By Leah Williams
The Washington County Historical Society commemorated the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy at its annual banquet meeting on Saturday, April 27, at the Nashville American Legion, with a program that centered on the viewpoints of other side of the event.
Dave Scott, a retired police officer, veteran and studied war historian, spoke about the German perspective from D-Day, which is considered a turning point in World War II, as the Allies were able to gain a foot-hold in continental Europe.
“The Germans basically undid themselves as far as allowing the Allies to get a beach head,” Scott said. “The Germans were no slouches. You are talking about an army that conquered everything from north Africa… This was probably the best army on the planet at the time.”
More than 160,000 Allied troops landed on a 50-mile stretch of the French coastline. There was also more than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft that supported the D-Day invasion. In the end there were more than 9,000 Allied soldiers killed or wounded in battle that day, but that frontline allowed more than 100,000 soldiers to begin a slow, slog across Europe to defeat the German powers.
While history remarks that then General Dwight D. Eisenhower would call the operation a crusade that “will accept nothing less than full victory,” Scott said the plans leading up to the invasion were not always seen as a sure thing.
“Eisenhower had two speeches ready to release to the press,” Scott said. “One to release to the press in case of victory and another to release to the press in case of defeat.They didn’t know how it was going to go.”
Scott also introduced several key members of the German Nazi leadership. He showed an organizational chart depicting the chain of command and that there was not a direct line of subordinates.
“A lot of it how to do with who was most popular with Hitler at the time,” he said.
German forces had believed that the Allied troops would most likely target a French port city across the English Channel, and this mindset would prove to be costly. Scott said because most of the key leaders believed that an attack on Normandy was fake, the Allies were able to get the upper hand.
“The Allied forces had done a really good job at deceiving the Germans and exploiting the fact that the intelligence services were hoarded up,” Scott said. “Up until D-Day, they had pretty much figured that the invasion was going to come in Calais.”
The event also included a silent auction and 50/50 drawing.