Some 70 years ago today, the Allied Forces began their march on the beaches of Normandy, as 156,000 Allied troops fought in one of the most important battles of World War II. Omahan Marion ‘Bob’ Tabor of the 184th Transportation Company was one of the young men who risked their lives that day and says before the battle began, the details were scarce on what awaited them in France.
“I had no idea. We didn’t know where we were going to land and we weren’t told anything,” Tabor recalls. “We came around in the boat, they gave us 50 shells, and they gave us an old first World War I rifle…a Winchester.”
Tabor remembers the lead up to the invasion, which was supposed to take place before June 6th.
“We loaded up in Southampton, England on around the 3rd day of June and the invasion was supposed to take place on June 5th,” Tabor says. “But the water was so rough and they cancelled it until the 6th.”
The memories of that initial charge onto the beaches are still vivid for Tabor, 70 years later.
“Finally, when we did get off of the boat, we could see people laying on the beach. We could see GIs in the water and we could see women floating in the water too on the edge of the beach,” Tabor says. “I don’t know whether they were Americans or whether they were civilians.”
There wasn’t much talk between the troops before the operation began. Tabor recalls how they were advised not to make friends with fellow soldiers in advance of the D-Day invasion.
“In fact, we were advised not to get too close to anyone. Someone gets killed or wounded, you’d want to help them out,” Tabor says. “This is wrong, they said. This is why they have the medics and the grave registration. You had to keep going.”
Tabor would eventually meet his wife Peggy in Belgium during his time in Europe as the war concluded. The couple recently celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary as they continue to live in Omaha. International commemorations marked the anniversary today on the beaches of Normandy at 6:30 a.m. local time, the moment when Allied troops first came ashore 70 years ago today.
KLIN’s Kevin Thomas interviewed Bob Tabor on Thursday, June 5th