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Dec 06

75 years ago, BRO soldiers prepped for D-Day invasion

Posted on December 6, 2018 at 12:40 PM by Michael Goens

December 7, 1941, remains a date which lives in infamy; even 77 years later. Events at Pearl Harbor hurled a nation into world war – and thus called to arms the 1st Infantry Division and 2 million American servicemen in Europe – for nearly the next four years of 1942 to ’45. By two years after the early-morning attacks in Hawaii, Big Red One soldiers were massed in England.

D-Day preparation
1ID arrived in Liverpool 75 years ago last month, and in January ’44 began training concentrated on fortified position assaults coupled with urban combat exercises. Conditioning marches – at least some – stretched 50 miles. Soldiers were unaware at the time of the momentous assault that would take place on June 6, 1944. The D-Day Invasion; 75-year anniversary next June.


BRO soldiers train for assault
Big Red One’s World War II involvement had already been significant as 1ID troops expelled the Axis powers from North Africa and Sicily in 1942 and ’43. Months before ’44 invasion, BRO soldiers were active with training and tactical exercises at the Assault Training Center in SE England, 160 miles east of Southampton. The training center at Woolacombe taught division soldiers demolition techniques, mine clearance and infantry assault tactics.

Assault landing rehearsals and amphibious landing practice at Barnstaple south of Wales drilled the division soldiers on descending from cargo nets into small landing craft. In mere months, five locations along Normandy beaches would see the world’s largest amphibious invasion.

In the five days following June 6, 1944, Allied forces converged to hold around 100 square miles of French coast. Operation Overlord had begun. We'll visit more on 1ID's beach landings nearer the 75th anniversary next June.

Duty First exhibit_WWIIGenAllen

Museum renovations

These stories and more unfold in extremely powerful fashion at the 1st Infantry Division Museum just 20 minutes away at Fort Riley military installation. The 1ID and U.S. Cavalry museums are going through considerable renovations to implement modern museum amenities, LED lighting for one, when the facilities reopen in spring 2020. Great emphasis will be given to restore buildings to original appearances and essentially create a museum campus and research library.

Robert Smith expects museum artifacts and research materials to co-locate in one area of the large Army post situated off the Kansas River, between Ogden and Junction City immediately west of Manhattan. Smith is museum supervisor curator, and indicates 1ID’s recent history will have significant emphasis. One prominent addition includes 1ID Hall of Heroes, where visitors leave typed observations to become part of an archival database.

2020 anticipated open
In just 15-18 months, your spring 2020 Manhattan visits should include a jaunt over to the post museums to sample 1ID's 100-year anniversary, U.S. Cav and more. Expect these to be quite amazing!
Post museum division is responsible to exhibit and interpret the history of Fort Riley from its establishment to present, to include various schools, major commands and community life.

Historic Fort Riley   Duty First: 100 Years of BRO   1ID History/Normandy campaign   
Eisenhower Museum   Military discounts at MTC


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