On 5-JUN 1944, 76 years ago, more than 156,000 troops were preparing to embark on the liberation of Europe. On D-Day, the Allies would land about 156,000 troops including 73,000 Americans in Normandy. It was a bold strategy to push the Nazis out of Western Europe and turn the tide of the war for good.
In planning the D-Day attack, Allied military leaders knew that casualties might be staggeringly high, but it was a cost they were willing to pay in order to establish an infantry stronghold in France.
At approximately 22:00 Hours an Army Private by the name of Ralph Barrale left an English port for Utah Beach in Normandy France. Ralph was not alone. There were over 73,000 Americans including fellow Missourians and our St. Charles County neighbors onboard more than 5,000 ships beginning the voyage across the English Channel. The American sectors were codenamed Omaha and Utah Beach. H-Hour was set for 6:30 AM.
It is impossible to contemplate what these men were feeling.
By the end of the first day, none of the assault forces had secured their first-day objectives. It was estimated 6,603 Americans were killed, wounded or missing.
Because of bad weather and fierce German resistance, the D-Day beach landings were chaotic and bloody, with the first waves of landing forces suffering terrible losses, particularly the U.S. troops at Omaha beach and the Canadian divisions at Juno beach. But thanks to raw perseverance and grit, the Allies overcame those grave initial setbacks and took all five Normandy beaches by nightfall on June 6th.
Ralph Barrale would survive D-Day and the war. In Ralph’s words, “There were seven buddies that we bummed around with before the war. I was the only one of the seven that came back home.”
In 2019, his dream of the St. Charles County Veterans Museum, came to fruition.
In the days, weeks ahead, we’ll continue to tell the stories of our neighbors that made the ultimate sacrifice. We honor them, by remembering them.