World War II Navy Veteran Speaks About Preparations For WWII D-Day Invasion

The Allied D-Day invasion on the beaches of Normandy during World War II was one of the major turning points in the war. It took much planning, preparation and good timing to make it a success. That was the message from World War II Navy veteran Dr. Arnold (Arnie) Heyman during a July 20 talk at the Conejo Valley YMCA. Lunch was donated by Pierre’s Catering.

Heyman explained how the Allies tried to fool the Germans as to when and where the invasion would take place by positioning real and “ghost” armies near other French beaches. Prior to the invasion, Allies focused on destroying German manufacturing capabilities as well as crippling the German air force. Heyman noted Allied commanders, headed by General Dwight Eisenhower, wanted a “friendly sky” during the invasion and their efforts paid off. “It worked,” says Heyman. “The Germans were without the necessary aircraft to turn back the invasion.”

Prior to D-Day, the Allies also bombed French railroad tracks and bridges along France so Germans couldn’t bring tanks and trucks to the fight. They destroyed nearby German rocket launcher sites that could have sent rockets that would have reached invading troops.

Weather was a factor when deciding when to launch the invasion. “The invasion was supposed to be on June 5, but the chief allied weather forecaster, Captain James Stagg, predicted a major storm moving in even though it was sunny at the time,” says Heyman. “The storm hit but there was a window of time before the next storm. The Germans didn’t have weather forecasting capabilities. They thought the weather was too bad for an invasion. Eisenhower listened to Stagg and gave the order to go. The invasion took place early June 6 and caught the Germans off guard.”

Heyman, who just turned 90, is a history buff and World War II scholar. He gives talks on World War II at University Village in Thousand Oaks where he is a resident. “It was an honor to hear Arnie’s telling of the hard work and extreme bravery of many to make the Normandy invasion happen,” says Janice Wise, YMCA development director. “Those in attendance received a fascinating history lesson.”


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