Pre D-Day WWII Event at ENHS
The weekend of April 16-17 the Eisenhower National Historic Site will host a special World War II living history event presented by members of the 29th Infantry Division Living History Group. Historians will be portraying soldier life as members of Company A, 116th Regiment, 29th Division in the spring of 1944.
Visitors will be able to visit the Company A encampment and watch as the soldiers recreate the training and preparation that took place in England prior to the D-Day Invasion of Normandy, France. The program will include demonstrations of World War II tactics that were planned for the assault against Vierville Draw at Omaha Beach. There will be displays of weapons and equipment from World War II, and replicas of the sand tables and maps used to brief the soldiers. The event will also feature an Army chaplains’ church service recreated on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. The schedule for the event is:
Saturday, April 16
Sunday, April 17
Company A’s assault on D-Day was one of the many combat missions that did not go as planned. The original unit lost 96 percent of their men as casualties within the first fifteen minutes of the landing. By nightfall only 8 out of 210 men of Company A, 116th Regiment, had survived unscathed.
The U.S. Army’s 1st and 29th Divisions eventually did prevail against the German defenders that blocked the exits off the beach and advanced inland by the end of D-Day. But the fighting on June 6, 1944, at Omaha Beach was the most costly part of Operation OVERLORD, an Allied undertaking led by General Dwight D. Eisenhower. It is estimated that the Americans lost over 2,000 dead and wounded on Omaha Beach alone. This, together with Allied airborne drops behind enemy lines and attacks at four other beaches, was the beginning of the effort to liberate occupied France from Nazi Germany.
The encampment will be open to the public Saturday and Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission to the Eisenhower National Historic Site is by shuttle bus only. Buses depart every half hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from the National Park Service Visitor Center located at 1195 Baltimore Pike. For reservations, call 1-877-438-8929. Fees to visit the site are adults, $7.50; children 6-12, $5.00; children age 6 and under, free.
Did You Know?
Dwight Eisenhower served as General MacArthur’s chief of staff in the Philippines in the 30s. Although quick to acknowledge MacArthur’s brilliant military mind, Eisenhower was frustrated with the General’s penchant for grandstanding and theatrics.