As soon as the dust settled after the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940, Britain’s strategists agreed that in order for Germany to be defeated, Europe would have to be invaded. The objective of Operation Overlord, as the invasion would be codenamed, was not just to assault but ‘to secure a lodgement area on the Continent from which further offensive operations can be developed’, as defined by Lieutenant-General Frederick Morgan. Launching a full-blown Allied invasion from Britain would, however, depend on a build-up of men, matériel, and supplies. Here, MHM looks at a selection from the thousands of uniforms and objects that would be transported across the sea and contribute to the largest amphibious invasion in history.
STOLE AND BIBLE
A poignant reminder of the terrible events on Omaha, this US Army chaplain’s stole and service bible were found on the beach on 7 June by Stoker James Cook, a crewman of Royal Navy LST 367. Four chaplains served with the US 1st Infantry Division on the beach that day, ministering to the wounded and dying. One chaplain on Omaha, Father Joe Lacy, was even awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his ‘heroic and dauntless actions’.
UNITED STATES NAVY (USN) UNIFORMS AND EQUIPMENT
Clockwise from top le : M1 steel helmet in USN grey with added combat-art; dungaree work-uniform with M1943 service shoes, and the earphones, microphone, and steel talker’s helmet used by a guncrew chief; M1938 leggings and ID tags of a member of the 28th USN Construction Battalion – the famous CBs or ‘Seabees’ – as worn at Cherbourg; and an M1 helmet and an M1936 pistol belt with M1910 canteen and cover and USN M1 knife and sheath.
WEAPONS FOR SILENT KILLING SUPPLIED BY THE OSS AND SOE
Clockwise from the le : Liberator .45 single-shot smoothbore pistol with case, instructions, and wooden ejector-rod; Welrod 9mm single-shot silenced pistol; High Standard Model H-D .22 semi-automatic pistol; and High Standard B .22 semi-automatic pistol.
A British 3in mortar with base plate, bipod with elevating and traversing screw, leather tube cover (on the bipod), and a leather sight case, to the le of the metal box for 3in mortar ammunition. Of the two projectiles, the right-hand one has the fuse-cap removed.
This type of quarter-size dummy parachutist, known as a ‘Rupert’, was intended to sow confusion when dropped over Occupied France. It carried with it two types of gun re simulator. Ruperts were dropped by the thousand across northern France during Operation Titanic to coincide with the real airborne drop.
British-made Resistance ‘case’ radio. This S-type portable radio was dropped onto Epaney, Normandy, on the night of 17 September 1943, and was just one of many different types of suitcase radio designed for clandestine broadcast and reception of radio communications by the French Resistance and Allied agents.
This article appeared in issue 46 of Military History Monthly, and contains extracts from:
The D-Day Kit-Bag: the ultimate guide to the Allied assault on Europe