Controversy about D-Day

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Excerpt

The bloody truth of the longest day

Antony Beevor’s impeccable attention to detail ensures that the horrors of the Normandy invasion are brought vividly to life, says Dominic Sandbrook.
Early on the evening of 5 June 1944, the BBC broadcast a coded message to Resistance units in Nazi-occupied France. “Les dés sont sur le tapis” (“The dice are down”) the announcer said and then, a few moments later: “Il fait chaud à Suez.” It was the signal that the Resistance had been waiting for – for them to attack the Germans’ lines of communication because the greatest naval invasion in history was at hand. Across the Channel, the final preparations were underway. Shortly before midnight, in towns and villages across southern England, the air filled with the roar of hundreds of aircraft engines. Thousands of people in their dressing gowns and pyjamas went out into their back gardens, staring up into the sky at the vast armada silhouetted against the clouds. Some dropped to their knees and prayed for success; others simply said: “This is it” and went back to bed.
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11 thoughts on “Controversy about D-Day

    1. A reader commented on my posts about Les sanglots longs des violons de l’automne. He said that this coded message was for the Résistance in central France.

      I got curious. I asked him for his source, but he did not reply.

      I stumbled on that post written in May 2009. That was before I started writing about WWII in August 2009.

      1. Bonjour,

        Ma réponse est très tardive, donc vous avez probablement déjà l’information, mais à tout hasard. (je n’avais que très peu de temps ces derniers mois avec la rédaction de ma thèse de doctorat). Selon RONDEAU Benoît, La débarquement vécu par les Allemands”, Paris : Tallandier, 2014, 436 p.

        “Pourtant le colonel Hellmuth Meyer, chef des renseignements de la 15e armée, prévient le général von Salmuth, entre le 21 et 22h, qu’il a capté un deuxième vers de Verlaine, faisant suite à un premier vers entendu sur les ondes de la BBC à plusieurs reprises quelques jours plus tôt. Ce message, prélude à des sabotages ferroviaires, serait en fait destiné uniquement au groupe Ventriloque dirigé par Philippe de Vomécourt et opérant au sud de la Loire en Sologne”.

        L’auteur donne la source suivante, en note de lecture, David Stafford, Ten days to D-Day, Abacus, 2004, p.132.

        Bien Amicalement

    2. A history professor once said to his students, “If you cite a review in your paper, I will fail you.” Read the book, not the review. The author of the Guardian article, while a history professor, was born in 1974 and is an author of “popular” books.

  1. Another excerpt…

    What emerges above all from this thoroughly researched and gripping narrative, though, is the appalling human suffering of the struggle. Among the very first Allied troops in France, for example, were paratroopers dropped overnight, yet many were killed without firing a shot when they landed in flooded ditches and rivers. Many tank crewmen, too, died without reaching French soil when their tanks were launched too far from the beaches and sank like stones beneath the waves. On Omaha Beach, thousands of Americans were machine-gunned as they waded ashore, like ducks in a shooting gallery; later, as they inched their way south towards Paris, men had to use mess tins and spoons to scrape the charred remains of their comrades out of their tank shells. There was nothing glamorous about the battle for Normandy; most divisions lost more men every month than did the German and Soviet troops on the Eastern Front.

    While Beevor’s book on the Berlin campaign attracted criticism in Russia for its revelations about Red Army atrocities, it is from the US that he is likely to get flak this time. American GIs, as he shows, were no less courageous than their British and German counterparts, but the Americans were often poorly trained and liable to suffer shock as soon as they came under fire. Many were farm boys from the Midwest and almost comically anti-French; the general attitude was that you “couldn’t trust them” and that all French women were sleeping with Germans. Beevor has a nice story about a French priest coming into his church and finding two soldiers from Alabama looting the poor box; they were, he suggests, just looking for souvenirs, although that was surely no consolation to the priest.

  2. This must be a typo…!!!

    Even so, more than 200,000 Allied troops lost their lives in the battle for Normandy.

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