The D-Day Weatherman

| June 4, 2019

The 75th anniversary of the landings on Normandy’s beaches is coming up. There are news videos everywhere about it. A group of soldiers and a WWII Army nurse made the trip this year to visit the place and get the beach sand souvenirs. If you ever go there and look at the sand closely, you’ll see tiny black dots mixed with the sand. Those are the remains of shrapnel from German weaponry. You can see one shrapnel particle in the photo above, a small round ball next to the more jagged particles of sand. It’s all still there.

The landings required good weather, something that would not swamp the flat-bottomed landing craft.  Originally planned for June 4th or June 5th, GEN Eisenhower knew that a successful mission would depend on friendly weather.

This is where the meteorologists come in.  Group Captain James Stagg was the UK’s chief military meteorologist, advising the Allied forces on weather conditions for flights and other operations.

Raised in Dalkeith, Midlothian, Group Captain James Stagg led the team responsible for advising military planners on weather conditions in preparation for the Normandy landings in June 1944.  As Chief Meteorologist to General Dwight D Eisenhower, it was Stagg’s expertise that persuaded the Allied Commander to postpone the advance by 24 hours until 6 June. – Article

https://www.midlothian.gov.uk/news/article/2729/d-day_anniversary_tribute_to_dalkeith_man_whose_weather_forecast_changed_the_course_of_history

His advice to GEN Eisenhower was to delay the landings by one day, to the 6th of June.

“…over the course of 4 to 5 June, Stagg predicted a temporary break in the weather which allowed the operation to go ahead a day later. Eisenhower famously said: “I thank the Gods of War we went when we did.” Countless lives were saved and the success of the operation, and the eventual liberation of Europe, was assured.” – Article.

The rest is history.

 

Category: Gathering of Eagles, Historical

Comments (13)

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  1. CCO says:

    Meanwhile the Germans were so sure the weather was too bad that Rommel went home for his wife’s birthday, June 6th.

    • Hondo says:

      Yep. In one of history’s ironies, the German forecaster (chief meterologist for the German 3rd Air Fleet) indicated on 4 June 1944 that the storm hitting Normandy would make a landing impossible for the next two weeks.

      Rommel apparently wasn’t the only senior Nazi leader in France to be away from HQ as a result of the forecast of a 2-week “safe window”. He arrived back at his HQ at 10PM on D-Day, but by the time he got back “up to speed” regarding the situation he’d lost roughly the critical first 24 hrs of the invasion.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erwin_Rommel#Atlantic_Wall_1944

  2. Sapper3307 says:

    I bought a decent cigar for Thursday in West Lebanon today.

  3. 5th/77th FA says:

    Cool story Ex and a real good linky thingy. Glad to know that his home town is paying Honors to Group Captain Stagg.

    Thanks for the post.

    “Lest We Forget”

  4. CCO says:

    Since today is 4 June, here is a link to a video which I think does a good job of explaining Admiral Nagumo’s problems on the morning of 4 June 1942. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bd8_vO5zrjo.

    (The second video hasn’t come out yet.)

  5. AW1Ed says:

    Like Intell Wienies, Weather Guessers in the “We Bet Your Life” part of our mission briefs.

  6. Graybeard says:

    FWIW, I went for my annual-ish eye exam today. The optomologist is close to my age and a long-time friend, so we talk about a lot more than just my eyes. (They are good, just getting old.)

    He mentioned that June 6th is coming. And in conversation he said that of all the staff in his office (including the other optomologist) only one other person knew (a) that June 6th is D-Day or (b) what D-Day is. (This office has a significant number of staff members.)

    The young lady (mid-20s) helping him during the exam did not know what either D-Day or the Battle of the Bulge was. She did not know about either event.

    Public Education has failed us. We here may not forget, but the 20-30 year olds do not even know – they cannot forget for they have never known or been taught.

    • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

      Instead of History things like “World Cultures” are taught in public schools these days. Even in the eighties many high school students couldn’t even tell what years the Civil War was fought!

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      When it’s all over the news, the know-nothings must flip to other channels.

      But don’t give up. I repeatedly see the younger people (20s & 30s) discovering that history is a joy and worth the effort it takes to find things out.

      • Graybeard says:

        In the private school where I substitute, the high schoolers are taught this history.

        A couple of retired public school teachers I know point their fingers at the standardized testing the feds and state dictators have set up – and I cannot argue with them.

    • OldManchu says:

      “Public Education has failed us.”

      Indeed. Yet the masses, who agree with you, continue to send their precious children there day after day, month after month, year after wasted year…..

      We quit the cycle 4.5 years ago. Damn hard work, but so worth it.

      Props to my Wife for carrying the heavy load.

  7. HMCS(FMF) ret says:

    I could never guess what was going through Group Captain Stagg’s mind in early June 1944. Knowing the data on the weather during that period and not having anything other that ground weather stations to rely on… and having Ike look to him for a moment of decent weather to send men across the Channel to take Europe back from Hitler.