D-Day

The invasion of Normandy

Background

The Allies planned to launch the invasion on 1 May 1944. The initial draft of the plan was accepted at the Quebec Conference in August 1943.On 31 December 1943, Eisenhower and Montgomery first saw the plan, which proposed amphibious landings by three divisions with two more divisions in support. The two generals immediately insisted that the scale of the initial invasion be expanded to five divisions, with airborne descents by three additional divisions, to allow operations on a wider front and speed up the capture of the port at Cherbourg. The need to acquire or produce extra landing craft for the expanded operation meant that the invasion had to be delayed to June. Eventually, 39 Allied divisions would be committed to the Battle of Normandy: 22 American, 12 British, three Canadian, one Polish, and one French, totaling over a million troops all under overall British command.
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Operations

Operation Overlord was the name assigned to the establishment of a large-scale invasion on the Continent. The first phase, the amphibious invasion and establishment of a secure foothold, was code-named Operation Neptune, (D-Day). To gain the air superiority needed to ensure a successful invasion, the Allies undertook bomber attacks (code-named Operation Pointblank) that targeted German aircraft production, fuel supplies, and airfields. Elaborate deceptions, code-named Operation Bodyguard, were undertaken in the months leading up to the invasion to prevent the Germans from knowing the timing and location of the invasion.
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Allied Strength

American Zones:

In total, the First Army contingent totaled approximately 73,000 men, including 15,600 from the airborne divisions. The amphibious operation was the largest in American military history since Ulysses S. Grant landed at Bruinsburg during the American Civil War.


British and Canadian Zones:

Overall, the Second Army contingent consisted of 83,115 men, 61,715 of them British. The nominally British air and naval support units included a large number of personnel from Allied nations, including several RAF squadrons manned almost exclusively by overseas air crew.

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Bombardment

Bombardment of Normandy began around midnight with over 2,200 British and American bombers attacking targets along the coast and further inland. The coastal bombing attack was largely ineffective, because low cloud cover made the assigned targets difficult to see. Minesweepers began clearing channels for the invasion fleet shortly after midnight and finished just after dawn without encountering the enemy. The success of the amphibious landings depended on the establishment of a secure invasion from which to expand the beachhead to allow the build up of a well-supplied force capable of breaking out. The amphibious forces were especially vulnerable to strong enemy counter-attacks before the build up of sufficient forces in the beachhead could be accomplished.
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Losses and Aftermath

By nightfall on June 6, Allied forces had established themselves in Normandy though their position remained precarious. Casualties on D-Day numbered around 10,400 while the Germans incurred approximately 4,000-9,000. Over the next several days, Allied troops continued to press inland, while the Germans moved to contain the beachhead. The situation did not change radically until the US First Army broke through the German lines at St. Lo on July 25 as part of Operation Cobra.
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Works Cited

Badsey, Stephen. (2013). Normandy Landings. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normandy_landings