D-Day – The Great Crusade – Extra History – #1

When the signal is given, the whole circle of avenging nations will hurl themselves upon the foe and batter out the life
of the cruelest tyranny which has ever sought
to bar the progress of mankind. That signal comes today. This episode
is sponsored by Wargaming. New players can download World of
Tanks and use the code: NEPTUNE for free goodies. Link in the description. D-Day. June 6th, 1944. Months of effort
have been building up to this day. Throughout England, half a million men
have been gathered at staging areas to strike across the channel
as soon as the signal is given; men from The United States,
Britain, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France,
Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Poland. Today we’ll be telling the American story, as best as it can be told
in a few short minutes, and over the coming weeks, thanks
to the generous support of Wargaming, we’ll tell the story of
three of the other major players involved. But that story begins
with a dinner in Tehran in 1943. For the first time, the leaders
of the most powerful allied nations, The United States, The USSR
and the British Empire, met in one room. For years, Stalin,
his nation battered by the Nazi invasion and bearing the brunt of the human cost
of the war against Germany, had pressed the allies to open up a second
front to the war by invading France. The British had pushed back,
arguing for operations in North Africa, and then an assault on Italy. But now, with the USSR
winning on the Eastern Front, the demands from Stalin
became harder to deny. And simultaneously everyone started
to think of the post war settlement. If the Allies won
without British and American troops liberating Western Europe,
how could they stop the USSR from claiming huge swaths of land and perhaps even, at least politically,
dominating the continent? And so, an agreement was made
out in the deserts of Iran: the western powers
would open up a second front by invading France in May of 1944. Plans were drawn up. An amphibious operation of this size
had never been tried. Men and material would have to be
drawn back from around the world, new technologies
would have to be invented, engineering feats previously
only discussed in conference rooms would have to be put to the test
under wartime conditions. But the first decision
that had be to made was where to land. There were two possible targets: Calais,
the closest point in Europe to England, or Normandy, one of the farthest
on the Channel coast. Calais was the sane,
sensible place to land, but it had two notable disadvantages: first, terrain in which you could easily
get bogged down, and second, the fact that it was
the sane, sensible place to land. Reviewing the battle plan, Eisenhower
and Montgomery were in agreement: they wanted the element of surprise with the possibility
of being able to rush off the beaches. So the decision was made.
Normandy it would be. But this would require one of the
greatest counter intelligence operations ever attempted to keep the secret safe, not to mention equipment and
manpower on an even greater scale. Entire harbours had to be fabricated which could be shipped over
from England, more landing craft needed time to roll off the factory lines.
The operation was delayed until June. Finally, the day arrives: June 4th, 1944. Planes prep, final drills are run through, tens of thousands of men
board ships for the invasion, and then the rain starts to roll in. Soon it becomes a storm. Ferocious waves sweep the channel,
clouds completely block the sky, high winds buffet any craft that ventures
on sea, land and especially air. Eisenhower is forced to make
the decision: the attack must be delayed. Rain continues to pour the next day. A council of
allied commanders is called. If they delay again,
they won’t be able to launch until July. They need to do
the channel crossing at night, they need to do
commando raids and mine sweeping when the unsuspecting Germans
will have the fewest patrols out. But for a crossing of this magnitude,
they need nearly full moon visibility. Even if they did decide
to brave a launch without the full moon, tidal conditions wouldn’t be right for
another two weeks. What do they do? They’ve got thousands of men
already holed up on boats, getting seasick and nervous
and just plain stir crazy. They’ve already started moving
equipment and forces into staging areas which can clearly only be targeting
one place: Normandy. And they’ve had to alert
enough people up and down the chain as to the nature of the operation
that, with each passing day, the odds of keeping
their landing location a secret plummet. But to cross in this weather,
that would be madness. Then a captain is ushered in. He’s an RAF meteorologist, and
he’s about to make what may well be the most consequential
weather report of all time. He says he believes
it’s going to be clear on the 6th. Eisenhower nods.
The operation is a go. 6,000 ships begin
to steam across the channel. Minesweepers fan out ahead of them,
clearing a path. For weeks,
the allied forces have bombed the German airforce in the region
nearly to oblivion. No enemy interceptors exist to spot the
waves of gliders and transport planes carrying 17,000 airborne troops. The ships
won’t reach the beaches until dawn, but the airborne infantry
has night work to do. First in are the pathfinders, the men
whose job it is to light the drop zones for all the other parachute infantry. Of the four planes
carrying these pathfinders one overshoots their target, another has
to bail before ever getting to France, and the remaining two kept most of
their signaling gear in the ditched plane, leaving them desperately trying
to signal the paratroopers by waving flashlights
at the passing airplanes. The paratrooper drop goes even worse: scattered by enemy anti-aircraft fire
and blinded by low clouds, paratroopers jump
from altitudes that are either too high, leaving them drifting slowly,
unable to do anything but watch as enemy guns
spit shrapnel up at them, or too low,
breaking bones on landing as their parachutes
don’t have enough time to slow their fall. They are scattered all over, many
landing miles from their drop zones, some landing in marshes or rivers,
others being slaughtered as they drop
right into the middle of the enemy. It was a harrowing and confusing night
of chaotic firefights and desperate small unit actions. But the more veteran
of the American airborne troops, groups like
the Screaming Eagles and the 505th, managed to pull together to capture crucial road junctions,
communication points and bridges, and even destroyed
some of the artillery batteries that would imperil
the landing at Normandy. And they would hold fast,
delaying or preventing any counter-attack that might sweep the
impending invasion back into the sea. Then there’s the initial bombardment.
Allied bombing runs go astray, causing massive damage
to the civilian centres in Normandy, but doing little to weaken
the dug-in German positions. As dawn breaks, though, the Allied
gunners can finally see their targets, and the bombardment
becomes far more effective, softening up the beach
for the initial assault, but there’s little time remaining
until the troops’ scheduled landing. At 6:30 AM on June 6th, 1944,
the klaxons sound, and the assault craft are released. They plow through the chop,
men huddled in their tin shells, as German fire pours down, sinking entire landing craft to the bottom
of the sea just off the Normandy coast. Then the assault craft hit the beach,
ramps drop and men charge out. But on Utah Beach,
things have already gone horribly. The men look around them,
and the terrain’s all wrong. They’ve landed on the wrong beach. Luckily for the Americans,
the oldest man in the invasion, and the only general
to actually join these ground troops, Teddy Roosevelt Jr.,
happens to have landed with them. The local commanders
ask him what they should do, and living up to his namesake,
he simply responds: “We’ll start the war from right here.” He correctly assessed
that the beach they had landed on was actually a better,
more easily takeable landing point than the one
the senior staff had assigned them. In a miracle of heroism
and logistical coordination, he managed to reroute the entire Utah
Beach invasion force to his location, direct the battle and continuously
rally the men as he walked the beach with his cane, waving his pistol. His new “Utah Beach” would be
the first beach successfully overrun, and for his actions there he would be
awarded the medal of honour. Omaha, though, was a different story. Here, the pre-landing bombardment
had been even less effective. The seas were choppy,
landing craft took on water and men tried to bail with their helmets. Some of the landing craft sank. Those that landed
were filled with wretching seasick men. Much of the armoured support
that was supposed to follow them foundered in the waves or simply
got picked off as they hit the shore. Soon, the men were all pinned down
against a small shingle of land that provided what little cover
there was to be found on the beach. Many of the units
had taken heavy casualties, and much of the command staff
was dead. With units getting washed ashore
in the wrong places or scattered in the desperate scramble
to try to get to the small ridge of sand that served as cover, the assault
had become hopelessly disorganised. The second wave
met with much the same fate. Hopelessly bogged down, withdrawal
from Omaha Beach was considered, but it was the vital linking point between
the British and American forces. As the day wore on, a number of ranger
units began to rally and scaled the bluffs, finally managing to assault
German positions on the heights. At the same time, several of
the naval ships came dangerously close to the beach to provide
more effective support fire just as the German ammunition
began to run out. Even after all this, Omaha Beach wasn’t
truly cleared by the end of the 6th. But as the sun began to set
on those bloodied beaches, it was clear that the American forces
were there to stay. Join us next time as we join the British for their covert efforts to keep
the biggest invasion in history a secret.

100 thoughts on “D-Day – The Great Crusade – Extra History – #1”

  1. :05 circle of avenging nations… You forgot the Canadian flag! Per capita, Canada had more casualties than the US.

  2. There was another general who actually took part in the war on Omaha coming in on the 2nd wave, General Dutch Cota who on the battle even came up with the Rangers famous slogan “rangers lead the way”

  3. I'm happy


  4. He was just a rookie trooper and he surely shook with fright.
    He checked off his equipment and made sure his pack was tight.
    He had sit and listen to awful engines roar.
    And he aint gonna jump no more.
    Gory, gory, what a helluva way to die.
    Gory, gory, what a helluva way to die.
    Gory, gory, what a helluva way to die.
    And he aint gonna jump no more.

    Blood on the risers – Paratrooper song

  5. The allies should have realized so much different strategies than the use of man and like distracting them with the men in boats so the paratroopers chance to kill the distracted nazis or surrounding the nazis like the blitz tactic

  6. Am i right to assume that your intro music is the beginning from Actraiser – Birth of the People?
    Nevermind. Just saw it in the description.

  7. Wait hang on a minute are you forcing me to learn about history wait axis were apart of d day how dare you support fascists

  8. Ireland too they helped for england to leave them alone but england never left them the RAF fought in somewhere in africa they where ambushed.

  9. I love how there are big countries or countries with big allies and then theres Czechoslovakia small country that helped

  10. I have one question do the American have a regiment called path finders or is he talking about the British PFP(pathfinders

  11. it's weird to hear what my great-granddad went through i know that it's not an exact outlook on in but just the fact that it sheds some life on him a man i never knew and died before i was born is amazing to me

  12. Me: (watches literally every Extra History episode to ever exist)
    My History Teacher: (says anything)
    Me: When are we gonna LEARN anything in this class?

  13. You join the US army, then all of a sudden, you're in Normandy. You didn't ask for this, you didn't choose th-
    Oh wait, wrong video….

  14. Out of deserts of Iran came a decision? Tehran sits at the foot of towering mountains and back in the 40s was surrounded by gardens. Also, Iran was illegally invaded despite its neutrality and thousands died out of starvation when allies took the food out of the mouth of Iranians to send it to their own. They weren't in Tehran with an invitation.

  15. Most American thing I've ever heard, brings a tear to my eye. Go to invade beach A and land on beach B but fuck it yolo we here now.

  16. Why does every channel that does a view on the airborne assault on D-day, think the 101 had the most experience? They were a brand new unit. The 82nd had already did a combat jump previously. Making them the ones with the most experience. Let's give credit where credit is due. Just because theres more written about the 101 doesn't make them the best , the first, ir what ever. Yes they did great things. So did everyone else.

  17. *germany*: I think we better re think out plan

    *Italy*: ya sorry mate can’t help you out there


    then the crusade begins

  18. 0:50 Reeeeeeeeeewwe you siding include us Canadians!

    I’m sorry for my outburst I’m just a little annoyed about being left out………I’ll get back to sipping my mug of maple syrup.

  19. My Great Grandfather was situated in India as a field Marshall. He returned in 1946, the last of his family to return. My uncle has his hat and in he was buried with a bundle of his letters he sent, the last one having his blood stain from his lost leg.

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