On June 6, 1944, Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy. Soldiers were equipped with the best gear and weapons available at the time. Here’s a few examples of what soldiers would have used:
Higgins Landing Crafts: Before the ground assault could begin, Soldiers needed to get to the beach. They boarded Higgins landing crafts (or LCVP “landing craft, vehicle and personnel”) for the trip to shore.
Donald Englar, just 18-years-old, operated a Higgins boat. He recalled the struggle of landing under heavy enemy fire. He tried to deliver the men as close to the beach as possible. Sometimes they unloaded in knee-deep water. On another run he hit a sandbar and the soldiers had to unload in water over their heads. Many of the men died by German gunfire before leaving the boat. Others died on the exit ramp, and some in the pounding surf. One trip he started with 33 men on board and only six survived.
M1 Steel Helmet: On shore, a soldier’s head was protected by the newly designed M1 steel helmet. The M1 helmet was one-size-fits-all, with an inner adjustable lining insert. Although relatively heavy, the design was extremely effective and was used by the military for more than forty years. The M1 was often referred to as the “steel pot” because its design made it handy for a washing bowl or even a cooking pot.
M1 Garand Rifle: On D-Day, soldiers were carrying the M1 Garand Rifle. General George Patton called the M1 Garand “the greatest battle implement ever devised.” The Garand was an auto-loading semi-automatic rifle that gave troops tremendous advantage in firepower.
M-1910 Shovel: The M-1910 shovel was a collapsible tool essential for trenching. As one soldier said, “If an infantry man thinks he’s going to be in one place for more than five minutes, he digs a hole.”
Cricket: U.S. Paratroopers that dropped in behind enemy lines relied on a simple device called the “cricket” as a way to communicate or signal one another. The small hand-held device produced a sound imitating nature and was unrecognizable to the enemy. One click was a request for identification. Two clicks indicated a friendly response.
Do you have a family member that participated in D-Day? Do you have any of the gear they used? Tell us about it and search our archives for more information on D-Day and WWII.