What a difference 75 years makes when it comes to moving supplies to troops in Normandy, France.
It took an engineering feat to sustain Allied troops following the largest amphibious attack and operational military airdrop in history, the D-Day invasion of Normandy that began the liberation of France and the end of World War II.
More than 1,000 planes and 5,000 ships transported 160,000 Allied troops into action on June 6, 1944. Instead of relying on seizing a French port to move materials, two entire sea ports were constructed in England, towed across the English Channel and assembled off the Normandy coast.
The Mulberry Harbours enabled the Allies to ship massive quantities of men, materials and supplies. They comprised floating roadways and pier heads, which went up and down with the tide, according to the D-Day Museum in Arromanches, France website.
It took six months for the Allies to take a French port. During that time, the Mulberry Harbours facilitated the transport of more than two million soldiers, 500,000 vehicles and three million tons of supplies. During its busiest week, more than 18,000 tons of cargo were unloaded daily.
On a much smaller scale of support and under drastically different circumstances, it took a few days for the Defense Logistics Agency to deliver Meals, Ready-to-Eat, bottled water and cots to service members in northwestern France honoring the 75th anniversary of D-Day. More than 1,300 U.S. service members, partnered with 950 troops from across Europe and Canada, have converged in northwestern France to commemorate the anniversary.
Instead of the Mulberries, seven commercial carrier trucks delivered the supplies days before the commemorations began June 1. The coordination began weeks before when the team at DLA Troop Support Europe & Africa in Kaiserslautern, Germany, fielded the support requirements.
They worked with the team at DLA Distribution Europe in Germesheim, where the materials are stocked, to have the items prepared for shipment. Vincent Price, the DDDE operations chief, oversaw the shipment.
“Since serving in the military and being a part of the overseas Distribution team here at DDDE, receiving the requirements for D-Day holds a special place in my heart,” said Price, who served as an Army food service specialist for 10 years. “And I’m sure I can speak for the rest of our team here, that we are really honored to know that we contributed to the D-Day anniversary.”
More than 80 French-led commemorative events will be held June 1-9 in almost 40 communities throughout the Normandy region for the anniversary. More than 50,000 spectators are expected near Sainte-Mere-Eglise June 9 to see 500 U.S. paratroopers jump in honor of the 13,100 American paratroopers involved in the D-Day landings.
Fifteen World War II veterans were among the attendees at a ceremony June 3 at the 1st Infantry Division Monument in Colleville-sur-Mer to honor the division’s soldiers who landed on D-Day. Army Col. Chris Black, commander, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Inf. Div., spoke at the ceremony.
“Part of any great unit is the lineage of where they fought, how they fought, how they persevered in battle after battle, and how they won,” Black said. “Hearing and learning about their heroic deeds and the will to win that occurred here 75 years ago are a lasting reminder to present-day soldiers of what they may be called upon to do and the hope that we will rise to the occasion like so many men did 75 years ago.”