When Allied Forces stormed the beaches at Normandy at 6:30 French time and 5:30 British time on the morning of June 6, 1944, the Gazette had it covered.
I don't know who was working the copy desk that night but it turned into a long shift. At 12:37 a.m., eastern newspapers in the U.S. got word of an attack from German sources. Then, at 3:25 am., confirmation came from Allied Headquarters in Great Britain that the invasion of Normandy had indeed begun.
At that point, the front page of the newspaper was made over, or replated, and by 4 a.m. new editions of the Gazette had hit the street letting Schenectadians know - if they hadn't already been listening to the radio - that D-Day had arrived.
'EUROPE INVADED, ALLIED FORCES LAND
ON COAST OF FRANCE NEAR LE HAVRE'
About 20,000 copies of the Gazette were printed that morning with the invasion news, and the next day the newspaper had a story with the headline, "Gazette One of Few Papers With Full Invasion Story."
Reporter Ralph M. Turner had a long day on June 6 getting ready for the June 7 edition, interviewing both average Schenectadians and some of the city's most prominent people about their reaction to the invasion.
"Schenectadians last night were still agog with excitement and expectation over the news that the long awaited invasion of western Europe had begun," Turner wrote. "They awoke in the morning to learn that the biggest day of the war was here - that is the biggest next to the one when the great struggle is over and Johnny comes marching home again."
Chester H. Lang, General Electric Vice-President in charge of war projects, and W.L. Lentz, general manager at the American Locomotive Company, both commented on how their workforce (45,000 at GE and 19,000 at ALCO) had been "a part of the fight," while Mayor Mills Ten Eyck spoke about the cost of human lives, especially those from Schenectady.
"This is a nerve racking period for all of us," Ten Eyck told the Gazette, "and especially for those who have sons in the fighting areas. At the same time it's an opportunity to show our spirit, our courage. There will be sad days ahead for some. These days must be faced with fortitude."
It was 75 years ago this week that the U.S. and its Allies began to reclaim Europe from Nazi Germany. And it wasn't just the employees at GE and ALCO that were playing a part in the conflict. A few days after the invasion, a war bond rally was held in Schenectady's Central Park to help raise money for the war effort, and more than 7,500 people showed up.
I don't know how many soldiers from Schenectady were killed on D-Day, but there were likely a handful or so, and this week we honor their sacrifice and everyone else who fought. In all, there were 403 Schenectady County residents who were killed during World War II, according to the Schenectady Digital History Archive put together by Bob Sullivan and his co-workers at the Schenectady County Public Library.