The Imperial War Museum Duxford will use Twitter to detail the events that led up to D-Day on 6 June 1944 in real time, including testimonies from veterans.
On the morning of 6 June 1944, RAF Duxford, home to the 78th Fighter Group of the United States Army Air Force, was a hive of activity. Ordnance trucks rushed back and forth between bomb and ammunition dumps while crews were issued with submachine guns.
Planes were parked in groups on the airfields and communications operators frantically typed instructions from the Supreme Allied Commander. As word spread of a looming invasion, a palpable sense of tension spread around the base – preparations were underway for Operation Overlord; a top-secret battle for Normandy whose opening chapter would come to be known as D-Day.
For the 70th anniversary of this historic occasion, Imperial War Museum Duxford will be making real-time tweets throughout May and June to highlight how the 78th Fighter Group prepared for D-Day operations, including precisely what they did on 6 June 1944 and how they supported the Allies fighting in France.
Equipped with P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft, the pilots of 78th Fighter Group flew numerous missions both on D-Day itself and in the weeks and months that followed. A particular tribute is paid to the events of 10 June 1944, which proved to be the 78th Fighter Group’s most costly day when 10 of its pilots were killed in action.
Veteran pilot Hayden Richards describe the events of that fateful night: “We were awakened early on the morning of the 6th for the briefing, of course the weather was terrible and we were a little concerned about the take-off because of that. But eventually it turned out fine and we had the weather and were able to break through and didn’t see a German aeroplane.”
Another veteran, Frank Oiler, describes seeing the invasion fleet upon getting in the air on 6 June: “We flew up and down, I couldn’t believe what I saw – it looked like you could walk across the Channel on the boats.”
IWM Duxford will also be tweeting summaries that show how daily life continued at RAF Duxford post D-Day, including the social activities that continued during this frantic period in history. These included a film screening about the dangers of venereal disease in the airbase theatre, and a meeting on the psychology of drunkenness, as the commanding officers of 78th Fighter Group took social responsibility extremely seriously.
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