10 things you didn’t know about the D-Day landings
What happened to the actor who played Scottie in Star Trek during the Omaha landings? And how did soldiers prevent their backpacks from chafing? Jonathan Mayo has the answers
By Jonathan Mayo
- Lieutenant James Doohan of the Winnipeg Rifles was shot in the hand and chest on D-Day. A silver cigarette case stopped the bullet to the chest, but the shot to his hand caused him to lose a finger.
Doohan later became known to generations of TV viewers as the actor who played Scottie in Star Trek. While on camera, he always tried to hide his injured hand.
- Celebrated war photographer Robert Capa was in the second wave of troops to land at Omaha Beach. His pictures of the event are known as The Magnificent Eleven – a title that reflects their number. Despite taking two reels of film, totalling 106 pictures, only 11 survived after 16-year-old darkroom assistant Dennis Banks dried them at too high a temperature.
- Juan Pujol was a double agent working for MI5, who helped convince the Germans that D-Day wouldn’t be in June. Bizarrely, his first code name was BOVRIL – but that was soon changed to GARBO as he was such a good actor. GARBO fooled the Germans so completely, Hitler awarded him the Iron Cross. As he was living in Hendon at the time, Pujol asked if they could post it to him.
On the morning of D-Day, J.D. Salinger landed on Omaha Beach with six chapters of his unfinished novel Catcher in the Rye in his backpack. In the afternoon, Evelyn Waugh, recuperating in Devon after injuring his leg in paratrooper training, finished the final chapter of his novel Brideshead Revisited.*** See bottom for more on Salinger.
The giant wall map used by General Eisenhowhttps://beatnikhiway.wordpress.com/wp-admin/upload.phper and General Montgomery at their HQ Southwick House was made by toy maker Chad Valley.
Lord Lovat led the British 1st Special Service Brigade. An inspiring but eccentric figure, he landed on Sword Beach wearing hunting brogues and carrying a wading stick used for salmon fishing.
Working as an adviser on the film The Longest Day, Lovat woke up in a taxi surrounded by German troops and instinctively dived out of the car, but then realised they were just extras.
- On the morning of D-Day, the House of Commons debated whether office cleaners should no longer be called ‘charladies.’
News of D-Day reached POW camp Colditz via an illegal radio hidden in an attic. To avoid detection, the POWs used shoes with no tread that left no mark in the attic’s dust.
On hearing the news, POW Cenek Chaloupka vowed that if the war wasn’t over by December he’d run round the courtyard naked. On Christmas Eve 1944, Chaloupka ran round it twice. It was -7 degrees Celsius.
- Like many troops, Lieutenant Herbert Jalland of the Durham Light Infantry ran onto Gold Beach wearing pyjamas underneath his battledress, in order to prevent chafing from his backpack.
General Montgomery helped mastermind D-Day, the largest invasion the world had ever seen. His diary entry for the day read: ‘Invaded Normandy; left Portsmouth 10.30.’
Salinger could speak both French and German and his work involved interviewing enemy prisoners and civilians. He formed a strong friendship with three other men in the CIC that would last decades. They dubbed themselves “The Four Musketeers.” One of them took the only known photo of Salinger writing The Catcher in the Rye during his army service.
AN OUTTAKE FROM “SALINGER”
DISCUSSION ABOUT “SALINGER”