D-Day Conneaut : America's Largest D-Day Event

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What is D-Day Conneaut?

Simply speaking, D-Day Conneaut is the most realistic and educational D-Day reenactment in America, perhaps anywhere. The annual re-creation of the amphibious allied landings upon the beaches of Normandy France is accurately portrayed within Conneaut Township Park, Conneaut Ohio. The event brings hundreds of re-enactors and thousands of spectators to the park's bluffs which overlook a 250 yard beach that remarkably resembles Omaha Beach. In 2009 the event staff expanded the program to a Friday evening of musical entertainment, a morning tactical battle of the bridge featuring inland and airborne troops, coupled with French resistance followed by medical evacuations of simulated wounded to a field hospital constructed upon the parade ground. On top of that, we also brought on board a WWII Higgins Boat LCVP landing craft and had General Omar Bradley's 5 Star Flag flying proudly on our parade ground! These additional elements will be part of the program again in 2010 and we plan on adding more this year as well! New for 2010, the program will begin on Friday at noon and ending the day with a new battle called The Road to Victory. On Saturday morning the event begins with our first formation of the day at 9 AM and continuing into Saturday evening ending with our annual USO show.

The signature of our event assemble Allied and Axis re-enactors, along with the support of the United States Naval Reserve, the United States Coast Guard, and private contributors combine to bring together all the elements of seaborne landing. The combination of a sea invasion via landing craft similar to those used during D-Day, along with replicas of period aircraft flying overhead compliments of Titan Air, simulate the amphibious assault of fixed Axis troop emplacements located on an elevated bluff overlooking the beach just like it was on June 6th 1944.

This free to the public reenactment offers an unmatched educational and historical experience. All spectators have an excellent and unobstructed view of the battlefield. On the parade ground above, an encampment of Allied and Axis units provide spectators the entire 1940's military experience. Sea side and camp life of the soldiers, sailors, and airmen who participated in the actual landings are realistically recreated with original equipment, uniforms and vehicles.

Capping off the event is a 1940's USO style show and dance. Featuring a live Big Band, the show is held at the Conneaut American Legion beginning at 8:00 PM. The public is welcomed to attend for a modest $5 admission fee.

The Battle for the Conneaut Valley Bridge
Returning in 2010 at D-Day Conneaut

D-Day Conneaut is pleased to present our 2nd annual Battle of the Bridge; an Airborne and Inland Troop Scenario worthy of our veterans valiant efforts on that Day of Days. As we commemorate the 66th Anniversary of D-Day with our 11th annual sea borne landing, we could not overlook the equally important role of airborne operations. The first of these troops began landing in France shortly after midnight on the sixth of June. Throughout the night, glider borne infantry and paratroopers were assigned the very important tasks of securing roads and bridges throughout Normandy. Aided by the French Resistance, the capturing of these bridges and causeways were vital to the success of the beach landings. Although we cannot simulate a dropping of paratroopers from the skies above Conneaut nor can we have a Horsa glider land on the parade ground, we can however provide some measure of the experience of the men and woman who began the crusade for the return of liberty to Europe.

This portion of our program begins with the day to day activity of the German Army. Tensions are high as a summer landing is anticipated by the German High Command. So too is the population of France expecting that their liberation will soon begin. Long awaited code words broadcasted from England across the channel alerted French Resistance. They listened intently via makeshift radios for those famous words "John has a long mustache." On June 5th, the resistance in mass awoke and some were sent as far away as Conneaut for an important mission; disrupt the German war machine.

As real events bore witness, British glider borne infantry arrived at the Pegasus Bridge shortly after midnight on the 6th of June. Their objective was to capture the bridge over the Orne River and hold it until a seaborne Commando force arrived later in the day. The allied invasion of Normandy, moments old, recorded it's first casualty there as British Lt. Den Brotheridge was felled as he led the attack over the bridge. The mission was so successful that the whole action took place in just about 10 minutes. Commonwealth troops from Poland and Canada will join with British re-enactors as they recreate the capturing of the bridge.

German counterattacks would eventually score a number of victories across Normandy. Although NOT historically accurate in regards to the Pegasus Bridge which remained in British hands, at D-Day Conneaut we must compress time that will allow additional units to participate. In years past, most of these units have been limited to living history displays upon the parade ground. Inland from the beaches German paratroopers better known as Fallschirmjaegers and their Schutzstaffel comrades in arms, SS troops, were garrisoned throughout France. German mountain troops, or Gebirgsjägers identified by the Edelweiß insignia will also play a pivotal role in the outcome of our valley and bridgehead tactical demonstration.

Pitted against them will be American airborne units of the 101st and 82nd Divisions as well as gliderborne infantrymen which will struggle for control of the bridge and surrounding ground. This part of the battle will also highlight the importance of medical personal as simulated wounded from both sides will be evacuated to the field hospital on the parade ground.

Note the amount of shell casings on the bridge. This is NO picnic although tables are nearby!

Medics assist the wounded from both sides.
Casualties are then transported by Army Ambulance and Jeep
to an awaiting field hospital up on the parade ground.

As to the outcome of the 2010 battle you will just have to come and see it for yourself.

The action begins at 11:00 in the valley of Conneaut Township Park.
See the Event Map for approved viewing locations.

The Road to Victory
New! for 2010 at D-Day Conneaut

D-Day Conneaut is pleased to present our 1st annual "Road to Victory" engagement, an Allied Airborne operation to take and hold a crucial road intersection within occupied France. German soldiers, alerted by an upturn in sabotage activity by undercover French Resistance freedom fighters coupled with the droan of allied airplanes filling the night skies awoke to find their occupation of France coming to an end. This portion of our program is a continuation of our efforts to commemorate the great deeds accomplished by the Greatest Generation 66 years ago.

Under moonlit skies the morning of June 6th 1944, thousands of paratroopers were mis-dropped all throughout Normandy. If they survived the jump, many troopers found that they were alone and lost inside enemy occupied territory. Scattered everywhere, they had to find their way to their objectives without mistakenly killing each other in the process; but how?

Just a few days before C-47’s left their airfields in England towards towns like Sainte Marie du Mont, Carentan, and Sainte Mère Eglise, U.S. paratroopers were issued a 5 cent child’s toy called a “cricket”. The cricket enabled the troopers to stay out of sight but still communicate without the use of radios, flashlights or talking. Sounding so much like insect, the toy’s famous "click-clack" sound challenged those who were friend or foe. Those who heard the sound would respond by clicking their cricket twice much to the relief of the single cricketer. These simple instructions allowed these men a degree of safety while concealed without being exposed to the ever present German patrols.

As the day brightened, a verbal challenge “Flash” and the reply “Thunder” were the code words for the day. Although our engagement begins just at 5:05 Friday afternoon, as spectators and participants alike we will just have to imagine what it may have been like as seconds seemed like minutes and minutes seemed like hours as day broke on June 6th. Scared and alone, one by one, airborne troopers began to band together using their crickets and call signs to form makeshift units and achieve their objectives. Why 5:05? That time was chosen to honor members of the 505th Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division which descended directly into the village of Sainte Mère Eglise D-Day morning.

The Church at the Center of Town

During the simulation the main allied objective will be to overtake the road intersection from the Germans and hold it until relived. The “Road to Victory” battle will commemorate those men who dropped all over hell and gone short of supply but full of courage. The scenario begins with German Army activity near a check point at a road block situated in mid-park. A fresh squad of German soldiers will relieve the afternoons sentries in what will be in their mind another routine night of guard duty; or so it seems. The relative calm is shattered as French Resistance begin to take back their country.

Mis-dropped U.S. paratroopers of the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions start emerging from different directions of the area. The troopers use their crickets and call signs to prevent “Friendly Fire”. They converge at a collecting point south of the road block. An officer assembles these men and orders the troopers to assault and overtake the German check point. Once the position is secured more paratroopers begin to converge on the area and begin to set up a defensive position.

While fortifying the position, French civilians begin appearing from the direction in which the Germans retreated. They inform the American paratroopers that a number of Germans are massing in force to retake the intersection and that some of their countrymen are in peril. A scouting patrol is sent to investigate but return in one heck of a hurry with a German patrol hot on their heals.

Will the paratroopers be able to fend off the German counterattack? Will the landings succeed allowing the paratroopers to be resupplied, reequipped and relieved and who will that be? What of the French villagers? Will the live to see the light of freedom tomorrow? Find out on Friday August 20th, 2010 at 5:00 pm, Mid-Park, on the outskirts of Occupied France.


Post a Comment

Photobucket La alcaldesa de Guayama Honorable Glorimari Jaime recibe la antorcha de manos del Alcalde de Arroyo, Honorable Basilio Figueroa de Jesús, el baloncelista José "Yoyo" Rosario y el Atleta de todos los tiempos Arnaldo Bristol.