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Brief but Candid.
9 June 2017 | by See all my reviews

Made up of combat footage, a bit of reenactment, and interviews with participants, this is a documentary of the first three Allied units to land in France on the morning of 6 June, 1944, D Day.

The first group are American paratroopers who formed the pathfinders. Their assignment was to place lights and radio beacons in such locations as to enable the pilots of the paratroops that were to follow, half an our later, to locate the correct drop zones.

It didn't work out as planned. The Germans were alert and put up considerable anti-aircraft fire. The pilots of the C-47s were shaken and flew faster and at different altitudes than those that were planned. The pathfinders landed all over the place, took heavy casualties, and managed to partially complete their job -- not that it helped the main drops that were to follow.

The second group was the British 9th parachute regiment battalion, who landed by parachute and gliders to take out a particularly dangerous battery at Sword beach. They too took heavy casualties but finally achieved their goal. The defenders of the battery were most Russian conscripts and surrendered. It should be mentioned that these blockhouses were carefully designed. Air vents opened to the outside but were constructed so that if someone on the outside dropped a hand grenade into the opening, the grenade rolled out of another opening at knee level.

The third group was a combination of army combat engineers and navy sailors who formed underwater demolition teams who were landed by LCVPs ahead of the main infantry landings. The job was to destroy beach obstacles. They'd been told to expect little resistance because of bombardment of Omaha beach from the air and from naval gunfire. Again it didn't work out as planned. Both the bombers and the naval guns destroyed a great deal of territory but it was far inland of the beach and killed mostly French farmers and their cows.

It's a brief but candid description of three units that are mostly ignored in stories about D Day.


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