"Don’t give the enemy a break. Send him to hell!"
Description: Military sentiments of Lt. Col. Benjamin Vandervoort (John Wayne) in the WWII military motion picture The Longest Day (1962).
Lt. Col. Benjamin Vandervoort, Commander 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Reg. was one of many officers involved in D-Day Normandy landings during World War II.
Codenamed "Operation Neptune," the landing of the Allied invasion of Normandy commenced on Tuesday, 6 June 1944, beginning at 6:30 am. This action was part of the overall invasion plan codenamed: "Operation Overlord."
"I don't think I have to remind you that this war has been going on for almost 5 years. Over half of Europe has been overrun and occupied. We're comparative newcomers. England's gone through a blitz with a knife at her throat since 1940. I'm quite sure that they, too, are impatient and itching to go. Do I make myself clear?" - Lt. Col. Benjamin Vandervoort
Lead by US General Dwight D. Eisenhower (Henry Grace), dubbed "Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces" and British General Bernard Montgomery (Trevor Reid) who controlled the ground forces, the D-Day multi-national land, sea and air assault of Europe was the largest amphibious invasion in world history.
Forces involved included over 160,000 troops: 73,000 American troops, 61,715 British and 21,400 Canadian, along with 195,700 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships. Resistance forces lead by the French and others also lent support to the invasion.
The landings took place along a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast in France that were divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword.
"I don't have to tell you the story. You all know it. Only two kinds of people are gonna stay on this beach: those that are already dead and those that are gonna die. Now get off your butts. You guys are the Fighting 29th." - Brigadier General Norman Cota (Robert Mitchum)
A successful deception plan carried out by the Allied forces lead Hitler and his generals to believe that the Allies' main attack would occur across the Straits of Dover with forces lead by General Patton. The landing at Normandy was advertised as a diversionary tactic which the Germans inevitably believed, and in doing so, kept Hitler from reinforcing the Normandy coast to repel the invasion.
Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (Werner Hinz) expressed these sentiments to his generals as he observed the English Channel.
"Just look at it, gentlemen. How calm... how peaceful it is. A strip of water between England and the continent... between the Allies and us. But beyond that peaceful horizon... a monster waits. A coiled spring of men, ships, and planes... straining to be released against us. But, gentlemen, not a single Allied soldier shall reach the shore. Whenever and wherever this invasion may come, gentlemen... I shall destroy the enemy there, at the water's edge. Believe me, gentlemen, the first 24 hours of the invasion will be decisive. For the Allies as well as the Germans, it will be the longest day...The longest day."
Note: The movie 36 Hours (1965) starred James Garner as US Army Major Jeff Pike who was privy to the time and location of the D-Day plans having just attended General Eisenhower's final briefing on the Normandy landings.
In the film, the Germans drug and transport Pike to a facility in Germany that appears to be a US Medical facility. In the guise of American hospital workers, the Germans tend to his care while a psychologist cares from his mental health - all the while telling Pike that the war is over and the Allies had won the day. The German's hoped that as Pike became comfortable with his surrounding he would spill the beans about the Allies' plan to invade Europe.
In the end, Pike who had cut his finger just before being kidnapped, realize that if months had past why was his wound still not healed. Putting two and two together, he sets about to escape while confusing the Germans about the information they managed to get from him.