Pinch of Time

June 4, 2014

D-Day stories from an eyewitness

Last week I had the pleasure of marching in a Memorial Day parade sponsored by the American Legion in Malone.

As regent of the Adirondack Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, it’s an honor to lay a wreath at the DAR-sponsored World War I memorial on Elm Street. Legion officer Dana Langdon orchestrates the marchers and makes it all look easy, but I know it’s not.

This Friday, June 6, marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day (1944), when Allied troops took to the beaches of France to free the country from German invaders, code name Operation Overlord. The German army thought the attack would be at Calais, France, the narrowest point in the English Channel, and dug in there; but Allied military chiefs, led by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, chose Normandy, far away from Calais.

After the invasion, story was that inflatable tanks, jeeps and soldiers were set up in the English countryside, opposite Calais, to trick the enemy into thinking that was the Allied’s plan.

According to Fast Facts on CNN World website, from 11 p.m. June 5 to 3 a.m. June 6, 13,000 Allied paratroopers and gliders, carrying heavy equipment, left England to stage the invasion. 

Overnight, a military armada of more than 156,000 brave troops crossed the English Channel, probably scared but certainly determined. Between midnight and 8 a.m. more than 11,000 Allied aircraft filled the skies.

Southwest of London, in New Malden, a certain 16-year-old young woman had lived with the threat of war since 1939; a backyard bomb shelter, rationed food, blackout curtains, wondering about tomorrow, were a way of life.

That young woman was my mother, Jean (Johnson) McGibbon Goddard.

It was about 11 p.m. June 5, 1944, when she and her sister, Phyllis, heard a rumbling, looked out their upstairs bedroom window and saw a solid sky of Allied and British aircraft.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Pinch of Time