June 6, 1944 — Rome is liberated (part 3) but quickly overshadowed by Overlord

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June 6, 1944 — Rome is liberated (part 3) but quickly overshadowed by Overlord

At 0600 hours on Tuesday, June 6, 1944, an aide woke Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, the commander of the Fifth Army and the youngest three-star general in the U.S. Army, in the Excelsior Hotel suite in Rome with news that German radio had announced the Allied invasion of Normandy.[1]

At the Albergo Città, a BBC correspondent burst into the Allied press headquarters with this breathless announcement: “Boys, we’re on the back page now. They’ve landed in Normandy.”

CBS newsman Eric Sevareid was among the war correspondents in the room who, upon hearing the news bulletin, pulled out a cigarette, lit it up, and dropped his half-written story about the liberation of Rome on the floor.

Sevareid understood that he and his fellow reporters were like a troupe of actors who, at the climax of their play, had looked up only to realize that all the spectators had all fled out the door.

From that day forward, Operation Overlord, forever to be known as the D-Day, would overshadow the Fifth Army’s remarkable achievement on the Italian boot.

The Southern Front would soon fade into the dustbin of history as the “Forgotten Front.”

While the hardships and victories may have been overlooked back home, none of those who scrapped, sacrificed, and suffered would ever forget what they experienced in the crucible of war.

They did themselves and our country proud.

For Phil, despite all he had accomplished in over one hundred days on the battlefield, his war, in many ways, was just beginning.[1]


[1] Larimore, At First Light, 113.

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