How D-Day Almost Became a Disaster

The first comprehensive history of D-day in two decades sheds new light on the cost of an immortal victory

Early on the morning of June 6, 1944, a cluster of ships huddled 5,000 yards off the inviting stretch of French coastline between Vierville-sur-Mer and Ste.-Honorine-des-Pertes, which for the purposes of that day had been rechristened Omaha Beach. On board were two companies from the 741st Tank Battalion of the U.S. Army. They were facing the uninviting task of driving their tanks to the shore.

The tanks were DD (for duplex-drive) Shermans, improbable vehicles specially rigged with flotation devices and propellers. They looked as weird as their descriptions sound. They floated, barely, but the sea that morning was heavier than it...

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