British Army Officer who ‘saved’ D-Day

Lieutenant Colonel Jim Eadie

Photo of Lieutenant Colonel Jim Eadie, the officer credited with 'saving' the D-Day operation.

Lieutenant Colonel Eadie’s Staffordshire Yeomanry played a little-known but vital role during the D-Day landings at Sword Beach.

There was little enemy activity when their landing craft touched down at 10.30am.

But delays in getting men and equipment off the beach and breaking through German defences hampered their advance.

They pushed through and Eadie ordered a squadron of tanks to move towards the high ground of the Périers-sur-le-Dan ridge, which overlooked the beaches, at the earliest possible moment.

This move, thought to have been pre-planned by Eadie, was to prove crucial to the success of the Normandy Landings.

The delay in leaving the beaches had given the Nazis time to gather their forces for a counterattack – the largest of any directed against the D-day beaches – that threatened the entire British position.

The Nazis were to be disappointed.

Eadie’s tanks had been formed into a line with a full view of their advancing adversaries and, together with guns from the 20th Anti-Tank Regiment and The King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, proceeded to delay and deplete the attacking German forces.

Without Eadie’s perception and leadership, a large enemy force could have pushed forward and attacked the bulk of the British invasion force in the beach area.

This was where they were most vulnerable, and the losses could have been catastrophic.  

Thanks to Eadie and his men, this never happened. Yet they never fully received the recognition they deserved for disrupting this German counterattack and, in effect, helping to save D-Day.

This story was contributed by Professor Andrew Stewart of the Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research.

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