World War Two
The D-Day Normandy Invasion
June 6, 1944
This page added June
This page updated with additional photos and information on July 1,
This page commemorates the 70th
anniversary of the Normandy Invasion and the important story of the
Delco-Remy Division of General Motors participation in this historic
This is the east end of a quiet Omaha Beach
in May of 2008. In photos from June 6, 1944 the large pebbles are
shown many times as soldiers tried to take cover on the beaches from the
German defending fire from the heights above. Author's photo.
Note the bunker for a 75mm German gun in the
center of the photo. Behind it are several US Memorials.
Early in the morning darkness of June 6, 1944
the Allied invasion force
arrived off the Normandy beaches. With a 6:30 AM scheduled time for
the invasion to begin and the first wave of landing craft to arrive at
the beaches, much had to be done. Out in front of the two American
beaches, Omaha and Utah, small wooden landing craft 36 feet long were
lowered over the sides of the large transport ships and placed into the water.
The US Coast Guard coxswains on each of the small craft reached down in
the darkness and pushed a button or turned a switch, and the 225 hp
diesel engines in them came to life. Each and everyone of them was
started by Delco-Remy cranking motor! 1,089 times this happened
throughout the fleet in the darkness that fateful morning.
Delco-Remy had just started the Normandy Invasion!
A 32-man infantry platoon loads into
the 36 foot long wooden landing craft for the trip into the beach.
One of the coastguard men is trying to hold the LCVP fast to
the transport while one of the soldiers tries to get into the craft.
This is later in the day as it is now light and is the loading for one
of the many waves that came in after the first. The coastguard
crews, if they survived the initial landing, kept coming back again with
more loads all day. Of the 1089 LCVPs that started the day, 81 were
lost in the ensuing combat.
This iconic photo shows a group of anxious young GI's landing on Omaha
beach on D-Day in a Landing Craft, Vehicle Personnel (LCVP). The
LCVPs were powered by a Gray Marine modified GM Detroit Diesel 6-71
engines. Each 6-71 engine had a Delco-Remy starter, DC
generator, pistons and rotors in the blower. It was a rough ride
in. The beach does not look as peaceful as when I was there.
Brave beyond description!
Advantage to the defenders. It doesn't
take a military genius to figure out that when the 1st Division landed
on the beach below they walked directly into the Jaws of Hell. One
would have to assume that the Germans had cleared away all of the trees
and brush that would provide cover for an invading force. Author's
There were excellent fields of fire. The ability of the
German defenders see up and down the coast made it tough going for
members of the Big Red 1 to advance up the hill. Author's
This is LCVP or Higgins boat seen here at
the the Roberts Amory Museum in Rochelle, IL, and is one of about a dozen
that still exist out of the 20,000 built. Photo courtesy of Chuck
C. Roberts of the Roberts Armory.
This photos shows the ramp down, which was
the main attribute of the LCVP. At one time during WWII the LCVP
comprised 97% of all the ships in the US Navy. Photo
courtesy of Chuck C. Roberts of the Roberts Armory.
The Detroit Diesel 6-71 / Gray Marine 64NH9
225 hp diesel engine powered the LCVP. The engines were built up
in the Detroit Diesel plant and then shipped to Gray for modification
for naval use.
The two rotors inside blower unit (The non
painted component) were cast in Delco-Remy Plant Five. The plant
also cast pistons not only for this diesel engine but others as well. Photo
courtesy of Chuck C. Roberts of the Roberts Armory.
The Delco-Remy cranking motor and solenoid. Note that the DC
generator has been replaced by an alternator, which is not all that unusual
in vintage engines that operate today. Photo
courtesy of Chuck C. Roberts of the Roberts Armory.
Model 1108734. Photo courtesy of Chuck C. Roberts of the Roberts
Each of these Landing Craft Infantry (Large)
or LCI(L) had a barrage balloon attached en-route to the Normandy
beaches on D-Day. These were powered by eight of the same type
Gray/Detroit diesel six cylinder engines that powered the LCVPs.
However, four of the individual engines were combined into a quad
configuration connected to a singe drive shaft. These two quad
engines then each drove a propeller. Delco-Remy would have
supplied the eight starters, DC generators and voltage regulators.
Seventy-two LCI(L)s took part in the invasion.
This LCI(L) is in trouble and is sinking
after taking a hit from German artillery fire on the beach. An LCI
could deliverer an entire infantry company directly to the beaches.
DUKWs were an amphibious version of the GMC 2.5 ton 6x6 truck which were built by both GMC and Chevrolet and the
GMC engines were equipped with Delco-Remy components. Two-thousand DUKWs
were committed to the Normandy invasion. Between June and the end
of July, 1944 they transported 3.5 million tons of supplies into France
and Belgium. These are seen a supply depot on D Day plus one.
One of the advantages of the DUKW was the fact that it could be loaded at sea and
then once it had made its way to the beach could continue on and deliver
the supplies directly to the troops inland. It also then moved
with the troops as they advanced and could be used to transport troops
across rivers. Both the DUKW and LCVP were considered to be two of
the most important pieces of equipment developed for the war effort.
A total of 528,829 6X6 trucks were built by
GMC and Chevrolet built 500,000 4x4 1.5 ton trucks. Between the
two divisions they built 21,147 DUKWs. All would have been
equipped with Delco-Remy components, and many of them came ashore during
the D-Day landings.
This photo demonstrates two Delco-Remy
applications at Normandy. Here a Landing Craft Tank (LCT) is
landing GMC 2.5 ton 6x6 trucks. Four companies built the "Deuce
and Half" during the Second World War; GMC Division of General Motors,
International-Harvester, Studebaker and Reo. The International
trucks went to the USMC in the Pacific and Studebaker and Reo trucks
went to the Russians or Australians through Lend-Lease. The US
Army in Europe was completely GMC. Two of the tens of thousands of
the type that were used in Europe starting at Normandy are unloaded -
ALL with Delco-Remy components.
The LCT, like the LCVP and LCIs, used the
Gray/Detroit Diesel 6 cylinder engine with both Delco-Remy electrical
components and internal engine parts. The LCT had three engines
driving three propellers. Eight hundred and thirty five LCTs were
used in the invasion.
What a beautiful sight! Twenty eight Lockheed P-38
Lightnings with invasion stripes flying over Normandy to support the
troops on the beach.
Delco-Remy was an important supplier of aluminum castings to the
Allison Division of General Motors that provided V-1710 engines
for the P-38. Plant 7 was built in 1940, specifically to produce
many of the castings Allison needed.
Plant 10 was constructed in 1941 to machine the castings to the
necessary tolerances before they were shipped to the Allison Plant in
This Allison V-1710 is on display at the Indiana War Memorial in
downtown Indianapolis. The two nose house castings and the intake
manifolds on top of the engine were produced in DR Plant 7. The
same can be said for the heads that are painted black and gray engine
below it. The valve cover that has been removed but is just
visible on opposite side was also a Delco-Remy casting. Many of
the internal castings not seen were also produced in Plant 7 and then
machined in Plant 10. Author's photo.
Wherever there were aircraft operating
in support of D-Day such as the P-38s shown above there would be fire
trucks, like this Chevrolet 1.5 ton. Author's photo from the 2014
MVPA National Convention in Louisville, KY. Photo added to website
on July 1, 2014.
Inside the engine bay is a Delco-Remy 6 volt
regulator. Author's photo.
Also supporting the D-Day aircraft operations
would be GMC 2.5 ton fuel trucks such as this one. Author's photo
from the 2014 MVPA National Convention in Louisville, KY. Photo
added to website on July 1, 2014.
Inside the engine bay of the GMC is another Delco-Remy 6 volt regulator.
This is model number 5628 and serial number 56554. Author's photo.
PT-199 is in route to deliver a US admiral to the beach. PT boats
were not only tasked with delivering admirals and generals to the
beaches, but to provide security for the convoys and minesweepers
clearing out shipping lanes during the invasion. Delco-Remy had
components on all PT boats built, including cranking motors, DC
generators and voltage regulators. Packard Motor Company supplied
each boat with three 4M2500 gasoline powered engines producing 1,350 hp
The minesweeper USS Tide has just hit a mine
off the Normandy beaches and
PT-509 along with the minesweeper USS Pheasant have come to her aid.
Just over a month later PT509 was sunk on August 9, 1944 by the gunfire
from a German minesweeper.
Five Packard marine engines are on display
at the National Packard Museum in Warren, OH with the 4M2500 in the
center. Note how it dwarfs the other engines. The red engine
next to it is 352 cu. in. Author's photo.
The lever at the rear of the engine was used
to reverse directions on the engine output. In operation a "motor
mech" would sit on the rear of the engine and operate the lever on
command from the bridge. Just below the bottom of the lever
is the mounting for where the Delco-Remy DC generator would be mounted.
The Packard 4M2500 had twelve cylinders that
displaced 2,490 cu. in. and had four valves per cylinder. The engine
weighed 2,950 lbs and operated on 100 octane aviation fuel.
This Delco-Remy cranking motor has its DR
tag plainly visible. A total of 577 PT boats were built and
70 were lost in combat. Author's photo.
No battle or war is without its costs. The American Cemetery is over
looking the Normandy Beach known as "Bloody Omaha". One
out of every 18 Americans who landed on the Normandy beaches or
parachuted into the areas behind the beaches on June 6, 1944 was killed.
Many of them were laid to rest in this cemetery. The author's
photo was taken on Memorial Day, 2008.
This webpage does not profess to be a
comprehensive portrayal of Delco-Remy's contribution to the winning of
the invasion on D-Day and or consequent battles in Europe that ended the
war. What is shown are a few important examples of what DR contributed.
David D Jackson
For a more complete look at what the
Delco-Remy Division of GM produced that would have been used at
Normandy, go to:
"Our War Job"
To watch and listen to the Detroit 6-71diesel shown above at the Roberts
Armory, go to:
LCVP Landing Craft Detroit Diesel 6-71 Start-up and Run