Seventy five years ago this week, before an overwhelming mass of Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy and the blood of an historic liberation was spilled on French soil, the mood in Tacoma was electric with anticipation.
On the eve of D-Day, solidarity with the cause of freedom held firm while the local impact ran deep. War bond fever raged, and Tacoma war industries had just kicked off a public appeal for an additional 5,800 workers to meet production schedules.
Local observers warned of the “most critical manpower shortage which this city has faced since Pearl Harbor.”
Rationing of commodities took a toll, including at The News Tribune, where newsprint shortages resulted in a smaller daily paper. But there was no lack of florid prose on the opinion pages during this time of high drama overseas.
When looking back at the daily editorials published in the two weeks after D-Day, what stands out is a gradual shift in tone.
Editorial writers brimmed with confidence after Operation Overlord was launched on June 6, 1944. But as news of heavy U.S. casualties began to circulate from Western Europe, and as it became increasingly clear that a bloody campaign lay ahead, the bravado was tempered with notes of caution.
Today, we share excerpts of TNT editorials from that decisive fortnight of World War II.
Wednesday, June 7, 1944
Normandy is only a scant hundred miles from Paris and no natural obstacles intervene if it is the Allied intention to move on that city. Other invasion landings may follow, if they have not already occurred.
It is impossible for the Teuton commanders to fortify the long coast line of Europe so thoroughly as to keep invaders out. The Allies’ espionage system long ago has doubtless located many weak links in the Nazi chain of fortifications. These, in turn, may be expected to receive attention from the Allies. In a dozen vulnerable spots the Germans will be hit. As the attack progresses, one or more of these will develop into vital daggers to thrust directly into Germany and at the Reich itself.
Until that time there may be many alarms and false reports. Europe is likely to be turned into a flaming cauldron of war. Then, with the Russians striking from the east, Hitler will be between giant pincers which will spell his doom.
Friday, June 9, 1944
GERMANS ON DEFENSIVE
Berlin is ringed with enemies steadily closing in for the kill. If these find a weak gap in the defenses, they will break through and the end will be at hand. The war has moved greatly since Hitler stood at Dunkirk and debated whether he would try an invasion of Britain. The Germans are now on the defensive. Time and fate are working against them.
Wednesday, June 14, 1944
JULIUS WOULD LOVE IT
If the spirit of Julius Caesar is still lurking around, he must be watching the triumph of American doughboys in Rome and their pursuit of the fleeing Nazis. The most famous of conquerors, while not oblivious to political and geographical problems, would have been fascinated by American mechanical equipment. …
The ancient conquerors, with all their destructive powers, were mere children compared with a modern G.I. riding an iron monster or raining death from the skies above Germany.
Thursday, June 15, 1944
BACK THE INVASION
Yard by yard and furlong by furlong that thin, muddy line of heroes pushes out along the coast of Normandy, driving the Germans back and clinging to every bit of hard-earned soil. So far, in this long awaited invasion, we are clinging to the edge of Europe almost with our fingernails. It is probably the toughest and hardest job in all this bitter war to save Europe and to redeem civilization.
Our fighting men, struggling valiantly against great odds, will get the job done, but at what a sacrifice! We begin to understand the cost of war now, as casualty lists grow. We realize more and more clearly that it is a long way to Berlin and Tokyo …
It takes saving and sacrifice to furnish the funds to carry on such a vast war.
Buy bonds regularly in honor of invasion! Hold them all! Only by such saving can the nation, family and individual build future satisfaction.
Sunday, June 18, 1944
THE WAR ISN’T WON
The war isn’t won. The troops in Normandy know it. Gen Eisenhower knows it. The sooner we at home realize it, the better.
A prize fighter might figure his opponent was weakening and that two more rounds would finish him. Does he then slow down and pull his punches? Not if he really expects to win. Germany is on the ropes, but not out. One or two more rounds might finish her, but not if any military punches are pulled. The way to win a fight is to pour on the heat all the faster when the opponent is weakening.
If there ever was a time for us on the home front to get in telling blows it is now. Never was there a greater need for hard work and hard dollars. The men and women who stick to their jobs through the months just ahead and buy war bonds to the limit are helping to deliver the knockout punch. It’s either that or Germany gets her second wind and the victory recedes into the dim and distant future.