invasion in normandy

hollywoodreporter.com
Berlin: Oscar Isaac to Star in WWII Thriller 'The Garbo Network'
He'll play Juan Pujol Garcia, an eccentric double-agent who with no military or covert training.

William Wheeler wrote the script, which is based on the true story of Juan Pujol Garcia, an eccentric double-agent who with no military or covert training, somehow persuaded both the Germans and the British to hire him as a spy. As it turned out, his real allegiance was to England, and working closely with MI5, he created a fictional network of 27 spies said to be spread out over England, Scotland, and Ireland, supplying him with critical information about British troop movements and military planning. He actually made the whole thing up, but it was a turning point in the war, enabling the English to deceive the Germans about the invasion of Normandy.

Storyscape Entertainment’s Bob Cooper and Richard Saperstein, Chuck Weinstock, Jason Spire and Isaac are producing.

This is a tricky part. There are very few actors who can do both pathos and comic grandiosity,” said Weinstock. “Oscar is one of them, and we feel very lucky to have him.”

“The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.  In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.”

Dwight D Eisenhower to the greatest amphibious invasion ever assembled.

Today (06.06.17) marks the 73rd anniversary of Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy.
On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline, to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which, “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end, the Allies gained a foot-hold in Continental Europe. The cost in lives on D-Day was high. More than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 Soldiers to begin the slow, hard slog across Europe, to defeat Adolf Hitler’s crack troops.

Nurses arrived in France on D-Day and promptly went to work. On June 12, 1944 the Thirty-ninth Field Hospital moved out for France and arrived on Omaha Beach on June 15. There they tended to the would newrly non stop. Along with the nurses on the ground, ten squadrons of MAES (Medical Air Evacuation Squadron) also arrived in England in July 1943 and were waiting for the invasion of D-Day to begin. The 806 MAES were the ones to establish a pattern of activity for all future squadrons in England. They staffed sick quarters, presented plane loading demonstrations, gave lectures to soldiers in training at the American School Center at Shrivenham, and continued their training they received at Bowman Field all in preparation for the D-Day invasion. On June 6 they watched as planes left the airstrip in England and head for France. They spent the next several days waiting and wondering when they would begin to evacuate wounded out of France. The 816 MAES were the first to be called in for air evacuation, the first to make the flight out of the beaches of Normandy. The weeks and months following the D-Day invasion saw flight nurses making two to three missions daily. In the month of June alone they evacuated over 4,000 patients out of France to England. In July they evacuated over 6,000 and in August over 9,000 were transported out of France.

Oscar Isaac will star in World War II thriller “The Garbo Network” with Bob Cooper and Richard Saperstein’s Storyscape Entertainment launching sales at the Berlin Film Festival. The script for “The Garbo Network” was written by William Wheeler and will be produced by Cooper, Saperstein, Chuck Weinstock, Jason Spire, and Isaac. The film is based on the true story of Juan Pujol Garcia, an eccentric double-agent who, with no military or covert training, somehow persuaded both the Germans and the British to hire him as a spy. His real allegiance was to England, and working closely with MI5, he created a fictional network of 27 spies said to be spread out over England, Scotland, and Ireland. The ruse helped the English to deceive the Germans about the invasion of Normandy.

Garcia is the only man in the history of World War II to receive distinguished medals of honor from opposing sides: the German Iron Cross and the Member of the Order of the British Empire.

“Juan Pujol Garcia is unlike any character we’ve seen on film – he’s a chameleon and a master manipulator, deeply haunted by his past, with an unreadable agenda… and his actions have world-changing consequences,” Cooper said.

Storyscape is also producing Michael Fassbender’s “Entering Hades,” which is set up at Broad Green, and Benedict Cumberbatch’s “War Magician,” which is set up at Studio Canal. (via variety.com)

Fleming’s mold wasn’t able to produce penicillin in large enough quantities to be useful. Early researchers had to grow entire forests of mold on every available surface of their laboratory in order to extract enough penicillin to treat one single infection. If scientists found a cure for cancer today, but it took the entire crop yield of Kansas to grow a single dose, would it matter?

Enter Mary Hunt, a lab assistant who worked with penicillin molds. She went shopping at a local fruit market and bought a cantaloupe covered in a strange looking golden mold. She decided to take it back to the lab to test it and found a hitherto undiscovered strain capable of producing 200 times the amount of penicillin. By the next year, hundreds of millions of units of penicillin were being produced in the United States, medical science became radically more effective, and that fruit market probably still kind of sucked.

Regardless, this chain of events allowed the USA to produce 2.3 million doses of penicillin just in time for the invasion of Normandy. They reached over 600 million doses by the end of the war. The rates of death from bacterial infections dropped from 18 percent in WWI to 1 percent in WWII, which allowed the Allied forces to keep their manpower – already in short supply – on the field and engaging the enemy. It may not have won the second World War on its own, but it sure gave the Allies a boost. You’re not reading this in German today because some small-time produce salesman looked at one particularly gross cantaloupe and said, “Eh, some jerk’ll probably still buy this.”

5 Coincidences That Made The Modern World

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The Montgomery Double,

Before the Allied invasion of Normandy there were a number of deception campaigns to convince the German High Command that the invasion would occur anywhere but Normandy.  One deception campaign involved the creation of a phantom army supposedly lead by Gen. George S. Patton.  Others were created in an attempt to fool the Germans that landings would occur in Norway.  Yet others were carried out to give the illusion that the landings would occur either on the Bay of Biscay or in Southern France near Marsailles. 

The supposed invasion of Southern France, called Operation Vendetta, involved the enlistment of a low ranking British Army officer named Lt. M. E. Clifton James.  Lt. James was originally born in Australia and served with distinction at the Battle of the Somme during World War I.  In between wars he made a living as an actor, then rejoined the British Army for World War II, were he was assigned as a pay clerk.  On his off time he used his acting talents to entertain the troops.

Lt. James was very unique in one important regard, he looked remarkably like the famed British commander Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery.  Seven weeks before the D-Day landings James was recruited to play the most important role of his life, that of the Field Marshal himself.

Lt. James studied the habits and mannerisms of Montgomery, learning how to walk, talk, and behave like the Field Marshal.  He even had a prosthetic finger constructed to replace a finger he had lost during World War I.  The task of becoming Montgomery’s double was no easy task, as the two had almost opposite personalities and little in common.  Perhaps the most difficult aspect of Monty’s habits was his tee totaling, non-smoking ways, as Lt. James was a smoker who had a penchant for whiskey.  

By the time of the D-Day invasion, Clifton James was almost identical to the real Monty. He was flown to Gibraltar in Churchill’s personal plane, then flown to Algeria to take command of a supposed invasion force stationed there.  All the while, German spies tracked his progress, in particular a German employed Spanish spy named Ignacio Perez.  James made a number of public appearances in Algeria, then was secretly whisked away to Cairo, where he was given a large supply of whiskey as congratulations for a job well done.  During his five week service as Monty’s double he was also paid a Field Marshal’s salary.

Operation Vendetta was a success as the German Army redirected a few divisions of soldiers to reinforce Marseilles.  The bulk of the deception however centered on Operation Fortitude, where Patton’s phantom army had Hitler so convinced that the invasion would occur at Calais, the bulk of the German Army remained stationed at the port even after Allied Forces landed at Normandy.

By the way, Lt. Clifton James is pictured in the left photo, while the real Montgomery is pictured in the right photo.

The Normans - A Timeline
  • 911: According to later writer Dudo of Saint-Quentin, in this year the king of the Franks, Charles the Simple, grants land around the city of Rouen to Rollo, or Rolf, leader of the Vikings who have settled the region: the duchy of Normandy is founded. In return Rollo undertakes to protect the area and to receive baptism, taking the Christian name Robert.
  • 1002: Emma, sister of Duke Richard II of Normandy, marries Æthelred (‘the Unready’), king of England. Their son, the future Edward the Confessor, flees to Normandy 14 years later when England is conquered by King Cnut, and remains there for the next quarter of a century. This dynastic link is later used as one of the justifications for the Norman conquest.
  • 1016: A group of Norman pilgrims en route to Jerusalem are ‘invited’ to help liberate southern Italy from Byzantine (Greek) control. Norman knights have already been operating as mercenaries here since the turn of the first millennium, selling their military services to rival Lombard, Greek and Muslim rulers.
  • 1035: Having ruled Normandy for eight years, Duke Robert I falls ill on his return from
  • a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and dies at Nicaea. By prior agreement, Robert is succeeded by his illegitimate son William, the future Conqueror of England, then aged just seven or eight. A decade of violence follows as Norman nobles fight each other for control of the young duke and his duchy.
  • 1051: Duke William visits England. His rule in Normandy now established, and newly married to Matilda of Flanders, William crosses the Channel to speak with his second cousin, King Edward the Confessor of England. The subject of their conference is unknown, but later chroniclers assert that at this time Edward promises William the English succession.
  • 1059: Pope Nicholas II invests the Norman Robert Guiscard with the dukedoms of Apulia, Calabria and Sicily. The popes had opposed the ambitions of the Normans in Italy, but defeat in battle at Civitate in southern Italy in 1053 had caused them to reconsider. In 1060 Robert and his brother Roger embark on the conquest of Sicily, and Roger subsequently rules the island as its great count.
  • 1066: Edward the Confessor dies on 5 January, and the throne is immediately taken by his brother-in-law Harold Godwinson, the most powerful earl in England, with strong popular backing. Harold defeats his Norwegian namesake at Stamford Bridge in September. But on 14 October William’s Norman forces defeat Harold’s army at Hastings. William is crowned as England’s king on Christmas Day.
  • 1069: The initial years of William’s reign in England are marked by almost constant English rebellion, matched by violent Norman repression. In autumn 1069 a fresh English revolt is triggered by a Danish invasion. William responds by laying waste to the country north of the Humber, destroying crops and cattle in a campaign that becomes known as the Harrying of the North, leading to widespread famine and death.
  • 1086: Worried by the threat of Danish invasion, at Christmas 1085 William decides to survey his kingdom – partly to assess its wealth, and partly to settle arguments about landownership created by 20 years of conquest. The results, later redacted and compiled as Domesday Book, are probably brought to him in August 1086 at Old Sarum (near Salisbury), where all landowners swear an oath to him.
  • 1087: William retaliates against a French invasion of Normandy. While attacking Mantes he is taken ill or injured – possibly damaging his intestines on the pommel of his saddle – and retires to Rouen, where he dies on 9 September. Taken to Caen for burial, his body proves too fat for its stone sarcophagus, and bursts when monks try to force it in. His eldest surviving son, Robert Curthose, becomes duke of Normandy, while England passes to his second son, William Rufus.
  • 1096: Following a call to arms by Pope Urban II in 1095, many Normans set out towards the Holy Land on the First Crusade, determined to recover Jerusalem. Among them are Robert Curthose, who mortgages Normandy to his younger brother, William Rufus, and William the Conqueror’s notorious half-brother, Bishop Odo of Bayeux. Odo dies en route and is buried in Palermo, but Robert goes on to win victories in Palestine and is present when Jerusalem falls.
  • 1100: Having succeeded his father in 1087 and defeated Robert Curthose’s attempts to unseat him, the rule of William II (‘Rufus’, depicted below) seems secure. But on 2 August 1100, while hunting in the New Forest with some of his barons, William is struck by a stray arrow and killed. His body is carted to Winchester for burial, and the English throne passes to his younger brother, Henry, who is crowned in Westminster Abbey just three days later.
  • 1101: Roger I of Sicily dies. By the end of his long rule, Count Roger has gained control over the whole of Sicily – the central Muslim town of Enna submitted in 1087, and the last emirs in the southeast surrendered in 1091. He is briefly succeeded by his eldest son, Simon, but the new count dies in 1105 and is succeeded by his younger brother, Roger II.
  • 1120: On 25 November Henry I sets out across the Channel from Normandy to England. One of the vessels in his fleet, the White Ship, strikes a rock soon after its departure, with the loss of all but one of its passengers. One of the drowned is the king’s only legitimate son, William Ætheling. Henry responds by fixing the succession on his daughter, Matilda, and marrying her to Geoffrey Plantagenet, count of Anjou.
  • 1130: Roger II is crowned king of Sicily, having pushed for royal status in order to assert his authority over the barons of southern Italy. A disputed papal succession in 1130 has provided an opportunity and, in return for support against a papal rival, Pope Anacletus II confers the kingship on Roger in September. He is crowned in Palermo Cathedral on Christmas Day.
  • 1135: Henry I dies in Normandy on 1 December, reportedly after ignoring doctor’s orders and eating his favourite dish - lampreys. His body is shipped back to England for burial at the abbey he founded in Reading. Many of his barons reject the rule of his daughter, Matilda, instead backing his nephew, Stephen, who is crowned as England’s new king on 22 December.
  • 1154: King Stephen, the last Norman king of England, dies. His death ends the vicious civil war between him and his cousin Matilda that lasted for most of his reign. As a result of the Treaty of Wallingford, which Stephen was pressured to sign in 1153, he is succeeded by Matilda’s son Henry of Anjou, who takes the throne as Henry II.
  • 1174: King William II of Sicily begins the construction of the great church at Monreale (‘Mount Royal’), nine miles from his capital at Palermo. The building is a fusion of Byzantine, Latin and Muslim architectural styles, and is decorated throughout with gold mosaics, including the earliest depiction of Thomas Becket, martyred in 1170.
  • 1194: Norman rule on Sicily ends. Tancred of Lecce, son of Roger III, Duke of Apulia, seizes the throne on William’s death in 1189; on his death in 1194 he is succeeded by his young son, William III. Eight months later, Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI, husband of Roger II’s daughter Constance, invades Sicily and is crowned in Palermo on Christmas Day. The following day, Constance gives birth to their son, the future Frederick II.
  • 1204: King John loses Normandy to the French. The youngest son of Henry II, John had succeeded to England, Normandy, Anjou and Aquitaine after the death of his elder brother, Richard the Lionheart, in 1199. But in just five years he lost almost all of his continental lands to his rival King Philip Augustus of France – the end of England’s link with Normandy.

Lieutenant Colonel Ronald C. Speirs (20 April 1920 – 11 April 2007) was a United States Army officer who served in the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division during World War II. He was initially assigned as a platoon leader in either Charlie or Baker Company of the 1st Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Speirs was reassigned to Dog Company of the 2nd Battalion prior to the invasion of Normandy in June 1944, before his unit was absorbed into Easy Company, of which he was given command during the assault on Foy after the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne. Speirs also served in Korea, where he commanded a rifle company, and later became the American governor for Spandau Prison in Berlin. He reached the rank of captain while serving in the European Theater during World War II and retired as a lieutenant colonel.

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The Normandy Landings (codenamed Operation Neptune) were the landing operations on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 (termed D-Day) of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. The largest seaborne invasion in history, the operation began the liberation of German-occupied northwestern Europe from Nazi control, and contributed to the Allied victory on the Western Front.

The amphibious landings were preceded by extensive aerial and naval bombardment and an airborne assault—the landing of 24,000 American, British, and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight. Allied infantry and armoured divisions began landing on the coast of France at 06:30.

When the seaborne units began to land about 06:30 on June 6, the British and Canadians on Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches overcame light opposition. So did the Americans at Utah. The U.S. 1st Division at Omaha Beach, however, confronted the best of the German coast divisions, the 352nd, and was roughly handled by machine gunners as the troops waded ashore. During the morning, the landing at Omaha threatened to fail. Only dedicated local leadership eventually got the troops inland—though at a cost of more than 2,000 casualties.

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70 years ago today, on June 6th, 1944 the Western Allies’ armies landed in the Normandy region of France, beginning their push through Europe for Germany that would, combined with the Soviet onslaught from the east, result in the fall of Nazi Germany within the next year. 

In 2014, as we approach the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion, Peter Macdiarmid returned to the invasion grounds to photograph the locations of some iconic - and lessor known - images from the Allied invasion. Presented here are some of the “Then” and “Now” photographs.

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Hemingway’s Hunt for U-Boats

During World War II, German submarines were a big problem in the Caribbean, with scores of American and Latin American merchant ships bound for Europe being sunk.  To help counter the threat, the US Navy and the Cuban Government created the “Hooligan Navy”, a fleet of civilian boats equipped with direction finding equipment and long range radio gear, which were to radio in if they spotted a German U-Boat. Between 1942 and 1943, the famous writer Ernest Hemingway took part in the Hooligan Navy with his 38 foot fishing boat the Pilar. However, Hemingway took his duty one step further.  Equipping the boat with Thompson submachine guns and crates of hand grenades, Hemingway intended to take the fight to the enemy. 

Hemingway reasoned that his small boat would go unnoticed, thus he could sneak up on a U-Boat, throw grenades down the hatches, then him and his buddies could storm the submarines with their machines.  He also believed that at some point a U-Boat crew might attempt to board him, at which point he could unleash his surprise.

Hemingway never spotted any submarines, nor then a U-Boat ever attempt to board his fishing boat.  In the end, Hemingway’s U-Boat patrols amounted to northing but fishing and drinking cruises with his friends and quality time with his son.  At one point, he began to use the grenades for fishing rather than fighting Germans.  Some claim that Hemingway did it for extra fuel rations, others that he doing it to avoid drunk driving charges by the Cuban government. In 1943 the Hooligan Navy was de-activated as the U-Boat threat had mostly been mitigated. Hemingway later became a war journalist, being present at the Normandy Invasions and liberation of Paris.