Friday, June 6, 2014

New Webpage for D-Day Records - National Archives

Robert Capa, Normandy, Omaha Beach, June 6th, 1944
Robert Capa, Normandy, Omaha Beach, June 6th, 1944 (Photo credit: dr jk)
The Text Message » New Webpage for D-Day Records

Today’s post is written by Scott Ludwig, Archivist at the National Archives at College Park
Today marks the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, which was part of the larger Operation Overlord and the first stages of the Battle of Normandy, France (also referred to as the Invasion of Normandy) during World War II. It was a crucial event in the war and a culmination of years of Allied strategy and planning.  The success of D-Day allowed the opening of the Western Front of the War.
Here at the National Archives and Records Administration we have extensive holdings related to D-Day throughout the various archival units.  The Textual Records Division at the National Archives at College Park has created a webpage that features some of the records in our holdings and provides a link to the Online Public Access (OPA) Catalog that has a lot more.
Records highlighted on this D-Day page were created both during and after the war and cover a wide array of topics, including the famed meteorological reports that helped decide what day the invasion would take place and Eisenhower’s “Order of the Day” message and messages related to the dissemination of it. There are also invasion planning files, naval operations files, reports communications and correspondence files from various levels of command.  Further there are also battle participation awards files and anniversary commemoration files as well as the background files for Gordon A. Harrison’s “Cross Channel Attack”, the comprehensive 1951 US Army publication on D-Day.
The webpage also includes a United News Video Clip on D-Day that is available to watch. There are also a variety of links to other National Archives resources and other US Government agencies on the page.
This new webpage is a great starting point for anyone interested in D-Day and finding out about relevant resources at the National Archives and Records Administration.
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Captain Cook: His end could have been on Maui

Captain Cook: His end could have been on Maui - | News, Information, Lahaina and Western Maui, Hawaii — Lahaina News

Captain Cook: His end could have been on Maui

June 5, 2014
Lahaina News
LAHAINA - People in these parts know just two things about Capt. James Cook. He was credited as the first westerner to find what he named the Sandwich Islands and was killed on Hawaii Island.
Australians and many others regard him as one of the greatest explorers of all time. Astronauts named the space vehicle Endeavor after his first ship. A replica floats in the Sydney, Australia harbor near the Captain Cook cruise line and not far from the Captain Cook Hotel.
Cook's unusual story is well worth telling, as shown in "Farther Than Any Man, the Rise and Fall of Captain Cook" by Martin Dugard.

Article Photos

Captain Cook’s Endeavor replica rides the waves at a marine museum in Sydney, Australia.
Cook, from a lower class background, aspired to greatness. He loved the sea and studied map making and astronomy. His mentor - First Lord of the Admiralty the Earl of Sandwich - sent him on three epic voyages (the first lasted 1,076 days) to chart the southern hemisphere and find "the great southern continent."
He found Australia and New Zealand (circling it) and mapped most of Polynesia, fell in love with Tahiti and studied the language and culture. He found Antarctica and sought the Northwest Passage, happening upon Niihau, Kauai, Maui and Hawaii Island on the way.
Introduced to bare-breasted Polynesian women who swam to his ships on three different voyages, sailors on the second trip had as their major topic sex. The sailors thought they were taking advantage, and the women, according to Dugard, thought they were taking advantage by trading for nails valuable for their metal.
Cook was unique in many ways, including the fact that he had a lifelong love affair with wife Elizabeth and was entirely faithful to her despite the many temptations of Polynesia.
He is described variously by people who knew him as a genius, compassionate, benevolent, quirky, proud and bold. The navigator wanted no one in the British Navy to exceed his accomplishments and could not stay away from the fateful final voyage for that reason.
By then, he had won his fight to gain fame and acceptance by the British elite; and according to Dugard, was like "a superstar." He spent so much time with the elite, however, the man who paid so much attention to detail in preparing his ships failed to do so for his last third voyage, forcing him to return to Kealakekua Bay to fix a problem that led to his death.
On his last voyage, power went to his head. In Tonga, for the first time, he punished natives harshly for thievery, and there was a plot to kill him.
On June 18, 1778, Cook happened upon Niihau, Kauai, Maui and Hawaii Island. They were the first westerners to find what he thought was the best land in the Pacific. He would have landed on Maui, except the surf was too high and he couldn't find a harbor.
When Cook went ashore on Hawaii Island, it was the time of the Makahiki harvest festival that honored the god Lono, who was associated with the color white. The white sails of Cook's ship convinced 10,000 natives who greeted him that everyone on board was god-like, with Cook being Lono.
When a sailor died - gods don't die, the thinking went - Cook was considered mortal, and how mortal would become clear. Hawaiians rejoiced when the ship left, but when when its foremast collapsed, it returned for repairs.
When natives stole a boat, conflict ensued. In the confusion on the beach, Cook was stabbed multiple times. To say the least, his remains were treated with great disrespect.
Cook's successful missions (on one voyage, he logged 70,000 miles traveling at the rate of 100 miles a day) were to map the entire Pacific, spread British influence and establish trade.
After Cook, prisoners were sent to Australia to populate the continent with westerners, but the French prevailed in the Society Islands, even today known as French Polynesia.
And Elizabeth, the love of his life? She bore many children despite his long absences and outlived Cook 35 years, passing away at age 94.
Cook relished the fact he was treated as a god. His legacy was great, yet spoiled by the actions of the last year of his life.
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D-DAY War memorials and tourism - France

The beaches at Normandy are still referred to on maps and signposts by their invasion codenames. There are several vast cemeteries in the area. TheAmerican cemetery, in Colleville-sur-Mer, contains row upon row of identical white crosses and Stars of David, immaculately kept, commemorating the American dead. Commonwealth graves, maintained in many locations by theCommonwealth War Graves Commission, uses white headstones engraved with the person's religious symbol and their unit insignia. The Bayeux War Cemetery, with 4,648 burials, is the largest British cemetery of the war.[27] The largest cemetery in Normandy is the La Cambe German war cemetery, with 21,222 burials, which features granite stones almost flush with the ground and groups of low-set crosses. There is also a Polish cemetery.
Parachuting memorial inSainte-Mère-Église
At the Bayeux Memorial, a monument erected by Britain has a Latin inscription on the memorial reads "Nos a gulielmo victi victoris patriam liberavimus" – freely translated, this reads "We, once conquered by William, have now set free the Conqueror's native land".[27]
Streets near the beaches are still named after the units that fought there, and occasional markers commemorate notable incidents. At significant points, such as Pointe du Hoc andPegasus Bridge, there are plaques, memorials or small museums. The Mulberry harbour still sits in the sea at Arromanches. In Sainte-Mère-Église, a dummy paratrooper hangs from the church spire. On Juno Beach, the Canadian government has built the Juno Beach Information Centre, commemorating one of the most significant events in Canadian military history.
In England the most significant memorial is the D-Day Museum in Southsea, Hampshire. The Museum was opened in 1984 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of D-Day. Its centrepiece is the Overlord embroidery commissioned by Lord Dulverton of Batsford (1915–92) as a tribute to the sacrifice and heroism of those men and women who took part in Operation Overlord.
On 5 June 1994 a drumhead service was held on Southsea Common adjacent the D-Day Museum. This service was attended by US President Bill ClintonQueen Elizabeth II and over 100,000 members of the public.

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Bob Littlar, corporal, Kings Shropshire Light Infantry

Bob Littlar was 19 on D-Day, and a corporal in the Second Battallion of the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry. He had volunteered the previous year, and the invasion of France was the first active mission he took part in.
Before the invasion, he went through intensive training in Scotland. On D-Day, his regiment's objective was to reach the strategic city of Caen. On the road to Caen, Littlar and his comrades had to dig into the ground to hide from the German panzer divisions that were being assembled to prevent Allied troops from taking the city. Contrary to the expectations of the Allies, Caen didn't fall until after a month of heavy fighting.
Later in 1945 Littlar's regiment was sent to Germany and, after World War Two, ended to Palestine. Two years afterwards he left the Army.
You know, he got out and he walked along the lines reviewing us, like all these dignitaries do. You know - 'Gather round and I'll give you a talk'.
Same sort of trick as old Monty used to do ... gather round, get on the bonnet of a jeep, and tell you all about it perhaps. And it was very nice to get him for the day, and ... that was it. I mean, when he said how good we were, we could go home.
You know, the way he put it, you knew you were part of a group job. You know, and he told us that, I mean, you're not the only chaps, you've got aeroplanes and ... naval power and all that sort of stuff, to do this job.
He put it over very well. Very moral boosting I thought. One of the better speeches.
One of the later ... we were getting leave practically every other weekend at this time - make the most of it, chaps, you know. It's obviously got to be done during the summer, sort of thing, while the weather's suitable.
That was percolating down to us, we knew that. And I went home with my dad, and he was getting his bit of petrol, he took me to top of one of the hills in Herefordshire where you could see a panorama. It was brilliant. Well you've got it here was brilliant ... and he said, 'Well, this is what it's all about'.
'See all the Jerries', he said, 'and we don't want them here do we?' 'Cos he'd been in the 14-18 war, got gassed in it. He said, 'This is why we're trying to do this ... and it's worth, it's worth it, isn't it, when you see this?'
And I agreed of course, I was about 19 and a bit then, 19 and a quarter I suppose then. I thought on the same lines. There were no argument about it, and being in the wonderful countryside in Herefordshire, it is a moral booster. It is what it's all about. It is what you want forever, rather than a jackboot stamping on you, I think.
Yes, you couldn't do anything else but agree.
I came round the corner and, bang! And a chap from W Company was hit. Not only hit, he's either been hit with a tracer or an incendiary bullet, or a phosphorus bullet, and the whole of his bandolier - he's got two bandoliers, which is sort of 50 rounds in each bandolier, strapped round his waist, so if he had to get rid of his pack, or his assault jerkin, and he's still got the ammunition, you see, whhaaww. And that's how he died.
And I thought, and I was on my own on the left-hand side the river, so the rest of the chaps went behind me. And I turned, and I thought the fire had come from the farm on my left. So I opened up with a Sten, about a magazine and a half - took all the windows out.
But of course they don't fire, they fire from ground level. You only learn these things ... it's teaching on the job you could call it.
And the company commander from this chap on the right came up, and he got his grenade in his hand, and I saw he was hit immediately, the same second ... within two or three seconds he was hit, in the shoulder. And I saw him change the grenade from one hand to the other and chuck it over the wall. He thought it came from there, but I think it actually came from the church further up.
It was a baptism wasn't it? I mean, it was all new.
I mean, the muscles in your stomach are tight like a fist, like that, you know, your stomach muscles. But you can't stop.
You know you've gotta a job to, well, it isn't like ...that you know you've got a job to do, but your operation, you still keep going, you know, I mean. You can say that for the rest of any, anytime, you're glad to be there next morning, always
I can't say about the injured or killed, quite honestly, you're concentrating on your own well being, if that's a word I can use. Your mind concentrates on your own position.
Basically, 'I don't like this much' was going through my mind, and 'we shouldn't be here', because it's not going to do any good. I mean, that's how you feel ... you're in a trap, with that type of fire coming at you. And I was very relieved when we were ordered back across the road, out of it.
Yeah, we were trapped, I should imagine, in that wood like that. That's all I can think, because I couldn't see any way that we were going to go forward from there. 'What's the point of being there' is at the back of your mind, because you're just going to get hurt. There probably were casualties, but really, as I say, you're concentrating on your own ... you always do ... on your own situation.
That's the first priority in the whole of your existence, I think, and, as I say, I was hiding behind the trunks of these saplings and it was no, no help. I have to say it didn't help, I mean, everything burst in the trees and it wasn't any help to you at all. No I didn't like it a bit there.
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Franz Gockel - 352 German Divison - 6 Jun 1944

Franz Gockel was 18 years old on D-Day. He was stationed at resistance post 62, on the beach of Coleville-sur-mer, in the area codenamed Omaha Beach by the landing forces.

He recalls that Germany's most celebrated field marshal, Erwin Rommel, had said in a visit to the troops, that Normandy's beaches were ideal for an invasion. German defence positions were thus strengthened in preparation for an eventual Allied operation.
In the morning of 6 June, Gockel and his comrades saw 'a huge collection of ships, which stretched across the whole horizon'. When the battle started, he says, these ships created a 'wall of fire' to give cover to the huge numbers of Allied troops that took part of the landing.
Gockel was shot at the hand in the afternoon. 'You are really lucky', said one of his comrades. 'This is you shot home.'
On D-Day we were shocked, and I, as well as the others, we were defending ourselves, we wanted to survive. They were not our enemy ... we did not know them, and we had no chance to say yes or no to what was happening.
The opponent wanted to 'defeat' us, as it was called in those days, and we did our best in order to repel this opponent, and we did not think about the individual human being. When the landing troops arrived, we said that on every single boat there were more soldiers then in our entire bay of six kilometres.
Each ship had a few hundred, and we had about three to four hundred. Each resistance post had 20 to 25, and each boat was spitting out 30, 50, 100. In the beginning our artillery, which was already trained at the beach, was showing us the aim. And the artillery did manage to bring the attack to a stop in the first two to three hours.
When I was wounded in the afternoon, the next comrade, who was 50 metres behind me, and he saw that my hand was wounded with some of the fingers hanging down, and he said, 'Gosh, be glad, This is your shot home, we don't know how we are going to get home.'
I hoped I would manage to get back, I went on small paths, not on the main road. I heard that later comrades had fallen who had tried to rescue themselves by taking the main road. We did not think of withdrawal, we were only thinking about holding our position, defending and hoping to survive.
But we were trained beforehand to fight to the last. You have to hold the position. Also before, when there were discussions, nobody ever mentioned withdrawal, only ever fighting in order to hold back the invasion.
The ship artillery was the worst, before the first landing boats came out, there was like a wall of fire coming towards us. It was very - what can I say - well I started praying loudly. And have tried through the praying not to think about what is coming towards us. I just made these quick prayers.
I was standing there until the ships were close to the beach about 500-600 metres away. And just before they were going to land, they were shooting like a rolling wall of fire, and this wall of fire started with the barriers on the beach. The barriers were made of stems of trees, which partly had teller mines, which were shot to pieces so that the landing boats could get through more easily ... and we had put these stems of trees there with the mines.
We believed, if they come, they will only come during a high tide. And now they were coming with a low tide. This was a surprise for us. Partly they were torn to pieces, and partly they were burning, but there were still a few which were standing, because to shoot a single tree to pieces you have to hit it precisely.
At high tide there was a bigger landing boat, which had come after all the small ones. They only had 15-20 men, but this large one which landed right in front of us had about 200-300 men, and they had their exit on both sides, and stood bunched up ... and one comrade who was 50 metres in front of me, and he came crawling into my bunker, and shouted, 'Franz, beware, they are coming. Now you have to defend yourself.' And this is what we both did.

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