Prologue, June 19, 1944
Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on 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. Therefore, I am submitting my resignation as Supreme Allied Commander to the President, effective immediately. The war will be won by the combined powers of United Nations, but not with myself leading the troops here in Europe.
May God, and those that placed their faith me, forgive me.
-General Dwight D. Eisenhower, London, June 29, 1944
...and so ended the career of a soldier who had an amazing knack for organization and diplomacy, balancing the talents, the egos and the often divergent odds of the leaders and commanders of the American, British, and other allied nations, which I know all too well. Eisenhower had never lead a unit into battle, having served at home in the First World War, and wholly as a staff commander in the Second, from the Torch Landings in North Africa right until Normandy. He was a man who you could disagree and argue with, but always kept a calm head, a rosy outlook on life, and relaxed with bridge and poker and oil paints, rather than galavanting with secretaries or pretty WREN officers like many officers are wont to do. Eisenhower, Ike to his family and to the soldiers he commanded, was a solid family man, devoted to his wife and child. He was a meticulous planner and organizer, who made the tough decisions when needed, but did his best to ensure there wasn’t a bitter taste for the loser of the discussion. That call was needed most in early June, and, after bad weather on June 5 worried him, he made the call to unload the ships and prepare the invasion for June 19.
But on such little things do great events of history turn. In hindsight, the originally scheduled day for the landings would have been perfectly fine weather wise at Normandy, despite the original forecasts that called for bad weather, and low cloud. The advised postponement for two weeks seemed right in theory, and when the landing boats first left in the early morning hours of June 19, all seemed calm and fine, and the initial landings achieved the surprise and initiative that was sought.
Then the storm hit. The storm no one saw coming. The storm that sank 20,000 men to watery graves, stranded 20,000 more on the beaches, and allowed the Nazi’s to come wipe out the beaches the British, Americans and Canadians had fought so hard to keep. Rommel’s smashing victory on the beaches that day when everything went wrong due to a squall no one saw coming, undoubtedly changed how the war played out, and the postwar period that we now live in. The consequences we still feel today.
...Ike’s reputation today is most unfair, and one that I wish we could correct. He laid the groundwork for victory in the war, and has since been ignored or insulted for the failure of a weatherman.
-Sir Winston Churchill, The Second World War, Volume 6 “Triumph and Tragedy” Published 1953
<> <> <>Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to my first major contribution to alternatehistory.com: The Storm of Normandy. This is an idea I've had in my mind for a while now, and after some feedback on the general idea, I feel ready to start sharing it with the world.
This story will be told mostly as a epislatory/scrapbook style, similar to A World of Laughter, A World of Tears and The Ides of March by Thornton Wilder. So expect newspaper headlines and articles, book excerpts, government documents, interview transcripts, and letters, from a variety of real and fictional people: Most of those that will be fictional are minor characters, looking upon bigger named people that we could recognize from our timeline, but doing different things.
I have written alternate history for over 10 years now, starting on the AltHistory Wiki, then moving on to my own, though mostly defunct blog, and have been working on writing publishable stories for the future. If Storm of Normandy works well, I will most likely make it into a book at some time. Fingers crossed!
I'm always looking for feedback on my stories and writing. I hope that, in general, I will capture the essence of each character in the story, if not the exactly writing or speaking style. If something seems really out of place, please let me know, and I will fix that. However, I have a pretty solid idea of where the story will go from here, so major alterations will not take place in this version that I'm posting online now. I'm going for a mostly plausible story, but I will be letting the butterflies take their course in time, to present an interesting, different, and undoubtedly alternate world that could have happened. Maybe.
So please enjoy this diversion into a different world, where Normandy is not the name of a great victory, but a sorrowful tragedy, to millions around the world.