D + 6

It’s 12 June, so D-Day plus 6. It was on D+6 that the 79th Infantry Division started disembarking on Utah Beach as part of the follow-up forces. The division was fully ashore by D+8, and entered combat on the 19th, pushing past Valognes towards Cherbourg.

The L4 Grasshoppers (including ours) of the 79th Inf Div played a large part, directing the fall of artillery, and perhaps even naval gunfire, as the big guns of the RN and USN were still parked off the beaches. I can’t find any information about where they flew from, probably just a random field cleared of cows.

There was one airfield hastily constructed on 6 June by IX Engineering Command as an emergency landing ground at Poupeville near Sainte-Marie-du-Mont. The site of ELS-1 has long since returned to agriculture, but at the time it was a “sod 2000ft runway” – about 610m in modern terms. Looking at Google Earth it appears that the engineers just had to knock out a small bit of hedgeline to combine two fields into one and… Tadaaaa! Instant airfield, just remove cows.

Some of the liaison aircraft did fly across to Normandy, but a large number will have come ashore over the beaches packed into a “Deuce-and-a-half” truck. I came across this photo recently (Source: internet) which shows a reproduction of the package:

Whether that is a real Cub or a model is not known, it would seem a shame to use a real aircraft like this, perhaps it is an unserviceable airframe restored just enough to look good. As an exhibit of how things were done 79 years ago it is pretty good.

Talking of 79 years…next year is the 80th anniversary of D-Day. Less than a year until “L-Birds to Normandy 2024” – can’t wait.