Operation Overlord (02:15)
View a summary of Part One of "D-Day in HD." The mission would claim 93,000 lives. Clarence Evans recalls digging in to sleep the night of June 6, 1944.
Realities of War (02:58)
The Allies underestimated German defenses in France. Donald van Roosen recalls a fellow soldier shot by a sniper and dying before he could bring him to safety on the morning of June 7.
Behind Schedule (03:06)
The D-Day objective was to gain control of Normandy roads, including the city of Saint-Lo. General Omar Bradley logged that the Allies were still in danger. German snipers targeted Harold Baumgarten and medics; Navy artillery came to the rescue.
Replacements and Wounded (02:43)
The German 352nd Infantry Division regrouped; Karl Wegner's machine gun crew was to hold the Americans until reinforcements arrived. Peter Thomas was assigned to an MP unit. Baumgarten describes being transported to a hospital ship.
Lost Behind Enemy Lines (02:09)
Allied paratroopers were to contain German forces from Utah Beach. John Hinchcliff recalls landing off target and gathering in Graignes; officers debated whether to pursue their objective. Fritz Ziegelmann found operational orders for American forces on Omaha Beach.
Breach in Intelligence (04:17)
On Omaha Beach, German soldiers discovered Allied invasion plans to secure roadways throughout Normandy. Paratrooper John Marr recalls German interception at La Fiere Bridge. At the last minute, anti-tank guns arrived on gliders and knocked out Panzers.
Battle for La Fiere Bridge (02:42)
German soldiers found Americans tough opponents. Marr discovered a Roman road; his commanding officer used it for a flanking maneuver. They ran into German booby traps, drawing fire. PFC DeGlopper sacrificed his life so the battalion could regroup.
Securing La Fiere Bridge (02:44)
On June 9th, after a failed ambush, paratroopers charged directly across the causeway into German fire. Over 560 men were killed or wounded. The Germans surrendered, but their commanders had intelligence of all Allied tactical plans.
Hedgerow Warfare (03:30)
Evans reunited with the 29th Division; their combat inexperience claimed thousands of lives. Hedgerows provided German defensive positions. Allied air strikes targeted roadways during the day.
Slow Progress towards Germany (02:24)
The Allies advanced through fields and hedgerows towards Saint-Lo. They required a constant supply of weapons and ammunition. Winston Churchill developed Mulberry harbors to unload cargo onto the beach; manpower failed to break German defenses.
Surprise Attack (03:25)
On June 9, Van Roosen's unit was ten miles inland at Le Carrefour. He and Andy Hanson set up their machine gun position; he felt God's presence. Wegner’s commander ordered him to attack the Americans. Van Roosen's gun jammed; Germans stole it.
Sparing Prisoners (02:08)
Wegner was ordered to shoot thirty American prisoners at Le Carrefour but he fired into a ditch. Hitler sent ideologically motivated Waffen-SS soldiers to prevent Allied beach forces from creating a front.
Paratrooper John Hinchliff recalls defending the village from Waffen-SS forces on June 11. Eventually they were outnumbered; he describes retreating under enemy fire. The Waffen-SS shot wounded prisoners, violating the Geneva Convention. Experts discuss their ideological motivations.
Allied Front (02:48)
Graignes fighting delayed the Waffen-SS; Allied troops captured Carentan, linking forces from Omaha and Utah beaches. On June 12, Tiger tanks appeared; Peter Thomas compares them to Allied Sherman tanks.
Caumont Gap (02:48)
U.S. and British forces tried to take Caen, blocked by Tiger tanks. Allied intelligence identified a breach in enemy lines, but Michael Wittman's Waffen-SS unit approached. Many Allied tank units were inexperienced.
The British had more tanks than the Germans, but they were inferior to the Tiger tank. John Cloudsley-Thompson recalls being attacked by Wittman's unit. The Germans closed the Caumont Gap.
Living Conditions at the Front (02:32)
By June 19, the Allies had only advanced a few miles inland and suffered lack of food and sleep. Hinchliff recalls catching chickens under fire; hear about K-rations. Supplies were delivered via Mulberry Harbors, but a storm approached.
Under Attack from Nature (03:55)
A storm battered Allied ships and Mulberry harbors—paralyzing operations in Normandy and causing greater damage than D-Day. The lack of supplies, reinforcements, and air power negatively impacted soldiers fighting in hedgerows; ammunition was limited.
Leadership Crisis (02:44)
By July 2, the Allies advanced toward Saint Lo amid a soaring casualty rate. Without experienced field commanders, the mission fell further behind schedule. Van Roosen's commander ordered him not to fire on Germans, to avoid drawing fire to himself.
New Allied Tactic (03:38)
German troops anticipated American fighting strategies and held defensive hedgerow positions. Evans recalls the "Bouncing Betty" mine. U.S. engineers attached plows to tanks to create new hedgerow openings; they needed to capture major roadways to Saint Lo.
Hill 95 (02:30)
On July 5, paratroopers were ordered to attack a high point controlling roadways into Saint Lo. Coordinate with an air offensive, they targeted German positions. Veterans recall heavy fire and carnage.
First Approach to Saint Lo (02:00)
The Allied air strategy included bombing small villages to disable roads. The Germans had strong defenses in the city; fighting progressed slowly.
Martinville Ridge Strategy (01:43)
Unable to take Saint Lo head on, Allies planned to circle the city. Reinforcements arrived to find U.S. leadership in chaos; Van Roosen's unit had been reduced from 178 to 35 men.
Battle on Martinville Ridge (03:49)
On July 16, Evans' company became separated on Martinville Ridge; their radio battery died. A task force attacked German defenses at Saint-Lo; Wegner describes targeting Americans from inside the city. Van Roosen recalls a mortar landing near him.
Capturing Saint-Lo (02:18)
Allied forces gradually wore down German defenses on Martinville Ridge and entered the city, fighting street by street.
Achieving the D-Day Objective (03:42)
On July 18, the Allies entered Saint-Lo and Germans retreated. Wegner describes running into American soldiers and losing a friend. Liberating the city came at a heavy civilian price.
Major of Saint-Lo (01:25)
Having led the attack, Major Thomas Howie died on Martinville Ridge. His body was placed in state at the ruined cathedral and he became a symbol of American sacrifice for the Normandy Invasion.
Coming Home (03:16)
Saint-Lo marked the transition from hedgerow fighting to maneuver fighting. Led by General Patton, the Allies liberated Paris within a month. Veterans recall returning to the U.S.
Remembering D-Day (04:27)
Evans did not discuss his experience in Normandy for 50 years. Charles Shay often wondered why his life was spared. Baumgarten visited Normandy in 1988 and was inspired to speak for his dead comrades. Hear casualty statistics.
Credits: D-Day in HD: Part 2 (00:30)
Credits: D-Day in HD: Part 2
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