June 6, 2014, marks the passing of seven decades since Allied invasion troops first “hit the beaches” at Normandy to begin the liberation of German-occupied France. Code-named Operation Overlord, the D-Day attack was not only history’s greatest amphibious invasion, it also has been hailed as the most complicated human endeavor undertaken before the computer age.
Escorted by mighty sea and air armadas of thousands of ships and warplanes, the invasion force landed American, British and Canadian soldiers on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast. By the close of D-Day, 160,000 Allied troops had fought their way ashore. They were the vanguard of millions that in the next 11 months would defeat German armies in the West, pierce the heart of Nazi Germany, and seal the doom of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.
This issue’s Special Feature article, written by renowned historian Carlo D’Este, is a moving tribute that honors the courage and sacrifice of these Allied soldiers and the commander who launched them on this “Great Crusade,” General Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower. Ike’s enduring legacy also takes center stage in our 10 Questions interview with Brigadier General (USAF, Ret.) Carl Reddel, who is the executive director of the commission overseeing the creation of the Eisenhower Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
D.M. Giangreco’s feature article, “Die Another Day,” examines D-Day from the opposite side of the battle line – German 21st Panzer Division’s June 6 counterattack against the Normandy beachhead. The Allies narrowly avoided a disaster when chaos within the German command prevented the division’s panzers from smashing the British and Canadian landing forces.
In further recognition of the D-Day anniversary, our review department presents a list of 15 must-read books and eight must-see DVDs covering the invasion. All are highly recommended for military history book and film libraries.
Ralph Peters’ exclusive, extended-length Battle Studies article reveals another vitally important “longest day” in U.S. military history: July 9, 1864. At the Battle of Monocacy that day, the moral courage and extraordinary efforts of Union Major General Lew Wallace – who knew in advance that his men were doomed to lose the fight – fatally delayed a much larger Confederate force that otherwise would have captured Washington, D.C., and perhaps turned the tide of the Civil War in the South’s favor.
Our interactive articles challenge readers to “take command,” putting them in charge of a British army attacking fierce Zulu warriors in southeast Africa in 1879; a heavily outnumbered Israeli company battling a powerful Syrian force on the strategic Golan Heights during the 1973 Yom Kippur War; and a U.S. M1A1 Abrams tank platoon ambushed by Iraqi insurgents in 2004.
This issue also includes Ralph Peters’ insightful Crisis Watch column, interesting history news, and our must-read reviews of some of today’s most popular wargames.
Jerry D. Morelock, PhD, “Armchair General” Editor in Chief.
Originally published in the July 2014 issue of Armchair General.