In every era and in every generation there are crucial moments when a decisive decision has to be made, and the consequences of that decision can changed the course of history. Many times the full impact of such a decision does not become clear at once, but in the long run, things will never be quite the same. In Days of Destiny I will attempt to write a dramatization of events leading up to such decisions. The following stories are fictional, but are based on historical facts.
5 JUNE 1944
The clock in the hall struck four as rain continued to hammer against the leaded window panes of Southwick House. RAF Group Capitan James Stagg stood from his seat around the conference table and said,
“The long and the short of it is that we can expect a window of moderate weather over the landing sites for a period of 24 to 36 hours, beginning by midday today. After that, it could possibly be a week or more of storms.”
Stagg resumed his seat, and the bevy of high ranking officers around the table sat in silence. Finally the man at the center of the table removed his wire rim glasses and wiped his blood shot eyes the said,
“There you have it. We have a small window with acceptable tides on the 6th. If we postpone, it will be almost a month before the tides are right again. If we are going to hit this window, we have to give the order this morning. I want to hear your opinions, how about it. Monty?”
General Bernard Law Montgomery rose to his full height of 5’5”, and in his squeaky voice said,
“I say we go. We can’t postpone again. Actually, the weather can be in our favor. The German General Staff will be seeing the same weather predictions as we are, and will assume no sane person would launch an amphibious operation in such lousy weather.”
After Montgomery, all of the senior offices gave their opinions, and almost all were in favor of going while the weather window held. When everyone had their say, they turned and looked at the man in the center. He stood and said,
“Gentlemen, I appreciate your thoughts, and I’ll have a decision within the hour. Now if you’ll excuse me for a few minutes, I’d like some time alone.”
He glanced across the table and said,
“Beetle, will you give me a few moments?”
U.S Lt. General, Beetle Smith stood and followed the man out of the room.
When he stood to leave the room, the entire table came to their feet and silently watched as he walked through the door to his private office.
General Smith closed the door leading to the conference room and joined his sandy haired, slightly balding boss in one of the leather wing chairs flanking a crackling fire place. A very pretty young woman in the uniform of British Mechanized Transport Corp crossed the room and spread a plaid blanket across the man’s lap and said,
“General, may I get you and General Smith a cup of coffee?”
“That would be great. Thank you Kay.”
When the coffee had been served, the man turned to Smith and said,
“Well, Beetle, what do you think we should do?”
“Hell Ike,” he replied,” as much as it pains me to say it, I believe Monty may actually be right for once. The weather could definitely screen our fleet. We’ve got the window with the weather and we’ve got nearly seven thousand ships carrying over 160,000 seasick soldiers ready to go. I don’t think we really have a choice. We need to hit ‘em tomorrow.”
Eisenhower nodded his head, took a sip of his coffee, and turned to the young woman and asked,
“How about you Kay? You’ve heard all of the arguments. What do you think?”
“That question is just a little above my pay grade, David, but I do know you, and I know that you’ve done everything possible to be ready for this moment, so I think you must follow your gut on this. I’m confident that you’ll make the right decision.”
He looked back at Smith and said,
“Kay sounds just like Churchill did when he was here yesterday; nobody is going to take this cup from my hand, are they?”
“There is no one better prepared to make the decision than you, so, no, I doubt that they will.”
Eisenhower mused for a few more moments, then asked.
“Beetle, do you have both press releases ready just in case I screw this up?”
‘Yes Sir, but you’re not going to need the grim one.”
Eisenhower sat staring at the fire and listening to the rain, lost in his own thoughts. Finally he stood and said,
“C’mon Beetle, let’s get back in there.”
The men at the conference table stood as he entered the room. He took his place and said,
“Okay, let’s go.”