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(979 posts)
Thu Jun 6, 2024, 09:46 AM Jun 6

On This Day: Largest seaborne invasion in history - June 6, 1944

(edited from Wikipedia)
Normandy landings

The Normandy landings were the landing operations and associated airborne operations on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. Codenamed Operation Neptune and often referred to as D-Day, it is the largest seaborne invasion in history. The operation began the liberation of France, and the rest of Western Europe, and laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front.

[Deception ahead of time]

Planning for the operation began in 1943. In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted a substantial military deception, codenamed Operation Bodyguard, to mislead the Germans as to the date and location of the main Allied landings.

[Requirements of moon, tides, time of day]

The weather on the day selected for D-Day was not ideal, and the operation had to be delayed 24 hours; a further postponement would have meant a delay of at least two weeks, as the planners had requirements for the phase of the moon, the tides, and time of day, that meant only a few days each month were deemed suitable.

Adolf Hitler placed Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in command of German forces and developing fortifications along the Atlantic Wall in anticipation of an invasion. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt placed Major General Dwight D. Eisenhower in command of Allied forces.

[Allied landings]

The invasion began shortly after midnight on the morning of 6 June with extensive aerial and naval bombardment as well as an airborne assault—the landing of 24,000 American, British, and Canadian airborne troops. The early morning aerial assault was soon followed by Allied amphibious landings on the coast of France c. 06:30. The target 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast was divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. Strong winds blew the landing craft east of their intended positions, particularly at Utah and Omaha.

[Heavy fire]

The men landed under heavy fire from gun emplacements overlooking the beaches, and the shore was mined and covered with obstacles such as wooden stakes, metal tripods, and barbed wire, making the work of the beach-clearing teams difficult and dangerous. Casualties were heaviest at Omaha, with its high cliffs. At Gold, Juno, and Sword, several fortified towns were cleared in house-to-house fighting, and two major gun emplacements at Gold were disabled using specialised tanks.

[Foothold gained]

The Allies failed to achieve any of their major goals beyond the establishment of the beachheads on the first day. Carentan, Saint-Lô, and Bayeux remained in German hands, and Caen, a major objective, was not captured until 21 July. Only two of the beaches (Juno and Gold) were linked on the first day, and all five beachheads were not connected until 12 June; however, the operation gained a foothold that the Allies gradually expanded over the coming months. German casualties on D-Day have been estimated at 4,000 to 9,000 men. Allied casualties were documented for at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead.


The Germans never achieved Hitler's stated aim of "throwing the Allies back into the sea" on D-Day or anytime thereafter.

The Allied invasion plans had demanded a rapid build-up of troops and the establishment of a secure bridgehead, which was achieved with fewer casualties than expected. The plan had also called for the capture of Carentan, Saint-Lô, Caen, and Bayeux on the first day, with all the beaches (other than Utah) linked with a front line 6 to 10 mi from the beaches; none of these latter objectives were achieved. At Utah the 4th Division made significant progress inland, making a rendezvous with the airborne troops, and the British and Canadians were between four and seven miles inland. The five beachheads were not connected until 12 June, by which time the Allies held a front around 60 mi long and 15 mi deep.

Caen, a major objective, was still in German hands at the end of D-Day and would not be completely captured until 21 July. The Germans had ordered French civilians other than those deemed essential to the war effort to leave potential combat zones in Normandy. Civilian casualties on D-Day and D+1 are estimated at 3,000.

The Allied victory in Normandy stemmed from several factors. German preparations along the Atlantic Wall were only partially finished; shortly before D-Day Rommel reported that construction was only 18 per cent complete in some areas as resources were diverted elsewhere. The deceptions undertaken in Operation Fortitude were successful, leaving the Germans obliged to defend a huge stretch of coastline.

Rommel was in Berlin and the forecasted stormy weather meant that some German other commanders and troops were not present in Normandy. The Allies achieved and maintained air supremacy, which meant that the Germans were unable to make observations of the preparations underway in Britain and were unable to interfere via bomber attacks.

Infrastructure for transport in France was severely disrupted by Allied bombers and the French Resistance, making it difficult for the Germans to bring up reinforcements and supplies. Some of the opening bombardment was off-target or not concentrated enough to have any impact, but the specialised armour worked well except on Omaha (where most of it had been lost at sea), providing close artillery support for the troops as they disembarked onto the beaches. Indecisiveness and an overly complicated command structure on the part of the German high command were also factors in the Allied success.


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On This Day: Largest seaborne invasion in history - June 6, 1944 (Original Post) jgo Jun 6 OP
Listen to the CBS D-Day broadcasts here Zorro Jun 6 #1
The Time-Life World War II Library's volume on D-Day, "The Second Front" contained so much interesting information Aristus Jun 6 #2


(15,948 posts)
1. Listen to the CBS D-Day broadcasts here
Thu Jun 6, 2024, 10:36 AM
Jun 6

It's interesting to hear that the first reports of the invasion came from German sources. It was no surprise to them.


(67,081 posts)
2. The Time-Life World War II Library's volume on D-Day, "The Second Front" contained so much interesting information
Thu Jun 6, 2024, 11:17 AM
Jun 6

about the Allied preparations for the invasion that the narration for the miniseries "War And Remembrance" borrowed entire paragraphs, word-for-word, from the text.

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