FROM THE FRONT LINE: Associated Press' original D-Day report
June 5, 2014 at 1:05 a.m.
The news flash came on a slip of paper in a red-and-white striped courier pouch: "EISENHOWERS HEADQUARTERS ANNOUNCES ALLIES LAND IN FRANCE."
The Associated Press had some two dozen writers and photographers among the Allied forces as they landed on Normandy's coast June 6, 1944. From Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower's London headquarters, Wes Gallagher - who later went on to become AP's top executive - wrote up the first Allied official dispatches announcing D-Day and sent them in the sealed pouch to AP's London office by military courier, after the military censor authorized their release.
They arrived at 9:32 a.m. and were sent to the rest of the world by teletype one minute later.
Seventy years after its original publication, the AP is making Gallagher's original report available.
Allied troops landed on the Normandy coast of France in tremendous strength by cloudy daylight today and stormed several miles inland with tanks and infantry in the grand assault, which Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called a crusade in which "we will accept nothing less than full victory."
German broadcasts said the Allies penetrated several kilometers between Caen and Isigny, which are 35 miles apart and respectively 9 and 2 miles from the sea.
Prime Minister Churchill told the House of Commons part of the record-shattering number of parachute and glider troops were fighting in Caen and had seized a number of important bridges in the invasion area.
German opposition apparently was less effective than expected, although fierce in many respects, and the Germans said they were bringing reinforcements continuously up to the coast, where "a battle for life or death is in progress."
The seaborne troops, led by Gen. Sir Bernard L. Montgomery, surged across the channel from England by 4,000 regular ships and additional thousands of smaller craft.
They were preceded by massed flights of parachute and glider forces who landed inland during the dark. Eleven thousand planes supported the attack.
The German radio said the landings were made from Cherbourg to Le Havre - a strip of coast roughly 100 miles long - and later said additional landings were being made "west of Cherbourg," indicating the Allies intended to seize the Normandy peninsula with its ports and airdromes as the first base.
The initial landings were made from 6 to 8:25 a.m. British time. The Germans said subsequent landings were made on the English channel isles of Jersey and Guernsey and that invasion at new points on the continent was expected hourly.
Aside from confirming that Normandy was the general area of the assault, Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Force was silent concerning the location.
The Allies did not hope to knock out everything from the air but to cripple and hamper German troop movements.
This morning, a shattering barrage such as reduced the defenders of the Mediterranean island of Pantelleria last summer was laid down by the combined air forces.
In the landing craft were men who knew the beaches on which they were to land like the backs of their hands. For months in English camps, they had drilled down to the finest detail for their task.