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The Longest Day

Cigar-chomping Darryl Zanuck re-created one of history's most momentous events on the beaches of Normandy.
Fred Hift
From the Print Edition:
Bill Cosby, Autumn 94

(continued from page 1)

German intelligence intercepted those messages and even notified Berlin, but the high command didn't put the troops on alert--at least not the German Seventh Army Corps, which had been stationed along the Normandy coast.

The Germans had called war games for June 6 in Rennes, France, some 80 miles southwest of Omaha Beach, and many top-ranking officers were absent from their north-coast redoubts. Most important, Rommel, in charge of all the German defenses, was far from his headquarters at La Roche-Sur-Yon(75 miles south of Rennes on the Atlantic Coast). He had gone home to Germany to visit with his wife and see Hitler. To make things even worse, the German high command had shifted its last remaining fighter wing from Normandy back to Germany, leaving just two planes capable of taking to the air. They promptly attacked the British invasion force and then hightailed it to the interior.

The Germans weren't alone in their mistakes, however. On the Allied side, there were errors galore. The most glaring involved a press message on June 3, originating from Eisenhower's headquarters, stating: "General Eisenhower today announced Allied landings in France." It turned out to be a mistake, of course, a careless machine "test" by a teletype operator in the pressroom, yet the Germans received it, and seeing no maritime activity on the Channel, actually ignored it.

F.H.


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