Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy that began the final drive to free Europe from the grip of Hitler’s armies. The courage and sacrifice of the men who stormed the beaches of northern France on that day are commemorated still. There’s another portion of the story that deserves our recognition: communications. World War II brought massive advances in communications technology, including radar and early electronic computers. And among those who participated in the invasion were soldiers with technical skills who helped to establish lines of communication for the Allied forces immediately after the landing.
Carol Stokes, writing for the U.S. Army Signal Center in Fort Gordon, Georgia, tells the details of their work, not only at Normandy but in other locations during the war. For example, one American battalion used radio to mislead the German forces about the location of the invasion. As the invasion continued throughout D-Day, radio operators worked continuously to inform Allied headquarters about the troops’ positions and the status of the battle. Work to establish communications began at once with multiple units, including the 926th Signal Battalion. Within one week of the invasion, the Allies had successfully linked all Army units in France with England – an amazing achievement in the midst of heavy fighting.
An additional resource of note is available from the BBC archive, which has authentic radio broadcasts and transcripts from the time of the invasion. As we commemorate this pivotal day in world history, let’s also take a moment to remember the role of communications in making it possible.