D-Day: The Men in the 'Suicide Wave'

If you've seen 'Saving Private Ryan,' you know too well the images of the first flight of men invading and dying on the beach on D-Day—today, we learn the true story of that fateful mission. 

Giles Milton
9-minute read
Episode #82

Who was Taylor Fellers? And why were he and his men known as the “Suicide Wave”? Turns out they were the ones specially selected to be the very first to land on Omaha Beach.

Welcome to Season 3 of Unknown History: D-Day Stories. I'm your host, Giles Milton, and today we're talking about the most terrible—and controversial—landing to take place on D-Day.

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The plight of the first wave of American troops to land on Omaha Beach has come to symbolize everything that is terrible about war.

If you’ve seen Steven Spielberg’s film, Saving Private Ryan, it's hard forget the sight of hundreds of young American soldiers being gunned down on the beach by heavily armed German defenders.

What happened to the first wave of soldiers to land on Omaha was indeed terrible, but there was a lot more to it than what you saw in the film. Here—brought to you by Unknown History—is the real story of what happened on Bloody Omaha between the hours of 6 and 7 in the morning of June 6, 1944.

Here is the real story of what happened on Bloody Omaha between the hours of 6 and 7 in the morning of June 6, 1944.

It begins not with an American, but with a Brit—a 23-year-old British sea captain named Jimmy Green. He had already spent a year escorting naval convoys through the treacherous seas of the North Atlantic and a further year working with the British commandos and the American Rangers.

Now, he was entrusted with ferrying the first wave of American troops to Omaha Beach. It was all part of the Anglo-American cooperation on D-Day that often gets overlooked.

Jimmy Green had been most impressed by the American Rangers, but he felt rather less confident when he met the young lads of A Company, 116th Infantry—the ones due to be the very first on the beach.


About the Author

Giles Milton

Giles Milton is a writer and historian who graduated from the University of Bristol. He is an internationally bestselling author of nine works of narrative non-fiction and three novels. His books have been translated into more than 20 languages and serialized by the BBC.