Ira Lee Taylor and D-Day

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D-Day is the designation for the day on which a large military action is to take place; however, after the Allied invasion of the Normandy coast of France, D-Day will forever mean and bring to mind June 6, 1944. 

Perhaps you’ve seen the movie, “Saving Private Ryan.” It is said to be the most realistic on-screen depiction of D-Day to-date. Perhaps you’ve seen the movie, but did you know that Mr. Ira Lee Taylor of Harrisburg lived it?

D-Day is the designation for the day on which a large military action is to take place; however, after the Allied invasion of the Normandy coast of France, D-Day will forever mean and bring to mind June 6, 1944. 

Perhaps you’ve seen the movie, “Saving Private Ryan.” It is said to be the most realistic on-screen depiction of D-Day to-date. Perhaps you’ve seen the movie, but did you know that Mr. Ira Lee Taylor of Harrisburg lived it?

Typical of the veterans of World War II, Mr. Taylor does not see himself as a hero.  However, he is one of that special generation of Americans who answered when duty called, did what had to be done to stop Japan and Adolph Hitler’s Germany, and then quietly returned home and worked to make America the country it is today.

Ira Lee Taylor is an unassuming man. He doesn’t advertise the fact that he took part in the largest seaborne invasion in history. He delivered mail to my house like clockwork six days-a-week at 10:15 a.m. for years until he retired from the postal service. I was in school with his daughter, Gail, but I did not know until recently that Mr. Taylor landed with the U.S. Army 4th Division, Headquarters Battery – Artillery on Utah Beach on D-Day. 

I learned that fact from another soft-spoken Harrisburg veteran of World War II, Mr. Benjamin Johnston Howie, who fought in the Battle of Normandy but was not there on D-Day. As far as Mr. Taylor knows, he was the only man from Harrisburg who took place in the landing on D-Day.

It took months of planning to coordinate the invasion of Normandy. The danger of the mammoth operation was hinted at when 749 American soldiers were killed in a rehearsal exercise off Devon, England, on April 28, 1944, victims of German torpedoes. 

Mr. Taylor was not in the group that witnessed that tragedy, but he later learned that the soldiers who saw what happened were told, “You didn’t see anything and you didn’t hear anything. Keep your mouths shut.” And they did. In fact, Mr. Taylor did not hear about the incident until 50 years later.

Remember that the troops had not been told exactly what they were training for or when the operation they were training for would take place. They did not know that the invasion of Normandy was scheduled for June 5, 1944.

After the training disaster off Devon, security was tightened. The Allies redoubled their efforts to mislead the Germans by leaking inaccurate information about a planned invasion of Norway. There were countless ways and times that the plans for D-Day (code name, Operation Overlord) could have been leaked, which would have doomed the invasion of Normandy.

Bibliography:

• Interviews with Mr. Ira Lee Taylor, February 10 and March 2, 2007

•http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Normandy


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