Midway and D-Day…

Two years almost to the day apart, but signal events in the US and allied conduct of WWII…

The battle of Midway was joined after these gents found the Japanese Fleet 700 miles from Midway on 3 June 1942… They were the attack force, not the main body, but started the whole battle with that sighting.

Standing, left to right: AMM2c R. Derouin, ACRM Francis Musser, Ens. Hardeman (co-pilot), Ens. J.H. “Jack” Reid (aircraft commander) and Ens. R.A. Swan (navigator). Kneeling, left to right: AMM1c J.F. Gammel, AMM3c J. Groovers and AMM3c P.A. Fitzpatrick.

On the morning of 4 June, then LT Howard P. Ady, Jr., while flying a patrol in his PBY-5A, first spotted a single aircraft on a course to Midway. His first report on the enemy early that morning (one word: “Aircraft”) was soon followed by more detailed reports:

0534 “Enemy Carriers”

0540 “ED 180 sight 320”

0552 “Two carriers and main body of ships, carriers in front, course 135, speed 25”

In one of the ‘ironies’ if you will, NIPPI, the rework facility at Atsugi, JA, chose to paint a P-3 for the 50th anniversary of the airframes’ service.  Their choice?

Yes, they painted the ‘tribute’ airplane with Strawberry 5’s numbers…

D-Day was officially called “Operation Overlord,” and combined the forces of 156,115 U.S., British and Canadian troops, 6,939 ships and landing vessels, and 2,395 aircraft and 867 gliders that delivered airborne troops.

It was and still is the largest amphibious landing every attempted. While there was little for ‘patrol planes’ to do, the Navy had a large part in the landings and supporting the troops as they tried to get off the beaches.

One example is the USS Herndon (DD-638) and USS Shubrick (DD-639), built within months of each other at the Norfolk Navy Yard during the early part of the war. They were assigned to the same destroyer squadron and would fight near each other during the D-Day invasion, providing fire support and taking on the German guns, pillboxes, and machine gun nests…

Full article, HERE.

One other thing that is often missed is the work done by Beachmasters; their job was to get troops and material off the beach as quickly as possible, often under intense fire… Article, HERE.  There is a podcast on the page that gives some of their stories.

The other Navy contribution(s) were landing craft of all types, HERE.  The ones most used were the LCVPs, which deposited at platoon (36 men) at a time. Link HERE.  Originally not armored, by the time of D-Day, most, if not all had been armored to some extent. The problem was that the Coxswain was exposed to the elements/gunfire/etc. due to the height of the bow ramp.

While the ‘initial’ assault took place on 6 June, landings continued on the beaches at Normandy through the end of June, with the Allies landing approximately 850,000 men and 150,000 vehicles in beaches.

A full collection of D-Day things are HERE at History.com


Midway and D-Day… — 11 Comments

  1. Watching historical footage of beach landings, I don’t think I can comprehend individuals who made this trip SEVERAL times, vs. the one time beach landing. I’m convinced my toes would be gripping my heels after those experiences.

    Greatest Generation indeed. Thank you for your service gentlemen.

  2. I reflect heavily on the topic at this time of year. I’m re-reading “Shattered Sword”, for me, the best book written about the Battle of Midway -focusing on the Japanese side of things.

    It was a miracle.

  3. It’s an amazing thing when you consider the events of June’44. We were still fighting in Italy, sending equipment to our Russian friends, invading Saipan, and had actually reached a point where we could send newer gear to the CBI all while dropping off a few troops on some French beaches.

    In June ’42 at Midway we had Buffalo, Vindicator, and Devastator squadrons that were little more than chariots for martyrs. And still suffered from bad tactics.

    All those changes in the course of half of one enlistment.

  4. Rarely mention is the “Exercise Tiger” practice landing, a deadly fiasco involving VII Corps. On the plus side of the ledger, VII took the Utah beach with far fewer casualties than the Omaha beach.

  5. P-3 getting close to 60 years now, eh? Ahhh, Atsugi…spent 2 great years there as a young boy. Dad was XO of CTF-72 on Kamiseya.

  6. jrg- Yes, some amazing stories…

    LL/Ed- Concur!

    Jet- No question. And the fact that America DID step up and build all those assets in such a short period of time.

    WSF- That it was, and you’re right. Utah is seldom mentioned.

    Steve- When was that? PM me…

    Ed- I think some of them did…LOL

  7. I fear that if we had to do it all over again, our society would not be up to the task …. too many snowflakes and traitors.

    But maybe we’d be able to step up and ramp up our capabilities as we did in the early 40’s …

  8. I remember a family friend from church when I was a child. I was told he was a Navy swimmer who was on the beaches of D-Day before the landings. Just another Navy contribution for your list.
    A heart felt salute to “Griff” Wakefield. Paving the way.

  9. Tom- Sadly, I can’t disagree.

    .45- Yes, I didn’t mention UDT, but they were there and a lot of other places, pretty much unsung exploits like many others.

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