|Normandy Landings (D-Day)|
| United Kingdom
| Dwight Eisenhower
| Gerd von Rundstedt
Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg
Hans von Salmuth
|Casualties and Deaths|
|At least ~12,000 total casualties||Estimated between 4,000 and 9,000 casualties|
|Part of World War II|
D-Day is a term used in military circles to denote the date a military operation codenamed “Operation Neptune” began. The operation took place on Tuesday, June 6, 1944 beginning at around 6 p.m. The landings were accomplished in two main phases notably: airborne assault (24,000 American, British, French and Canadian military-men airborne shortly after midnight) and amphibious landing (took place on the coast of France starting at around 6 in the morning).
The Normandy mission was implemented after months of comprehensive deception plans and was slotted to take place on Tuesday the 4th but delayed one day due to bad weather. Earlier, there had been a series of mock landing operations, teasers, which were meant to distract German attention from the idea of the final Normandy operation. The key idea behind these pre-planned missions was to convince Adolf Hitler that oncoming landing would take place on the north. Other gimmick operations that took place prior to the final operation include Operation Taxable and Operation Glimmer.
A Well-Planned Mission
The operation was dexterously planned by top-notch military minds notably Dwight Eisenhower (was the Supreme Commander of Expeditionary Forces) and General Bernard Montgomery (Overall command of ground forces). The overall mission was designed under the watch of Lieutenant General Fredrick Morgan and it involved over 73,000 American soldiers (British, Canada and France had a combined force of about 240,000 soldiers). Over 5,000 ships were involved in the 50 mile coastal attack. To ensure ease of operation, the Normandy coast was sub-divided into five main operation sectors notable: Gold, Omaha, Juno, Sword and Utah.
According to the D-DAY museum, the 24 days operation used multiple codenames for purposes of secrecy and until its full execution on June 6, 1944 remained a well-kept secret to prevent formidable resistance from the Germans. The operation took the Germans by surprise leaving them with little time to front an insurmountable wall of defense to protect their territory. Just a couple of days before the final mission was rolled out, General Eisenhower wrote to members of his unit a script that read, in part “You’re about to embark upon the great crusade toward which we’ve striven many months.” It is said that the General left another note in his pocket that was meant to be read in case the mission flopped.
In order for the mission to be an instant success, top military strategists suggested two weather conditions that were necessary: full moon for night-time illumination and spring-tide for deeper waters for safe navigation. Apparently, only 10 days each month were suitable for launching the operation. The weather was fine during most of May but deteriorated over July to an extent that the initial mission date (June 4) had to be postponed due to high seas and terrible winds that made it clearly unwise to land. Commander Dwight Eisenhower selected June 5 as the best day for the assault leaving the Allied troops already at sea to take shelter in inlets and bays on the South of Britain for the night.
Bad Weather Was an Issue
On June 5th, Eisenhower’s chief meteorologist reported brief improvement in weather but re-affirmed that June 6 was the best to launch the mission as the weather was expected to become fairer. At a highly guarded meeting on June 5, General Montgomery and Eisenhower suggested that the assault be rolled out on that very day (follow up formations into them was already proceeding) but the Commander of the air forces Chief Marshal Mallory was doubtful. A decision was finally arrived at to let the mission take place of the 5th as the weather according to the weatherman was marginally favorable.
In the meantime, the German forces took comfort from the bad weather conditions and believed that no external invasion would be possible for several weeks. Many senior military officers were away and some military men stood down. In fact, it is said that Field Marshal Rommel (a senior German army-man) had taken a few days off to celebrate his wife’s birthday. Dozens of other battalion, division and regimental commanders were away on personal missions- in general the German military force was in disarray.
Order of Battle
On the attacking side (pitting America, British, Canada and France), the assault took place precisely as follows:
The U.S. army comprising of 73,000 men was divided into three main divisions as follows:
» Omaha Beach: 34,250 soldiers
» Utah Beach: 23,250 soldiers
» Airborne Division: 15,600 soldiers
Sword Beach, Juno Beach, Gold Beach. This contingent consisted of 83,115 men 61,715 of them from the British forces. There were also 8 Australian military men attached to the British wing as eyewitnesses.
Although caught by surprise, the German troops were quick to respond to attackers bullets. They used an interlocking style of firing so they could shield areas that were receiving heavy fire. Their mission integrated the hills and cliffs overlooking the beaches and they used heavy bunkers and large caliber weapons to neutralize the unexpected assault. It is said that the German defense force had been in training for a period exceeding four years.
The Normandy mission was the beginning to the termination of the Nazi invasion and occupation of its neighbors.
This assault by the allied forces was a great execution of a massive force under tight secrecy. The undertaking was meant to neutralize the malignant control and rule of Hitler.
The French army was divided into four main divisions:
» Plan VERT: Sabotage against the rail system
» Plan BLEU: Destroy German electric facilities.
» Plan TORTUE: Delay the enemy forces to enforce the Axis forces at the Normandy mission.
» Plan VIOLET: Cut and disconnect of underground teleprinter and telephone cables.
The first military team to land for the mission comprised of Canadian and British forces and took place at around 00:16 at the River Orner and over the Caen Canal, Codenamed Operation Deadstick.
The second wing of airborne mission pitted American paratroopers who landed between 00:48 and 01:40 and between 01:51 and 02:42 at a place called Sainte Mere Eglise.
The Normandy landings was a big step in our history. It is a tale of brave men and women who choose to stand steadfast in defending our freedom.