The Invasion of Normandy: Pre-invasion: Planning and Preparation.
LSTs loading for the Normandy invasion at Portland, England, on June 1, 1944.
By the time General Eisenhower's message, which began, "You are about to embark on a great crusade " had been distributed, the great armada set in motion and headed for various rendezvous areas. The ungainly ships crowded the stream and their loudspeakers blared forth swing music across the quiet water, sound which echoed strangely in the peaceful old villages and the hills which hemmed it in. As soon as the ships were clear of the port, the men tried to relax, some gathering in little groups to try to forget the inevitable end of the voyage by talking and companionship. Others, preferring to be alone with their thoughts, just sat and looked out to sea. The ship was fully loaded at the time and all were in what was called a "sealed" status, which meant that no one was permitted to leave the ship at all, even on minor errands. Having just arrived from the station, the artists feelings were a mixture of both a recognition of the now familiar patterns of amphibious invasion and that sense of unrealness brought about by such a sudden change.
A group of British coxswains were briefed in a pavilion, which was once a peacetime pleasure center located on a pier in Weymouth, England. During peacetime, Weymouth was an embarkation point for cruises to Britains Channel Islands.
The great moment has come for these men two days before D-Day, when a destroyer gunnery officer briefed his gun director crews and main battery gunners. In a sealed ship the secret was unfolded, along with exhaustive maps, drawings and photographs of bombardment targets. The men had to know their objectives well, for there would be no time for error when they came into point blank range off the Normandy coast in the gathering light of D-Days early morning.
In a port somewhere in England, cranes swung combat vehicles and supplies aboard a Landing Ship Tank for transport to the D-Day beachhead. Combat-loading a ship was a job for a highly-trained specialist, since every inch of shipboard cargo space had to be efficiently used, and items that were needed first had to be loaded last. In this scene, combat-loaded trucks are shown entering the LSTs cargo deck through its open bow doors.
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