Saturday, June 06, 2009

June 6

1944. The biggest amphibious landing of all time, combined with massive airborne landings by chute and glider, into the teeth of one of the most heavily-defended and fortified areas in the world.

Airborne troops dropped at too-high speed who wound up landing with a pistol and knife and not much else because the airstream ripped everything else off them. Guys landing on a beach knowing about all the machine guns and artillery waiting for them. I'm going to borrow some from Russ at Ace of Spades:
You know what I did this morning? Maybe it would be better if I told you what I didn't do this morning.

I didn't have to spend over 12 hours on a transport ship in choppy water, then clamber down a cargo net into a plywood landing craft, all while carrying up to 100 pounds of gear on my back. Then, I didn't ride through the rough surf in that little plywood target, only to have the steel ramp (the only part of the little plywood boat that was even remotely bullet-resistant) flop down and drop me into the cold ocean water in front of a beach filled with steel obstacles, mines, flying bullets & exploding artillery rounds.

I didn't fly over enemy occupied territory at 1000 feet in a C47 cargo plane and then jump out of the plane into the teeth of enemy anti-aircraft fire. I didn't have to worry about my bright white silk parachute making me a good target for troops on the ground who wanted to use me for target practice, and after I landed, I didn't have to worry about engaging a vastly superior force with only the gear I carried with me (providing that said gear wasn't ripped off by the turbulence I encountered exiting the plane) with whoever I could gather together from the other troops dropped behind enemy lines the same as I was.

I didn't march into a plywood glider (PLYWOOD, as we've already established, is NOT very resistant to gunfire and explosions) and sit quietly while I was towed into anti-aircraft fire, only to be released and experience a controlled crash into trees, buildings or apparently open fields that were booby trapped with wooden poles and steel cables by the enemy.

I wasn't asked to take my place in a McGyvered together amphibious tank, where I would most likely be swamped by the waves and sink to the bottom of the English Channel like....well, like a tank rigged for amphibious operations with lumber and canvas. And if I DID happen to get to the beach, I would have been the prime target of every enemy artillery piece for miles around.

God only knows what all was lost on those beaches and fields and towns and villages. How much potential died there, doing a filthy, bloody, nasty job that had to be done.

For those, and everyone else in uniform that's been to and fought over and bled and died in everyplace from fields in the Colonies to deserts and mountains and jungles, give them a thought today.


Anonymous said...

Er, ah it was 1944 not 1941.

Firehand said...

Corrected. Sorry 'bout that