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The Importance of Operation Neptune, or D-Day

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Imagine being a soldier in the most devastating conflict in the history of man, only armed with an M1 Garand semi-automatic rifle and an M1911 Colt sidearm with just one job, to kill the enemy. Amongst this conflict were heroes, who proved their worth in combat, but the heroes usually don’t make it out alive, they are the ones who save lives. This conflict, WWII, will prove men’s brutality, strength, and determination, Close calls, last stands, and especially, heroic moments. One battle proved this point, D-Day, Operation Neptune.

D-Day, or Operation Neptune, took a lot of preparation and planning. General Dwight D. Eisenhower would lead the operation by transporting 156,000 troops to the beaches of Normandy, Specifically Omaha Beach. This operation would get us a foothold into the liberation of France, and then Germany. During the preparation, these troops would have to go through military training consisting of running through obstacles under heavy enemy fire. No matter how long or hard this training was for these troops, the enemy still had the advantage, and the advantage was the high ground. The Germans also had another surprise for us, the MG42, or the Machinengewehr 42 in German. This weapon was so deadly; it could mow down a platoon of troops in seconds because of its rate of fire (1,200 rpm). The only flaw was overheating, and reloading, but of course, the Germans resolved this by making it possible to change the barrel of the gun while keeping your finger on the trigger. Reloading, however, wasn’t resolved, so the American troops had the advantage there. The way the troops prepared for such a danger is to watch films of the machine gun fire. The sound of the gun was so unique, you could hear it from a mile away and still know what gun it is. General Eisenhower planned the attack on June 5, 1944, but because of a weather delay, the attack was postponed to June 6, 1944.

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The time was 6:30 A.M., and the paratroopers already landed in Normandy, fighting their way through fields, the main attack, however, was supposed to be on the ground. General Eisenhower gave a speech to the troops before they headed out, he said, “You are about to embark on the great crusade, towards which we have strived these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you.” The troops were then loaded into assault boats, and headed towards the beach. Adolf Hitler put Erwin Rommel in charge of holding off the attack on the beach head. They had barbed wire, bunkers, and machine guns protecting the Germans from the American troops. The Germans would set up traps in case of an attack on the beach, this consisted of land mines and a barricade of debris and barbed wire 2,400 miles long. The Germans had this place sealed, and Americans were not getting through without a fight, and they knew it, but they had no idea what to expect that morning.

The boats landed on the beach, and as soon as they dropped the doors, there were bullets everywhere. There was no way you could get out of the boat through enemy fire, so the troops were ordered to climb over the sides. Once they got to the beach, hedgehogs, or dragon’s teeth (massive barriers to stop incoming threats such as tanks) were used as cover for anyone willing to use it. There were bullets everywhere, and there was no way the Americans were getting up the beach without being shot. The only way to move up was when the enemy stopped firing, and that’s when the enemy has to reload or change its barrels (reloading: 50 rounds, changing barrels: 150 rounds), so these soldiers had about six seconds to get up from where they were at and RUN! However, this beach was about 400 yards long, so about 4 football fields long, and that’s how much ground these soldiers had to cover without getting shot or blown up. Now imagine sprinting every six seconds to cover ground, and duck to cover to survive another wave of bullets every so often, as well as being only 20 years old, and seeing all your friends and brothers get shot and killed right there in the sand, never telling them anything, where they almost have no chance to survive, now that’s SCARY! After consistent movement up the beach, the Americans finally reached the seawall. They brought out these long tubes that were explosives meant to destroy the wall. After they destroyed the wall, they climbed tall cliffs and steep bluffs to take the trenches and the bunkers. The trenches were the easy part, because all the Germans were packed inside the bunkers. Once the Americans reached the bunkers, they would throw a grenade inside and use a flamethrower to push them out. After clearing out trenches and bunkers for hours they finally won the day. This victory was the first for the allies in Europe, and if it wasn’t for their perseverance and brutality, then they wouldn’t be there to do their part. But unfortunately, we lost more than 2,400 soldiers, whether at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, or soaked in blood lying dead on the beach, fighting for all they know, which is victory and glory.

After D-Day, or Operation Neptune, British and American troops took villages and bridges across France, and soon Germany. If it wasn’t for the beach invasion, we wouldn’t have taken France, and the Russians would be left alone to take Berlin. So now we honor those who served their country, fighting for freedom and justice for all, and no matter what the situation, always persevering. The heroes, including the men who were KIA will be remembered on that morning of June 6, 1944, at Dog “Green” Sector, Omaha Beach.

Work Cited

  • History.com Editors. “D-Day.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 27 Oct. 2009, www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/d-day.
  • Roos, Dave. “D-Day: Facts on the Epic 1944 Invasion That Changed the Course of WWII.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 12 Mar. 2019, www.history.com/news/d-day-normandy-wwii-facts.
  • Carter, Ian. “What Happened after D-Day?” Imperial War Museums, www.iwm.org.uk/history/what-happened-after-d-day

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