Midnight, 5thofJune 1944 turned into 6th of June 1944, and a huge formation of aircraft flew in the nighttime sky above the English Channel heading from the English airfields south towards the coast of France carrying over 13,000 American Airborne troops. The heavily loaded young paratroopers were on board their C-47 transport aircraft by 10 pm that night. As the formation of aircraft crossed the French coast, the night came alive with anti aircraft fire. Planes that were hit, headed down in flames taking troops with them. By 1 AM on the morning of the 6th June, the men began parachute jumping from the planes and silently floated to the ground to meet the German enemy in total darkness. The Douglas C-47 transport brought the war to Hitler’s doorstep and the liberation from German tyranny- the beginning of the end of WW II.
As hundreds of C-47s flew in darkness, the largest naval invasion fleet ever assembled moved through the sea channels between England and France towards the French coast. Thousands of vessels, many designed specifically for the mission at hand, carried men and machines to be delivered to the beaches of France. As dawn broke on the morning of June 6th, 1944 German defense artillery cannon units woke to find the horizon blotted out by the advancing fleet. The Allies had caught the German Army by surprise. Hitler’s generals had expected the invasion to come ashore at Calais, France, over 150 miles to the northeast, the shortest distance between England and France. Instead, the Allies had invaded France at beach sectors over a 50-mile stretch of the northern French Normandy coastline, the farthest distance across the channel between England and France.
Never before in the history of warfare had there been a more ambitious plan. The invasion required the movement of hundreds of thousands of men across the English Channel. Nearly 500,000 vehicles from jeeps, tanks, and trucks to artillery were delivered to storage areas throughout England for loading onto ships. Ammunition, fuel, and medical supplies were also sent to provide troops on the beaches marching inland to fight the Germans.
At the dawn of June 6th, 1944, many would never live to see the sun set. Thousands would die with their first steps onto French soil and thousands more would be wounded. The determination and will of the American citizen soldiers proved too much for the German defenses and the Americans broke through. German generals knew that if they did not push the Allies back into the sea that day, Germany’s war would be lost and in less than a year, it was. By May of 1945, Hitler was dead, and the Allied armies of America, Britain, Canada, France, and Russia were in Berlin, the German capital.
Seventy-five years ago, while the free world held its breath, young men dropped from the sky and stepped from landing craft into combat. Today on a hill above the Normandy beach at Colleville sur Mer, over 9,000 graves in the American Cemetery bear silent witness to the events of June 6gh, 1944. Their lasting legacy is our Freedom.
Today Cockpit USA honors the men who made the ultimate sacrifice by partnering with the pilots, crews, and sponsors of the D-Day Squadron for the 75thanniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy France. The “D-Day Squadron” as they call themselves, is the largest assembly of authentic WWII C-47 military transport aircraft and paratroopers since that fateful day.
Our 75thAnniversary Limited Edition D-Day Jacket is conceived to honor the 75th anniversary of the service and sacrifice of the American citizen soldiers who risked it all to bring about the end of WWII in Europe.