The Canadians stormed ashore on Juno Beach. James Doohan, who later played Scotty on Star Trek, was among the Canadian soldiers that day. Sword and Gold Beaches were reserved for the British forces. A small contingent of French commandos joined the British on Sword and helped capture Ouistreham, destroying the casino there. One French officer who had previously lost at the tables was not sorry to see the casino in ruins that day.
With the D-Day landing, the Allies, in spite of the vast size of their armada and the relative openness of their societies, achieved a remarkable strategic surprise over the Germans. On June 6, Rommel was in Germany celebrating his wife’s birthday. Hitler was persisting in the mistaken belief that the Normandy invasion was a feint and that the real blow would be struck at Pas de Calais.
Imagine if an operation like the Normandy landing were to occur today in 2016, in the age of social media! Interactive polls would ask: “Which beach do you prefer, Normandy or Pas de Calais?” Could all the members of the 101st Screaming Eagles, painted in Indian war paint with Mohawk haircuts, be counted upon not to post their pictures on Facebook? That seems doubtful.
This June 6, raise a glass and toast the heroism of all those young men who fought to liberate America’s oldest ally from Nazi occupation. Without their service and sacrifice, our world might be a darker place. Gen. Patton may have summed it up best when he said, “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”