The Invasion of Normandy

Adrian from Gonzaga HS!!

The battle plan, code-named Operation Overlord, called for the largest amphibious assault ever to start the liberation of occupied Europe from Nazi Germany. It began in the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, now known as D-Day. Thousands of American, British, Canadian, and French soldiers-backed by paratroopers, bombers, and warships-stormed a 50-mile stretch of French beach called Normandy.

This "invasion of Normandy" was the greatest event to occur between the years of 1919 and 1945. D-day was the beginning of the end of the war. The invasion of Normandy allowed the Allied forces to get their soldiers back on the European mainland and to start defeating German opposition and Nazi tyranny. It was the major turning point of World War II and perhaps one of the greatest strategic military operations that ever executed.

As the tide of World War II began to turn in favor of the Allies, U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower had the task of forming the largest invasion fleet in history, in order for an amphibious landing on the northern coast of France to be effective. If it was executed as planned and labeled a success, the landing would be the starting point for the massive attack. The attack would move eastward through France and into Nazi Germany.

In May, while millions of troops and equipment poured into the staging area of southern Britain, the Allies created a decoy. False radio transmissions and rows of inflated rubber tanks and landing craft located away from the true staging area kept the Germans confused about the operation's size and target.

The invasion of northern France from England was not launched in May, as its planners had initially prescribed, but on June 6, the famous D-Day of World War II. A huge fighting force had been assembled, including 1,200 fighting ships, 10,000 planes, 4,126 landing craft, 804 transport ships, and hundreds of amphibious and other special purpose tanks. During the operation, 156,000 troops, of which 73,000 were American, were landed in Normandy, airborne and seaborne.

As the day of the invasion approached, the weather in the English Channel became stormy. Heavy winds, a five-foot swell at sea, and lowering skies compelled Eisenhower to postpone the assault from the fifth to the sixth of June. Conditions remained poor, but when weathermen predicted that the winds would abate and the cloud cover rise enough on the scheduled day of the attack to permit a go-ahead, Eisenhower reluctantly gave the command.

The assault had been timed for low tide to expose as many underwater obstacles as possible. At 6:31 am, the first landing craft dropped its ramp and U.S. soldiers began fighting. In the invasion's early hours, more than 1,000 transports dropped paratroopers to secure the flanks and beach exits of the assault area. Amphibious craft landed some 130,000 troops on five beaches along fifty miles of Normandy coast. In the eastern zone, British and Canadians landed on Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches. The Americans landed on two beaches in the west-Utah and Omaha. As the Allied forces came ashore, they took the first steps on the final road to victory in Europe.

To guard against an Allied invasion of Europe, Adolf Hitler ordered the laying of millions of mines and miles of barbed wire and poured tons of concrete to create a defensive barrier along the western coast of Europe. This was soon to be known as the "Atlantic Wall". Although the plan was a sham because the Germans didn't know where an invasion would occur, it still cost many Allied soldiers their lives.

As planned, airborne units led the invasion. Dropping paratroopers behind German forces and supporting the soldiers on the beach, air support was crucial for the success the operation. Allied bombers, which were unable to see through heavy clouds, missed their beach targets. Three airborne divisions of U.S. and British forces dropped inland. Some soldiers were machine-gunned to death before they landed; others landed thirty-five miles from their targets. Much of the air assault was a fiasco due to stormy weather. Yet British glider troops seized key bridges east of Caen, and U.S. airborne troops seized their first key town, Saint Mere Eglise.

The drops took place on both flanks of the invasion area in the late hours of June 5th and early morning of the 6th. Most of the drops took place in clear weather, but were scattered over a large