D-Day Begins (03:34)
On June 6, 1944, 21,848 airborne troops flew into battle. John Marr of the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment recalls apprehension about leadership. John Hinchliff describes planes dispersing amid anti-aircraft fire.
Paratrooper Landing (04:00)
D-Day sought to push back German forces from France. Marr prepared his company to jump behind enemy lines. They landed in a flooded field and many soldiers drowned.
D-Day Mission (01:16)
Paratroopers were to seize the river crossing to stop Germans from attacking the beach, but they were too dispersed. Troops landing on the beach were to overwhelm German defenses and seize Saint-Lo.
Preparing for Omaha Beach (03:49)
As Force "O" members approached the Normandy coastline, they transferred from ships to boats. Harold Baumgarten did not expect to survive and Clarence Evans realized the gravity of their mission. A German veteran described fear at the approaching Allied forces.
Omaha Beach Pre-Attack (02:09)
Paratroopers behind enemy lines were scattered. Baumgarten and Evans describe rocket launchers and U.S. bombers that were supposed to destroy German fortifications as infantry approached the Normandy coastline.
Omaha Beach Pre-Attack Failures (02:58)
Baumgarten and Donald van Roosen explain that rockets fell short of the coastline and tanks sank before reaching shore. German defenses remained mostly intact prior to U.S. landing.
Omaha Beach Landing (02:23)
As boat ramps lowered, Germans opened fire on the first waves of U.S. troops; the MP 42 machine gun fired 20 bullets per second and killed most of Company A. Baumgarten and Evans recall wading through bodies.
German Defenses (02:57)
Contrary to U.S. intelligence, the Germans fortified the Normandy coast and the 352nd German Infantry Division had Eastern Front veterans. Baumgarten describes being wounded by a shell.
Failed Air Protection (04:23)
The Army Air Corps planned to bomb Omaha Beach but cloud cover compromised troop safety. They delayed the bombs and missed German targets. Baumgarten and Charles Shay describe seeing the bodies of friends.
Search for German Artillery (04:58)
General Omar Bradley stopped receiving reports from Omaha Beach. Guns at Pointe du Hoc threatened to cripple the invasion forces. Two Ranger battalions were sent to disable them but they were moved. Paratroopers relied on reinforcements for ammunition.
D-Day Destruction (01:56)
Evans, Baumgarten and Shay recall comrades dying on Omaha Beach.
Behind Enemy Lines (04:01)
Paratroopers seized crossings at La Fiere and Chef du Pont to stop German tanks. Marr recalls being designated as patrol leader unexpectedly. They were surprised by German soldiers, who wounded two men. German tanks moved toward La Fiere.
Capturing the Enemy (02:35)
Marr describes his company taking German prisoners while securing the La Fiere Bridge. Paratroopers captured the Chef du Pont Bridge, achieving the defensive shield part of their mission. As they held the line, German tanks approached.
Holding the Line (01:46)
Eight paratroopers waited for reinforcements from the beach while defending La Fiere Bridge. German tanks approached; the commander decided to retreat.
Crossing Omaha Beach (03:02)
Hear a German account of firing on invading Allies; they believed they won. Baumgarten and Evans describe trying to find cover while advancing toward the bluffs.
D-Day at Risk (02:18)
Unable to receive reports, General Bradley sent a scout to Omaha Beach. He reported that U.S. troops were trapped at the sea wall. Bradley considered aborting the operation.
Reaching the Sea Wall (04:09)
Baumgarten and Evans recall being hit while crossing Omaha Beach under German fire. American infantry troops were easy targets and needed reinforcements against bunkers and artillery.
Naval Artillery Support (03:23)
Due to D-Day failures, Force "O" was stuck on Omaha Beach and behind schedule. General Bradley sent destroyers to reach German targets.
Die, Fight Wounded, or Surrender (02:56)
With U.S. naval artillery support, troops advanced on Omaha Beach. Evans recalls an officer checking for mines on the way up the bluff towards German bunkers. Many infantrymen fought wounded.
Overcoming German Defenses (04:02)
Evans and Baumgarten describe attacking Omaha Beach bunkers from the rear. Karl Wegner recalls German soldiers mutinying in a neighboring bunker. As U.S. troops advanced into the Normandy countryside, a mine wounded Baumgarten in the foot.
Disarming German Artillery (03:33)
Baumgarten's unit headed west to rescue Rangers attempting to find guns at Pointe du Hoc. John Raaen recalls being surrounded by enemy. First Sergeant Leonard Lomell stumbled upon guns and disabled them without getting caught.
Defending La Fiere Bridge (04:00)
Paratroopers were desperate for relief from infantrymen landing on Omaha Beach. Marr and Daniel recall holding the line against German artillery and tanks. They knew they could not retain the position for long.
Off Course (03:03)
Paratroopers at La Fiere Bridge anticipated a second German attack. John Hinchliff's company landed near Graignes—18 miles from their objective. They set up a defense perimeter around the village and waited for Omaha Beach troops; an SS Panzer unit approached.
Event of a Lifetime (01:55)
U.S. troops moved past Omaha Beach, but German defenders remained an obstacle. Van Roosen describes landing with the third wave and Wegner recalls holding his position as Americans approached.
Machine Gun Ambush (02:19)
Peter Thomas was a replacement for men killed on Omaha Beach. Hitler believed Normandy was a diversion, and hesitated to send reinforcements. Baumgarten describes his group of "walking wounded" getting hit by Germans inland from the beach.
Securing Omaha Beach (02:17)
Wegner recalls running out of ammunition and abandoning his bunker. U.S. troops were ten miles short of their objective. Evans describes spending the night in enemy territory.
Rescued in the Night (02:02)
Baumgarten describes being collected by a field ambulance. The D-Day landing resulted in over ten thousand casualties from 156,115 Allied soldiers.
Next D-Day Phases (02:55)
After capturing Omaha Beach, Allied forces were to meet up with paratroopers and capture Saint-Lo. Hedgerows gave German forces a tactical advantage, and Panzer divisions prepared a counterattack. (Credits)
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