The airplane that led the D-Day invasion of the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944, will again lead the charge, as a group of 25 C-47s fly from England to the coast of France to pay tribute to the soldiers who did battle there. That’s All, Brother, the original article that was saved from a boneyard and was subsequently restored by the Commemorative Air Force, was the C-47 that paved the way for more than 800 other big Douglas Dakota and Skytrain twins to drop thousands of parachutists behind enemy lines, as below them, a vast armada of Allied landing craft stormed the beaches. The Invasion was the beginning of what would become a brutal land and air battle to reach Germany, invade Berlin and end Hitler’s genocidal reign of terror.
The Dakotas are being supported by D-Day Squadron, a group that has helped the U.S. based C-47s (15 in all) make it across the Pond. As part of the ceremonies, they’ll drop parachutists in fields just beyond the beaches, and it’s likely that it will be one of the most moving experiences in the participants’ lives, as they get to reflect on the difference between their experience and those of the young men who were flying into a harrowing and uncertain fate with the French shoreline heavily defended by Nazi forces.
In Normandy, 16,714 Allied Air Forces airmen lost their lives, and more than 200,000 Allied soldiers were killed in the action.