The Invasion of Normandy

Bennett Dykstra

Intro

The following report will be on the training and planning that led up to D-Day, D-Day itself, and the subsequent events. This battle is of particular significance as it marked the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany.


The planning behind D-Day

Joseph Stalin, the leader of Russia, had been pushing Churchill and Roosevelt to gain a foothold in France in order to take some pressure off him and his army. With North Africa won and the Allies pushing up into Italy, the Western leaders finally relented. So starting in November their appointed leader of Allied forces, Dwight D. Eisenhower, began drawing up his plan for Operation Overlord. Eisenhower’s plan was relatively simple; find a good beach, destroy bridges and roads to lessen German counterattack, land the troops, and keep a steady stream of supplies going to the beachhead until the Allies broke through. In order for it to succeed, however, there couldn’t be a large German force in Normandy while the beachheads were being established. They needed to convince the Germans that the attack was coming farther north at Calais, where the English Channel is at its narrowest. They succeeded in doing this through false messages that the German’s cracked, so defenses at Calais were impenetrable, while the defenses at Normandy were comparatively weak. Another aspect that Overlord hinged on was the success of the paratroopers in destroying the bridges and telephone lines to confuse the Germans and hinder their advance. Finally Eisenhower and his staff decided on the best possible beach to land on. Their codenames were Utah and Omaha (US), Gold and Sword (Britain), and finally Juno (Canada). The French Coupe de Resistance sent pigeons back to Britain relaying information on German positions, mines, etc. This way the Allies had the best possible information on what they were attacking. At last the stage was set. All they could do now is wait…
Big image

The Day of Days

Due to foul weather D-Day was delayed from it’s planned date in May, all the way to June 6. When all were accounted for, there were 5,000 ships, 11,000 planes, and 150,000 men were used for the landings. It remains to this day the largest seaborne invasion of all time. Shortly after midnight on June 6th, 1944, over 24,000 British, American, and Canadian Paratroopers dropped from the sky over Normandy. The Brits and Canadian found more success than their American counterparts, their most famous victory being Pegasus Bridge. The Americans were completely scattered due to weather and failed to capture most of their objectives, but caused mass confusion in the German ranks. Finally at 6:30a.m., after a massive air and naval bombardment, the first landing ships started out from their ships. At Omaha the fighting was fiercest, the high cliffs and raking machine guns from the Germans caused much death and destruction for the allied troops. 2000 soldiers died at Omaha beach alone, accounting for more than half of the Allied death toll on D-Day. The other landings went relatively smooth and by the end of the “Day of Days” the Allied force had a substantial beachhead from which they could conduct further operations. But their greatest challenge was yet to come…


Big image

Post Operations

Soon after the landings the Allied forces faced a huge problem. They were stuck on the beaches with massive amounts of supplies and men with no space left. So the allied High Command realized it had to start its offensive in order to stop the congestion. Soon after the troops were engaged in a sluggish war among a new novelty, hedgerows. Hedgerows were large mounds of dirt topped with thick hedges. These fences were used to mark boundaries and contain cattle. Stephen Ambrose says in Citizen Soldiers, “No terrain in the world was better suited for defensive action with the weapons of the fourth decade of the twentieth century than the Norman hedgerows. ” The German defenders could just retreat to hedgerow after hedgerow, slowing down the Allies and causing lots of casualties because the only way to advance is through the open fields in between each impenetrable wall. Also the soldiers had received zero training on these brutal form of fighting, so they had to develop their own. But the street fighting that took place was also extremely deadly. So these poor soldiers had to slug it out with their German counterparts. As the Germans continued to sustain casualties, their defense began to crumble, and the hedgerows gave way to open fields, so soon the Allied coalition was on the fast track to Paris and Berlin.


Big image

Conclusion

The magnitude of this invasion is hard to grasp. The magnitude of its importance is harder still. Without the sacrifices of the brave young soldiers on that misty day, who knows how long “Fortress Europe” would have lasted. These young boys should be remembered for generations to come for the bravery, honour, and sacrifice.


Saving Private Ryan - Omaha Beach Scene

Saving Privat Ryan Beach Scene

The video above is my absent narrative for the project. It is from the movie Saving Private Ryan and portrays a very gruesome but realistic depiction of the landings at Omaha. Please watch at your own discretion.

Bibliography

  1. "D-DAY: JUNE 6, 1944:." The National WWII Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

  2. "D-Day Overview." National D-Day Memorial. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

  3. "Hedgerows." Hedgerows. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.

  4. "The Planning of "Operation Overlord"" The Planning of "Operation Overlord" N.p.n.d Web. 17 Mar. 2015.