#tbt - D-DAY - JUNE 6, 1944 : THE MIDDLETOWN AREA RESPONDS WITH DISTRESS AND PRAYER
One of the fiercest battles of World War II began in Europe seventy-five years ago today, June 6, 1944.
It will be known forever as “D-Day,” when the “largest seaborne invasion in history” took place upon the beaches of Normandy, France. At the time Nazi Germany controlled France and most of western Europe.
“D-Day” signaled the start of the “much larger Battle of Normandy which dragged on for two months.”
Codenamed “Operation Overlord,” the Normandy invasion was led by General Dwight D. Eisenhower. In 1952 he would be elected President of the United States.
The battle began early when “about 23,000 American and British troops were dropped by parachute and glider into Normandy. More than 130,000 Allied troops crossed the English Channel in boats from bases in southern England...”
“Allied warplanes riddled the invasion area with bombs and gunfire. Warships bombarded the Normandy beaches. United States soldiers landed at beaches code-named Omaha and Utah” while “British soldiers landed at Gold and Sword beaches. Canadian troops landed at Juno Beach.”
“About 70,000 German soldiers put up fierce resistance. The invading Allies met heavy machine gun and rifle fire, artillery fire, land mines, tanks, barbed wire and fortified bunkers...”
“Still, by the end of the day, the Allies had secured all five beaches, and Allied soldiers and supplies were pouring ashore...”
“The Allied success on D-Day came at a significant cost.” In operations that preceded D-Day as well as D-Day itself, the Allies suffered more than 20,000 casualties and lost many aircraft. However, the invasion achieved its purpose -- liberating France and Western Europe from Nazi control.
Back home, news of the invasion and the securing of Normandy beachheads dominated the front page of the June 6, 1944, Middletown, Ohio, Journal.
Among its headlines were:
“ALLIED TROOPS SECURE NORMANDY BEACHES -- Men Stream Into France - Advance Inland Swifty...”
“LONG WAITING PERIOD ENDS”
“TERSE INVASION NEWS STIRS CITY...”
“LOCAL CHURCHES HOLD SPECIAL SERVICES, PRAY FOR VICTORY”
The front page also included a full-length prayer “in this dark hour of conflict and danger.” It was introduced by the following headline:
“'WHEN INVASION COMES – A PRAYER BY THE RT. REV. HENRY ST. GEORGE TUCKER, PRESIDENT—FEDERAL COUNCIL OF THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST IN AMERICA, 297 FOURTH AVENUE, NEW YORK 10, N.Y.”