Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

Eisenhower speaks to the troops

with 9 comments

20070428012236!Eisenhower_d-day.jpg

It was one of the most iconic moments during the Second World War. At around 8:30 p.m. on June 5, 1944, a day before the Allied invasion of Europe, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe General Dwight Eisenhower speaks to US Co. E, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment (Strike). ‘Full victory-nothing else’, he gave the order of the day to these paratroopers fully realizing that he was sending these boys to a near-suicidal mission; within 24 hours, most of them will be dead.

Despite the extent of the troops, the Allied leaders themselves were uncertain of the outcome. Ike’s air commander, British Air Chief Marshall Leigh-Mallory worried that hundreds of planes and gliders would be destroyed with surviving paratroopers fighting isolated until killed or captured. Ike himself prepared this note (below) in case that the invasion went wrong: “Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and the troops have been withdrawn (crossed out) I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available.  The troops, the air and the navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”

When the first D-Day reports arrived to Leigh-Mallory with news that only 29 of 1,250 C-47’s were missing and only four gliders were unaccounted for, Leigh-Mallory sent Ike a congratulatory message. He noted that it is sometimes difficult to admit that one is wrong, but he had never had a greater pleasure than in doing so on this occasion.

There is one possibly apocryphal anecdote about the picture.  At the time, many Hollywood stars and singers were touring the camps, and the paratroopers heard Betty Grable was there. Everyone went running to “greet” the star but instead, they ran into Ike, and had to stand around politely talking with their commander.

eisenhower_letter

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

July 12, 2009 at 9:04 am

9 Responses

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  1. Good morning. I would like to include this photo in my WWII. It will have to be a thumbnail, small, plus a reference to this post. I don’t think you would object, but otherwise let me know.

    Later some day I would also like to do the story of that kid who flew his plane into Russia and down to the Kremlin. I’ll let you know when.

    cantueso

    February 7, 2010 at 9:19 am

  2. My name is Samantha and I work at a company called Brains on Fire: http://www.brainsonfire.com. Our creative team saw your image (see link below) and would like to use it in one of our projects. Could you please email me to discuss further.

    Thank you
    Samantha

    Samantha

    February 18, 2010 at 8:59 pm

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  4. The man standing to the left of #23 (foreground)has never been identified. My brother-in -law states that it is him. His name is Willard Tufts and he lives in West Haven CT. Although I thought at first that he was just pulling my leg, he has maintained modestly that this is a picture of him as a young man in the service. I look at him and say “could be”.

    Debby Kasowitz

    July 24, 2010 at 7:58 pm

  5. My father is in this picture. He is the second full face from the left with the helmet on. He was Eisenhower’s driver during that time. His name was Charles H. Walters from Francesville, Indiana.

    Charlotte

    December 15, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    • Is this him:

      Field Title Value Meaning
      ARMY SERIAL NUMBER 35726501 35726501
      NAME WALTERS#CHARLES#H####### WALTERS#CHARLES#H#######
      RESIDENCE: STATE -1 Undefined Code
      RESIDENCE: COUNTY 055 Undefined Code
      PLACE OF ENLISTMENT 5124 FT BENJAMIN HARRISON INDIANA
      DATE OF ENLISTMENT DAY 11 11
      DATE OF ENLISTMENT MONTH 03 03
      DATE OF ENLISTMENT YEAR 43 43
      GRADE: ALPHA DESIGNATION PVT# Private
      GRADE: CODE 8 Private
      BRANCH: ALPHA DESIGNATION NO# No branch assignment
      BRANCH: CODE 02 No branch assignment
      FIELD USE AS DESIRED # #
      TERM OF ENLISTMENT 5 Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
      LONGEVITY ### ###
      SOURCE OF ARMY PERSONNEL 0 Civil Life
      NATIVITY 51 INDIANA
      YEAR OF BIRTH 24 24
      RACE AND CITIZENSHIP 1 White, citizen
      EDUCATION 1 1 year of high school
      CIVILIAN OCCUPATION 723 Semiskilled construction machinery operators, n.e.c.
      MARITAL STATUS 1 Single, with dependents
      COMPONENT OF THE ARMY 7 Selectees (Enlisted Men)

      Joseph

      June 6, 2014 at 2:59 pm

  6. I have a copy of this photo, original Kodak envelope. It has additional writing in bottom left corner – lloks like ‘STO-HR-44-H699″. Does anyone have an idea what this means?

    Meg Mannix

    July 9, 2012 at 9:24 pm

  7. […] 4) https://iconicphotos.wordpress.com/2009/07/12/eisenhower-speaks-to-the-troops/ […]

  8. That top picture was taken at RAF Greenham Common which was in the 1980s a controversial Ground Launch Cruise Missile base. Ike’s son came for a commemoration of D-Day when I was stationed there.

    T-Bar

    July 13, 2015 at 7:14 pm


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