D-Day


Introduction

June 6, 1944 will be remembered for many reasons. Some may think of it as a
success and some as a failure. The pages following this could be used to prove
either one. The only sure thing that I can tell you about D-Day is this: D-Day,
June 6, 1944 was the focal point of the greatest and most planned out invasion
of all time. The allied invasion of France was long awaited and tactfully
thought out. For months the allied forces of millions trained in Britain
waiting for the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, General
Eisenhower to set a date. June 6, 1944 was to be the day with the H-hour at
06:30. Aircraft bombed German installations and helped prepare the ground
attack. The ground forces landed and made their push inland. Soon Operation
Overlord was in full affect as the allied forces pushed the Germans back towards
the Russian forces coming in from the east. D-Day was the beginning and the key
to the fight to take back Europe.


Preparations for D-Day

Operation Overlord was in no way a last minute operation thrown together. When
the plan was finalized in the spring of 1944 the world started work on preparing
the hundreds of thousands of men for the greatest battle in history.

By June of 1944 the landing forces were training hard, awaiting D-Day.
1,700,000 British, 1,500,000 Americans, 175,000 from Dominions (mostly Canada),
and another 44,000 from other countries were going to take part.

Not only did men have to be recruited and trained but also equipment had to be
built to transport and fight with the soldiers. 1,300 warships, 1,600 merchant
ships, 4,000 landing craft and 13,000 aircraft including bombers, fighters and
gliders were built. Also several new types of tanks and armoured vehicles were
built. Two examples would be the Sherman Crab flail tank and the Churchill
Crocodile.

On the ground Britain assembled three armoured divisions, eight infantry
divisions, two airborne divisions and ten independent fighting brigades. The
United States had six armoured divisions, thirteen infantry and two airborne
divisions. With one armoured division and two infantry divisions Canada also
contributed greatly with the war effort especially when you look at the size of
the country at the time. In the air Britain\'s one hundred RAF squadrons (1,200
aircraft) paled in comparison to the one hundred and sixty-five USAAF squadrons
(2,000 aircraft).

The entire Operation Overlord was supposed to go according to Montgomery\'s
Master Plan which was created by General Sir Bernard L. Montgomery. His plan
was initiated by a command system which connected the U.S. and Britain and
helped them jointly run the operation. His plan was to have five divisions act
as a first wave land on the sixty-one mile long beach front. Four more
divisions as well as some airborne landings would support the first wave. The
beaches of Normandy would be separated into five beaches, codenamed, from west
to east Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. The Americans would invade the two
westernmost beaches, being Utah and Omaha and the British and it\'s Dominions
would take Gold, Juno and Sword. The Canadians were nearly the entire force to
land on Juno beach. The operation was also coordinated with various French
resistance groups called the “Secret Army.”

The naval plans were to transport the allied expeditionary forces, help secure
and defend a beachhead, and to help setup a method of constant resupplying of
allied forces. Operation Overlord, in short, was as follows: The airforce
would be used to knock out German defences and immobilize their forces, blowup
tanks and other dummies were used to fool Germans into thinking the invasion was
coming at Pas de Calais, the navy would transport the troops while doing
whatever it can to help them gain ground, and enough of France would be
liberated and held by allied forces so that they would not be pushed back into
the sea.


Utah Beach

Utah beach was a stretch of beachfront approximately five miles long and located
in the dunes of Varreville. Like most beach attacks that day, the planned
attack time was 06:30 or H hour. As early as 02:00 (H-4:30) the preparations
for attack were being made as minesweepers started working at creating a safe
path for allied battleships, frigates, corvettes, etc. At about 02:30 the
flagship for Utah beach was in place and the order was given for the landing
crafts to be loaded and placed into the water. The four waves of troops were
ready to go and the German radar had not spotted any buildup of ships. The
first gunfire occurred at daybreak when some ships were spotted