Landing at Normandy: The 5 Beaches of D-Day

Early in the morning on June 6, 1944, about 156,000 Allied soldiers stormed a handful of beaches along the coast of Normandy, France. Although choppy seas and heavy German resistance prevented them from fully meeting their objectives that day, they were able to gain a crucial foothold. By late August, Paris had been liberated, and Germany’s surrender came not long afterward. On D-Day’s anniversary, take a look back at the two American, one Canadian and two British landing points that kicked off the Allied invasion of Western Europe during World War II.

Utah Beach

The westernmost of the D-Day beaches, Utah was added to the invasion plans at the eleventh hour so that the Allies would be within striking distance of the port city of Cherbourg. In the predawn darkness of June 6, thousands of U.S. paratroopers dropped inland behind enemy lines. Weighed down by their heavy equipment, many drowned in the flooded marshlands at the rear of the beach, and others were shot out of the sky by enemy fire. One even hung from a church steeple for two hours before being captured. Those who landed, meanwhile, often found themselves outside of their designated drop zones. Forced to improvise, they nonetheless succeeded in seizing the four causeways that served as the beach’s only exit points. On Utah itself, U.S. forces landed more than a mile away from their intended destination, due in part to strong currents. Luckily for them, this area was actually less well protected. “We’ll start the war from here!” U.S. Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr., the son of former President Theodore Roosevelt, shouted upon realizing the mistake. By noon, his men had linked up with some of the paratroopers, and by day’s end they had advanced four miles inland, suffering relatively few casualties in the process.

Omaha Beach

Surrounded by steep cliffs and heavily defended, Omaha was the bloodiest of the D-Day beaches, with roughly 2,400 U.S. troops turning up dead, wounded or missing. The troubles for the Americans began early on, when Army intelligence underestimated the number of German soldiers in the area. To make matters worse, an aerial bombardment did little damage to the strongly fortified German positions, rough surf wreaked havoc with the Allied landing craft and only two of 29 amphibious tanks launched at sea managed to reach the shore. U.S. infantrymen in the initial waves of the attack were then gunned down in mass by German machine-gun fire. The carnage became so severe that U.S. Lieutenant General Omar Bradley considered abandoning the entire operation. Slowly but surely, however, his men began making it across the beach to the relative safety of the seawall at the foot of the bluffs and then up the bluffs themselves. Assistance came from a group of Army Rangers who scaled a massive promontory between Omaha and Utah to take out artillery pieces stashed in an orchard, and from U.S. warships that moved perilously close to shore to fire shells at the German fortifications. By nightfall, the Americans had carved out a tenuous toehold about 1.5 miles deep.

Gold Beach

Owing to the direction of the tides, British troops began storming Gold, the middle of the five D-Day beaches, nearly an hour after fighting got underway at Utah and Omaha. The Germans initially put up robust resistance, but in sharp contrast to Omaha, an earlier aerial bombardment had wiped out much of their defenses. British warships also proved effective. The cruiser HMS Ajax, for example, displayed such pinpoint accuracy from miles away that it apparently sent one shell through a small slot in a German artillery battery’s concrete exterior—the military equivalent of a hole-in-one. On shore, meanwhile, armored vehicles known as “Funnies” cleared away minefields and other obstacles. Within an hour, the British had secured a few beach exits, and from there they rapidly pushed inland. They also captured the fishing village of Arromanches, which days later became the site of an artificial harbor used by the Allies to unload supplies.

Juno Beach

At Juno, Allied landing craft once again struggled with rough seas, along with offshore shoals and enemy mines. Upon finally disembarking, Canadian soldiers were then cut down in droves by Germans firing from seaside houses and bunkers. The first hour was particularly brutal, with a casualty rate approaching 50 percent for the leading assault teams. In the confusion, an Allied tank inadvertently ran over some of the wounded, stopping only when a Canadian captain blew its track off with a grenade. Other Canadians lacked any tank support at all. After fighting their way off the beach, however, German resistance slowed immensely, and the march into the interior went quickly. In fact, the Canadians advanced further inland than either their American or British counterparts. Though they didn’t quite meet their objective of taking Carpiquet airport, they captured several towns and linked up with the British on adjacent Gold Beach.

Sword Beach

Around midnight, British airborne troops, along with a battalion of Canadians, dropped behind enemy lines to secure the invasion’s eastern flank, just as the Americans were doing near Utah. Within minutes, they had taken hold of Pegasus Bridge over the Caen Canal and nearby Horsa Bridge over the River Orne. Other airborne troops destroyed bridges over the River Dives to prevent German reinforcements from arriving, and they also took out a key German artillery battery in a bloody firefight. The British then landed on Sword at 7:25 a.m., around the same time as at Gold but before Juno. Although moderate fire greeted them, they soon secured beach exits with the help of the “Funnies.” Moving inland, they connected with the airborne units but faced relatively strong resistance in farmyards and villages. In a late afternoon counterattack, German forces made it all the way to the beach in one location, only to be turned back. The Allies would not be able to unite all five D-Day beaches until June 12.

Source:

History.com (A+E Networks, 2014)

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.

The Hong Kong protesters flocking to the streets in opposition to the Chinese government have a new symbol to display their defiance: the Stars and Stripes. Upset over the looming threat to their freedom, the American flag symbolizes everything they cherish and are fighting to preserve.

But it seems our president isn't returning the love.

Trump recently doubled down on the United States' indifference to the conflict, after initially commenting that whatever happens is between Hong Kong and China alone. But he's wrong — what happens is crucial in spreading the liberal values that America wants to accompany us on the world stage. After all, "America First" doesn't mean merely focusing on our own domestic problems. It means supporting liberal democracy everywhere.

The protests have been raging on the streets since April, when the government of Hong Kong proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed them to send accused criminals to be tried in mainland China. Of course, when dealing with a communist regime, that's a terrifying prospect — and one that threatens the judicial independence of the city. Thankfully, the protesters succeeded in getting Hong Kong's leaders to suspend the bill from consideration. But everyone knew that the bill was a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to encroach on Hong Kong's autonomy. And now Hong Kong's people are demanding full-on democratic reforms to halt any similar moves in the future.

After a generation under the "one country, two systems" policy, the people of Hong Kong are accustomed to much greater political and economic freedom relative to the rest of China. For the protesters, it's about more than a single bill. Resisting Xi Jinping and the Communist Party means the survival of a liberal democracy within distance of China's totalitarian grasp — a goal that should be shared by the United States. Instead, President Trump has retreated to his administration's flawed "America First" mindset.

This is an ideal opportunity for the United States to assert our strength by supporting democratic values abroad. In his inaugural address, Trump said he wanted "friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world" while "understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their interests first." But at what point is respecting sovereignty enabling dictatorships? American interests are shaped by the principles of our founding: political freedom, free markets, and human rights. Conversely, the interests of China's Communist Party are the exact opposite. When these values come into conflict, as they have in Hong Kong, it's our responsibility to take a stand for freedom — even if those who need it aren't within our country's borders.

Of course, that's not a call for military action. Putting pressure on Hong Kong is a matter of rhetoric and positioning — vital tenets of effective diplomacy. When it comes to heavy-handed world powers, it's an approach that can really work. When the Solidarity movement began organizing against communism in Poland, President Reagan openly condemned the Soviet military's imposition of martial law. His administration's support for the pro-democracy movement helped the Polish people gain liberal reforms from the Soviet regime. Similarly, President Trump doesn't need to be overly cautious about retribution from Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. Open, strong support for democracy in Hong Kong not only advances America's governing principles, but also weakens China's brand of authoritarianism.

After creating a commission to study the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote last month that the principles of our Constitution are central "not only to Americans," but to the rest of the world. He was right — putting "America First" means being the first advocate for freedom across the globe. Nothing shows the strength of our country more than when, in crucial moments of their own history, other nations find inspiration in our flag.

Let's join the people of Hong Kong in their defiance of tyranny.

Matt Liles is a writer and Young Voices contributor from Austin, Texas.

Summer is ending and fall is in the air. Before you know it, Christmas will be here, a time when much of the world unites to celebrate the love of family, the generosity of the human spirit, and the birth of the Christ-child in Bethlehem.

For one night only at the Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, on December 7th, join internationally-acclaimed radio host and storyteller Glenn Beck as he walks you through tales of Christmas in the way that only he can. There will be laughs, and there might be a few tears. But at the end of the night, you'll leave with a warm feeling in your heart and a smile on your face.

Reconnect to the true spirit of Christmas with Glenn Beck, in a storytelling tour de force that you won't soon forget.

Get tickets and learn more about the event here.

The general sale period will be Friday, August 16 at 10:00 AM MDT. Stay tuned to for updates. We look forward to sharing in the Christmas spirit with you!