John Ross - Author of "The Forecast for D-DAY and the Weatherman behind Ike's Greatest Gamble."(Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press)
There’s a reason veterans, Americans and members of the free world alike aren’t celebrating the 70th Anniversary of D-Day Thursday, June 5, because, as history shows, the invasion took place a day later on June 6.
This is something many people know, but fewer know why the one-day delay occurred.
“Allies Smash Inland on Broad Front In Normandy,” read the headline of the Johnson City Press-Chronicle the following morning, which was the similar tale with newspapers across the country, with a subhead reading, “Allies Hurl 10,000 Tons of Bombs Against Nazi Lines.” All these headlines would not have come about if it weren’t for the tough decisions made in the days leading up to D-Day.
Former Johnson City Press writer John Ross recently wrote the book “The Forecast for D-Day and the Weatherman behind Ike’s Greatest Gamble,” and explains the severity of the decision made by Gen. Dwight Eisenhower to follow his meteorologist’s command that the greatest invasion in world history — with around 150,000 troops — be delayed due to approaching inclement weather.
This decision, Ross contends, didn’t just delay the inevitable, but perhaps the spread of Communism across the world.
Standing by his meterologist James Martin Stagg, Eisenhower fought off pressure from his other committeemen who wanted to stick with the initial plan to go on June 5, and supported Stagg’s decision to delay the advance of bombers, ships, and soldiers to the beaches of Normandy, France, just a day longer.
This choice might have very well kept the French forces on the side of the Allies instead of going to the Soviets, Ross said, which, in turn, would have made a fool of Eisenhower, keeping him out of the White House, opening the door to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who wanted to take the Korean War to another level by using nuclear weapons, which would have potentially provoked the Soviets into also using weapons of that level.
Instead, the invasion occurred on a better day in regard to the weather, during low tide, when U.S. forces were able to conceal their plan and get into France.
Ross said the opposite would have been quite dramatic.
“What I thought was they would have had to re-coordinate for another nine months to a year for another launch and the Soviets, with their manpower, would have pushed west,” Ross said.
“(Winston) Churchill Says Invasion Operation Is Proceeding in ‘Satisfactory Manner,’ ” another line in that Press-Chronicle article read, and is something Ross said would have been much worse had we initially went with the plan for a June 5 invasion.
The casualties would have been greater, he said, and we would not have been able to regroup so swiftly.
Luckily, what happened is history.
As the author of a book on Stagg’s forecasting, it doesn’t hurt his feelings to learn so many people don’t know the real story about what happened with these big weather decisions, but is delighted he gets a chance to tell the tale.
The public’s memory fades a little bit each year, he said about remembrance of D-Day, which is why he tackled the topic. It interested him and he thought it was a piece of history that needed more explanation, Ross said, and he was the man for that job, just like Stagg was the man for Eisenhower’s weather team.
“I felt that this was one of the last unexplained corners of D-day history, but this is the most pivotal,” Ross said.
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