Of D-Day & Virginia

On D-Day (6 June 1944) more than 160,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy and attacked German troops and fortifications in Nazi-occupied France. The map below, attributed to the U.S. 12th Army Group of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), illustrates the immense invasion that turned the tide in World War II.

Secret map of D-Day invasion
Secret map of D-Day invasion

This military situation map uses three rectangular symbols to show the position of U.S. (solid outline), British and Canadian (dashed outline), and German (diagonal hatching) forces. A symbol with an “X” inside denotes infantry; above the symbol the “III” indicates a regiment, and the “xx” represents a division (usually 10,000-30,000 soldiers). To the right of the symbol, a number identifies the division or regiment.

Reading the symbols, the map reveals that the U.S. 4th Infantry Division led the assault at Utah Beach; nearby the 101st Airborne Division symbol (rectangle with “AB” inside) represents some 6,000 men dropped behind enemy lines. To the east, the 115th, 116th, and 16th regiments spearheaded the attack on Omaha Beach. Continuing east, units of the British 3rd, 6th, and 50th divisions and the Canadian 3rd Division (CDN inside symbol) captured Gold, Juno, and Sword Beaches. The map serves as a cartographic snapshot for a pivotal day in the liberation of Europe.

Storming the beaches of Normandy June 6, 1944.
Storming the beaches of Normandy June 6, 1944.

Remembering D-Day in Bedford, Virginia

Most people have not heard of Bedford, Virginia, but it is where the The National D-Day Memorial helped my family visualize the feelings and sacrifices experienced 71 years ago. The statues and design of the Memorial (below), nestled in the Virginia mountains, stirs the emotions of young and old alike, as it gives a glimpse of that fateful day on the faraway beaches of Normandy

Water bursts simulate enemy fire, as soldier statues hit the beach.
Soldier statues on the cliffs of Normandy.
Soldier statues on the cliffs of Normandy.