Site hosted by Build your free website today!


by Joseph M. Balkoski

Author of Utah Beach and Beyond the Beachhead: The 29th Infantry Division in Normandy

Published by Stackpole Books


Last Update: December 20, 2009

Comments on Omaha Beach

"There is no better book on this vital chapter in American history." - Terry Copp, author of Fields of Fire

The Story of Omaha Beach: June 6, 1944

Omaha Beach witnessed the greatest drama and loss of life on D-Day. Across a four-and-a-half mile front, consisting of sand, stones, and cliffs, American troops assaulted Germany's "Atlantic Wall" head-on, encountering fierce resistance, but eventually securing the beachhead. Their actions paved the way for Allied victory in World War II, yet until now a truly comprehensive history of the momentous battle for Omaha Beach has not been written.

In Omaha Beach: D-Day, June 6, 1944, Joseph Balkoski picks up where other historians left off and weaves personal recollections and historical analysis into a gripping, unforgettable narrative of one of the U.S. Army's most costly days of World War II.

Equal parts oral history and meticulous reconstruction, Omaha Beach is the closest the modern reader can get to experiencing the Normandy landings firsthand. It is a fitting tribute to the veterans and an indispenable history of one of America's - and indeed the world's - most important days.

Selected Excerpts From Omaha Beach: June 6, 1944


And so the invasion had begun, but no one could say that it had begun well. The air force and navy seemed not to have affected the enemy at all. Most outfits had come ashore late and in the wrong place. With shocking ease, the enemy's nearly invisible resistance nests were cutting down Americans all across the beach -- men with names like Wilczek, Hoback, Sullivan, Di Paola, Schenk, and Stevens, who spun onto the sand to die. If fate spared them scant moments for final reflection, they surely thought of home: Canarsie, or Bedford, or Farmville, or Hell's Kitchen, or anyplace where someone would grieve. They must have thought what a waste it was -- they could have done anything, anything at all...if only... And then the surging tide enveloped their bodies in the frothy surf, and the relentless breakers lifted them and tumbled them forward, ever forward, to deposit them ultimately in neat lines at the high-water mark -- a place they were not able to reach in life, but where they would soon answer final roll call.


But from the perspective of the forlorn GIs who had survived the carnage of Omaha Beach, the victory provided little satisfaction. What military goal could ever be worth such a cost? Even a man with the eloquence of a Pericles or a Lincoln would strain to define why it all had to happen. But this time there would be no such men to provide definitions, and it would be years before the confession of an Omaha veteran that "I was there" would yield respectful glances and inquiries from listeners as to exactly what it was like. Of course, words could not possibly describe it adequately, and no one except the men who had lived through it could ever understand how fortunate were those who had survived to tell tales about it in their old age.

But history can provide at least a little solace that there was some meaning to it all. Churchill had warned that the war was fought to prevent civilization from plummeting "into the abyss of a new Dark Age," and Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen, Dachau, and the Final Solution had proved him right. D-Day was the decisive chapter of a twentieth-century Iliad, and when no one remains alive who can declare "I was there," the storytellers will carry on, in Homeric fashion, to preserve the tales of bygone warriors little different from those cast upon the shores of Troy. The D-Day epic will be preserved, told and retold for as long as there are people who are devoted to their ancestors -- and to freedom. They were there. And together they made the world a better place.

CLICK HERE for historical information on the 29th Infantry Division

CLICK HERE if you would like to order a copy of The Clay Pigeons of St. Lo, Omaha Beach, and/or Beyond the Beachhead, signed by Joseph Balkoski.