Down to Earth

Being there . . . . in the predawn morning hours of D-Day, June 6 th , 1944, when the invasion of
northern France, “Operation Overlord”, had urgent first call use of all American and British
ground and air forces in that part of the Atlantic. The COSSAC, “Chief of Staff to the Supreme
Allied Commander (Designate)”, PLAN prepared in London during the previous summer of 1943
was quietly in progress and proceeding under maximum secrecy with all possible speed. As
dawn approached, the landings were already taking place on the open beaches in western
Normandy where the Cotentin Peninsula afforded some shelter from Atlantic gales and where
an early German counterattack would be more difficult to mount than east of the Seine. Two
artificial harbors were to be built in England and towed in sections to Normandy after the initial
landings, then the port of Cherbourg was to be captured as soon as possible. The expected
German counterattack was to be delayed by massive Allied air attacks on all SS and Wehrmacht
communications, especially on the bridges over the Seine and Loire, the rivers on either flank of
the Allied bridgeheads within which during the first five weeks after landing it was hoped to
build up a force of between thirty and forty divisions. Meanwhile, that morning some 5,000
ships and 150,000 men were crossing the blustery English Channel and headed straight toward
the targeted five main beaches. Within minutes, all would be under intense enemy fire.
WITH THE 79 th ANNIVERSARY OF D-DAY AND THE NORMANY INVASION RAPIDLY APPROACHING
IN LESS THAN SIX WEEKS, IT’S TIME WE BOW EACH MORNING FOR A MOMENT OF SILENCE OR
PRAYER IN REMBERANCE AND ETERNAL THANKFULNESS OF OUR SACRED DEMOCRACY AND
FREEDOM . . . LEST WE FOOLISHLY FORGET, SCHIFFER PUBLISHING OFFERS A BRILLIANT READ
TO RECALL AND APPRECIATE THE SACRIFICES OUR PEOPLE ENDURED TO MAINTAIN THEM
Reviewed and Highly Recommended by Don DeNevi
“DOWN to EARTH – – The 507 th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Normandy”, by Martin K.A.
Morgan. Schiffer Military History, Book Design by Ian Robertson, SCHIFFER PUBLISHING Ltd.:
2004, 304 pages, hardcover, 8 ¾” x 11 ¾”, “ $69.95. Visit, Info@schifferbooks.com, or web site
at www.schifferbooks.com.
In the early morning hours of D-Day, 2,004 paratroopers of the 507 th Parachute Infantry
Regiment jumped into Normandy as part of our 82 nd Airborne Division attack. After a widely
scattered drop, the regiment then struggled in the marshes and hedgerows of the Cotentin
Peninsula in battles at places with names like Chef-du-Pont, Cauquigny, La Fiere, and Graignes.
During the regiment’s battles in Normandy, the hardships were some of the worst in WWII
Europe, and the numbers of dead and wounded were commensurate with the continuous
fighting, often in horrific pain. Out of the 2,004 men who jumped on that morning of June 6 th ,
1944, less than 700 returned to England thirty-five days later.
Martin narrates the virtual day by day account of those days of death and destruction in near
perfect unembellished prose, i.e., the ordinary language of GI’s speaking and writing, which, of
course, makes our reading more suspenseful and terrifying. Yet, the 507 th had its order, and
they were carried out, no commentary or editorializing necessary. Drawing on extensive oral
history interviews with veterans of the regiment, “DOWN TO EARTH” focuses on the

experiences of those who courageously fought as ordered. For most of the 507 th parachutists,
the month-long fight was their baptism of fire. Complimenting the text, the author features 400
carefully selected black and white photos, as well as over 100 color images of U.S. airborne
uniforms, insignia, and equipment. Morgan was among a group who returned to Normandy in
2002 with the survivors of the 507 th Parachute Infantry to dedicate the regiment’s monument
outside of Amfreville. During that 10 day-visit, he recorded over 1,000 minutes of oral history
with the survivors, which, in essence, resulted as the core of this magnificent tribute.