d day

After four months of bombing supply lines the Allied armies landed in
Normandy on the northwestern coast of France on June 6, 1944. This day is known
as D-Day. This was the most pivotal day of World War II, the outcome of the
invasion was to decide the fate of Europe. If the mission were a success then
control of the continent would be possible. If it were lost the control would
belong completely to the Axis armies.

The invasion of Normandy was history\'s greatest amphibious operation. It
involved 4,400 ships, 11,000 fighters and bombers, 1,500 tanks, and
approximately 154,000 British, Canadian and American soldiers, 23,000 of those
soldiers arriving by parachute and glider. Of the forty-seven Allied divisions
used in the invasion twenty-one of them were American. Opposing them were about
sixty German divisions in France and the Low Countries. In the area of invasion
nine German infantry divisions and a Panzer divisions fortified themselves along
the Atlantic Coast.

The Germans believed that the invasion would come from an area known as Pas
de Calais. They believed this because this was the easiest place to deploy a
large number of troops. American planners created an army that would sail for
the Calais but only on paper. The planners hoped that the Germans would catch
wind of this and keep armies in the Calais area. They kept their Fifteenth Army
in the Calais area. This is how the coast of Normandy became the invasions site.

The morning of June 5 was chosen as the date. It was chosen based on the
brightness of moonlight, the lowest winds to hold down channel chop, and the
lowest tides. Unfortunately bad weather force General Dwight Eisenhower to
postpone the invasion for 24 hours. One day later the weather was still a
possible problem General Eisenhower launched the attack nevertheless.

Only a few hours before the attack was to take place two divisions of troops
were parachuted into the French countryside. These soldiers were placed there to
secure rail lines, bridges, roads, and airfields. These things were necessary
for the advancement of the Allied attack. The divisions successfully landed
undetected inside German lines. The attack on the beaches of Normandy was now
ready to take place.

American forces, led by Lt. Gen. Omar Bradley, landed on the western beaches
of Utah and Omaha. British and Canadian troops, led by Gen. Bernard Montgomery
and Gen. Sir Miles Demsey, landed on the eastern beaches called Gold, Juno, and
Sword. Allied air forces controlled the skies but could not penetrate the walls
of well-entrenched Germans. Especially at Omaha Beach, at Omaha casualties came
to 2,000 soldiers. In contrast only 210 soldiers died at Utah beach. “The came
ashore on Omaha Beach, the slogging, unglamorous men that no one envied,”
Conrnelius Ryan wrote in his account of events, The Longest Day. “Some of the
men hadn’t a chance. German gunners on the cliffs looked almost directly down
on the waterlogged assault craft that heaved and pitched toward these sectors of
the beach. Awkward and slow, the assault boats were nearly stationary in the
water…Men plunged over the sides into deep water where they were immediately
picked off by machine gun fire.” The British and Canadian troops had fewer
casualties and met less resistance to the east. The British 3rd division
destroyed a battalion of panzer tanks that were sent in response to the attacks
on the beaches of Normandy.

By the end of D-day close to 150,000 Allied soldiers and their vehicles,
munitions, equipment, and provisions were unloaded on the beaches of Normandy.
In a week the troops totaled a half-million men. By July two million troops and
quarter of a million vehicles had landed in France.

Category: History