Thursday, June 9, 2016

D + 26, 298

The anniversary of DDay is the spiritual resonance of the greatest effort ever put forth by man.

Whew, that’s heavy.  Another thing it teaches us is that years of effort go into the big days and that after the ‘grand opening’ there are still lots of long days of hard work.

DDay was essentially conceived on the day after Pearl Harbor in the sense that FDR and Churchill had a teleconference in which they determined – despite Imperial Japanese aggression – the primary focus of the Allied war effort would be to defeat Nazi Germany.

It would take another 11 months after the DDay landings to defeat the Wermacht and receive a surrender from second Fuhrer.

The idea came to life the second week of December, 1941; was executed during the first week of June, 1944 and culminated just after Cinco-de-Mayo in 1945. Flash-to-Bang: 4 1/2 years.

As this article posts, it will be the 72nd anniversary of D+2. The worst carnage of beaches was over but the hard slog had just begun. In two days, two million troops had been brought ashore in Normandy. The regular units were making contact with the far-flung paratroopers. The British had begun there encirclement of Caen, the primary city of Norman France.

99,000 air sorties were performed in support of the ground effort, destroying half the Luftwaffe in French forward airfields.

In the channel sea one of the greatest engineering efforts in history was undertaken: The deployment of the Mulberry Harbours. The Mulberries were massive precast, concrete blocks (caissons) that could be fitted, like giant LEGOs, to form harbors capable of supporting shipping traffic until a European deepwater port could be captured from the Germans.

The Mulberries used the physics of buoyancy and were tugged across the channel and then sunk in place. Yep, each Phoenix Caisson, up to 6,000 tons of concrete, was towed across the channel and sunk in place.

Mulberry B, at Gold Beach, was in operation for 10 months and facilitated the disembarkation of 2.5 million men, 500,000 vehicles and 4 million tones of supplies.  Truly monumental.

Just like the events of the film Saving Private Ryan, D+2 reminds us that while we spend years preparing for the big day it is often just the beginning of the hard work to come.