Most Important Weather Forecast in History

  “Group Capt. Stagg and his colleagues (were) under almost unimaginable pressure and conflict… with the fate of the war and perhaps the world hanging in the balance.”

 

Group Captain J M Stagg, Chief Meteorological Officer with the Royal Air Force, responsible for forecasting weather conditions for D Day. CH 14235 Part of AIR MINISTRY SECOND WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION Royal Air Force official photographer
Group Captain J M Stagg, Chief Meteorological Officer with the Royal Air Force, responsible for forecasting weather conditions for D Day. 
Photo courtesy of Imperial War Museum, AIR MINISTRY SECOND WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION. Royal Air Force official photographer

Comments Charles McCain: Stagg was the considered the top weather forecaster in Great Britain. He was a civilian but during the war he was given the rank of Group Captain and made Chief Meteorological Officer of the RAF.

 

65_327_1

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower aboard the HMS Apollo, a mine layer, on a visit to a beachhead along French coast, June 7, 1944.
(photo courtesy of Eisenhower Foundation)

“OK, let’s go.”

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, giving the final order for D-day, the assault on Nazi-occupied France, June 5, 1944

The greatest invasion force in the history of warfare stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, on D-Day, June 6, 1944. It was the beginning of a campaign of liberation to eliminate Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and its commander, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force, called it “The Great Crusade.”

Eisenhower gave the final order that put the vast operation in motion in the early morning hours of June 5, as meteorologists predicted a temporary break in the stormy weather. Hours later he wrote this note, in case the operation were to fail. In the statement, he praised the men he commanded and accepted total responsibility for the failure the next day could bring. The only apparent hint of nerves on his part is his error in dating the note “July 5” instead of June 5.

(courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Presidential Papers, Principal File: Butcher Diary 1942-1945). Harry Butcher was Eisenhower’s naval aide.

 

1401825190000-D-DAY-FORUM-2946137

US Army troops heading for the beaches at Normandy 6 June 1944

(photo courtesy of USA Today)

 

10414033_662809490462271_1537976589_n

As this Coast Guard LCI noses into a French Invasion beach to debark it’s load of American troops, a Nazi mine explodes close off its port bow. Exposed to enemy fire in the beach dashes, Coast Guard Coxswain and Gun Crew felt the first fury of German shell and machine gun fire, as well as the blasts of hidden mines. From the Records of the U.S. Coast Guard (RG 26).

“To go or not to go?”

 The Most Important Weather Forecast in History:

Gen. Eisenhower’s chief meteorologist, Group Capt. James Martin Stagg, made one of the most important weather forecasts of all time. Defying his colleagues, he advised Ike to postpone the invasion of Normandy by one day from June 5, 1944, to June 6, because of uncertain weather conditions….

Stagg — who was actually a geophysicist by training — and his fellow British and American meteorologists were operating without any of the technology and equipment that today’s forecasters take for granted, such as satellites, weather radar, computer modeling and instant communications.

Predicting the exact timing, track and strength of these storms put Group Capt. Stagg and his colleagues under almost unimaginable pressure and conflict… with the fate of the war and perhaps the world hanging in the balance.

Years later, during their ride to the Capitol for his inauguration, President-elect John F. Kennedy asked President Eisenhower why the Normandy invasion had been so successful.

Ike’s answer: “Because we had better meteorologists than the Germans!”

 

sources: USA Today and The Forecast for D-day: And the Weatherman behind Ike’s Greatest Gamble, by John Ross

 

Into_the_Jaws_of_Death_23-0455M_edit

D-Day 6 June 1944. A LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) from the U.S. Coast Guard-manned USS Samuel Chase disembarks troops of Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division (the Big Red One) wading onto the Fox Green section of Omaha Beach (Calvados, Basse-Normandie, France) on the morning of June 6, 1944. American soldiers encountered the newly formed German 352nd Division when landing. During the initial landing two-thirds of the Company E became casualties.

(Photo by USCG Chief Photographer’s Mate Robert F. Sargent. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration)

71_155

June 6, 1944
A paratrooper loads for take off in England in preparation to leave for invasion

Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration)

Mustard Gas Kills Thousands In World War Two, part one

part 2  Part 3

The use of poison gas in war was outlawed by the 1899 Hague Declaration Concerning Asphyxiating Gases and the 1907 Hague Convention on Land Warfare.

In World War One, the Germans decided to violate the terms of the these treaties and use poison gas which they did. The Allied powers followed suit. But World War Two was different for various reasons and neither side used poison gas in the European theater except by accident. This is an account of that terrible accident classified top secret for decades.

bari-teatromargherita

Magnificent view of Bari harbour today with the Teatromargherita (theatre) in the foreground. Allied freighter SS John Harvey carrying a secret cargo of mustard gas exploded in this harbor after a German air raid on 2 December 1943.

 

bari_burning-ships

The same harbor on 3 December 1943, the day after the raid by the Luftwaffe.
Photo courtesy of: www.oocities.org/joe32@rogers.com/bari_ships.html

In a devastating surprise attack on Allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari on the night of 2 December 1943, Luftwaffe bombers killed as many as two thousand people with half being Allied military and the other half being Italian civilians. Hundreds of the dead, no certainty over how many, were killed when mustard gas bombs aboard the American liberty SS John Harvey ship exploded after the ship was hit and set afire.

SS_John_W_Brown

  Liberty ship SS John W. Brown.

Because Liberty ships were built to a standard design, SS John Harvey would have looked exactly like the SS John W. Brown. The numbers on the bow are Plimsoll marks which indicate how deeply the ship can be loaded depending on time of year and type of water. (Only one part of the world’s oceans are so fierce it has its own mark, Winter North Atlantic—WNA). The photo was taken on the Great Lakes in 2000. SS John W. Brown is one of only two surviving World War II Liberty Ships, the other being the SS Jeremiah O’Brien. (photo from Wikipedia, author unknown).