The headline and map by Charles Owens from The Times.
June 6, 1944: Complete radio coverage of the D-Day Invasion. This was pool coverage using correspondents from various news organizations. By 10 a.m., CBS had resumed regular programming with news bulletins, so I’ll only post up to noon. The full day is at archive.org.
It’s worth noting that German radio was the source for most of the information in the early hours of the invasion. The eyewitness accounts are vivid and it’s worth listening to Quentin Reynolds’ analysis on how the Allies learned from disastrous surprise invasion at Dieppe in 1942.
CBS Radio, Part 1: First reports of the invasion come from German radio at 12:37 a.m. Eastern War Time. Neither the U.S. War Department (now the Department of Defense) nor Allied Headquarters in London has any official confirmation. (Warning: The audio is lo-fi and the volume is low). The announcers note that all of their information thus far has been from German sources.
CBS Radio, Part 2: Gen. Eisenhower’s headquarters announces the invasion of France, followed by Eisenhower reading a statement. Eisenhower says: “Although the initial assault may not have been made in your own country, the hour of your liberation is approaching.” At the 29-minute mark, a correspondent describes riding along along on a plane dropping paratroopers in France.
CBS Radio, Part 3: A description of possible Allied goals on the French coast. The broadcast is still relying on German radio, which describes heavy fighting in the Caen area. RAF bombers make a strike on Osnabruck, Germany, and all return safely. A photo reconnaissance unit reports that the Allies have established beachheads and are fighting their way inland. Announcement that King George will make a speech and that Gen. Charles De Gaulle has arrived in London. Richard C. Hottelet gives an update at the 1-hour mark. Hottelet says that within six hours, the first hurdle of the invasion has been cleared.
CBS Radio, Part 4: A recap of the news. An announcer says that coverage began at 12:37 a.m. with new briefs, and continuous broadcast began at 3 a.m. He says: “I’m sure that while a number of you have been with us all night on this broadcast, still there are others who are now getting up and are joining us and perhaps haven’t heard that the invasion has begun.” There’s a description of news broadcast preparations in London. Churchill tells the House of Commons that the invasion is proceeding according to plan.
CBS Radio, Part 5: Description of French ports, possibly repeated from an earlier segment. An announcer quotes Elmer Davis, head of the Office of War Information, who cautioned that despite the Germans’ accuracy in announcing the invasion, it could be a trick to dupe listeners into believing subsequent propaganda. Invading troops were warned to beware when entering farmhouses of what we would now call improvised explosive devices. They were to shoot locks off doors and not to straighten crooked pictures on the wall, or move chairs or tables because they might trigger an explosion.
CBS Radio, Part 6: Another recap of the news, with a description of the weather on the English Channel before the invasion. A correspondent who rode on a PT boat escorting smaller craft reports no German challenge of any kind. At the 47-minute mark, Quentin Reynolds says the D-Day invasion shows Allies learned important lessons from disastrous landing at Dieppe in 1942.
CBS Radio, Part 7: This is the 9 a.m. broadcast by Douglas Edwards.
CBS Radio, Part 8: Back to regular programming with “Valiant Lady” and “The Open Door.” Careless talk costs lives!
CBS Radio, Part 9: “Amanda of Honeymoon Hill.” With news at the 29-minute mark.
CBS Radio, Part 10: The noon broadcast. With Kate Smith. “The Romance of Helen Trent.”
I don’t know how you could top the drama of these correspondents turning up one by one in the wee hours of the morning speculating on air what must be taking place. I can easily imagine myself buying one extra newspaper edition after another for the two of three paragraphs of new information justifying another press run.
George Fielding Eliot, heard here as a military analyst, was also a pulp fiction writer who contributed to Weird Tales.