June 3, 1944 – Jumping the Gun on D-Day

On this day in history, the allied invasion of Normany was still scheduled for June 5, but the weather wasn’t good, and the forecast wasn’t favorable. (The invasion was eventually rescheduled to June 6.)

Late that night, however, on June 3rd, an Associated Press report announced the invasion had begun. The teletype operator in the London AP office, Joan Ellis, was just practicing, but didn’t realize the machine was connected. The message read: “FLASH … EISENHOWER’S HEADQUARTERS ANNOUNCES ALLIED LANDINGS IN FRANCE.”

The message reached US. news bureaus at 4:39 p.m. Eastern time. The news spread, and within minutes, the message was being blasted out of loudspeakers at baseball parks. At the Polo Grounds in New York for example, where the New York Giants were playing the Pittsburgh Pirates, the announcer called out: “We interrupt this game to bring you a special announcement. The Allies have invaded France.” Pandemonium ensued, and then a minute of silent prayer.

The same news of course also reached Moscow and Berlin.

Within minutes, however, the message was retracted. Since the German radar stations, patrol boats, and reconnaissance aircraft all failed to pick up any mass movement of ships, the damage was contained. Nevertheless, they too knew an attack was imminent, hampered only by bad weather.

U.S. troops disembark from a landing vehicle on Utah Beach on the coast of Normandy, France on D-Day 1944. (U.S. National Archives)

U.S. troops disembark from a landing vehicle on Utah Beach on the coast of Normandy, France on D-Day 1944. (U.S. National Archives)

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