D-Day 75th Anniversary Blog Tour
June 3-11, 2019
Welcome to the D-Day 75th Anniversary Blog Tour! Seven novelists are commemorating the brave men who stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Thank you for joining us as we remember their heroism and sacrifice.
Our novels illuminate different aspects of the war—from the landing beaches of Normandy to Nazi-occupied Europe to the US Home Front. Each day, visit with a new author as we share about our stories, our research, and our unique settings.
Sunrise at Normandy Series
by Sarah Sundin
The Sea Before Us
As D-day approaches, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton is teamed up with Dorothy Fairfax, a British officer. Once they piece together family and reconnaissance photos to map Normandy, will Wyatt’s bombardment plans destroy what Dorothy loves most?
The Sky Above Us
In 1944, fighter pilot Lt. Adler Paxton battles the Luftwaffe over Nazi-occupied Europe, numbed by loss and hidden sins. Violet Lindstrom serves in the Red Cross, where she arranges activities at Adler’s air base. Love blooms. But D-day draws near. And secrets never do stay buried.
The Land Beneath Us (coming Feb. 4, 2020)
Private Clay Paxton trains with the US Army Rangers, his future stolen by his brothers’ betrayal. Leah Jones works as a librarian at the army base, hoping to find her lost sisters. But can her dream of love be fulfilled before his recurring dream of his own death in battle comes true?
D-Day – Immense and Personal
Out in the living room, Mrs. Paxton sat by the radio. She looked at Leah, face stark.
It was today, and Leah sank onto the couch and tuned her ears to the announcer’s cultured voice: “Under the command of General Eisenhower, Allied naval forces, supported by strong air forces, began landing Allied armies this morning on the coast of France.”
“That’s all the news they have.” Mrs. Paxton’s voice wavered, and she turned off the radio dial. “Naval forces—my Wyatt. Air forces—my Adler. Allied armies—my Clay. Our Clay.”
~The Land Beneath Us
When it came time for me to write my post for this D-day tour, I froze. For the past three years while writing my Sunrise at Normandy series, I’ve been immersed in this single momentous day. So immersed that I didn’t know where to begin to convey how immense and yet how very personal it was.
On a grand scale, we see the months of planning, the enormous volumes of plans, the hundreds of thousands of men and women working out the details of supply and shipping and logistics and personnel.
On a small scale, we see a single Wren (Women’s Royal Naval Service) typing up her dispatches in London and fretting about her sweetheart. We see Gen. Dwight Eisenhower chain-smoking in his trailer at Allied Battle Headquarters in Southwick, momentarily blinded to what’s happening to the armies he’s sent into battle.
On a grand scale, we turn to the sea, where over 5000 vessels and 195,000 naval personnel are responsible for transporting soldiers, bombarding enemy positions, and guarding against enemy attack from the air and the sea. We see ships and sailors from the United States, Britain, France, Poland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Greece.
On a small scale, we see a Coastguardsmen from New Jersey, seasick and homesick, trying to maneuver his bullet-ridden landing craft through booby-trapped beach obstacles as artillery blasts past him. We see a French naval officer, peering through binoculars at his own village on the Norman shore and giving the sickening order to open fire, knowing the only way to free his land is to fire upon it.
The USS Oglesby bounded over the waves toward Omaha Beach. The forward guns pumped shells straight ahead at the shack, and the aft guns fired to starboard at the battery.
Acrid brown smoke filled Wyatt’s nostrils.
Although he hadn’t been named after Wyatt Earp, he felt like that famous lawman riding into town with his six-shooter. The wind buffeted his face, and his Texas blood galloped. “Yee-haw!” he yelled.
~The Sea Before Us
On a grand scale, we look to the sky, where 11,000 Allied aircraft flew, transports and bombers and fighters, many painted in black-and-white “invasion stripes” to avoid friendly fire from below. We see them dropping paratroopers and bombing enemy positions and strafing roads to prevent the Germans from reinforcing the beaches.
On a small scale, we see an RAF glider pilot from Manchester, cracking wry jokes as his aircraft drifts down in the darkness toward a bridge that must be secured, wishing he’d written one more letter to his son. We see a California boy flying a B-26 Marauder, bombing Utah Beach from an astonishingly low altitude while machine-gun bullets whiz past, praying for the first time in a decade and determined never to stop praying again.
The clock read 0555, and Adler made another turn. Ahead of him, the clouds thinned.
Maybe he could see something on the ground and get his bearings.
He got his bearings all right.
Framed by the ragged hole in the clouds, the gray ocean below teemed with ships. Warships heaved shells—right over dozens of tiny landing craft. Everything aimed for the golden stretch of beach dividing gray sea and green land.
“Here I am, flying in circles, doing nothing.” If only Adler could help down there. His hand tightened around the stick, longing to tilt it forward and strafe behind the beaches.
~The Sky Above Us
On a grand scale, we turn to the land, the shores of Normandy, where 156,000 soldiers from Britain, the United States, Canada, and France land on five beaches stretching about fifty miles. We see tanks and rifles and machine guns, uniforms and helmets and gas masks. And we see tens of thousands of German soldiers, defending the land they’ve conquered and enslaved, knowing it ultimately means defending their own homes.
On a small scale, we see a farmer from Manitoba, pounding onto Juno Beach, roaring to prevent the fear from pooling in his stomach. We see a Virginia grocer crouched at the seawall on Omaha, urging his buddies forward after all their officers were killed, even as his own brother lies dead on the beach. We see a medic risking his life, over and over, to drag the wounded to safety.
Clay charged down the bow ramp and into frigid water up to his waist. His heart raced, and he plunged forward, his shins slicing the water, his boots fighting for traction.
Up onto the beach, maybe thirty yards deep. Pebbles scattered underneath his boots, hit his calves.
Clay scrabbled ahead, rifle and gaze high. Three grapnels disappeared over the cliff, and the ropes flopped against the earthen face. “Come on, boys!”
~The Land Beneath Us
On a grand scale, we see the nations wait with bated breath. If the invasion succeeds, the war may come to an end soon. If not, what will they do?
On a small scale, we see a wife in London who refuses to stop knitting until she hears word from her husband. We see a mother in Ohio who jumps whenever the doorbell rings, afraid it’ll be the telegram she dreads. We see a teenage boy in Vancouver skipping school so he can pray for his brother.
Seventy-five years later, it’s hard to see it all, to see the immensity of the largest amphibious operation in history and the intensity of the hundreds of thousands of personal dramas that played out that day.
So today, let’s remember and let’s be thankful.
Sarah Sundin is a bestselling author of historical novels, including The Sky Above Us and The Sea Before Us. Her novel The Sea Before Us is a finalist for the 2019 Reader’s Choice Award from Faith, Hope, and Love, When Tides Turn and Through Waters Deep were named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years,” and Through Waters Deep was a finalist for the 2016 Carol Award and won the INSPY Award. A mother of three, Sarah lives in California and teaches Sunday school. She also enjoys speaking for church, community, and writers’ groups.
D-Day 75th Anniversary Blog Tour Schedule
Make sure you visit all seven authors!
June 3: AMANDA DYKES, author of Whose Waves These Are
June 4: CATHY GOHLKE, author of The Medallion
June 5: LIZ TOLSMA, author of When the Heart Sings
June 6: SARAH SUNDIN, author of the Sunrise at Normandy series: The Sea Before Us, The Sky Above Us, and The Land Beneath Us
June 7: AMANDA BARRATT, author of My Dearest Dietrich
June 10: VALERIE LUESSE, author of Almost Home
June 11: MELANIE DOBSON, author of Memories of Glass