutral signage for its vessels. Museum director David Mann told The Guardian newspaper the decision to drop “she” for “it” when referencing ships was made after...
  • A feather in your cap

    May 1, 2019 by Stephen J. Thorne
    Celebrated officers wore the feathered crowns of egrets. British infantrymen wear “hackles.” Italian shock troops, known as Bersaglieri, rather flamboyantly sport the feathers of a particular wood grouse known as a capercaillie. Military tradition has spawned a bizarre menagerie of headgear, both for dress occasions...
  • Diving into healing waters

    April 24, 2019 by Stephen J. Thorne
    Retired Marine gunnery sergeant and combat diver Dan Griego spent two years combing the eastern seaboard from Florida northward searching for an area rich in shipwrecks so he could give his brothers-in-arms some meaningful, healing work. He ended up with Jeff MacKinnon, a third-generation treasure...
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