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.

 

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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.

 

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

(photo courtesy of USA Today)

 

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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

 

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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)

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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)

USCG Patroling Coast on Horseback World War Two

 US Coast Guard had among its duties in World War Two patrolling all beaches in the US 

USCG patrol WW Two Official

Dogs and their beach patrol handlers leap into action from a surfboat during a landing exercise along the coast of South Carolina, circa 1943.

 

 

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“In September 1942, horses were authorized for use by the beach patrol. The mounted portion soon became the largest segment of the patrol. For example, one year after orders were given to use horses, there were 3,222 of the animals assigned to the Coast Guard. All came from the Army. The Army Remount Service provided all the riding gear required, while the Coast Guard provided the uniforms for the riders. A call went out for personnel and a mixed bag of people responded. Polo players, cowboys, former sheriffs, horse trainers, Army Reserve cavalrymen, jockeys, farm boys, rodeo riders and stunt men applied. Much of the mounted training took place at Elkins Park Training Station and Hilton Head, the sites of the dog training schools.”

Photos and captions from USCG. You can read more here:

http://www.uscg.mil/history/uscghist/Beach_Patrol_Photo_Index.asp

When I was a stockbroker in the 1980s one of my clients was a retired pilot from Pan American Airways. He told me that during World War Two he was in the Coast Guard. I asked him what he did,

“Patrolled the beaches of Catalina Island and made sure the beautiful girls on the beach weren’t enemy saboteurs.”

“How long did you do this?”

“The entire war. World War Two was good to me.”

Capturing St. Lo: the Terrible Arithmetic of War

Frankreich, St. Lô, Zerstörungen

June 1944: damage to the town of St. Lo in Normandy. By the end of the battle of St Lo in late July of 1944, the town had been completely destroyed.

(Photo courtesy of the German National Archive)

One of the most important Allied objectives in Normandy was the town of St. Lo which sat astride a strategic crossroads which the Allies desperately needed to capture. The Germans just as desperately sought to keep the Allies from capturing the town. After coming ashore, it took many weary days of brutal fighting  until American troops finally captured St. Lo on 18 July 1944.

While one will find many different and usually contradictory figures on the casualties during the campaign, historian Russell F. Weigley, writing in his magisterial work, Eisenhower and His Lieutenants: the Campaigns of France and Germany 1944-1945, says the US Army sustained 40,000 killed or wounded in the campaign. Additionally, more than 10,000 US soldiers suffered from combat fatigue severe enough to cause them to be pulled out of the fighting line. Some recovered, some did not.

According to Weigley, 90% of the casualties from the aforementioned figures were in the front-line rifle companies. In the 90th Division the rifle companies suffered 100% casualties among their infantrymen in the six week battle. More appalling, company grade infantry officers, which includes lieutenants and captains in the 90th suffered a casualty rate of more than 150%.

In real terms, this means that every single rifleman who began the battle was killed or wounded and had to be replaced and that every single company grade infantry officer was killed or wounded and had to be replaced and of those replacements, half were killed or wounded.

Casualties as a percentage among company grade officers such as lieutenants and captains were so high because they moved around a lot more than the men.

Source: Eisenhower and His Lieutenants: the Campaigns of France and Germany 1944-1945 by Russell F. Weigley

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American assault troops of the 3d Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st U.S. Infantry Division, who stormed Omaha Beach, and although wounded, gained the comparative safety offered by the chalk cliff at their backs. Food and cigarettes were available to lend comfort to the men at Collville-Sur-Mer, Normandy, France. 6/6/44. 

( photo number SC 189910-S courtesy of the US Army Center for Military History)

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Saint-Lo : Bombardement de 1944

Conseil Régional de Basse-Normandie / National Archives USA

German POWs Buried in Alabama

Here is an article about German POWs who were some of the 350,000 held in the US. These men all died of natural causes and don’t include the ones who were hanged for beating to death an anti-Nazi German POW.

 

(Once the US Army provost marshal, who had custody of all POWs, realized that German and Nazi were not the same thing, the PMG made an attempt to put the anti-Nazis in separate camps).

 

German group visits local sites to remember prisoners of war

A small group of German citizens clustered at the prisoner of war cemetery at McClellan Monday and sang a song to honor fallen soldiers. 

Not one of them said they knew any of the 26 German soldiers or three Italian men who were buried at the site during World War II, but some fought tears. It was somber moment for the group, many of whom lost their fathers to the war before they were old enough to enter middle school. 

the rest of the article is here:

http://annistonstar.com/bookmark/25009721-German-group-visits-local-sites-to-remember-prisoners-of-war

Details of US Army Tank Doctrine In World War Two Can Be Found In This Scholarly Paper Available from the US Army Command and General Staff College

Seek, Strike, and Destroy: U.S. Army Tank Destroyer Doctrine in World War II

by Christopher R. Gabel

is an official training document (No. 12) of the Combat Studies Institute of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. It was published in September 1985. 
http://www.tankdestroyer.net/images/stories/ArticlePDFs/Seek_Strike_Destroy_-_Christopher_Gabel_Pages_1-45.pdf

http://www.tankdestroyer.net/images/stories/ArticlePDFs/Seek_Strike_Destroy_-_Christopher_Gabel_Pages_46-94.pdf

Hero of Normandy Invasion Dies at 92–Won Medal of Honor

From the New York Times 2.22.14

Walter D. Ehlers, who received the Medal of Honor for his exploits as an Army sergeant in the D-Day invasion of France and came to personify the heroism of the G.I.’s who stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944, died on Thursday in Long Beach, Calif. He was 92. Mr. Ehlers was the last survivor of the 12 soldiers who received the medal for actions in the Normandy campaign. Nine of the medals were awarded posthumously.

The rest of the obituary is here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/22/us/walter-d-ehlers-honored-for-role-in-normandy-attack-dies-at-92.html?emc=edit_tnt_20140222&tntemail0=y&_r=0

 

Pic of the Day – Pre-flight Inspection

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Norma Garza, a pilot assigned to 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, conducts a pre-flight inspection on a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter as the sun rises May 2. (US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Joe Armas, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

[Image courtesy of the US Army Flickr Stream.]