On D-Day Anniversary, Vet Recalls Forecasting Weather During WWII
STUDIO CITY (CBSLA.com) — On the 69th anniversary of D-Day, a veteran soldier recalled forecasting the weather to help save lives during World War II.
At 95 years old, Clifford Wolf said he remembers everything about June 6, 1944, when more than 156,000 American, British and Canadian troops landed on five beaches along France’s Normandy region. The battle was a tipping point in freeing Western Europe from Nazi Germany’s control and helped bring the war to an end.
Wolf told KCAL9’s Josh Rubenstein that he knew when he enlisted in the army that his greatest service would be a bit different than the rest—through meteorology.
“As a boy, I was interested in the weather because weather was not something that happened…like rain falling or something….weather, to me, was like something alive moving this way,” he said.
In today’s world, forecasting weather relies on algorithms. In 1944, Wolf relied solely on observation.
“Take away the instruments? Now what? That’s what we did,” he said. “We used to have a wet finger.”
Wolf added, “I could be out on the field someplace, where I didn’t have any equipment, but I still was able to use my eyes and ears and forecast the weather.”
While Wolf was perfectly clear on what his responsibility was, nobody else knew because there had never been weather people at war.
“People didn’t know what weather function was,” he said. “They said, ‘What are you gonna do with a thermometer? Are you gonna kill them with that?’ I said, ‘Well, I wasn’t planning on killing them. I was planning on saving our lives.’ We not only recorded the weather, but the condition of the land, so that ships would not sink.”
Wolf told Rubenstein that he knew from the beginning that he would be providing information never gathered before in a war.