Today marks the 79th anniversary of the allied landings at Normandy in France. This was the start of the liberation of Europe from the grip of the Nazis. Technically, Italy was the start, but in many ways that campaign was a diversion to help put the Germans off balance and help the Russian efforts to drive them out of their country.
Included in the over 150,000 Allied troops were Thirty Four young men from the city of Bedford, VA. They were a part, a small part, of the invasion force.
All Thirty Four were in Company A of the 116th Regiment of the 29th Division of the United States Army. Company A was in the first wave of the landings and it was a bloodbath. Nothing went right initially and troops were being slaughtered in the water and on what beach there was.
The story of Able Company was well chronicled in First Wave at Omaha Beach in The Atlantic Magazine in 1960. It’s well worth the time to read it.
During that bloody morning Nineteen of the Bedford Boys were killed before they got off the beach. Nineteen of Thirty Four. Four more died in the following days.
There were 3,973 listed as residents of Bedford, VA in the 1940 Census. Imagine the impact of that type of loss of young men on a small town in rural Virginia. Or anywhere for that matter.
In 1988 a committee was formed in Bedford to build a memorial to the young men who had died on that day.
The Memorial opened on June 6, 2001. It has expanded in size and scope ever since. It’s an impressive site and has a museum as part of it. It’s well worth the trip out into the Virginia country side.
There is a website, the National D-Day Memorial which is worth visiting if you can’t get to the actual site.
Here are a few pictures I took last summer when we were there. The website has professionally done pictures, but you’ll have to go to their website to see them.
I’m a mediocre photographer and I was using my smart phone camera, so they aren’t the best, but they will give you and idea of what is there.
The landing at Omaha
The main Memorial.
There’s a lot more to see on the 50 Acre sight and if you’re ever in the southwest corner of Virginia, it’s worth the trip to see it.