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D-Day: Seventy years ago today

New York Times breaks Operation Overlord

Jonathon Risen, New York Times Dateline: France June 1, 1944

The New York Times, always first with breaking news, has discovered that a daring invasion is planned on the coast of France on June 5 in an effort to liberate the courageous and valiant French citizens from the Nazis. If the weather conditions are not right, we have learned that Gen. Dwight Eisenhower may delay the invasion for a day.

Operation Overlord will be a massive Allied invasion of Western Europe that will include simultaneous landings on five beachheads by U.S., British, and Canadian forces.

When Eisenhower’s chief meteorologist, James Martin Stagg, informs the general of a break in the weather, Eisenhower will announce — “O.K. We’ll go.”

Within hours of the decision to go, an armada of 3,000 landing craft, 2,500 other ships, and 500 naval vessels–escorts and bombardment ships–will began to leave English ports. At night, 822 aircraft, carrying parachutists or towing gliders, will roar overhead to the Normandy landing zones. They will be just a fraction of the air armada of 13,000 aircraft that will support “D-Day.”

The largest of the D-Day assault areas, Omaha Beach, stretches over 10 km (6 miles) between the fishing port of Port-en-Bessin on the east and the mouth of the Vire River on the west. The western third of the beach is backed by a seawall 3 metres (10 feet) high, and the whole beach is overlooked by cliffs 30 metres high.

Utah Beach is the westernmost beach of the planned five landing areas. It will be assaulted by elements of the U.S. 4th Infantry Division. In the pre-dawn hours, units of the 82nd and 101st airborne division will be airdropped inland from the landing beach. Their plan is to isolate the seaborned invasion force from defending German units.

Sword Beach is the easternmost beach of the five landing areas of the planned invasion. It will be assaulted by units of the British 3rd Division, with French and British commandos attached. Shortly after midnight on D-Day morning, elements of the 6th Airborne Division will launch a daring glider-borne assault, hoping to seize bridges inland from the beach and also silence artillery pieces that could threaten the seaborne landing forces.

H-Hour (the time the first assault wave is to land) at Gold Beach is set for 0725 hours, one hour later than the scheduled landings on the American beaches owing to the direction of the tide, which move from west to east and bring high water later to the British beach.

Juno Beach is the second beach from the east among the five landing areas of the invasion. The Canadian 3rd Infantry Division will invade Juno Beach.

Sources have told us that this invasion could be the beginning of the end for the Nazis. Although Times editors held a meeting to discuss whether this information should be reported, it was decided unanimously that it is news and our first obligation is to journalism and reporting the story. We do hope, of course, that Allied casualties are kept to a minimum.

Count on the New York Times for all your war coverage. If it’s news, we will have it first.

Imagine the outcome if the NY Times actually did this.

The National D-Day Memorial

Categories: NY Times, US Army, World War II
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