Kokomo Writer Scott Spires Remembers D-Day

The story of D-Day, June 6th 1944 and “The Greatest Generation” Today is a day we pay honor to our Veterans, especially to the thinning ranks of our World War II Veterans

In this June 6, 1944, file photo, U.S. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, left, gives the order of the day to paratroopers in England prior to boarding their planes to participate in the first assault of the Normandy invasion. A dwindling number of D-Day veterans will be on hand in Normandy in June 2019, when international leaders gather to honor them on the invasion’s 75th anniversary. (U.S. Army Signal Corps via AP)

“The Greatest Generation”

While many believe the “D” in D-Day was a secret military operational term, the fact was the letter ‘D’ did not signify a code. It was simply a letter noted on the calendar as the start date of operations on the beaches of Normandy, France. The allies also used “H” Hour as the exact time the invasion would begin.

With preparations at a fever pitch, and England infiltrated with Nazi spies, every effort was taken to ensure secrecy for the Normandy invasion plan “Operation Overlord”.

Then an incredible event occurred, almost stopping the entire operation, before D-Day even began.

British MI5 Intelligence Service happened across a newspaper crossword puzzle. In it they saw the vital code names adopted for the planned invasion. They noticed the answer to clues, on one question. State of the U.S.A. the answer was Utah. Another clue given was Omaha. These were the exact code names for the beaches American troops planned to storm.

Another answer that appeared was the word “Mulberry” the code name for the floating harbor the Allies planned to tow across the English Channel to accommodate Allied troop and supply ships. The word “Neptune” also appeared as an answer on the puzzle, which was the code name for U.S. Naval support. Finally, an answer on the puzzle that confirmed to MI5 that the mission had been compromised. The answer was “Overlord” code name for the entire Normandy operation.

MI5 located the crossword puzzle compiler, Leonard Dawe, a 54 year old school teacher. It was found that Dawe would ask his students for words when compiling a crossword puzzle. The students having close contact with the large American military presence shared the strange dialect and words they had heard from the Americans.

After much investigating and interrogation of teacher Dawe, MI5 had to accept, that despite astronomical odds this was in fact an astonishing coincidence.

The Allied Command was still in shock. The largest seaborne invasion in history was almost called off due to a crossword puzzle.

For the Normandy invasion the Allies had over 5,000 ships or landing craft to transport the first wave of 175,000 soldiers. Awaiting the allies were 850,000 Axis troops and 1,550 tanks. However with 7,700 aircraft for the operation, the Allies owned the skies over Normandy.

History teaches that Allied failure was not an option. Not only was failure of the Allies to secure Normandy possible, but also many considered it the most probable outcome.

For this reason, before the invasion began, Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower had prepared his resignation letter. It read: “Our landings in the Cherbourg – Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold, and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone!

D-Day scheduled for June 5th 1944, actually began June 6th 1944 due to weather conditions. On that day, General Eisenhower told his troops, “You are about to embark on a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you!”

The assault phase of “Operation Overlord” known as “Operation Neptune” had begun.

As the assault was underway, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the nation.

Most expected a speech. Instead, a solemn President Roosevelt led the American people in prayer.

President Roosevelt prayed, “Almighty God, our sons, the pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity…Thy will be done, “Almighty God. Amen.”

June 30th 1944, Operation Neptune ended with the Normandy region successfully secured. By that time 850,000 allied troops and 150,000 vehicles were in France.

It was during this time the German High Command privately conceded to one another that the war was lost!

Then as now, the most important thing to an American is freedom. We can never forget those, whose sacrifices made our freedom possible.