The world got the shock it had been waiting for. But to the U.S. the shock was cushioned by the dead of night; the news came in the hours when the soberest of men are drunken with sleep. Perhaps never was such big news heard by so few. When the nation woke up, the great fact was hours old.
Over the quiet American cities and the somnolent farms a bombers' moon shone through the cool June night. At 12:37 a.m. (E.W.T.) bells tinkled on the news tickers in newspaper and radio offices. FLASH:
GERMAN TRANS-OCEAN AGENCY CLAIMS ALLIED INVASION HAS BEGUN. Out Went the news over U.S. radio stations. Was this it?
For three hours, Radio Berlin kept it up: paratroopers landed near the Seine estuary; the harbor of Le Havre shelled; Calais and Dunkirk raided by strong bomber formations. Every new flash brought the probability nearer. But most of the U.S. slept on.
"In Ten Seconds . . ." Finally the break came. The Allied side was going to speak. All four major networks stood by for London. Over the shortwave at last came the dry, deliberate voice of Colonel R. Ernest Dupuy, press aide to General Eisenhower: "This is Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force. The text of Communique No. 1 will be released to the press and radio of the United Nations in ten seconds."
In measured tones, Colonel Dupuy counted up to ten. Then, reading slowly, he confirmed the news: the invasion had begun, on the northern coast of France.
For the next few hours, the great, pulse-beating job of telling the U.S. people of the greatest military undertaking in his tory belonged to the U.S. radio. The U.S. slept on, but the radio worked as if it had the biggest audience in history. First, from London, came the rolling, authoritative voice of General Eisenhower, reading his proclamation to the people of Western Europe; then Norway's King Haakon and Belgian Premier Hubert Pierlot.
Just an hour after Communique No. 1 came the first eyewitness account. NBC's Wright Bryan, who had flown over the invasion coast with paratroopers, stepped to a London microphone, breathlessly told of the lack of German opposition.
In CBS's Manhattan newsroom, Broadcaster Bob Trout roamed about with a portable microphone for seven hours, reading rapid-fire dispatches as they clacked in, letting his listeners hear the clack of the tickers, the excited shuffling of chairs.
Any Other Morning. As morning came and the realization finally dawned that this was Dday, the U.S. people reacted like Americans.
In early-morning Washington, a cab driver, parked near the White House, said: "It may be D-day but it looks just like any other morning to me." Two days earlier the U.S. had received a false invasion flash from the Associated Press's London office, sent by an inexperienced girl teletype operator. Now, in Redding, Calif., a policeman echoed the sentiments of many citizens when he said: "That girl wasn't far off, was she?" Awakened by a New York Post reporter at her West Point hotel, Mrs. Dwight Eisenhower exclaimed : "The invasion? What about the invasion? Why hasn't someone told me?"