Chief Photographer's Mate Robert F. Sargent took this photograph just as a group of soldiers stepped off a Coast Guard landing craft and headed for the Normandy beaches.

Buried in Paper:

The D-Day Documents


Introduction

Contents

1: 1st Infantry Division Ordered to Land on Omaha Beach   Go

2. The Things They Carried   Go

3. German Opposing Force Intelligence Estimates   Go

4. Life the Night Before the Landing   Go

5. The Landing on Omaha, Minute by Minute   Go

6. Failures and Lessons   Go

7. Captured German Analysis of U.S. Forces   Go

8. 16th Infantry Regiment's Distinguished Unit Citation   Go

Bonus! War correspondent lands with the 16th Infantry.   Go

The documents on these pages cover the planning, the landing and the aftermath of D-Day, June 6, 1944, when Allied forces attacked German defenders along the Normandy coast of France.

With the 80th anniversary of D-Day in 2024, it's important to again recognize the immense courage of those involved and the effort it took to start the process of pushing the Germans out of France. In 43 A.D., Roman soldiers in body armor crossed the English Channel and landed on peaceful beaches in wooden boats. Almost exactly 2,000 years later, American, British and Canadian soldiers did it again (in the opposite direction), many also in small wooden landing craft, but with no body armor and having to face German machine guns, mines, mortars and artillery.

The documents were chosen from an enormous collection related to the U.S. 1st Infantry Division, covering from the U.S. entry into World War I through the Vietnam War, that were digitized by the First Division Museum in Wheaton, Illinois. I've pulled out the most interesting and relevant D-Day documents for this web site. Most are focused on the most costly landing, at Omaha Beach, where the "Big Red One" was in the first wave.

As you can see in the box to the right, they are divided into eight parts. Each part has a short introduction, the images of the documents, and, at the end of each part, a link to the document's location in the museum's archive.

If you read only one document, read the last one in the list: The 16th Infantry Regiment's Distinguished Unit Citation. It's an incredible account of what it was like to be on the beach that morning.

This is my second such project using the museum's online archive: The first, "Buried in Paper: Fascinating and Poignant Stories Revealed in Actual World War II Documents" is created in PDF format and is free. It covers the Allies' and Germans' activities in northern Europe from the aftermath of the invasion to the end of the fighting in May 1945. You can learn more about that project, read a sample chapter and download the entire book here.

If you'd like to contact me, with comments or questions, I can be reached at mike@mchanlon.com.

Thanks for reading.

Mike Hanlon

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