by Giles Milton
Who was Leonard Schroeder? And how did he write himself into the history books on D-Day? Turns out he was destined to play a crucial role in the first wave of Allied landings on Utah Beach.
Welcome to Season 3 of Unknown History: D-Day Stories. I’m your host, Giles Milton, and today we’re talking about the very first men to storm the Nazi-controlled defences of what had become known as Fortress Europe.
The great Allied fleet destined for Utah Beach had sailed through the night and now—three hours before dawn on June 6, 1944—it lay at anchor just a few miles from the Normandy coast.
It had pulled off the most spectacular conjuring trick in history. The fleet’s 865 vessels had got within striking distance of Nazi-occupied France without raising any suspicions.
To one impressionable young lieutenant, Ross Olsen—who was aboard USS Nevada—it felt as if they “were sneaking up on the enemy.” This was indeed the case: the Germans were as yet unprepared for the beach landings that were now only a couple of hours away.
“Now hear this! Stand by all troops!”
To read more about the Utah Beach landings and the first 24 hours of D-Day, check out the Unknown History channel on Quick and Dirty Tips. You can also listen to the entire episode with the player below.