The sounds of D-Day

The sounds of D-Day

June 6, 1944: The first reports of the Allied landings at Normandy came shortly after midnight

Today we call it D-Day, but on Tuesday, June 6, 1944, when Americans first learned of the Allied landings at Normandy during World War II, it was known simply as "the invasion." That's because the landings themselves weren't a surprise; but the Allies knew that by hiding the time and place of the attack, they could still catch the Nazis off guard. Therefore, the first reports came via a German news agency, and American broadcasters remained somewhat skeptical. The tension in their voices is palpable.

Later, "communique #1" confirms that the invasion is indeed on

When the Allied Supreme command headquarters, under General Dwight Eisenhower, does confirm that the landings are on, the statement is a short one, read twice by Colonel R. Ernest Dupuy, who went on to become a writer of pulp fiction stories

Eisenhower makes a statement to the people of Europe awaiting liberation from Nazi rule

A few hours later, General Eisenhower makes a statement. Rather than address Americans, Eisenhower, fully conscious of his role as head of all Allied forces, directs his words to the people of Western Europe.

With details elusive, Quentin Reynolds still paints a powerful picture

Journalists felt an obligation to give their listeners a picture of what was going on, but with few details available, CBS commentator Quentin Reynolds uses a Ciceronian rhetorical technique to create vivid imagery.

James Willard reports from London

Later, reporters would broadcast from the coast of France, but in the early hours of the invasion, the closest they could come was in the air. James Willard flew on a Marauder bomber run, intended to soften up German defenses, and returned to London to file this report.

Commentator H. V. Kaltenborn offers his interpretation of events

Kaltenborn was not only well known, but extremely well versed in foreign affairs and international politics, having worked throughout the 1930s for CBS and then for NBC starting in 1940. "Kaltenborn was known as a commentator who never read from a script," said radio historian James Widner. "His 'talks' were extemporaneous, created from notes he had previously written. His analysis was welcome into homes, especially during the war and the time leading up to America's entry into it. He had an international reputation and was able to speak intelligently about events because he had interviewed many of those involved." He was also of German descent: His full name was Hans von Kaltenborn.

Kate Smith, opens her show with thoughts on "invasion day"

Much radio programming went on as planned during the first 24 hours of invasion. That day, Kate Smith, known as the "first lady of radio," began her variety program this way. 

But the soap opera Big Sister went on as written

At 10:00 Eastern, President Franklin Roosevelt addresses the nation

The president offers a public prayer in support of the Allied forces.  

The following day, NBC gives listeners reason for optimism