Norwich University Alumni and the Invasion of Normandy : Introduction

As promised, I’m going to split up my paper and post it up, section by section over the next week. It’s been turned in, along with the map and final appendixes, and I guess now, all that I have to do is wait for my grades. Two exams to write up and a power point, and I’ll be completely done with college.

This paper is not to be reprinted anywhere else. It’s my own research and feel free to link to this blog, or link and post an excerpt, but no copy and paste jobs please.

Introduction

“Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped, and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.”

– General Dwight D. Eisenhower



On June 6th, 1944, the combined forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Canada launched one of the largest amphibious invasions that the world has ever seen to begin the massive task of retaking the European continent from the control of the German military. Over two million soldiers participated in the Allied invasion and aftermath, creating a vital foothold in Europe that would begin the end of the Second World War.

While the number of soldiers that were involved in the invasion numbered in the millions, thirty of Norwich University alumni were among them, representing all levels of the military, from privates to generals, on each of the American invasion beaches and landing sites and from the first moments of the battle through the days after the initial invasion. These soldiers from Norwich University were also represented in a number of different units, ranging from armored divisions to medical units and would have thus been involved in all aspects of the invasion. An examination of the Norwich alumni present during the Invasion of Normandy proves to be a microcosm for the entire invasion – a fairly complete view of the battle can be seen through the actions of the Norwich men who were involved with the invasion.

Up until now, there has been very little research into the role of Norwich University in one of the most notable moments in world and military history. For the 50th anniversary of D-Day, in 1994, a local paper, the Times Argus, interviewed Norwich alumni William McNamara, who participated in the opening moments of the invasion, to commemorate the occasion, while the Norwich University Record reprinted an article regarding the invasion, from its archives in June of 1944. More recently, a list of thirteen men who fought in the battle, only to perish later in the war, was generated from various sources was created to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the invasion. This list, however, did not take into account the numerous other soldiers who fought in the invasion, and survived, and in addition, includes several errors regarding battlefield details.

To better understand the role that Norwich University men played in the invasion, a more detailed study and examination of sources was conducted. The Norwich University Record, War Whoop and deceased constituents files were examined, and a list of 121 names was generated, from which, a more accurate list of D-Day invasion veterans, numbering thirty-seven who were either confirmed to have been involved in the invasion, or had a high probability of participating. Each of these sources contained information confirming that there were more than thirteen Norwich alumni present at the battle and that a number of the D-Day veterans survived the invasion and actions afterwards. Careful study of the unit actions offers a better understanding of the role of Norwich men in the invasion. The results of this study show that Norwich University alumni played a significant role in some aspects of the invasion and securing of Normandy, but collectively, they represented every aspect of war fighting.

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