Operation Overlord

Operation Overlord

Overview
Operation Overlord was the code name for the Battle of Normandy, the operation that launched the invasion of German-occupied western Europe
Western Front (World War II)
The Western Front of the European Theatre of World War II encompassed, Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and West Germany. The Western Front was marked by two phases of large-scale ground combat operations...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 by Allied
Western Allies
The Western Allies were a political and geographic grouping among the Allied Powers of the Second World War. It generally includes the United Kingdom and British Commonwealth, the United States, France and various other European and Latin American countries, but excludes China, the Soviet Union,...

 forces. The operation commenced on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings (Operation Neptune, commonly known as D-Day). A 12,000-plane airborne assault preceded an amphibious assault
Amphibious warfare
Amphibious warfare is the use of naval firepower, logistics and strategy to project military power ashore. In previous eras it stood as the primary method of delivering troops to non-contiguous enemy-held terrain...

 involving almost 7,000 vessels. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 on 6 June; more than 3 million troops were in France by the end of August.

Allied land forces that saw combat in Normandy on D-Day itself came from Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
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Encyclopedia
Operation Overlord was the code name for the Battle of Normandy, the operation that launched the invasion of German-occupied western Europe
Western Front (World War II)
The Western Front of the European Theatre of World War II encompassed, Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and West Germany. The Western Front was marked by two phases of large-scale ground combat operations...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 by Allied
Western Allies
The Western Allies were a political and geographic grouping among the Allied Powers of the Second World War. It generally includes the United Kingdom and British Commonwealth, the United States, France and various other European and Latin American countries, but excludes China, the Soviet Union,...

 forces. The operation commenced on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings (Operation Neptune, commonly known as D-Day). A 12,000-plane airborne assault preceded an amphibious assault
Amphibious warfare
Amphibious warfare is the use of naval firepower, logistics and strategy to project military power ashore. In previous eras it stood as the primary method of delivering troops to non-contiguous enemy-held terrain...

 involving almost 7,000 vessels. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 on 6 June; more than 3 million troops were in France by the end of August.

Allied land forces that saw combat in Normandy on D-Day itself came from Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Free French Forces
Free French Forces
The Free French Forces were French partisans in World War II who decided to continue fighting against the forces of the Axis powers after the surrender of France and subsequent German occupation and, in the case of Vichy France, collaboration with the Germans.-Definition:In many sources, Free...

 and Poland
Polish Armed Forces in the West
Polish Armed Forces in the West refers to the Polish military formations formed to fight alongside the Western Allies against Nazi Germany and its allies...

 also participated in the battle after the assault phase, and there were also minor contingents from Belgium, Greece, the Netherlands, and Norway. Other Allied nations participated in the naval and air forces.

Once the beachheads were secured, a three-week military buildup occurred on the beaches before Operation Cobra
Operation Cobra
Operation Cobra was the codename for an offensive launched by the First United States Army seven weeks after the D-Day landings, during the Normandy Campaign of World War II...

, the operation to break out from the Normandy beachhead, began. The battle for Normandy continued for more than two months, with campaigns to expand the foothold on France, and concluded with the closing of the Falaise pocket
Falaise pocket
The battle of the Falaise Pocket, fought during the Second World War from 12 to 21 August 1944, was the decisive engagement of the Battle of Normandy...

 on 24 August, the Liberation of Paris
Liberation of Paris
The Liberation of Paris took place during World War II from 19 August 1944 until the surrender of the occupying German garrison on August 25th. It could be regarded by some as the last battle in the Battle for Normandy, though that really ended with the crushing of the Wehrmacht forces between the...

 on 25 August, and the German retreat across the Seine which was completed on 30 August 1944.

Preparations for D-Day


In June 1940, German Führer Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 had triumphed in what he called "the most famous victory in history" – the fall of France. The British, although besieged, had been spared from annihilation when Operation Dynamo
Operation Dynamo
The Dunkirk evacuation, commonly known as the Miracle of Dunkirk, code-named Operation Dynamo by the British, was the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, France, between 26 May and the early hours of 3 June 1940, because the British, French and Belgian troops were...

 evacuated 300,000 troops from Dunkirk. The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

, in one of his famous speeches, vowed to invade France and liberate it from Nazi Germany (Winston Churchill#The World War II years
Wikiquote
Wikiquote is one of a family of wiki-based projects run by the Wikimedia Foundation, running on MediaWiki software. Based on an idea by Daniel Alston and implemented by Brion Vibber, the goal of the project is to produce collaboratively a vast reference of quotations from prominent people, books,...

).

In a joint statement with the Soviet premier Communist Party
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

 General Secretary
General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the title given to the leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. With some exceptions, the office was synonymous with leader of the Soviet Union...

 Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 and American President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

, Churchill announced in 1942 a "full understanding" concerning the urgent task of creating a second front in Europe. Churchill unofficially informed the Soviets in a memorandum handed to Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 Minister of Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was a Soviet politician and diplomat, an Old Bolshevik and a leading figure in the Soviet government from the 1920s, when he rose to power as a protégé of Joseph Stalin, to 1957, when he was dismissed from the Presidium of the Central Committee by Nikita Khrushchev...

 that the resources necessary for an invasion were lacking in 1942. However, the announcement had some effect as it caused Hitler to order preparations for an Allied descent on Europe.

The British, under Churchill, wished to avoid the costly frontal assaults of World War I - Churchill's previous experience of opening a second front via an invasion had been the disastrous campaign in Gallipoli, Turkey. Churchill and the British staff favoured a course of allowing the insurgency
Insurgency
An insurgency is an armed rebellion against a constituted authority when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents...

 work of the Special Operations Executive
Special Operations Executive
The Special Operations Executive was a World War II organisation of the United Kingdom. It was officially formed by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Minister of Economic Warfare Hugh Dalton on 22 July 1940, to conduct guerrilla warfare against the Axis powers and to instruct and aid local...

 to come to widespread fruition, while making a main Allied thrust from the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 to Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 and into Germany from the south, concentrating on the weaker Axis ally, Italy. Such an approach
Italian Campaign (World War II)
The Italian Campaign of World War II was the name of Allied operations in and around Italy, from 1943 to the end of the war in Europe. Joint Allied Forces Headquarters AFHQ was operationally responsible for all Allied land forces in the Mediterranean theatre, and it planned and commanded the...

 was also believed to offer the advantage of creating a barrier to limit the Soviet advance into Europe. However, the U.S. government believed from the onset that the optimum approach was the shortest route to Germany emanating from the strongest Allied power base: Great Britain. They were adamant in their view and made it clear that it was the only option they would support in the long term. Two preliminary proposals were drawn up: Operation Sledgehammer
Operation Sledgehammer
Operation Sledgehammer was a World War II Allied plan for a cross-Channel invasion of Europe, as the first step in helping to reduce pressure on the Soviet Red Army by establishing a Second Front...

, for an invasion in 1942, and Operation Roundup, for a larger attack in 1943, which was adopted and became Operation Overlord, although it was delayed until 1944.
The planning process was started in earnest after the Casablanca and Tehran Conference
Tehran Conference
The Tehran Conference was the meeting of Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill between November 28 and December 1, 1943, most of which was held at the Soviet Embassy in Tehran, Iran. It was the first World War II conference amongst the Big Three in which Stalin was present...

s with the appointment of British Lieutenant-General Frederick E. Morgan
Frederick E. Morgan
Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Edgeworth Morgan KCB was a British Army officer who fought in the First World War and the Second World War...

 as Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander (Designate), a title shortened to COSSAC, with the American Major General Ray Barker
Ray Barker
Ray Wehnes Barker was a Major General of the Allied Forces, and served in the European Theater of Operations During World War II. General Barker was a key member of the combined United States-British group, which became known as COSSAC...

 as his deputy. The COSSAC staff's initial plans were constrained by the numbers of landing craft available, which were reduced by commitments in the Mediterranean and Pacific.
In part because of lessons learned by Allied troops in the raid on Dieppe
Dieppe Raid
The Dieppe Raid, also known as the Battle of Dieppe, Operation Rutter or later on Operation Jubilee, during the Second World War, was an Allied attack on the German-occupied port of Dieppe on the northern coast of France on 19 August 1942. The assault began at 5:00 AM and by 10:50 AM the Allied...

 of 19 August 1942, the Allies decided not to assault a French seaport directly in their first landings. The short operating range of British fighters, including the Spitfire
Supermarine Spitfire
The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries throughout the Second World War. The Spitfire continued to be used as a front line fighter and in secondary roles into the 1950s...

 and Typhoon
Hawker Typhoon
The Hawker Typhoon was a British single-seat fighter-bomber, produced by Hawker Aircraft. While the Typhoon was designed to be a medium-high altitude interceptor, and a direct replacement for the Hawker Hurricane, several design problems were encountered, and the Typhoon never completely satisfied...

, from UK airfields greatly limited the number of potential landing sites, as comprehensive air support
Air Support
Air Support is a 1992 computer game for the Amiga and Atari ST. It is a top-down strategy game, with a first-person mode available for special missions. The game takes place during a retrofuturistic 21st century where all wars are fought in virtual reality. The game was given mostly positive...

 depended upon having planes overhead for as long as possible. Geography reduced the choices further to two sites: the Pas de Calais and the Normandy coast.
Normandy presented serious logistical problems, not the least of which was that the only viable port in the area, Cherbourg
Cherbourg-Octeville
-Main sights:* La Glacerie has a race track.* The Cité de la Mer is a large museum devoted to scientific and historical aspects of maritime subjects.* Cherbourg Basilica* Jardin botanique de la Roche Fauconnière, a private botanical garden.* Le Trident theatre...

, was heavily defended. Many among the higher echelons of command argued that the Pas de Calais would make a more suitable landing area on these grounds alone. Although the Pas de Calais was the shortest distance to the European mainland from Britain, it was the most heavily fortified and defended landing site. It was also considered that it offered few opportunities for expansion as the area was bounded by numerous rivers and canals, whereas landings on a broad front in Normandy would permit simultaneous threats against the port of Cherbourg, coastal ports further west in Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

, and an overland attack towards Paris and towards the border with Germany. Normandy was a less-defended coast and an unexpected but strategic jumping-off point, with the potential to confuse and scatter the German defending forces. Normandy was hence chosen as the landing site.

The COSSAC staff planned to launch the invasion on 1 May 1944. The initial draft of the COSSAC plan was accepted at the Quebec Conference
Quebec Conference, 1943
The First Quebec Conference was a highly secret military conference held during World War II between the British, Canadian and United States governments. The conference was held in Quebec City, August 17, 1943 – August 24, 1943. It took place at the Citadelle and at the Château Frontenac. The...

 in August 1943, but no supreme commander was appointed for several months. General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

 was appointed commander of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force
Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force
Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force , was the headquarters of the Commander of Allied forces in north west Europe, from late 1943 until the end of World War II. U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was in command of SHAEF throughout its existence...

 (SHAEF) in November 1943. SHAEF was based in Camp Griffiss
Camp Griffiss
Camp Griffiss was a US military base in the United Kingdom during and after World War II.-History:From 1942, Camp Griffiss in Bushy Park became the site of a large US base, headquarters to a number of the Allied departments. The camp served as the European Headquarters for the USAAF from July 1942...

, Bushy Park
Bushy Park
- External links :***...

, Teddington
Teddington
Teddington is a suburban area in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames in south west London, on the north bank of the River Thames, between Hampton Wick and Twickenham. It stretches inland from the River Thames to Bushy Park...

, south-west London, and had over 1200 military personnel. General Bernard Montgomery was named as commander of the 21st Army Group, to which all of the invasion ground forces belonged, and was also given charge of developing the invasion plan. Both Eisenhower and Montgomery first saw the COSSAC plan on 31 December 1943 at Marrakech
Marrakech
Marrakech or Marrakesh , known as the "Ochre city", is the most important former imperial city in Morocco's history...

 in Morocco, in a conference with Winston Churchill. They insisted immediately that the scale of the initial invasion be expanded, to prevent the invaders being restricted to a narrow beachhead, with insufficient room to land follow-up formations and vulnerable to German counter-attacks. The need to acquire or produce extra landing craft for this expanded operation meant that the invasion had to be delayed to June.

The COSSAC plan proposed a landing from the sea by three divisions
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

, with two brigade
Brigade
A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of two to five battalions, plus supporting elements depending on the era and nationality of a given army and could be perceived as an enlarged/reinforced regiment...

s landed by air. Following Eisenhower's and Montgomery's revision of the plan, this was expanded to landings by five divisions and airborne descents by three divisions. In total, 39 divisions would be committed to the Battle of Normandy: 12 British, three Canadian and one Polish division under overall British command, and 22 American divisions and one Free French division, totalling over a million troops.

Detail planning


In preparation, the BBC appealed for holiday pictures and snaps of France for an exhibition. Those of the Normandy beaches were singled out to create detailed geological maps of the area. What was already known of the make-up was that the targeted beaches were underpinned in places by ancient woodland, which had created peat bogs not far below the surface of the beaches. Tests on similar beaches in Norfolk in 1943 proved them unsuitable for taking the weight of heavy tanks and transport, so detailed maps of the area were required. In December 1943, Operation Postage Able
Operation Postage Able
Operation Postage Able was an X class submarine based Royal Navy operation in preparation for Overlord, the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe.-Intelligence gathering:...

 used an X-craft to collect suitable data for all of the beaches. Where the areas of peat could not be avoided, they were to be covered with rolls of matting deployed from spools nicknamed "bobbin
Bobbin
A bobbin is a spindle or cylinder, with or without flanges, on which wire, yarn, thread or film is wound. Bobbins are typically found in sewing machines, cameras, and within electronic equipment....

s" (or more prosaically, "bog rolls") mounted on modified tanks.

On 7 April and 15 May, Montgomery presented his strategy for the invasion at St Paul's School. He envisaged a ninety day battle, ending when all the forces reached the Seine
Seine
The Seine is a -long river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Saint-Seine near Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre . It is navigable by ocean-going vessels...

, pivoting on an Allied-held Caen
Caen
Caen is a commune in northwestern France. It is the prefecture of the Calvados department and the capital of the Basse-Normandie region. It is located inland from the English Channel....

, with British and Canadian armies forming a shoulder and the U.S. armies wheeling to the right

The objective for the first 40 days was to create a lodgement
Lodgement
A lodgement is an enclave taken by and defended by force of arms against determined opposition made by increasing the size of a bridgehead, beachhead or airheadOxford English Dictionary lodgement, lodgment "3. The action of establishing oneself or making good a position on an enemy's ground, or...

 that would include the cities of Caen and Cherbourg (especially Cherbourg, for its deep-water port). Subsequently, there would be a breakout from the lodgement to liberate Brittany and its Atlantic ports, and to advance to a line roughly 125 miles (190 km) to the southwest of Paris, from Le Havre
Le Havre
Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute-Normandie region in France. It is situated in north-western France, on the right bank of the mouth of the river Seine on the English Channel. Le Havre is the most populous commune in the Haute-Normandie region, although the total...

 through Le Mans
Le Mans
Le Mans is a city in France, located on the Sarthe River. Traditionally the capital of the province of Maine, it is now the capital of the Sarthe department and the seat of the Roman Catholic diocese of Le Mans. Le Mans is a part of the Pays de la Loire region.Its inhabitants are called Manceaux...

 to Tours
Tours
Tours is a city in central France, the capital of the Indre-et-Loire department.It is located on the lower reaches of the river Loire, between Orléans and the Atlantic coast. Touraine, the region around Tours, is known for its wines, the alleged perfection of its local spoken French, and for the...

, so that after ninety days the Allies would control a zone bounded by the rivers Loire in the south and Seine in the northeast.

Technology


The Allies developed new technologies for Overlord. The "mulberry", a mobile, prefabricated concrete harbor, allowed the Allies to supply their beachhead without capturing one of the heavily defended Channel ports, as did the Pipe-Line Under The Ocean (PLUTO
Pluto
Pluto, formal designation 134340 Pluto, is the second-most-massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the tenth-most-massive body observed directly orbiting the Sun...

). Major-General Percy Hobart
Percy Hobart
Major-General Sir Percy Cleghorn Stanley Hobart KBE CB DSO MC , also known as "Hobo", was a British military engineer, noted for his command of the 79th Armoured Division during World War II...

, an unconventional military engineer, assembled a force of modified Sherman and Churchill tanks known as Hobart's Funnies
Hobart's Funnies
Hobart's Funnies were a number of unusually modified tanks operated during World War II by the United Kingdom's 79th Armoured Division or by specialists from the Royal Engineers. They were designed in light of problems that more standard tanks experienced during the Dieppe Raid, so that the new...

, which were used at Normandy.

Deception




In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted a deception operation, Operation Bodyguard
Operation Bodyguard
Operation Bodyguard was the code name for a World War II military deception employed by the Allied nations during the build up to the 1944 invasion of north-western Europe. The aim of the operation was to mislead the German high command as to the exact date and location of the invasion...

, designed to persuade the Germans that areas other than northern France would be threatened as well (such as the Balkans and the south of France). Then, in the weeks leading up to the invasion, in order to persuade the Germans that the main invasion would really take place at the Pas de Calais, and to lead them to expect an invasion of Norway, the Allies prepared a massive deception plan, called Operation Fortitude
Operation Fortitude
Operation Fortitude was the codename for a World War II military deception employed by the Allied nations as part of an overall deception strategy during the build up to the 1944 Normandy Landings...

. Operation Fortitude North would lead the Axis to expect an attack on Norway; the much more vital Operation Fortitude South was designed to lead the Germans to expect the main invasion at the Pas de Calais, and to hold back forces to guard against this threat rather than rushing them to Normandy.

An entirely fictitious First U.S. Army Group ("FUSAG"), supposedly located in southeastern Britain under the command of General Lesley J. McNair
Lesley J. McNair
General Lesley James McNair was an American Army officer who served during World War I and World War II. He was killed by friendly fire when a USAAF Eighth Air Force bomb landed in his foxhole near Saint-Lô during Operation Cobra as part of the Battle of Normandy.McNair, Frank Maxwell Andrews and...

 and Lieutenant General George S. Patton, Jr., was created in German minds by the use of double agents and fake radio traffic. The Germans had an extensive network of agents operating in the UK. Unfortunately for them, every single one had been "turned" by the Allies as part of the Double Cross System
Double Cross System
The Double Cross System, or XX System, was a World War II anti-espionage and deception operation of the British military intelligence arm, MI5. Nazi agents in Britain - real and false - were captured, turned themselves in or simply announced themselves and were then used by the British to broadcast...

, and appropriate agents were dutifully sending back messages "confirming" the existence and location of FUSAG and the Pas de Calais as the likely main attack point. Dummy tanks (some inflatable), trucks, and landing craft, as well as troop camp facades (constructed from scaffolding and canvas) were placed in ports on the eastern and southeastern coasts of Britain, and the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

was allowed to photograph them. During this period, most of the Allied naval bombardment was focused on Pas de Calais instead of Normandy. The Allied Forces even went as far as to broadcast static over Axis accessible radioways and convinced Germany to expend efforts to try to decode white noise
White noise
White noise is a random signal with a flat power spectral density. In other words, the signal contains equal power within a fixed bandwidth at any center frequency...

, further leading Germany away from the upcoming Normandy invasion.

In aid of Operation Fortitude North, Operation Skye was mounted from Scotland using radio traffic, designed to convince German traffic analysts that an invasion would also be mounted into Norway. Against this phantom threat, German units that otherwise could have been moved into France were instead kept in Norway.

Operation Cover (2–5 June) used Eighth Air Force Missions 384,388, 389, & 392 to bomb transportation and airfield targets in Northern France and "coastal defenses, mainly located in the Pas de Calais coastal area, to deceive the enemy as to the sector to be invaded".

The last part of the deception occurred on the night before the invasion: a small group of SAS
Special Air Service
Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

 operators deployed dummy paratroopers over Le Havre and Isigny. These dummies led the Germans to believe that an additional airborne assault had occurred; this tied up reinforcing troops and kept the true situation unclear. On that same night, two RAF squadrons (No. 617 Squadron
No. 617 Squadron RAF
No. 617 Squadron is a Royal Air Force aircraft squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland. It currently operates the Tornado GR4 in the ground attack and reconnaissance role...

 and No. 218 Squadron
No. 218 Squadron RAF
No. 218 Squadron RAF was a squadron of the Royal Air Force. It was also known as No 218 Squadron after the Governor of the Gold Coast and people of the Gold Coast officially adopted the squadron.-World War I:...

) in Operation Taxable
Operation Taxable
Operation Taxable was the codename for one of the deception operations used by the Allied forces during World War II in connection with the Normandy landings...

 and Operation Glimmer
Operation Glimmer
Operation Glimmer was the codename for one of the deception operations used by the Allied forces during World War II in connection with the Normandy landings . In conjunction with Operation Taxable, this was conducted by aircraft of the Royal Air Force and small ships of the Royal Navy to trick the...

 created an illusion of a massive naval convoy sailing for the Cap d'Antifer (15 miles north of Le Havre
Le Havre
Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute-Normandie region in France. It is situated in north-western France, on the right bank of the mouth of the river Seine on the English Channel. Le Havre is the most populous commune in the Haute-Normandie region, although the total...

). This was achieved by the precision dropping of "Window", strips of metal foil. The foil caused a radar return mistakenly interpreted by German radar operators as a fleet of small craft towing barrage balloon
Barrage balloon
A barrage balloon is a large balloon tethered with metal cables, used to defend against low-level aircraft attack by damaging the aircraft on collision with the cables, or at least making the attacker's approach more difficult. Some versions carried small explosive charges that would be pulled up...

s.

Rehearsals and security


Allied forces rehearsed their roles for D-Day months before the invasion. On 28 April 1944, in south Devon
Devon
Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

 on the British coast, 749 American soldiers and sailors were killed when German torpedo boats
E-boat
E-boats was the designation for Motor Torpedo Boats of the German Navy during World War II. It is commonly held that the E stood for Enemy....

 surprised one of these landing exercises, Exercise Tiger
Exercise Tiger
Exercise Tiger, or Operation Tiger, were the code names for a full-scale rehearsal in 1944 for the D-Day invasion of Normandy. During the exercise, an Allied convoy was attacked, resulting in the deaths of 946 American servicemen....

.

The effectiveness of the deception operations was increased by a news blackout from Britain. Travel to and from the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 was banned, and movements within several miles of the coasts restricted. The German embassies and consulates in neutral countries were flooded with all sorts of misleading information, in the well-founded hope that any genuine information on the landings would be ignored with all the confusing chaff.

There were several leaks prior to or on D-Day. Through the Cicero affair, the Germans obtained documents containing references to Overlord, but these documents lacked all detail. Another such leak was Gen. Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

's radio message after D-Day. He, unlike all the other leaders, stated that this invasion was the real invasion. This had the potential to ruin the Allied deceptions Fortitude North and Fortitude South. For example, Eisenhower referred to the landings as the initial invasion. Nevertheless, the Germans did not believe de Gaulle and waited too long to move in extra units against the Allies.

Allied invasion plan




The British were to take an airborne assault on the River Orne. The British objective was to secure the Orne River bridges; first to prevent German armor from using them to cross the river and disrupt the landings; second to hold them against destruction by the retreating Germans so that they could be used by Allied armor and logistics as the invasion moved inland. The British amphibious assault units would attack through Sword and Gold Beaches. The United States had an airborne division and land units, which were to take Omaha beach
Omaha Beach
Omaha Beach is the code name for one of the five sectors of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, during World War II...

, Pointe du Hoc
Pointe du Hoc
Pointe du Hoc is a clifftop location on the coast of Normandy in northern France. It lies 4 miles west of Omaha Beach, and stands on 100 ft tall cliffs overlooking the sea...

 and Utah Beach
Utah Beach
Utah Beach was the code name for the right flank, or westernmost, of the Allied landing beaches during the D-Day invasion of Normandy, as part of Operation Overlord on 6 June 1944...

es. The Canadians would team up with British units to attack Sword Beach
Sword Beach
Sword, commonly known as Sword Beach, was the code name given to one of the five main landing areas along the Normandy coast during the initial assault phase, Operation Neptune, of Operation Overlord; the Allied invasion of German-occupied France that commenced on 6 June 1944...

. The British and Canadians had separate beaches Gold Beach
Gold Beach
Gold Beach was the code name of one of the D-Day landing beaches that Allied forces used to invade German-occupied France on 6 June 1944, during World War II....

 and Juno Beach
Juno Beach
Juno or Juno Beach was one of five sectors of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, during the Second World War. The sector spanned from Saint-Aubin, a village just east of the British Gold sector, to Courseulles, just west of the British Sword sector...

, respectively.

The Invasion Fleet was drawn from eight navies made up of warships and submarines, split into the Western Naval Task Force (Rear-Admiral Alan G Kirk) and the Eastern Naval Task Force (Rear-Admiral Sir Philip Vian
Philip Vian
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Philip Louis Vian, GCB, KBE, DSO & Two Bars was a British naval officer who served in both World Wars....

). The fleet was overall led by Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay
Bertram Ramsay
Admiral Sir Bertram Home Ramsay KCB, KBE, MVO was a British admiral during World War II. He was an important contributor in the field of amphibious warfare.-Early life:...

.

Codenames


The Allies assigned codenames to the various operations involved in the invasion. Overlord was the name assigned to the establishment of a large-scale lodgement on the Continent. The first phase, the establishment of a secure foothold, was codenamed Neptune. It began on D-Day (6 June 1944) and ended on 30 June 1944. By this time, the Allies had established a firm foothold in Normandy. Operation Overlord also began on D-Day, and continued until Allied forces crossed the river Seine
Seine
The Seine is a -long river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Saint-Seine near Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre . It is navigable by ocean-going vessels...

 on 19 August 1944.

Atlantic Wall



Through most of 1942 and 1943, the Germans had rightly regarded the possibility of a successful Allied invasion in the west as remote. Preparations to counter an invasion were limited to the construction, by the Organisation Todt
Organisation Todt
The Todt Organisation, was a Third Reich civil and military engineering group in Germany named after its founder, Fritz Todt, an engineer and senior Nazi figure...

, of impressive fortifications covering the major ports. The number of military forces at the disposal of Nazi Germany reached its peak during 1944 with 59 divisions stationed in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

In late 1943, the obvious Allied buildup in Britain prompted the German Commander-in-Chief in the west, Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt
Gerd von Rundstedt
Karl Rudolf Gerd von Rundstedt was a Generalfeldmarschall of the German Army during World War II. He held some of the highest field commands in all phases of the war....

, to request reinforcements. In addition to fresh units, von Rundstedt also received a new subordinate, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
Erwin Rommel
Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel , popularly known as the Desert Fox , was a German Field Marshal of World War II. He won the respect of both his own troops and the enemies he fought....

. Rommel originally intended only to make a tour of inspection of the Atlantic Wall
Atlantic Wall
The Atlantic Wall was an extensive system of coastal fortifications built by Nazi Germany between 1942 and 1944 along the western coast of Europe as a defense against an anticipated Allied invasion of the mainland continent from Great Britain.-History:On March 23, 1942 Führer Directive Number 40...

. After reporting to Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

, Rommel requested command of the defenders of northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands. These were organised as Army Group B
Army Group B
Army Group B was the name of three different German Army Groups that saw action during World War II.-Battle for France:The first was involved in the Western Campaign in 1940 in Belgium and the Netherlands which was to be aimed to conquer the Maas bridges after the German airborne actions in Rotterdam...

 in February 1944. (The German forces in southern France were designated as Army Group G, under General Johannes Blaskowitz
Johannes Blaskowitz
Johannes Albrecht Blaskowitz was a German general during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords...

).

Rommel had recognized that for all their propaganda value, the Atlantic Wall fortifications covered only the ports themselves. The beaches between were barely defended, and the Allies could land there and capture the ports from inland. He revitalised the defenders, who laboured to improve the defences of the entire coastline. Steel obstacles were laid at the high-water mark on the beaches, concrete bunkers and pillboxes constructed, and low-lying areas flooded. Given the Allied air supremacy (12,000 Allied aircraft against 300 Luftwaffe fighters), booby-trapped stakes known as Rommelspargel
Rommelspargel
Rommelspargel were logs that were placed in the fields and meadows of Normandy to cause damage to the expected invasion of Allied military gliders and paratroopers. Also known in German as Holzpfähle , the wooden defenses were placed in early 1944 in coastal areas of France and Holland against...

(Rommel's asparagus) were set up on likely landing grounds to deter airborne landings.

These works were not fully completed, especially in the vital Normandy sector, partly because Allied bombing of the French railway system interfered with the movement of the necessary materials, and also because the Germans were convinced by the Allied deception measures and their own preconceptions that the landings would take place in the Pas de Calais, and so they concentrated their efforts there.

The Germans had nevertheless extensively fortified the foreshore area as part of their Atlantic Wall defences (including tank top turrets and extensive barbed wire), believing that any forthcoming landings would be timed for high tide (this caused the landings to be timed for low tide). The sector which was attacked was guarded by four divisions, of which the 352nd and 91st were of high quality. The other defending troops included Germans who were not considered fit for active duty on the Eastern Front (usually for medical reasons) and various other nationalities such as conscripted Poles and former Soviet prisoners-of-war who had agreed to fight for the Germans rather than endure the harsh conditions of German POW camps. These "Ost" units were provided with German leadership to manage them.

Mobile reserves


Rommel's defensive measures were also frustrated by a dispute over armoured doctrine. In addition to his two army groups, von Rundstedt also commanded the headquarters of Panzer Group West under General Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg
Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg
Leo Dietrich Franz Freiherr Geyr von Schweppenburg was a German cavalry officer in World War I and a general during World War II. He was particularly noted for his expertise in armoured warfare and his command of Panzer Group West during the Invasion of Normandy.- Biography :Geyr was born in...

 (usually referred to as von Geyr) to administer the mobile formations in reserve. Von Geyr and Rommel disagreed over the deployment and use of the vital Panzer divisions.

Rommel proposed that the armoured formations be deployed close to the coast, to counter-attack while the invaders were vulnerable. Von Geyr argued that they should instead be concentrated in a central position around Paris and deployed en masse against the main Allied beachhead when this had been identified. When the matter was brought before Hitler, he imposed an unworkable compromise solution. Rommel was given only three tank divisions, only one of which was stationed closed enough to the Normandy beaches to intervene on the first day. The other mechanized divisions capable of intervening in Normandy were retained under the direct control of the German Armed Forces HQ (OKW) and were scattered across France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Weather forecast


The window of opportunity for launching an invasion was limited to only a few days in each month as a full moon was required, for light for the aircraft pilots and for the spring tide
Tide
Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the moon and the sun and the rotation of the Earth....

. Eisenhower had tentatively selected 5 June as the date for the assault. However, on 4 June, conditions were clearly unsuitable for a landing; high winds and heavy seas made it impossible to launch landing craft, and low clouds would prevent aircraft finding their targets. The Germans meanwhile took comfort from the existing poor conditions and believed an invasion would not be possible for several days. Some troops stood down, and many senior officers were absent. Rommel, for example, took leave to attend his wife's birthday.

Since April, the Captain class frigate
Captain class frigate
The Captain class were 78 frigates of the Royal Navy, constructed in the United States, launched in 1942–1943 and delivered to the United Kingdom under the provisions of Lend-Lease. They served in World War II as convoy escorts, anti-submarine warfare vessels and coastal forces control frigates...

 HMS Grindall had been transmitting weather reports from the mid-Atlantic every three hours. From these reports, Group Captain James Stagg RAF, Eisenhower's chief meteorologist, predicted a slight improvement in the weather for 6 June. Grindalls reports indicated a ridge of high pressure behind a deep depression. Stagg forecast that the ridge would move eastward to reach the south-west approaches to the Channel late on 5 June, bringing a short-term improvement in the weather.

At a vital meeting late on 5 June, Eisenhower and his senior commanders discussed the situation. General Montgomery and Major General Walter Bedell Smith
Walter Bedell Smith
Walter Bedell "Beetle" Smith was a senior United States Army general who served as General Dwight D. Eisenhower's chief of staff at Allied Forces Headquarters during the Tunisia Campaign and the Allied invasion of Italy...

, Eisenhower's chief of staff, were eager to launch the invasion. Admiral Bertram Ramsay
Bertram Ramsay
Admiral Sir Bertram Home Ramsay KCB, KBE, MVO was a British admiral during World War II. He was an important contributor in the field of amphibious warfare.-Early life:...

 also was prepared to commit his ships, while Air Chief Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory
Trafford Leigh-Mallory
Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory KCB, DSO & Bar was a senior commander in the Royal Air Force. Leigh-Mallory served as a Royal Flying Corps pilot and squadron commander during World War I...

 was concerned that the conditions would be unfavourable for Allied aircraft to operate. After much discussion, Eisenhower decided to launch the invasion that night.

Had Eisenhower postponed the invasion, the only option was to go two weeks later but this would have encountered the 'worst channel storm in 40 years' as Churchill later described it, which lasted four days between 19 and 22 June.

The invasion


To eliminate the enemy's ability to organize and launch counterattacks during the amphibious assault phase, airborne operations
Airborne forces
Airborne forces are military units, usually light infantry, set up to be moved by aircraft and 'dropped' into battle. Thus they can be placed behind enemy lines, and have an ability to deploy almost anywhere with little warning...

 were utilized to seize key objectives, such as bridges, road crossings, and terrain features, particularly on the eastern and western flanks of the landing areas. The airborne landings some distance behind the beaches were also intended to ease the egress of the amphibious forces off the beaches, and in some cases to neutralize German coastal defense batteries and more quickly expand the area of the beachhead. Dropping behind enemy lines hours before the beach landings, the U.S. 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions were assigned to objectives west of Utah Beach. The British 6th Airborne Division was assigned to similar objectives on the eastern flank.

{{Campaignbox Normandy}}
{{Campaignbox Western Europe (1944-1945)}}
{{Campaignbox Western Front (World War II)}}

Operation Overlord{{sfn|Churchill|1951|p=642}} was the code name for the Battle of Normandy, the operation that launched the invasion of German-occupied western Europe
Western Front (World War II)
The Western Front of the European Theatre of World War II encompassed, Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and West Germany. The Western Front was marked by two phases of large-scale ground combat operations...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 by Allied
Western Allies
The Western Allies were a political and geographic grouping among the Allied Powers of the Second World War. It generally includes the United Kingdom and British Commonwealth, the United States, France and various other European and Latin American countries, but excludes China, the Soviet Union,...

 forces. The operation commenced on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings (Operation Neptune, commonly known as D-Day). A 12,000-plane airborne assault preceded an amphibious assault
Amphibious warfare
Amphibious warfare is the use of naval firepower, logistics and strategy to project military power ashore. In previous eras it stood as the primary method of delivering troops to non-contiguous enemy-held terrain...

 involving almost 7,000 vessels. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 on 6 June; more than 3 million troops were in France by the end of August.{{sfn|Blumenson|2005|pp=627–630}}{{sfn|Hammel|2006|loc=Okinawa}}

Allied land forces that saw combat in Normandy on D-Day itself came from Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Free French Forces
Free French Forces
The Free French Forces were French partisans in World War II who decided to continue fighting against the forces of the Axis powers after the surrender of France and subsequent German occupation and, in the case of Vichy France, collaboration with the Germans.-Definition:In many sources, Free...

 and Poland
Polish Armed Forces in the West
Polish Armed Forces in the West refers to the Polish military formations formed to fight alongside the Western Allies against Nazi Germany and its allies...

 also participated in the battle after the assault phase, and there were also minor contingents from Belgium, Greece, the Netherlands, and Norway.{{sfn|Williams|1988|p={{page number|date=December 2011}} }} Other Allied nations participated in the naval and air forces.

Once the beachheads were secured, a three-week military buildup occurred on the beaches before Operation Cobra
Operation Cobra
Operation Cobra was the codename for an offensive launched by the First United States Army seven weeks after the D-Day landings, during the Normandy Campaign of World War II...

, the operation to break out from the Normandy beachhead, began. The battle for Normandy continued for more than two months, with campaigns to expand the foothold on France, and concluded with the closing of the Falaise pocket
Falaise pocket
The battle of the Falaise Pocket, fought during the Second World War from 12 to 21 August 1944, was the decisive engagement of the Battle of Normandy...

 on 24 August, the Liberation of Paris
Liberation of Paris
The Liberation of Paris took place during World War II from 19 August 1944 until the surrender of the occupying German garrison on August 25th. It could be regarded by some as the last battle in the Battle for Normandy, though that really ended with the crushing of the Wehrmacht forces between the...

 on 25 August, and the German retreat across the Seine which was completed on 30 August 1944.{{sfn|Stacey|1957|p=295}}{{verification needed|date=November 2011}}

Preparations for D-Day


{{cquote|In the East, the vastness of space will… permit a loss of territory… without suffering a mortal blow to Germany’s chance for survival. Not so in the West! If the enemy here succeeds… consequences of staggering proportions will follow within a short time.|20px|20px|-Adolf Hitler, 'Directive 51'}}

In June 1940, German Führer Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 had triumphed in what he called "the most famous victory in history" – the fall of France.{{sfn|Horne|2005|p=322}} The British, although besieged, had been spared from annihilation when Operation Dynamo
Operation Dynamo
The Dunkirk evacuation, commonly known as the Miracle of Dunkirk, code-named Operation Dynamo by the British, was the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, France, between 26 May and the early hours of 3 June 1940, because the British, French and Belgian troops were...

 evacuated 300,000 troops from Dunkirk. The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

, in one of his famous speeches, vowed to invade France and liberate it from Nazi Germany (Winston Churchill#The World War II years
Wikiquote
Wikiquote is one of a family of wiki-based projects run by the Wikimedia Foundation, running on MediaWiki software. Based on an idea by Daniel Alston and implemented by Brion Vibber, the goal of the project is to produce collaboratively a vast reference of quotations from prominent people, books,...

).{{Churchill|1940|loc=God protect France}}

In a joint statement with the Soviet premier Communist Party
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

 General Secretary
General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the title given to the leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. With some exceptions, the office was synonymous with leader of the Soviet Union...

 Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 and American President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

, Churchill announced in 1942 a "full understanding" concerning the urgent task of creating a second front in Europe. Churchill unofficially informed the Soviets in a memorandum handed to Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 Minister of Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was a Soviet politician and diplomat, an Old Bolshevik and a leading figure in the Soviet government from the 1920s, when he rose to power as a protégé of Joseph Stalin, to 1957, when he was dismissed from the Presidium of the Central Committee by Nikita Khrushchev...

 that the resources necessary for an invasion were lacking in 1942. However, the announcement had some effect as it caused Hitler to order preparations for an Allied descent on Europe.

The British, under Churchill, wished to avoid the costly frontal assaults of World War I - Churchill's previous experience of opening a second front via an invasion had been the disastrous campaign in Gallipoli, Turkey. Churchill and the British staff favoured a course of allowing the insurgency
Insurgency
An insurgency is an armed rebellion against a constituted authority when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents...

 work of the Special Operations Executive
Special Operations Executive
The Special Operations Executive was a World War II organisation of the United Kingdom. It was officially formed by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Minister of Economic Warfare Hugh Dalton on 22 July 1940, to conduct guerrilla warfare against the Axis powers and to instruct and aid local...

 to come to widespread fruition, while making a main Allied thrust from the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 to Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 and into Germany from the south, concentrating on the weaker Axis ally, Italy. Such an approach
Italian Campaign (World War II)
The Italian Campaign of World War II was the name of Allied operations in and around Italy, from 1943 to the end of the war in Europe. Joint Allied Forces Headquarters AFHQ was operationally responsible for all Allied land forces in the Mediterranean theatre, and it planned and commanded the...

 was also believed to offer the advantage of creating a barrier to limit the Soviet advance into Europe. However, the U.S. government believed from the onset that the optimum approach was the shortest route to Germany emanating from the strongest Allied power base: Great Britain. They were adamant in their view and made it clear that it was the only option they would support in the long term. Two preliminary proposals were drawn up: Operation Sledgehammer
Operation Sledgehammer
Operation Sledgehammer was a World War II Allied plan for a cross-Channel invasion of Europe, as the first step in helping to reduce pressure on the Soviet Red Army by establishing a Second Front...

, for an invasion in 1942, and Operation Roundup, for a larger attack in 1943, which was adopted and became Operation Overlord, although it was delayed until 1944.

{{cquote|This operation will be the primary United States and British ground and air effort against the Axis of Europe. Following the establishment of strong Allied forces in France, operations designed to strike at the heart of Germany and to destroy her military forces will be undertaken. We have approved the outline plan for Operation Overlord.|20px|20px|-Report by Allied Combined Chiefs of Staff, Quebec Conferece, August 1943}}

The planning process was started in earnest after the Casablanca and Tehran Conference
Tehran Conference
The Tehran Conference was the meeting of Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill between November 28 and December 1, 1943, most of which was held at the Soviet Embassy in Tehran, Iran. It was the first World War II conference amongst the Big Three in which Stalin was present...

s{{sfn|Gilbert|1989|p=397, 478}} with the appointment of British Lieutenant-General Frederick E. Morgan
Frederick E. Morgan
Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Edgeworth Morgan KCB was a British Army officer who fought in the First World War and the Second World War...

 as Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander (Designate), a title shortened to COSSAC, with the American Major General Ray Barker
Ray Barker
Ray Wehnes Barker was a Major General of the Allied Forces, and served in the European Theater of Operations During World War II. General Barker was a key member of the combined United States-British group, which became known as COSSAC...

 as his deputy. The COSSAC staff's initial plans were constrained by the numbers of landing craft available, which were reduced by commitments in the Mediterranean and Pacific.
In part because of lessons learned by Allied troops in the raid on Dieppe
Dieppe Raid
The Dieppe Raid, also known as the Battle of Dieppe, Operation Rutter or later on Operation Jubilee, during the Second World War, was an Allied attack on the German-occupied port of Dieppe on the northern coast of France on 19 August 1942. The assault began at 5:00 AM and by 10:50 AM the Allied...

 of 19 August 1942, the Allies decided not to assault a French seaport directly in their first landings. The short operating range of British fighters, including the Spitfire
Supermarine Spitfire
The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries throughout the Second World War. The Spitfire continued to be used as a front line fighter and in secondary roles into the 1950s...

 and Typhoon
Hawker Typhoon
The Hawker Typhoon was a British single-seat fighter-bomber, produced by Hawker Aircraft. While the Typhoon was designed to be a medium-high altitude interceptor, and a direct replacement for the Hawker Hurricane, several design problems were encountered, and the Typhoon never completely satisfied...

, from UK airfields greatly limited the number of potential landing sites, as comprehensive air support
Air Support
Air Support is a 1992 computer game for the Amiga and Atari ST. It is a top-down strategy game, with a first-person mode available for special missions. The game takes place during a retrofuturistic 21st century where all wars are fought in virtual reality. The game was given mostly positive...

 depended upon having planes overhead for as long as possible.{{sfn|Gilbert|1989|p=397, 478}} Geography reduced the choices further to two sites: the Pas de Calais and the Normandy coast.
Normandy presented serious logistical problems, not the least of which was that the only viable port in the area, Cherbourg
Cherbourg-Octeville
-Main sights:* La Glacerie has a race track.* The Cité de la Mer is a large museum devoted to scientific and historical aspects of maritime subjects.* Cherbourg Basilica* Jardin botanique de la Roche Fauconnière, a private botanical garden.* Le Trident theatre...

, was heavily defended. Many among the higher echelons of command argued that the Pas de Calais would make a more suitable landing area on these grounds alone. Although the Pas de Calais was the shortest distance to the European mainland from Britain,{{sfn|Williams|2000|loc=The Atlantic Wall}} it was the most heavily fortified and defended landing site. It was also considered that it offered few opportunities for expansion as the area was bounded by numerous rivers and canals, whereas landings on a broad front in Normandy would permit simultaneous threats against the port of Cherbourg, coastal ports further west in Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

, and an overland attack towards Paris and towards the border with Germany. Normandy was a less-defended coast and an unexpected but strategic jumping-off point, with the potential to confuse and scatter the German defending forces. Normandy was hence chosen as the landing site.{{sfn|Ambrose|1995|loc=chapter 4 paragraph 10}}

The COSSAC staff planned to launch the invasion on 1 May 1944. The initial draft of the COSSAC plan was accepted at the Quebec Conference
Quebec Conference, 1943
The First Quebec Conference was a highly secret military conference held during World War II between the British, Canadian and United States governments. The conference was held in Quebec City, August 17, 1943 – August 24, 1943. It took place at the Citadelle and at the Château Frontenac. The...

 in August 1943, but no supreme commander was appointed for several months. General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

 was appointed commander of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force
Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force
Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force , was the headquarters of the Commander of Allied forces in north west Europe, from late 1943 until the end of World War II. U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was in command of SHAEF throughout its existence...

 (SHAEF) in November 1943.{{sfn|Gilbert|1989|p=491}} SHAEF was based in Camp Griffiss
Camp Griffiss
Camp Griffiss was a US military base in the United Kingdom during and after World War II.-History:From 1942, Camp Griffiss in Bushy Park became the site of a large US base, headquarters to a number of the Allied departments. The camp served as the European Headquarters for the USAAF from July 1942...

, Bushy Park
Bushy Park
- External links :***...

, Teddington
Teddington
Teddington is a suburban area in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames in south west London, on the north bank of the River Thames, between Hampton Wick and Twickenham. It stretches inland from the River Thames to Bushy Park...

, south-west London, and had over 1200 military personnel. General Bernard Montgomery was named as commander of the 21st Army Group, to which all of the invasion ground forces belonged, and was also given charge of developing the invasion plan.{{sfn|Hamilton|2004}} Both Eisenhower and Montgomery first saw the COSSAC plan on 31 December 1943 at Marrakech
Marrakech
Marrakech or Marrakesh , known as the "Ochre city", is the most important former imperial city in Morocco's history...

 in Morocco, in a conference with Winston Churchill. They insisted immediately that the scale of the initial invasion be expanded, to prevent the invaders being restricted to a narrow beachhead, with insufficient room to land follow-up formations and vulnerable to German counter-attacks. The need to acquire or produce extra landing craft for this expanded operation meant that the invasion had to be delayed to June.

The COSSAC plan proposed a landing from the sea by three divisions
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

, with two brigade
Brigade
A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of two to five battalions, plus supporting elements depending on the era and nationality of a given army and could be perceived as an enlarged/reinforced regiment...

s landed by air. Following Eisenhower's and Montgomery's revision of the plan, this was expanded to landings by five divisions and airborne descents by three divisions. In total, 39 divisions would be committed to the Battle of Normandy: 12 British, three Canadian and one Polish division under overall British command, and 22 American divisions and one Free French division{{sfn|Ellis|Allen|Warhurst|2004|pp=521–533}}{{#tag:ref|The British 79th Armoured Division never operated as a single formation{{sfn|Buckley|2006|p=13}} thus has been excluded from the total. In addition a combind total of 16 (three from the 79th Armoured Division) British, Belgian, Canadian and Dutch independent brigades were committed to the operation along with four battalions of the Special Air Service.{{sfn|Ellis|Allen|Warhurst|2004|pp=521–523, 524}}|group=nb}}, totalling over a million troops.{{sfn|Weinberg|1995|p=684}}

Detail planning


In preparation, the BBC appealed for holiday pictures and snaps of France for an exhibition. Those of the Normandy beaches were singled out to create detailed geological maps of the area. What was already known of the make-up was that the targeted beaches were underpinned in places by ancient woodland, which had created peat bogs not far below the surface of the beaches. Tests on similar beaches in Norfolk in 1943 proved them unsuitable for taking the weight of heavy tanks and transport, so detailed maps of the area were required. In December 1943, Operation Postage Able
Operation Postage Able
Operation Postage Able was an X class submarine based Royal Navy operation in preparation for Overlord, the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe.-Intelligence gathering:...

 used an X-craft to collect suitable data for all of the beaches. Where the areas of peat could not be avoided, they were to be covered with rolls of matting deployed from spools nicknamed "bobbin
Bobbin
A bobbin is a spindle or cylinder, with or without flanges, on which wire, yarn, thread or film is wound. Bobbins are typically found in sewing machines, cameras, and within electronic equipment....

s" (or more prosaically, "bog rolls") mounted on modified tanks.

On 7 April and 15 May, Montgomery presented his strategy for the invasion at St Paul's School. He envisaged a ninety day battle, ending when all the forces reached the Seine
Seine
The Seine is a -long river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Saint-Seine near Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre . It is navigable by ocean-going vessels...

,{{sfn|Weinberg|1995|p=698}} pivoting on an Allied-held Caen
Caen
Caen is a commune in northwestern France. It is the prefecture of the Calvados department and the capital of the Basse-Normandie region. It is located inland from the English Channel....

, with British and Canadian armies forming a shoulder and the U.S. armies wheeling to the right

The objective for the first 40 days was to create a lodgement
Lodgement
A lodgement is an enclave taken by and defended by force of arms against determined opposition made by increasing the size of a bridgehead, beachhead or airheadOxford English Dictionary lodgement, lodgment "3. The action of establishing oneself or making good a position on an enemy's ground, or...

 that would include the cities of Caen and Cherbourg (especially Cherbourg, for its deep-water port). Subsequently, there would be a breakout from the lodgement to liberate Brittany and its Atlantic ports, and to advance to a line roughly 125 miles (190 km) to the southwest of Paris, from Le Havre
Le Havre
Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute-Normandie region in France. It is situated in north-western France, on the right bank of the mouth of the river Seine on the English Channel. Le Havre is the most populous commune in the Haute-Normandie region, although the total...

 through Le Mans
Le Mans
Le Mans is a city in France, located on the Sarthe River. Traditionally the capital of the province of Maine, it is now the capital of the Sarthe department and the seat of the Roman Catholic diocese of Le Mans. Le Mans is a part of the Pays de la Loire region.Its inhabitants are called Manceaux...

 to Tours
Tours
Tours is a city in central France, the capital of the Indre-et-Loire department.It is located on the lower reaches of the river Loire, between Orléans and the Atlantic coast. Touraine, the region around Tours, is known for its wines, the alleged perfection of its local spoken French, and for the...

, so that after ninety days the Allies would control a zone bounded by the rivers Loire in the south and Seine in the northeast.

Technology


{{Expand section|date=August 2009}}
{{Main|Mulberry harbor|Operation Pluto}}
The Allies developed new technologies for Overlord. The "mulberry", a mobile, prefabricated concrete harbor, allowed the Allies to supply their beachhead without capturing one of the heavily defended Channel ports, as did the Pipe-Line Under The Ocean (PLUTO
Pluto
Pluto, formal designation 134340 Pluto, is the second-most-massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the tenth-most-massive body observed directly orbiting the Sun...

). Major-General Percy Hobart
Percy Hobart
Major-General Sir Percy Cleghorn Stanley Hobart KBE CB DSO MC , also known as "Hobo", was a British military engineer, noted for his command of the 79th Armoured Division during World War II...

, an unconventional military engineer, assembled a force of modified Sherman and Churchill tanks known as Hobart's Funnies
Hobart's Funnies
Hobart's Funnies were a number of unusually modified tanks operated during World War II by the United Kingdom's 79th Armoured Division or by specialists from the Royal Engineers. They were designed in light of problems that more standard tanks experienced during the Dieppe Raid, so that the new...

, which were used at Normandy.

Deception



{{Main|Operation Fortitude|Operation Bodyguard}}
In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted a deception operation, Operation Bodyguard
Operation Bodyguard
Operation Bodyguard was the code name for a World War II military deception employed by the Allied nations during the build up to the 1944 invasion of north-western Europe. The aim of the operation was to mislead the German high command as to the exact date and location of the invasion...

, designed to persuade the Germans that areas other than northern France would be threatened as well (such as the Balkans and the south of France). Then, in the weeks leading up to the invasion, in order to persuade the Germans that the main invasion would really take place at the Pas de Calais, and to lead them to expect an invasion of Norway, the Allies prepared a massive deception plan, called Operation Fortitude
Operation Fortitude
Operation Fortitude was the codename for a World War II military deception employed by the Allied nations as part of an overall deception strategy during the build up to the 1944 Normandy Landings...

. Operation Fortitude North would lead the Axis to expect an attack on Norway; the much more vital Operation Fortitude South was designed to lead the Germans to expect the main invasion at the Pas de Calais, and to hold back forces to guard against this threat rather than rushing them to Normandy.{{sfn|Weinberg|1995|p=680}}

An entirely fictitious First U.S. Army Group ("FUSAG"), supposedly located in southeastern Britain under the command of General Lesley J. McNair
Lesley J. McNair
General Lesley James McNair was an American Army officer who served during World War I and World War II. He was killed by friendly fire when a USAAF Eighth Air Force bomb landed in his foxhole near Saint-Lô during Operation Cobra as part of the Battle of Normandy.McNair, Frank Maxwell Andrews and...

 and Lieutenant General George S. Patton, Jr., was created in German minds by the use of double agents and fake radio traffic. The Germans had an extensive network of agents operating in the UK. Unfortunately for them, every single one had been "turned" by the Allies as part of the Double Cross System
Double Cross System
The Double Cross System, or XX System, was a World War II anti-espionage and deception operation of the British military intelligence arm, MI5. Nazi agents in Britain - real and false - were captured, turned themselves in or simply announced themselves and were then used by the British to broadcast...

, and appropriate agents were dutifully sending back messages "confirming" the existence and location of FUSAG and the Pas de Calais as the likely main attack point.{{sfn|Weinberg|1995|p=680}} Dummy tanks (some inflatable), trucks, and landing craft, as well as troop camp facades (constructed from scaffolding and canvas) were placed in ports on the eastern and southeastern coasts of Britain, and the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

was allowed to photograph them. During this period, most of the Allied naval bombardment was focused on Pas de Calais instead of Normandy. The Allied Forces even went as far as to broadcast static over Axis accessible radioways and convinced Germany to expend efforts to try to decode white noise
White noise
White noise is a random signal with a flat power spectral density. In other words, the signal contains equal power within a fixed bandwidth at any center frequency...

, further leading Germany away from the upcoming Normandy invasion.

In aid of Operation Fortitude North, Operation Skye was mounted from Scotland using radio traffic, designed to convince German traffic analysts that an invasion would also be mounted into Norway. Against this phantom threat, German units that otherwise could have been moved into France were instead kept in Norway.

Operation Cover (2–5 June) used Eighth Air Force Missions 384,388, 389, & 392 to bomb transportation and airfield targets in Northern France and "coastal defenses, mainly located in the Pas de Calais coastal area, to deceive the enemy as to the sector to be invaded".

The last part of the deception occurred on the night before the invasion: a small group of SAS
Special Air Service
Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

 operators deployed dummy paratroopers over Le Havre and Isigny. These dummies led the Germans to believe that an additional airborne assault had occurred; this tied up reinforcing troops and kept the true situation unclear. On that same night, two RAF squadrons (No. 617 Squadron
No. 617 Squadron RAF
No. 617 Squadron is a Royal Air Force aircraft squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland. It currently operates the Tornado GR4 in the ground attack and reconnaissance role...

 and No. 218 Squadron
No. 218 Squadron RAF
No. 218 Squadron RAF was a squadron of the Royal Air Force. It was also known as No 218 Squadron after the Governor of the Gold Coast and people of the Gold Coast officially adopted the squadron.-World War I:...

) in Operation Taxable
Operation Taxable
Operation Taxable was the codename for one of the deception operations used by the Allied forces during World War II in connection with the Normandy landings...

 and Operation Glimmer
Operation Glimmer
Operation Glimmer was the codename for one of the deception operations used by the Allied forces during World War II in connection with the Normandy landings . In conjunction with Operation Taxable, this was conducted by aircraft of the Royal Air Force and small ships of the Royal Navy to trick the...

 created an illusion of a massive naval convoy sailing for the Cap d'Antifer (15 miles north of Le Havre
Le Havre
Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute-Normandie region in France. It is situated in north-western France, on the right bank of the mouth of the river Seine on the English Channel. Le Havre is the most populous commune in the Haute-Normandie region, although the total...

). This was achieved by the precision dropping of "Window", strips of metal foil. The foil caused a radar return mistakenly interpreted by German radar operators as a fleet of small craft towing barrage balloon
Barrage balloon
A barrage balloon is a large balloon tethered with metal cables, used to defend against low-level aircraft attack by damaging the aircraft on collision with the cables, or at least making the attacker's approach more difficult. Some versions carried small explosive charges that would be pulled up...

s.{{sfn|Bickers|1994|pp=19–21}}

Rehearsals and security


Allied forces rehearsed their roles for D-Day months before the invasion. On 28 April 1944, in south Devon
Devon
Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

 on the British coast, 749 American soldiers and sailors were killed when German torpedo boats
E-boat
E-boats was the designation for Motor Torpedo Boats of the German Navy during World War II. It is commonly held that the E stood for Enemy....

 surprised one of these landing exercises, Exercise Tiger
Exercise Tiger
Exercise Tiger, or Operation Tiger, were the code names for a full-scale rehearsal in 1944 for the D-Day invasion of Normandy. During the exercise, an Allied convoy was attacked, resulting in the deaths of 946 American servicemen....

.{{sfn|Gilbert|1989||p=520}}

The effectiveness of the deception operations was increased by a news blackout from Britain. Travel to and from the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 was banned, and movements within several miles of the coasts restricted. The German embassies and consulates in neutral countries were flooded with all sorts of misleading information, in the well-founded hope that any genuine information on the landings would be ignored with all the confusing chaff.

There were several leaks prior to or on D-Day. Through the Cicero affair, the Germans obtained documents containing references to Overlord, but these documents lacked all detail.{{sfn|Keegan|1990|p=279}} Another such leak was Gen. Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

's radio message after D-Day. He, unlike all the other leaders, stated that this invasion was the real invasion. This had the potential to ruin the Allied deceptions Fortitude North and Fortitude South. For example, Eisenhower referred to the landings as the initial invasion. Nevertheless, the Germans did not believe de Gaulle and waited too long to move in extra units against the Allies.

Allied invasion plan


{{See|Normandy landings}}

The British were to take an airborne assault on the River Orne. The British objective was to secure the Orne River bridges; first to prevent German armor from using them to cross the river and disrupt the landings; second to hold them against destruction by the retreating Germans so that they could be used by Allied armor and logistics as the invasion moved inland. The British amphibious assault units would attack through Sword and Gold Beaches. The United States had an airborne division and land units, which were to take Omaha beach
Omaha Beach
Omaha Beach is the code name for one of the five sectors of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, during World War II...

, Pointe du Hoc
Pointe du Hoc
Pointe du Hoc is a clifftop location on the coast of Normandy in northern France. It lies 4 miles west of Omaha Beach, and stands on 100 ft tall cliffs overlooking the sea...

 and Utah Beach
Utah Beach
Utah Beach was the code name for the right flank, or westernmost, of the Allied landing beaches during the D-Day invasion of Normandy, as part of Operation Overlord on 6 June 1944...

es. The Canadians would team up with British units to attack Sword Beach
Sword Beach
Sword, commonly known as Sword Beach, was the code name given to one of the five main landing areas along the Normandy coast during the initial assault phase, Operation Neptune, of Operation Overlord; the Allied invasion of German-occupied France that commenced on 6 June 1944...

. The British and Canadians had separate beaches Gold Beach
Gold Beach
Gold Beach was the code name of one of the D-Day landing beaches that Allied forces used to invade German-occupied France on 6 June 1944, during World War II....

 and Juno Beach
Juno Beach
Juno or Juno Beach was one of five sectors of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, during the Second World War. The sector spanned from Saint-Aubin, a village just east of the British Gold sector, to Courseulles, just west of the British Sword sector...

, respectively.

The Invasion Fleet was drawn from eight navies made up of warships and submarines, split into the Western Naval Task Force (Rear-Admiral Alan G Kirk) and the Eastern Naval Task Force (Rear-Admiral Sir Philip Vian
Philip Vian
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Philip Louis Vian, GCB, KBE, DSO & Two Bars was a British naval officer who served in both World Wars....

). The fleet was overall led by Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay
Bertram Ramsay
Admiral Sir Bertram Home Ramsay KCB, KBE, MVO was a British admiral during World War II. He was an important contributor in the field of amphibious warfare.-Early life:...

.

Codenames


The Allies assigned codenames to the various operations involved in the invasion. Overlord was the name assigned to the establishment of a large-scale lodgement on the Continent. The first phase, the establishment of a secure foothold, was codenamed Neptune. It began on D-Day (6 June 1944) and ended on 30 June 1944. By this time, the Allies had established a firm foothold in Normandy. Operation Overlord also began on D-Day, and continued until Allied forces crossed the river Seine
Seine
The Seine is a -long river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Saint-Seine near Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre . It is navigable by ocean-going vessels...

 on 19 August 1944.

Atlantic Wall


{{Main|Atlantic Wall}}
Through most of 1942 and 1943, the Germans had rightly regarded the possibility of a successful Allied invasion in the west as remote. Preparations to counter an invasion were limited to the construction, by the Organisation Todt
Organisation Todt
The Todt Organisation, was a Third Reich civil and military engineering group in Germany named after its founder, Fritz Todt, an engineer and senior Nazi figure...

, of impressive fortifications covering the major ports. The number of military forces at the disposal of Nazi Germany reached its peak during 1944 with 59 divisions stationed in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.{{sfn|Wilmot|1952|p={{page number|date=December 2011}} }}

In late 1943, the obvious Allied buildup in Britain prompted the German Commander-in-Chief in the west, Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt
Gerd von Rundstedt
Karl Rudolf Gerd von Rundstedt was a Generalfeldmarschall of the German Army during World War II. He held some of the highest field commands in all phases of the war....

, to request reinforcements. In addition to fresh units, von Rundstedt also received a new subordinate, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
Erwin Rommel
Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel , popularly known as the Desert Fox , was a German Field Marshal of World War II. He won the respect of both his own troops and the enemies he fought....

. Rommel originally intended only to make a tour of inspection of the Atlantic Wall
Atlantic Wall
The Atlantic Wall was an extensive system of coastal fortifications built by Nazi Germany between 1942 and 1944 along the western coast of Europe as a defense against an anticipated Allied invasion of the mainland continent from Great Britain.-History:On March 23, 1942 Führer Directive Number 40...

. After reporting to Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

, Rommel requested command of the defenders of northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands. These were organised as Army Group B
Army Group B
Army Group B was the name of three different German Army Groups that saw action during World War II.-Battle for France:The first was involved in the Western Campaign in 1940 in Belgium and the Netherlands which was to be aimed to conquer the Maas bridges after the German airborne actions in Rotterdam...

 in February 1944. (The German forces in southern France were designated as Army Group G, under General Johannes Blaskowitz
Johannes Blaskowitz
Johannes Albrecht Blaskowitz was a German general during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords...

).

Rommel had recognized that for all their propaganda value, the Atlantic Wall fortifications covered only the ports themselves. The beaches between were barely defended, and the Allies could land there and capture the ports from inland. He revitalised the defenders, who laboured to improve the defences of the entire coastline. Steel obstacles were laid at the high-water mark on the beaches, concrete bunkers and pillboxes constructed, and low-lying areas flooded. Given the Allied air supremacy (12,000 Allied aircraft against 300 Luftwaffe fighters{{sfn|Keegan|1997|p=309}}), booby-trapped stakes known as Rommelspargel
Rommelspargel
Rommelspargel were logs that were placed in the fields and meadows of Normandy to cause damage to the expected invasion of Allied military gliders and paratroopers. Also known in German as Holzpfähle , the wooden defenses were placed in early 1944 in coastal areas of France and Holland against...

(Rommel's asparagus) were set up on likely landing grounds to deter airborne landings.

These works were not fully completed, especially in the vital Normandy sector, partly because Allied bombing of the French railway system interfered with the movement of the necessary materials, and also because the Germans were convinced by the Allied deception measures and their own preconceptions that the landings would take place in the Pas de Calais, and so they concentrated their efforts there.

The Germans had nevertheless extensively fortified the foreshore area as part of their Atlantic Wall defences (including tank top turrets and extensive barbed wire), believing that any forthcoming landings would be timed for high tide (this caused the landings to be timed for low tide). The sector which was attacked was guarded by four divisions, of which the 352nd and 91st were of high quality. The other defending troops included Germans who were not considered fit for active duty on the Eastern Front (usually for medical reasons) and various other nationalities such as conscripted Poles and former Soviet prisoners-of-war who had agreed to fight for the Germans rather than endure the harsh conditions of German POW camps. These "Ost" units were provided with German leadership to manage them.

Mobile reserves


Rommel's defensive measures were also frustrated by a dispute over armoured doctrine. In addition to his two army groups, von Rundstedt also commanded the headquarters of Panzer Group West under General Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg
Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg
Leo Dietrich Franz Freiherr Geyr von Schweppenburg was a German cavalry officer in World War I and a general during World War II. He was particularly noted for his expertise in armoured warfare and his command of Panzer Group West during the Invasion of Normandy.- Biography :Geyr was born in...

 (usually referred to as von Geyr) to administer the mobile formations in reserve. Von Geyr and Rommel disagreed over the deployment and use of the vital Panzer divisions.

Rommel proposed that the armoured formations be deployed close to the coast, to counter-attack while the invaders were vulnerable. Von Geyr argued that they should instead be concentrated in a central position around Paris and deployed en masse against the main Allied beachhead when this had been identified. When the matter was brought before Hitler, he imposed an unworkable compromise solution. Rommel was given only three tank divisions, only one of which was stationed closed enough to the Normandy beaches to intervene on the first day. The other mechanized divisions capable of intervening in Normandy were retained under the direct control of the German Armed Forces HQ (OKW) and were scattered across France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Weather forecast


The window of opportunity for launching an invasion was limited to only a few days in each month as a full moon was required, for light for the aircraft pilots and for the spring tide
Tide
Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the moon and the sun and the rotation of the Earth....

. Eisenhower had tentatively selected 5 June as the date for the assault. However, on 4 June, conditions were clearly unsuitable for a landing; high winds and heavy seas made it impossible to launch landing craft, and low clouds would prevent aircraft finding their targets. The Germans meanwhile took comfort from the existing poor conditions and believed an invasion would not be possible for several days. Some troops stood down, and many senior officers were absent. Rommel, for example, took leave to attend his wife's birthday.

Since April, the Captain class frigate
Captain class frigate
The Captain class were 78 frigates of the Royal Navy, constructed in the United States, launched in 1942–1943 and delivered to the United Kingdom under the provisions of Lend-Lease. They served in World War II as convoy escorts, anti-submarine warfare vessels and coastal forces control frigates...

 HMS Grindall had been transmitting weather reports from the mid-Atlantic every three hours. From these reports, Group Captain James Stagg RAF, Eisenhower's chief meteorologist, predicted a slight improvement in the weather for 6 June. Grindall{{'}}s reports indicated a ridge of high pressure behind a deep depression. Stagg forecast that the ridge would move eastward to reach the south-west approaches to the Channel late on 5 June, bringing a short-term improvement in the weather.

At a vital meeting late on 5 June, Eisenhower and his senior commanders discussed the situation. General Montgomery and Major General Walter Bedell Smith
Walter Bedell Smith
Walter Bedell "Beetle" Smith was a senior United States Army general who served as General Dwight D. Eisenhower's chief of staff at Allied Forces Headquarters during the Tunisia Campaign and the Allied invasion of Italy...

, Eisenhower's chief of staff, were eager to launch the invasion. Admiral Bertram Ramsay
Bertram Ramsay
Admiral Sir Bertram Home Ramsay KCB, KBE, MVO was a British admiral during World War II. He was an important contributor in the field of amphibious warfare.-Early life:...

 also was prepared to commit his ships, while Air Chief Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory
Trafford Leigh-Mallory
Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory KCB, DSO & Bar was a senior commander in the Royal Air Force. Leigh-Mallory served as a Royal Flying Corps pilot and squadron commander during World War I...

 was concerned that the conditions would be unfavourable for Allied aircraft to operate. After much discussion, Eisenhower decided to launch the invasion that night.{{sfn|Wilmot|1952|pp=224–226}}

Had Eisenhower postponed the invasion, the only option was to go two weeks later but this would have encountered the 'worst channel storm in 40 years' as Churchill later described it, which lasted four days between 19 and 22 June.

The invasion


{{Main|Invasion of Normandy}}
{{cquote|You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.|20px|20px|Eisenhower|Letter to Allied Forces}}
To eliminate the enemy's ability to organize and launch counterattacks during the amphibious assault phase, airborne operations
Airborne forces
Airborne forces are military units, usually light infantry, set up to be moved by aircraft and 'dropped' into battle. Thus they can be placed behind enemy lines, and have an ability to deploy almost anywhere with little warning...

 were utilized to seize key objectives, such as bridges, road crossings, and terrain features, particularly on the eastern and western flanks of the landing areas. The airborne landings some distance behind the beaches were also intended to ease the egress of the amphibious forces off the beaches, and in some cases to neutralize German coastal defense batteries and more quickly expand the area of the beachhead. Dropping behind enemy lines hours before the beach landings, the U.S. 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions were assigned to objectives west of Utah Beach. The British 6th Airborne Division was assigned to similar objectives on the eastern flank.

{{Campaignbox Normandy}}
{{Campaignbox Western Europe (1944-1945)}}
{{Campaignbox Western Front (World War II)}}

Operation Overlord{{sfn|Churchill|1951|p=642}} was the code name for the Battle of Normandy, the operation that launched the invasion of German-occupied western Europe
Western Front (World War II)
The Western Front of the European Theatre of World War II encompassed, Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and West Germany. The Western Front was marked by two phases of large-scale ground combat operations...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 by Allied
Western Allies
The Western Allies were a political and geographic grouping among the Allied Powers of the Second World War. It generally includes the United Kingdom and British Commonwealth, the United States, France and various other European and Latin American countries, but excludes China, the Soviet Union,...

 forces. The operation commenced on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings (Operation Neptune, commonly known as D-Day). A 12,000-plane airborne assault preceded an amphibious assault
Amphibious warfare
Amphibious warfare is the use of naval firepower, logistics and strategy to project military power ashore. In previous eras it stood as the primary method of delivering troops to non-contiguous enemy-held terrain...

 involving almost 7,000 vessels. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 on 6 June; more than 3 million troops were in France by the end of August.{{sfn|Blumenson|2005|pp=627–630}}{{sfn|Hammel|2006|loc=Okinawa}}

Allied land forces that saw combat in Normandy on D-Day itself came from Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Free French Forces
Free French Forces
The Free French Forces were French partisans in World War II who decided to continue fighting against the forces of the Axis powers after the surrender of France and subsequent German occupation and, in the case of Vichy France, collaboration with the Germans.-Definition:In many sources, Free...

 and Poland
Polish Armed Forces in the West
Polish Armed Forces in the West refers to the Polish military formations formed to fight alongside the Western Allies against Nazi Germany and its allies...

 also participated in the battle after the assault phase, and there were also minor contingents from Belgium, Greece, the Netherlands, and Norway.{{sfn|Williams|1988|p={{page number|date=December 2011}} }} Other Allied nations participated in the naval and air forces.

Once the beachheads were secured, a three-week military buildup occurred on the beaches before Operation Cobra
Operation Cobra
Operation Cobra was the codename for an offensive launched by the First United States Army seven weeks after the D-Day landings, during the Normandy Campaign of World War II...

, the operation to break out from the Normandy beachhead, began. The battle for Normandy continued for more than two months, with campaigns to expand the foothold on France, and concluded with the closing of the Falaise pocket
Falaise pocket
The battle of the Falaise Pocket, fought during the Second World War from 12 to 21 August 1944, was the decisive engagement of the Battle of Normandy...

 on 24 August, the Liberation of Paris
Liberation of Paris
The Liberation of Paris took place during World War II from 19 August 1944 until the surrender of the occupying German garrison on August 25th. It could be regarded by some as the last battle in the Battle for Normandy, though that really ended with the crushing of the Wehrmacht forces between the...

 on 25 August, and the German retreat across the Seine which was completed on 30 August 1944.{{sfn|Stacey|1957|p=295}}{{verification needed|date=November 2011}}

Preparations for D-Day


{{cquote|In the East, the vastness of space will… permit a loss of territory… without suffering a mortal blow to Germany’s chance for survival. Not so in the West! If the enemy here succeeds… consequences of staggering proportions will follow within a short time.|20px|20px|-Adolf Hitler, 'Directive 51'}}

In June 1940, German Führer Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 had triumphed in what he called "the most famous victory in history" – the fall of France.{{sfn|Horne|2005|p=322}} The British, although besieged, had been spared from annihilation when Operation Dynamo
Operation Dynamo
The Dunkirk evacuation, commonly known as the Miracle of Dunkirk, code-named Operation Dynamo by the British, was the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, France, between 26 May and the early hours of 3 June 1940, because the British, French and Belgian troops were...

 evacuated 300,000 troops from Dunkirk. The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

, in one of his famous speeches, vowed to invade France and liberate it from Nazi Germany (Winston Churchill#The World War II years
Wikiquote
Wikiquote is one of a family of wiki-based projects run by the Wikimedia Foundation, running on MediaWiki software. Based on an idea by Daniel Alston and implemented by Brion Vibber, the goal of the project is to produce collaboratively a vast reference of quotations from prominent people, books,...

).{{Churchill|1940|loc=God protect France}}

In a joint statement with the Soviet premier Communist Party
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

 General Secretary
General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the title given to the leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. With some exceptions, the office was synonymous with leader of the Soviet Union...

 Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 and American President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

, Churchill announced in 1942 a "full understanding" concerning the urgent task of creating a second front in Europe. Churchill unofficially informed the Soviets in a memorandum handed to Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 Minister of Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was a Soviet politician and diplomat, an Old Bolshevik and a leading figure in the Soviet government from the 1920s, when he rose to power as a protégé of Joseph Stalin, to 1957, when he was dismissed from the Presidium of the Central Committee by Nikita Khrushchev...

 that the resources necessary for an invasion were lacking in 1942. However, the announcement had some effect as it caused Hitler to order preparations for an Allied descent on Europe.

The British, under Churchill, wished to avoid the costly frontal assaults of World War I - Churchill's previous experience of opening a second front via an invasion had been the disastrous campaign in Gallipoli, Turkey. Churchill and the British staff favoured a course of allowing the insurgency
Insurgency
An insurgency is an armed rebellion against a constituted authority when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents...

 work of the Special Operations Executive
Special Operations Executive
The Special Operations Executive was a World War II organisation of the United Kingdom. It was officially formed by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Minister of Economic Warfare Hugh Dalton on 22 July 1940, to conduct guerrilla warfare against the Axis powers and to instruct and aid local...

 to come to widespread fruition, while making a main Allied thrust from the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 to Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 and into Germany from the south, concentrating on the weaker Axis ally, Italy. Such an approach
Italian Campaign (World War II)
The Italian Campaign of World War II was the name of Allied operations in and around Italy, from 1943 to the end of the war in Europe. Joint Allied Forces Headquarters AFHQ was operationally responsible for all Allied land forces in the Mediterranean theatre, and it planned and commanded the...

 was also believed to offer the advantage of creating a barrier to limit the Soviet advance into Europe. However, the U.S. government believed from the onset that the optimum approach was the shortest route to Germany emanating from the strongest Allied power base: Great Britain. They were adamant in their view and made it clear that it was the only option they would support in the long term. Two preliminary proposals were drawn up: Operation Sledgehammer
Operation Sledgehammer
Operation Sledgehammer was a World War II Allied plan for a cross-Channel invasion of Europe, as the first step in helping to reduce pressure on the Soviet Red Army by establishing a Second Front...

, for an invasion in 1942, and Operation Roundup, for a larger attack in 1943, which was adopted and became Operation Overlord, although it was delayed until 1944.

{{cquote|This operation will be the primary United States and British ground and air effort against the Axis of Europe. Following the establishment of strong Allied forces in France, operations designed to strike at the heart of Germany and to destroy her military forces will be undertaken. We have approved the outline plan for Operation Overlord.|20px|20px|-Report by Allied Combined Chiefs of Staff, Quebec Conferece, August 1943}}

The planning process was started in earnest after the Casablanca and Tehran Conference
Tehran Conference
The Tehran Conference was the meeting of Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill between November 28 and December 1, 1943, most of which was held at the Soviet Embassy in Tehran, Iran. It was the first World War II conference amongst the Big Three in which Stalin was present...

s{{sfn|Gilbert|1989|p=397, 478}} with the appointment of British Lieutenant-General Frederick E. Morgan
Frederick E. Morgan
Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Edgeworth Morgan KCB was a British Army officer who fought in the First World War and the Second World War...

 as Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander (Designate), a title shortened to COSSAC, with the American Major General Ray Barker
Ray Barker
Ray Wehnes Barker was a Major General of the Allied Forces, and served in the European Theater of Operations During World War II. General Barker was a key member of the combined United States-British group, which became known as COSSAC...

 as his deputy. The COSSAC staff's initial plans were constrained by the numbers of landing craft available, which were reduced by commitments in the Mediterranean and Pacific.
In part because of lessons learned by Allied troops in the raid on Dieppe
Dieppe Raid
The Dieppe Raid, also known as the Battle of Dieppe, Operation Rutter or later on Operation Jubilee, during the Second World War, was an Allied attack on the German-occupied port of Dieppe on the northern coast of France on 19 August 1942. The assault began at 5:00 AM and by 10:50 AM the Allied...

 of 19 August 1942, the Allies decided not to assault a French seaport directly in their first landings. The short operating range of British fighters, including the Spitfire
Supermarine Spitfire
The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries throughout the Second World War. The Spitfire continued to be used as a front line fighter and in secondary roles into the 1950s...

 and Typhoon
Hawker Typhoon
The Hawker Typhoon was a British single-seat fighter-bomber, produced by Hawker Aircraft. While the Typhoon was designed to be a medium-high altitude interceptor, and a direct replacement for the Hawker Hurricane, several design problems were encountered, and the Typhoon never completely satisfied...

, from UK airfields greatly limited the number of potential landing sites, as comprehensive air support
Air Support
Air Support is a 1992 computer game for the Amiga and Atari ST. It is a top-down strategy game, with a first-person mode available for special missions. The game takes place during a retrofuturistic 21st century where all wars are fought in virtual reality. The game was given mostly positive...

 depended upon having planes overhead for as long as possible.{{sfn|Gilbert|1989|p=397, 478}} Geography reduced the choices further to two sites: the Pas de Calais and the Normandy coast.
Normandy presented serious logistical problems, not the least of which was that the only viable port in the area, Cherbourg
Cherbourg-Octeville
-Main sights:* La Glacerie has a race track.* The Cité de la Mer is a large museum devoted to scientific and historical aspects of maritime subjects.* Cherbourg Basilica* Jardin botanique de la Roche Fauconnière, a private botanical garden.* Le Trident theatre...

, was heavily defended. Many among the higher echelons of command argued that the Pas de Calais would make a more suitable landing area on these grounds alone. Although the Pas de Calais was the shortest distance to the European mainland from Britain,{{sfn|Williams|2000|loc=The Atlantic Wall}} it was the most heavily fortified and defended landing site. It was also considered that it offered few opportunities for expansion as the area was bounded by numerous rivers and canals, whereas landings on a broad front in Normandy would permit simultaneous threats against the port of Cherbourg, coastal ports further west in Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

, and an overland attack towards Paris and towards the border with Germany. Normandy was a less-defended coast and an unexpected but strategic jumping-off point, with the potential to confuse and scatter the German defending forces. Normandy was hence chosen as the landing site.{{sfn|Ambrose|1995|loc=chapter 4 paragraph 10}}

The COSSAC staff planned to launch the invasion on 1 May 1944. The initial draft of the COSSAC plan was accepted at the Quebec Conference
Quebec Conference, 1943
The First Quebec Conference was a highly secret military conference held during World War II between the British, Canadian and United States governments. The conference was held in Quebec City, August 17, 1943 – August 24, 1943. It took place at the Citadelle and at the Château Frontenac. The...

 in August 1943, but no supreme commander was appointed for several months. General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

 was appointed commander of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force
Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force
Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force , was the headquarters of the Commander of Allied forces in north west Europe, from late 1943 until the end of World War II. U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was in command of SHAEF throughout its existence...

 (SHAEF) in November 1943.{{sfn|Gilbert|1989|p=491}} SHAEF was based in Camp Griffiss
Camp Griffiss
Camp Griffiss was a US military base in the United Kingdom during and after World War II.-History:From 1942, Camp Griffiss in Bushy Park became the site of a large US base, headquarters to a number of the Allied departments. The camp served as the European Headquarters for the USAAF from July 1942...

, Bushy Park
Bushy Park
- External links :***...

, Teddington
Teddington
Teddington is a suburban area in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames in south west London, on the north bank of the River Thames, between Hampton Wick and Twickenham. It stretches inland from the River Thames to Bushy Park...

, south-west London, and had over 1200 military personnel. General Bernard Montgomery was named as commander of the 21st Army Group, to which all of the invasion ground forces belonged, and was also given charge of developing the invasion plan.{{sfn|Hamilton|2004}} Both Eisenhower and Montgomery first saw the COSSAC plan on 31 December 1943 at Marrakech
Marrakech
Marrakech or Marrakesh , known as the "Ochre city", is the most important former imperial city in Morocco's history...

 in Morocco, in a conference with Winston Churchill. They insisted immediately that the scale of the initial invasion be expanded, to prevent the invaders being restricted to a narrow beachhead, with insufficient room to land follow-up formations and vulnerable to German counter-attacks. The need to acquire or produce extra landing craft for this expanded operation meant that the invasion had to be delayed to June.

The COSSAC plan proposed a landing from the sea by three divisions
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

, with two brigade
Brigade
A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of two to five battalions, plus supporting elements depending on the era and nationality of a given army and could be perceived as an enlarged/reinforced regiment...

s landed by air. Following Eisenhower's and Montgomery's revision of the plan, this was expanded to landings by five divisions and airborne descents by three divisions. In total, 39 divisions would be committed to the Battle of Normandy: 12 British, three Canadian and one Polish division under overall British command, and 22 American divisions and one Free French division{{sfn|Ellis|Allen|Warhurst|2004|pp=521–533}}{{#tag:ref|The British 79th Armoured Division never operated as a single formation{{sfn|Buckley|2006|p=13}} thus has been excluded from the total. In addition a combind total of 16 (three from the 79th Armoured Division) British, Belgian, Canadian and Dutch independent brigades were committed to the operation along with four battalions of the Special Air Service.{{sfn|Ellis|Allen|Warhurst|2004|pp=521–523, 524}}|group=nb}}, totalling over a million troops.{{sfn|Weinberg|1995|p=684}}

Detail planning


In preparation, the BBC appealed for holiday pictures and snaps of France for an exhibition. Those of the Normandy beaches were singled out to create detailed geological maps of the area. What was already known of the make-up was that the targeted beaches were underpinned in places by ancient woodland, which had created peat bogs not far below the surface of the beaches. Tests on similar beaches in Norfolk in 1943 proved them unsuitable for taking the weight of heavy tanks and transport, so detailed maps of the area were required. In December 1943, Operation Postage Able
Operation Postage Able
Operation Postage Able was an X class submarine based Royal Navy operation in preparation for Overlord, the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe.-Intelligence gathering:...

 used an X-craft to collect suitable data for all of the beaches. Where the areas of peat could not be avoided, they were to be covered with rolls of matting deployed from spools nicknamed "bobbin
Bobbin
A bobbin is a spindle or cylinder, with or without flanges, on which wire, yarn, thread or film is wound. Bobbins are typically found in sewing machines, cameras, and within electronic equipment....

s" (or more prosaically, "bog rolls") mounted on modified tanks.

On 7 April and 15 May, Montgomery presented his strategy for the invasion at St Paul's School. He envisaged a ninety day battle, ending when all the forces reached the Seine
Seine
The Seine is a -long river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Saint-Seine near Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre . It is navigable by ocean-going vessels...

,{{sfn|Weinberg|1995|p=698}} pivoting on an Allied-held Caen
Caen
Caen is a commune in northwestern France. It is the prefecture of the Calvados department and the capital of the Basse-Normandie region. It is located inland from the English Channel....

, with British and Canadian armies forming a shoulder and the U.S. armies wheeling to the right

The objective for the first 40 days was to create a lodgement
Lodgement
A lodgement is an enclave taken by and defended by force of arms against determined opposition made by increasing the size of a bridgehead, beachhead or airheadOxford English Dictionary lodgement, lodgment "3. The action of establishing oneself or making good a position on an enemy's ground, or...

 that would include the cities of Caen and Cherbourg (especially Cherbourg, for its deep-water port). Subsequently, there would be a breakout from the lodgement to liberate Brittany and its Atlantic ports, and to advance to a line roughly 125 miles (190 km) to the southwest of Paris, from Le Havre
Le Havre
Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute-Normandie region in France. It is situated in north-western France, on the right bank of the mouth of the river Seine on the English Channel. Le Havre is the most populous commune in the Haute-Normandie region, although the total...

 through Le Mans
Le Mans
Le Mans is a city in France, located on the Sarthe River. Traditionally the capital of the province of Maine, it is now the capital of the Sarthe department and the seat of the Roman Catholic diocese of Le Mans. Le Mans is a part of the Pays de la Loire region.Its inhabitants are called Manceaux...

 to Tours
Tours
Tours is a city in central France, the capital of the Indre-et-Loire department.It is located on the lower reaches of the river Loire, between Orléans and the Atlantic coast. Touraine, the region around Tours, is known for its wines, the alleged perfection of its local spoken French, and for the...

, so that after ninety days the Allies would control a zone bounded by the rivers Loire in the south and Seine in the northeast.

Technology


{{Expand section|date=August 2009}}
{{Main|Mulberry harbor|Operation Pluto}}
The Allies developed new technologies for Overlord. The "mulberry", a mobile, prefabricated concrete harbor, allowed the Allies to supply their beachhead without capturing one of the heavily defended Channel ports, as did the Pipe-Line Under The Ocean (PLUTO
Pluto
Pluto, formal designation 134340 Pluto, is the second-most-massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the tenth-most-massive body observed directly orbiting the Sun...

). Major-General Percy Hobart
Percy Hobart
Major-General Sir Percy Cleghorn Stanley Hobart KBE CB DSO MC , also known as "Hobo", was a British military engineer, noted for his command of the 79th Armoured Division during World War II...

, an unconventional military engineer, assembled a force of modified Sherman and Churchill tanks known as Hobart's Funnies
Hobart's Funnies
Hobart's Funnies were a number of unusually modified tanks operated during World War II by the United Kingdom's 79th Armoured Division or by specialists from the Royal Engineers. They were designed in light of problems that more standard tanks experienced during the Dieppe Raid, so that the new...

, which were used at Normandy.

Deception



{{Main|Operation Fortitude|Operation Bodyguard}}
In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted a deception operation, Operation Bodyguard
Operation Bodyguard
Operation Bodyguard was the code name for a World War II military deception employed by the Allied nations during the build up to the 1944 invasion of north-western Europe. The aim of the operation was to mislead the German high command as to the exact date and location of the invasion...

, designed to persuade the Germans that areas other than northern France would be threatened as well (such as the Balkans and the south of France). Then, in the weeks leading up to the invasion, in order to persuade the Germans that the main invasion would really take place at the Pas de Calais, and to lead them to expect an invasion of Norway, the Allies prepared a massive deception plan, called Operation Fortitude
Operation Fortitude
Operation Fortitude was the codename for a World War II military deception employed by the Allied nations as part of an overall deception strategy during the build up to the 1944 Normandy Landings...

. Operation Fortitude North would lead the Axis to expect an attack on Norway; the much more vital Operation Fortitude South was designed to lead the Germans to expect the main invasion at the Pas de Calais, and to hold back forces to guard against this threat rather than rushing them to Normandy.{{sfn|Weinberg|1995|p=680}}

An entirely fictitious First U.S. Army Group ("FUSAG"), supposedly located in southeastern Britain under the command of General Lesley J. McNair
Lesley J. McNair
General Lesley James McNair was an American Army officer who served during World War I and World War II. He was killed by friendly fire when a USAAF Eighth Air Force bomb landed in his foxhole near Saint-Lô during Operation Cobra as part of the Battle of Normandy.McNair, Frank Maxwell Andrews and...

 and Lieutenant General George S. Patton, Jr., was created in German minds by the use of double agents and fake radio traffic. The Germans had an extensive network of agents operating in the UK. Unfortunately for them, every single one had been "turned" by the Allies as part of the Double Cross System
Double Cross System
The Double Cross System, or XX System, was a World War II anti-espionage and deception operation of the British military intelligence arm, MI5. Nazi agents in Britain - real and false - were captured, turned themselves in or simply announced themselves and were then used by the British to broadcast...

, and appropriate agents were dutifully sending back messages "confirming" the existence and location of FUSAG and the Pas de Calais as the likely main attack point.{{sfn|Weinberg|1995|p=680}} Dummy tanks (some inflatable), trucks, and landing craft, as well as troop camp facades (constructed from scaffolding and canvas) were placed in ports on the eastern and southeastern coasts of Britain, and the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

was allowed to photograph them. During this period, most of the Allied naval bombardment was focused on Pas de Calais instead of Normandy. The Allied Forces even went as far as to broadcast static over Axis accessible radioways and convinced Germany to expend efforts to try to decode white noise
White noise
White noise is a random signal with a flat power spectral density. In other words, the signal contains equal power within a fixed bandwidth at any center frequency...

, further leading Germany away from the upcoming Normandy invasion.

In aid of Operation Fortitude North, Operation Skye was mounted from Scotland using radio traffic, designed to convince German traffic analysts that an invasion would also be mounted into Norway. Against this phantom threat, German units that otherwise could have been moved into France were instead kept in Norway.

Operation Cover (2–5 June) used Eighth Air Force Missions 384,388, 389, & 392 to bomb transportation and airfield targets in Northern France and "coastal defenses, mainly located in the Pas de Calais coastal area, to deceive the enemy as to the sector to be invaded".

The last part of the deception occurred on the night before the invasion: a small group of SAS
Special Air Service
Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

 operators deployed dummy paratroopers over Le Havre and Isigny. These dummies led the Germans to believe that an additional airborne assault had occurred; this tied up reinforcing troops and kept the true situation unclear. On that same night, two RAF squadrons (No. 617 Squadron
No. 617 Squadron RAF
No. 617 Squadron is a Royal Air Force aircraft squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland. It currently operates the Tornado GR4 in the ground attack and reconnaissance role...

 and No. 218 Squadron
No. 218 Squadron RAF
No. 218 Squadron RAF was a squadron of the Royal Air Force. It was also known as No 218 Squadron after the Governor of the Gold Coast and people of the Gold Coast officially adopted the squadron.-World War I:...

) in Operation Taxable
Operation Taxable
Operation Taxable was the codename for one of the deception operations used by the Allied forces during World War II in connection with the Normandy landings...

 and Operation Glimmer
Operation Glimmer
Operation Glimmer was the codename for one of the deception operations used by the Allied forces during World War II in connection with the Normandy landings . In conjunction with Operation Taxable, this was conducted by aircraft of the Royal Air Force and small ships of the Royal Navy to trick the...

 created an illusion of a massive naval convoy sailing for the Cap d'Antifer (15 miles north of Le Havre
Le Havre
Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute-Normandie region in France. It is situated in north-western France, on the right bank of the mouth of the river Seine on the English Channel. Le Havre is the most populous commune in the Haute-Normandie region, although the total...

). This was achieved by the precision dropping of "Window", strips of metal foil. The foil caused a radar return mistakenly interpreted by German radar operators as a fleet of small craft towing barrage balloon
Barrage balloon
A barrage balloon is a large balloon tethered with metal cables, used to defend against low-level aircraft attack by damaging the aircraft on collision with the cables, or at least making the attacker's approach more difficult. Some versions carried small explosive charges that would be pulled up...

s.{{sfn|Bickers|1994|pp=19–21}}

Rehearsals and security


Allied forces rehearsed their roles for D-Day months before the invasion. On 28 April 1944, in south Devon
Devon
Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

 on the British coast, 749 American soldiers and sailors were killed when German torpedo boats
E-boat
E-boats was the designation for Motor Torpedo Boats of the German Navy during World War II. It is commonly held that the E stood for Enemy....

 surprised one of these landing exercises, Exercise Tiger
Exercise Tiger
Exercise Tiger, or Operation Tiger, were the code names for a full-scale rehearsal in 1944 for the D-Day invasion of Normandy. During the exercise, an Allied convoy was attacked, resulting in the deaths of 946 American servicemen....

.{{sfn|Gilbert|1989||p=520}}

The effectiveness of the deception operations was increased by a news blackout from Britain. Travel to and from the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 was banned, and movements within several miles of the coasts restricted. The German embassies and consulates in neutral countries were flooded with all sorts of misleading information, in the well-founded hope that any genuine information on the landings would be ignored with all the confusing chaff.

There were several leaks prior to or on D-Day. Through the Cicero affair, the Germans obtained documents containing references to Overlord, but these documents lacked all detail.{{sfn|Keegan|1990|p=279}} Another such leak was Gen. Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

's radio message after D-Day. He, unlike all the other leaders, stated that this invasion was the real invasion. This had the potential to ruin the Allied deceptions Fortitude North and Fortitude South. For example, Eisenhower referred to the landings as the initial invasion. Nevertheless, the Germans did not believe de Gaulle and waited too long to move in extra units against the Allies.

Allied invasion plan


{{See|Normandy landings}}

The British were to take an airborne assault on the River Orne. The British objective was to secure the Orne River bridges; first to prevent German armor from using them to cross the river and disrupt the landings; second to hold them against destruction by the retreating Germans so that they could be used by Allied armor and logistics as the invasion moved inland. The British amphibious assault units would attack through Sword and Gold Beaches. The United States had an airborne division and land units, which were to take Omaha beach
Omaha Beach
Omaha Beach is the code name for one of the five sectors of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, during World War II...

, Pointe du Hoc
Pointe du Hoc
Pointe du Hoc is a clifftop location on the coast of Normandy in northern France. It lies 4 miles west of Omaha Beach, and stands on 100 ft tall cliffs overlooking the sea...

 and Utah Beach
Utah Beach
Utah Beach was the code name for the right flank, or westernmost, of the Allied landing beaches during the D-Day invasion of Normandy, as part of Operation Overlord on 6 June 1944...

es. The Canadians would team up with British units to attack Sword Beach
Sword Beach
Sword, commonly known as Sword Beach, was the code name given to one of the five main landing areas along the Normandy coast during the initial assault phase, Operation Neptune, of Operation Overlord; the Allied invasion of German-occupied France that commenced on 6 June 1944...

. The British and Canadians had separate beaches Gold Beach
Gold Beach
Gold Beach was the code name of one of the D-Day landing beaches that Allied forces used to invade German-occupied France on 6 June 1944, during World War II....

 and Juno Beach
Juno Beach
Juno or Juno Beach was one of five sectors of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, during the Second World War. The sector spanned from Saint-Aubin, a village just east of the British Gold sector, to Courseulles, just west of the British Sword sector...

, respectively.

The Invasion Fleet was drawn from eight navies made up of warships and submarines, split into the Western Naval Task Force (Rear-Admiral Alan G Kirk) and the Eastern Naval Task Force (Rear-Admiral Sir Philip Vian
Philip Vian
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Philip Louis Vian, GCB, KBE, DSO & Two Bars was a British naval officer who served in both World Wars....

). The fleet was overall led by Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay
Bertram Ramsay
Admiral Sir Bertram Home Ramsay KCB, KBE, MVO was a British admiral during World War II. He was an important contributor in the field of amphibious warfare.-Early life:...

.

Codenames


The Allies assigned codenames to the various operations involved in the invasion. Overlord was the name assigned to the establishment of a large-scale lodgement on the Continent. The first phase, the establishment of a secure foothold, was codenamed Neptune. It began on D-Day (6 June 1944) and ended on 30 June 1944. By this time, the Allies had established a firm foothold in Normandy. Operation Overlord also began on D-Day, and continued until Allied forces crossed the river Seine
Seine
The Seine is a -long river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Saint-Seine near Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre . It is navigable by ocean-going vessels...

 on 19 August 1944.

Atlantic Wall


{{Main|Atlantic Wall}}
Through most of 1942 and 1943, the Germans had rightly regarded the possibility of a successful Allied invasion in the west as remote. Preparations to counter an invasion were limited to the construction, by the Organisation Todt
Organisation Todt
The Todt Organisation, was a Third Reich civil and military engineering group in Germany named after its founder, Fritz Todt, an engineer and senior Nazi figure...

, of impressive fortifications covering the major ports. The number of military forces at the disposal of Nazi Germany reached its peak during 1944 with 59 divisions stationed in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.{{sfn|Wilmot|1952|p={{page number|date=December 2011}} }}

In late 1943, the obvious Allied buildup in Britain prompted the German Commander-in-Chief in the west, Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt
Gerd von Rundstedt
Karl Rudolf Gerd von Rundstedt was a Generalfeldmarschall of the German Army during World War II. He held some of the highest field commands in all phases of the war....

, to request reinforcements. In addition to fresh units, von Rundstedt also received a new subordinate, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
Erwin Rommel
Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel , popularly known as the Desert Fox , was a German Field Marshal of World War II. He won the respect of both his own troops and the enemies he fought....

. Rommel originally intended only to make a tour of inspection of the Atlantic Wall
Atlantic Wall
The Atlantic Wall was an extensive system of coastal fortifications built by Nazi Germany between 1942 and 1944 along the western coast of Europe as a defense against an anticipated Allied invasion of the mainland continent from Great Britain.-History:On March 23, 1942 Führer Directive Number 40...

. After reporting to Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

, Rommel requested command of the defenders of northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands. These were organised as Army Group B
Army Group B
Army Group B was the name of three different German Army Groups that saw action during World War II.-Battle for France:The first was involved in the Western Campaign in 1940 in Belgium and the Netherlands which was to be aimed to conquer the Maas bridges after the German airborne actions in Rotterdam...

 in February 1944. (The German forces in southern France were designated as Army Group G, under General Johannes Blaskowitz
Johannes Blaskowitz
Johannes Albrecht Blaskowitz was a German general during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords...

).

Rommel had recognized that for all their propaganda value, the Atlantic Wall fortifications covered only the ports themselves. The beaches between were barely defended, and the Allies could land there and capture the ports from inland. He revitalised the defenders, who laboured to improve the defences of the entire coastline. Steel obstacles were laid at the high-water mark on the beaches, concrete bunkers and pillboxes constructed, and low-lying areas flooded. Given the Allied air supremacy (12,000 Allied aircraft against 300 Luftwaffe fighters{{sfn|Keegan|1997|p=309}}), booby-trapped stakes known as Rommelspargel
Rommelspargel
Rommelspargel were logs that were placed in the fields and meadows of Normandy to cause damage to the expected invasion of Allied military gliders and paratroopers. Also known in German as Holzpfähle , the wooden defenses were placed in early 1944 in coastal areas of France and Holland against...

(Rommel's asparagus) were set up on likely landing grounds to deter airborne landings.

These works were not fully completed, especially in the vital Normandy sector, partly because Allied bombing of the French railway system interfered with the movement of the necessary materials, and also because the Germans were convinced by the Allied deception measures and their own preconceptions that the landings would take place in the Pas de Calais, and so they concentrated their efforts there.

The Germans had nevertheless extensively fortified the foreshore area as part of their Atlantic Wall defences (including tank top turrets and extensive barbed wire), believing that any forthcoming landings would be timed for high tide (this caused the landings to be timed for low tide). The sector which was attacked was guarded by four divisions, of which the 352nd and 91st were of high quality. The other defending troops included Germans who were not considered fit for active duty on the Eastern Front (usually for medical reasons) and various other nationalities such as conscripted Poles and former Soviet prisoners-of-war who had agreed to fight for the Germans rather than endure the harsh conditions of German POW camps. These "Ost" units were provided with German leadership to manage them.

Mobile reserves


Rommel's defensive measures were also frustrated by a dispute over armoured doctrine. In addition to his two army groups, von Rundstedt also commanded the headquarters of Panzer Group West under General Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg
Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg
Leo Dietrich Franz Freiherr Geyr von Schweppenburg was a German cavalry officer in World War I and a general during World War II. He was particularly noted for his expertise in armoured warfare and his command of Panzer Group West during the Invasion of Normandy.- Biography :Geyr was born in...

 (usually referred to as von Geyr) to administer the mobile formations in reserve. Von Geyr and Rommel disagreed over the deployment and use of the vital Panzer divisions.

Rommel proposed that the armoured formations be deployed close to the coast, to counter-attack while the invaders were vulnerable. Von Geyr argued that they should instead be concentrated in a central position around Paris and deployed en masse against the main Allied beachhead when this had been identified. When the matter was brought before Hitler, he imposed an unworkable compromise solution. Rommel was given only three tank divisions, only one of which was stationed closed enough to the Normandy beaches to intervene on the first day. The other mechanized divisions capable of intervening in Normandy were retained under the direct control of the German Armed Forces HQ (OKW) and were scattered across France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Weather forecast


The window of opportunity for launching an invasion was limited to only a few days in each month as a full moon was required, for light for the aircraft pilots and for the spring tide
Tide
Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the moon and the sun and the rotation of the Earth....

. Eisenhower had tentatively selected 5 June as the date for the assault. However, on 4 June, conditions were clearly unsuitable for a landing; high winds and heavy seas made it impossible to launch landing craft, and low clouds would prevent aircraft finding their targets. The Germans meanwhile took comfort from the existing poor conditions and believed an invasion would not be possible for several days. Some troops stood down, and many senior officers were absent. Rommel, for example, took leave to attend his wife's birthday.

Since April, the Captain class frigate
Captain class frigate
The Captain class were 78 frigates of the Royal Navy, constructed in the United States, launched in 1942–1943 and delivered to the United Kingdom under the provisions of Lend-Lease. They served in World War II as convoy escorts, anti-submarine warfare vessels and coastal forces control frigates...

 HMS Grindall had been transmitting weather reports from the mid-Atlantic every three hours. From these reports, Group Captain James Stagg RAF, Eisenhower's chief meteorologist, predicted a slight improvement in the weather for 6 June. Grindall{{'}}s reports indicated a ridge of high pressure behind a deep depression. Stagg forecast that the ridge would move eastward to reach the south-west approaches to the Channel late on 5 June, bringing a short-term improvement in the weather.

At a vital meeting late on 5 June, Eisenhower and his senior commanders discussed the situation. General Montgomery and Major General Walter Bedell Smith
Walter Bedell Smith
Walter Bedell "Beetle" Smith was a senior United States Army general who served as General Dwight D. Eisenhower's chief of staff at Allied Forces Headquarters during the Tunisia Campaign and the Allied invasion of Italy...

, Eisenhower's chief of staff, were eager to launch the invasion. Admiral Bertram Ramsay
Bertram Ramsay
Admiral Sir Bertram Home Ramsay KCB, KBE, MVO was a British admiral during World War II. He was an important contributor in the field of amphibious warfare.-Early life:...

 also was prepared to commit his ships, while Air Chief Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory
Trafford Leigh-Mallory
Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory KCB, DSO & Bar was a senior commander in the Royal Air Force. Leigh-Mallory served as a Royal Flying Corps pilot and squadron commander during World War I...

 was concerned that the conditions would be unfavourable for Allied aircraft to operate. After much discussion, Eisenhower decided to launch the invasion that night.{{sfn|Wilmot|1952|pp=224–226}}

Had Eisenhower postponed the invasion, the only option was to go two weeks later but this would have encountered the 'worst channel storm in 40 years' as Churchill later described it, which lasted four days between 19 and 22 June.

The invasion


{{Main|Invasion of Normandy}}
{{cquote|You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.|20px|20px|Eisenhower|Letter to Allied Forces}}
To eliminate the enemy's ability to organize and launch counterattacks during the amphibious assault phase, airborne operations
Airborne forces
Airborne forces are military units, usually light infantry, set up to be moved by aircraft and 'dropped' into battle. Thus they can be placed behind enemy lines, and have an ability to deploy almost anywhere with little warning...

 were utilized to seize key objectives, such as bridges, road crossings, and terrain features, particularly on the eastern and western flanks of the landing areas. The airborne landings some distance behind the beaches were also intended to ease the egress of the amphibious forces off the beaches, and in some cases to neutralize German coastal defense batteries and more quickly expand the area of the beachhead. Dropping behind enemy lines hours before the beach landings, the U.S. 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions were assigned to objectives west of Utah Beach. The British 6th Airborne Division was assigned to similar objectives on the eastern flank.{{sfn|Ambrose|1994|p={{page number|date=November 2011}} 530 Free French paratroopers from the British Special Air Service
Special Air Service
Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

 Brigade, were assigned to objectives in Brittany from 5 June to August.{{sfn|Corta|1952|p={{page number|date=December 2011}}}}{{sfn|Corta|1997|p={{page number|date=December 2011}}}} (Operation Dingson
Operation Dingson
Operation Dingson was an operation in the Second World War, conducted by about 178 Free French paratroops of the 4th Special Air Service , commanded by Colonel Pierre-Louis Bourgoin, who jumped into German occupied France near Vannes, Morbihan, Southern Brittany, in Plumelec, on the night of 5...

, Operation Samwest
Operation Samwest
During World War II, Operation Samwest was a large raid conducted by 116 Free French paratroops of the 4th Special Air Service Regiment. Their objective was to hinder movement of German troops from west Brittany to the Normandy beaches via ambush and sabotage attempts.The first phase of the...

, Operation Cooney
Operation Cooney
On 7 June 1944, 297 Squadron took part in Operation Cooney by providing 2 of the 9 aircraft of 38 Group that were used to deploy elements of the 4th Free French Parachute Battalion or 2eme RCP also known as 4th SAS....

).

The beaches


{{Main|Gold Beach|Sword Beach|Omaha Beach|Juno Beach|Pointe du Hoc|Utah Beach}}
On Sword Beach, the regular British infantry came ashore with light casualties. They had advanced about 8 kilometres (5 mi) by the end of the day but failed to make some of the deliberately ambitious targets set by Montgomery. In particular, Caen, a major objective, was still in German hands by the end of D-Day, and would remain so until Operation Charnwood
Operation Charnwood
Operation Charnwood was a Second World War Anglo-Canadian offensive that took place from 8–9 July 1944, during the Battle of Normandy. The operation was intended to at least partially capture the German-occupied French city of Caen , which was an important Allied objective during the opening stages...

 on 9 July.

The Canadian forces that landed on Juno Beach faced heavy batteries of machine-gun nests, pillboxes, other concrete fortifications, and a seawall twice the height of the one at Omaha Beach. Juno was the second most heavily defended beach on D-Day, next to Omaha.{{sfn|Stacey|1960|p={{page number|date=November 2011}} }} Despite the obstacles, the Canadians were off the beach within hours and advancing inland with minimal casualties.{{sfn|Martin|1994|p=16}} The Canadians were the only units to reach their D-Day objectives, although most units fell back a few kilometres to stronger defensive positions.

At Gold Beach, the casualties were also quite heavy, because the Germans had strongly fortified a village on the beach. However, the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division overcame these difficulties and advanced almost to the outskirts of Bayeux by the end of the day. The linkup with commando units securing the Port-en-Bessin gave the Allies a base to deploy their PLUTO
Pluto
Pluto, formal designation 134340 Pluto, is the second-most-massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the tenth-most-massive body observed directly orbiting the Sun...

 pipeline, as an alternative to the experimental 'Tombola', a conventional tanker-ship to shore storage system.


The Americans who landed on Omaha beach faced the veteran German 352nd Infantry Division, one of the best trained on the beaches. Omaha was the most heavily fortified beach, and the majority of landings missed their assigned sectors. Commanders considered abandoning the beachhead, but small units of infantry, often forming ad hoc
Ad hoc
Ad hoc is a Latin phrase meaning "for this". It generally signifies a solution designed for a specific problem or task, non-generalizable, and not intended to be able to be adapted to other purposes. Compare A priori....

 groups, eventually infiltrated the coastal defenses. Further landings were able to exploit the initial penetrations and by the end of day two isolated footholds had been established. The tenuous beachhead was expanded over the following days, and the original D-Day objectives were accomplished by D+3.

At Pointe du Hoc, the task for the 2nd Ranger battalion commanded by Lt. Colonel James Rudder, was to scale the 30 metres (98.4 ft) cliffs under enemy fire and grenades with ropes and ladders, and then destroy the guns there. The beach fortifications themselves were still vital targets since a single artillery forward observer based there could have called down accurate fire on the U.S. beaches. The Rangers were eventually successful, and captured the fortifications. They then had to fight for 2 days to hold the location, losing more than 60 percent of their men.

Casualties on Utah Beach, the westernmost landing zone, were the lightest of any beach, with 197 out of the roughly 23,000 troops that landed. Although the 4th Infantry Division troops that landed on the beach found themselves too far to the southeast, they landed on a lightly defended sector that had relatively little German opposition, and the 4th Infantry Division was able to press inland by early afternoon, linking up with the 101st Airborne Division.


Once the beachhead was established, the Mulberry Harbour
Mulberry harbour
A Mulberry harbour was a British type of temporary harbour developed in World War II to offload cargo on the beaches during the Allied invasion of Normandy....

s were made operational around 9 June. One was constructed at Arromanches by British forces, the other at Omaha Beach by American forces. Severe storms on 19 June interrupted the landing of supplies and destroyed the Omaha harbour. However, the Arromanches harbour was able to supply around 9,000 tons of materiel
Materiel
Materiel is a term used in English to refer to the equipment and supplies in military and commercial supply chain management....

 daily until the end of August 1944, by which time the port of Cherbourg
Cherbourg-Octeville
-Main sights:* La Glacerie has a race track.* The Cité de la Mer is a large museum devoted to scientific and historical aspects of maritime subjects.* Cherbourg Basilica* Jardin botanique de la Roche Fauconnière, a private botanical garden.* Le Trident theatre...

 had been secured by the Allies.

Despite this, the German 21st Panzer division mounted a concerted counterattack, between Sword and Juno beaches, and succeeded in nearly reaching the channel. Stiff resistance by anti-tank gunners and fear of being cut off caused them to withdraw before the end of 6 June. According to some reports, the sighting of a wave of airborne troops flying over them was instrumental in the decision to retreat.

The Allied invasion plans had called for the capture of Carentan
Carentan
Carentan is a small rural town near the north-eastern base of the French Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy in north-western France near the port city of Cherbourg-Octeville. Carentan has a population somewhat over 6,000 and is now administratively organized as a commune in the Manche department...

, St. Lô, Caen
Caen
Caen is a commune in northwestern France. It is the prefecture of the Calvados department and the capital of the Basse-Normandie region. It is located inland from the English Channel....

, and Bayeux
Bayeux
Bayeux is a commune in the Calvados department in Normandy in northwestern France.Bayeux is the home of the Bayeux Tapestry, which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England.-Administration:Bayeux is a sub-prefecture of Calvados...

 on the first day, with all the beaches linked except Utah, and Sword (the last linked with paratroopers) and a front line 10 to 16 km (6.2 to 9.9 mi) from the beaches. In practice none of these had been achieved. However, overall the casualties had not been as heavy as some had feared (around 10,000 compared to the 20,000 Churchill had estimated), and the bridgeheads had withstood the expected counterattacks.

Cherbourg


{{Main|Battle of Cherbourg|Bombardment of Cherbourg}}

In the western part of the lodgement, U.S. troops were to occupy the Cotentin Peninsula
Cotentin Peninsula
The Cotentin Peninsula, also known as the Cherbourg Peninsula, is a peninsula in Normandy, forming part of the north-western coast of France. It juts out north-westwards into the English Channel, towards Great Britain...

, especially Cherbourg, which would provide the Allies with a deep water harbour. The country behind Utah and Omaha beaches was characterised by bocage
Bocage
Bocage is a Norman word which has entered both the French and English languages. It may refer to a small forest, a decorative element of leaves, a terrain of mixed woodland and pasture, or a type of rubble-work, comparable with the English use of 'rustic' in relation to garden...

; ancient banks and hedgerows, up to 3 metres (9.8 ft) thick, spread 100 to 200 m (328.1 to 656.2 ft) apart, both seemingly being impervious to tanks, gunfire, and vision, thus making ideal defensive positions. The U.S. infantry made slow progress, and suffered heavy casualties, as they pressed towards Cherbourg. The airborne troops were called on several times to restart a stalled advance. The far side of the peninsula was reached on 18 June. Hitler prevented German forces from retreating to the strong Atlantic Wall fortifications in Cherbourg, and after initially offering stiff resistance, the Cherbourg commander, Lieutenant General von Schlieben
Karl-Wilhelm von Schlieben
Karl-Wilhelm von Schlieben was a German officer in World War I and World War II.- World War I career :Karl-Wilhelm von Schlieben joined the Prussian Army in August 1914 as a Fahnenjunker . He was assigned to the training and replacement Battalion of the 3rd Foot Guards...

, capitulated on 26 June. Before surrendering however, he had most of the facilities destroyed, making the harbour inoperable until the middle of August, by which time the combat front had moved so far east that it was less strategic for support.{{sfn|Weigley|1981|p=157}}

Caen


{{Main|Battle for Caen}}

Whilst the Americans headed for Cherbourg, a unit of troops led by the British moved towards the city of Caen. Believing Caen to be the "crucible" of the battle, Montgomery made it the target of a series of attritional attacks. The first was Operation Perch, which attempted to push south from Bayeux to Villers-Bocage
Villers-Bocage, Calvados
-External links:* *...

 where the armour could then head towards the Orne and envelop Caen, but was halted at the Battle of Villers-Bocage
Battle of Villers-Bocage
The Battle of Villers-Bocage took place during the Second World War on 13 June 1944, one week after the Allies landed in Normandy to begin the liberation of German-occupied France. The battle was the result of a British attempt to improve their position by exploiting a temporary vulnerability in...

. After a delay owing to the difficulty of supply because of storms from 17 June until 23 June, a German counterattack (which was known through Ultra
Ultra
Ultra was the designation adopted by British military intelligence in June 1941 for wartime signals intelligence obtained by "breaking" high-level encrypted enemy radio and teleprinter communications at the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park. "Ultra" eventually became the standard...

 intelligence) was forestalled by Operation Epsom
Operation Epsom
Operation Epsom, also known as the First Battle of the Odon, was a Second World War British offensive that took place between 26 and 30 June 1944, during the Battle of Normandy...

. Caen was severely bombed and then occupied north of the River Orne in Operation Charnwood
Operation Charnwood
Operation Charnwood was a Second World War Anglo-Canadian offensive that took place from 8–9 July 1944, during the Battle of Normandy. The operation was intended to at least partially capture the German-occupied French city of Caen , which was an important Allied objective during the opening stages...

 from 7 July until 9 July. A major offensive in the Caen area followed with all three British armoured divisions, codenamed Operation Goodwood
Operation Goodwood
Operation Goodwood was an attack launched on 18 July 1944, during the Second World War, by the British army to the east of the city of Caen...

from 18 July until 21 July that captured the high ground south of Caen while the remainder of the city was captured by Canadian forces during Operation Atlantic
Operation Atlantic
Operation Atlantic was a Canadian offensive during the Battle of Normandy in the Second World War, from July 18–21, 1944. This Canadian offensive was launched in conjunction with a British-led offensive, Operation Goodwood...

. A further operation, Operation Spring
Operation Spring
Operation Spring was an offensive operation conducted by II Canadian Corps during the Normandy campaign. The plan was intended to create pressure on the German forces operating on the British and Canadian front simultaneously to American offensive operations in their sector known as Operation...

, from 25 July until 28 July, by the Canadians secured limited gains south of the city at a high cost.

Breakout from the beachhead


{{Main|Operation Cobra}}

An important element of Montgomery's strategy was to cause the Germans to commit their reserves to the eastern part of the theater to allow an easier breakout from the west. By the end of Goodwood, the Germans had committed the last of their reserve divisions; there were six and a half Panzer divisions facing the British and Canadian forces compared to one and a half facing the United States armies. Operation Cobra
Operation Cobra
Operation Cobra was the codename for an offensive launched by the First United States Army seven weeks after the D-Day landings, during the Normandy Campaign of World War II...

was launched on 25 July by the U.S. First Army and was extremely successful with the advance guard of VIII Corps entering Coutances
Coutances
Coutances is a commune in the Manche department in Normandy in north-western France.-History:Capital of the Unelli, a Gaulish tribe, the town took the name of Constantia in 298 during the reign of Roman emperor Constantius Chlorus...

 at the western end of the Cotentin Peninsula
Cotentin Peninsula
The Cotentin Peninsula, also known as the Cherbourg Peninsula, is a peninsula in Normandy, forming part of the north-western coast of France. It juts out north-westwards into the English Channel, towards Great Britain...

, on 28 July, after a penetration through the German lines.


On 1 August, VIII Corps became part of Lieutenant General George S. Patton
George S. Patton
George Smith Patton, Jr. was a United States Army officer best known for his leadership while commanding corps and armies as a general during World War II. He was also well known for his eccentricity and controversial outspokenness.Patton was commissioned in the U.S. Army after his graduation from...

's newly-arrived U.S. Third Army. On 4 August, Montgomery altered the invasion plan by detaching only a corps to occupy Brittany and hem the German troops there into enclaves around the ports, while the rest of the Third Army continued east. The U.S. First Army turned the German front at its western end. Because of the concentration of German forces south of Caen, Montgomery moved the British armor west and launched Operation Bluecoat
Operation Bluecoat
Operation Bluecoat was an attack by the British Second Army at the Battle of Normandy during the Second World War, from 30 July – 7 August 1944. The geographical objectives of the attack were to secure the key road junction of Vire and the high ground of Mont Pinçon...

 from 30 July until 7 August to add to the pressure from the United States armies. This drew the German forces to the west, allowing the launch of Operation Totalize south from Caen on 7 August.

Falaise pocket


{{Main|Falaise pocket}}

By the beginning of August, more German reserves became available with the realisation that no landings were going to take place near Calais. The German forces were being encircled, and the German High Command wanted these reserves to help an orderly retreat to the Seine. However, they were overruled by Hitler who demanded an attack at Mortain
Operation Lüttich
Operation Lüttich was a codename given to a German counterattack during the Battle of Normandy, which took place around the American positions near Mortain from 7 August to 13 August 1944...

 at the western end of the pocket on 7 August. The attack was repelled by the Allies, who again had advance warning from Ultra. The original Allied plan was for a wide encirclement as far as the Loire valley, but Bradley realized that many of the German forces in Normandy were not capable of maneuver by this stage, and he obtained Montgomery's agreement by telephone on 8 August for a "short hook" further north to encircle German forces. This was left to Patton to effect, moving nearly unopposed through Normandy via Le Mans, and then back north again towards Alençon
Alençon
Alençon is a commune in Normandy, France, capital of the Orne department. It is situated west of Paris. Alençon belongs to the intercommunality of Alençon .-History:...

. The Germans were left in a pocket with its jaws near Chambois
Chambois
Chambois is a commune in the Orne département in north-western France. The city is remarkable for its Norman keep and was part of the Falaise pocket in 1944.-Norman keep:The Norman keep or Donjon was built in the 12th century...

. Fierce German defense and the diversion of some American troops for a thrust by Patton towards the Seine at Mantes prevented the jaws closing until 21 August, trapping 50,000 German troops. Whether this could have been achieved earlier with more prisoners taken has been a matter of some controversy. Patton's thrust prevented the Germans from establishing the Seine as a defensive line, and the Canadian First and British Second Armies both advanced there, bringing the war in Normandy in their sector to a close and meeting the projected schedule set by Montgomery earlier than expected.

The liberation of Paris
Liberation of Paris
The Liberation of Paris took place during World War II from 19 August 1944 until the surrender of the occupying German garrison on August 25th. It could be regarded by some as the last battle in the Battle for Normandy, though that really ended with the crushing of the Wehrmacht forces between the...

 followed shortly afterwards. The French Resistance
French Resistance
The French Resistance is the name used to denote the collection of French resistance movements that fought against the Nazi German occupation of France and against the collaborationist Vichy régime during World War II...

 in Paris rose against the Germans on 19 August, and the French 2nd Armoured Division
French 2nd Division (World War II)
The French 2nd Armored Division , commanded by General Leclerc, fought during the final phases of World War II in the Western Front.The division was formed around a core of units that had fought at Koufra in 1941 under Leclerc; later renamed the 2nd Light Division, in August 1943, it was organized...

 under General Philippe Leclerc, along with the U.S. 4th Infantry Division pressing forward from Normandy, received the surrender of the German forces there and liberated Paris on 25 August.

Withdrawal to the Seine


Operations continued in the British and Canadian sector until the end of the month. On 25 August, the 2nd U.S. Armored Division fought its way into Elbeuf
Elbeuf
-Population:-Places of interest:* The mairie, also housing the museum.* Two seventeenth century churches.* Some sixteenth century houses.* A fifteenth century stone cross.* The theatre , renovated in the late twentieth century.-Notable people:...

, making contact with both British and Canadian armoured divisions there.{{sfn|Stacey|1957|p=286}} The 2nd Canadian Infantry Division advanced into the Foret de la Londe, a heavily forested area where German troops inflicted great loss on French troops in the siege of Paris in 1870–71, on the morning of 27 August. The area was strongly held and the 4th and 6th Canadian brigades sustained heavy casualties over the course of three days as the Germans fought a delaying action in terrain well-suited to the defense. The Germans pulled back on the 29th, withdrawing completely over the Seine on the 30th.{{sfn|Stacey|1957|p=286}}

On the afternoon of the 30th the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division crossed the Seine near Elbeuf and entered Rouen
Rouen
Rouen , in northern France on the River Seine, is the capital of the Haute-Normandie region and the historic capital city of Normandy. Once one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe , it was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy in the Middle Ages...

 to a jubilant welcome.{{sfn|Stacey|1948|p=219}}

Campaign close


The campaign in Normandy is considered by historians to end either at midnight on 24 July 1944 (the start of Operation Cobra
Operation Cobra
Operation Cobra was the codename for an offensive launched by the First United States Army seven weeks after the D-Day landings, during the Normandy Campaign of World War II...

on the American front), 25 August 1944 (the liberation of Paris), or 30 August 1944, the date the last German unit retreated across the River Seine.{{sfn|Stacey|1948|p=295}} The original Overlord plan anticipated a ninety-day campaign in Normandy with the ultimate goal of reaching the Seine; this goal was met early. American forces were fighting in Brittany as anticipated by General Montgomery during the latter weeks of the campaign, and their historians consider the Normandy campaign to have ended with the massive breakout of Operation Cobra.

The U.S. official history describes the fighting beginning on 25 July as the "Northern France" campaign, and includes the fighting to close the Falaise Gap, which the British/Canadians/Poles consider to be part of the Battle of Normandy. Volume II of the Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War by C.P. Stacey, published in 1955, as well as the Canadian Army's official Historical Summary of the Second World War, published in 1948, define the Battle of Normandy as lasting from 6 June 1944 to 1 September 1944.

SHAEF and the governments were very nervous of stagnation, and there were reports of Eisenhower requesting Montgomery's replacement in July.{{Citation needed|date=September 2007}} The lack of forward progress is often attributed to the nature of the terrain in which much of the post-landing fighting in the U.S. and parts of the British sectors took place, the bocage
Bocage
Bocage is a Norman word which has entered both the French and English languages. It may refer to a small forest, a decorative element of leaves, a terrain of mixed woodland and pasture, or a type of rubble-work, comparable with the English use of 'rustic' in relation to garden...

 (small farm fields separated by high earth banks covered in dense shrubbery, well suited for defence), as well as the usual difficulties of opposed landings. However, as at the battle of El Alamein
Second Battle of El Alamein
The Second Battle of El Alamein marked a major turning point in the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. The battle took place over 20 days from 23 October – 11 November 1942. The First Battle of El Alamein had stalled the Axis advance. Thereafter, Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery...

, Montgomery kept to his original attritional strategy, reaching the objectives within his original ninety day target.

Victory in Normandy was followed by a pursuit to the French border in short order, and Germany was forced once again to reinforce the Western Front
Western Front (World War II)
The Western Front of the European Theatre of World War II encompassed, Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and West Germany. The Western Front was marked by two phases of large-scale ground combat operations...

 with manpower and resources from the Soviet
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

 and Italian
Italian Campaign (World War II)
The Italian Campaign of World War II was the name of Allied operations in and around Italy, from 1943 to the end of the war in Europe. Joint Allied Forces Headquarters AFHQ was operationally responsible for all Allied land forces in the Mediterranean theatre, and it planned and commanded the...

 fronts.

By September, Allied forces of seven field armies (two of which came through southern France in Operation Dragoon
Operation Dragoon
Operation Dragoon was the Allied invasion of southern France on August 15, 1944, during World War II. The invasion was initiated via a parachute drop by the 1st Airborne Task Force, followed by an amphibious assault by elements of the U.S. Seventh Army, followed a day later by a force made up...

) were approaching the German frontier. Allied material weight tolled heavily in Normandy, as did intelligence and deception plans. The general Allied concept of the battle was sound, drawing on the strengths of both Britain and the United States. German dispositions and leadership were often faulty, despite a creditable showing on the ground by many German units. In larger context the Normandy landings helped the Soviets on the Eastern front, who were facing the bulk of the German forces and, to a certain extent, contributed to the shortening of the conflict there.

Allied logistics, intelligence, morale and air power


Victory in Normandy stemmed from several factors. The Allies ensured material superiority at the critical point (concentration of force) and logistical innovations like the PLUTO
Pluto
Pluto, formal designation 134340 Pluto, is the second-most-massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the tenth-most-massive body observed directly orbiting the Sun...

 pipelines and Mulberry harbour
Mulberry harbour
A Mulberry harbour was a British type of temporary harbour developed in World War II to offload cargo on the beaches during the Allied invasion of Normandy....

s enhanced the flow of troops, equipment, and essentials such as fuel and ammunition. Movement of cargo over the open beaches exceeded Allied planners' expectations, even after the destruction of the U.S. Mulberry in the channel storm in mid-June. By the end of July 1944, one million American, British, Canadian, French, and Polish troops, hundreds of thousands of vehicles, and adequate supplies in most categories were ashore in Normandy. Although there was a shortage of artillery ammunition, at no time were the Allies critically short of any necessity. This was a remarkable achievement considering they did not hold a port until Cherbourg fell. By the time of the breakout the Allies also enjoyed a considerable superiority in numbers of troops (approximately 3.5:1) and armored vehicles (approximately 4:1) which helped overcome the natural advantages the terrain gave to the German defenders.

Allied intelligence and counterintelligence
Espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

 efforts were successful beyond expectations. The Operation Fortitude
Operation Fortitude
Operation Fortitude was the codename for a World War II military deception employed by the Allied nations as part of an overall deception strategy during the build up to the 1944 Normandy Landings...

 deception plan before the invasion kept German attention focused on the Pas-de-Calais, and indeed high-quality German forces were kept in this area, away from Normandy, until July. Prior to the invasion, few German reconnaissance flights took place over Britain, and those that did saw only the dummy staging areas. Ultra decrypts of German communications had been helpful as well, exposing German dispositions and revealing their plans such as the Mortain counterattack.

German leadership


German commanders at all levels failed to react to the assault phase in a timely manner. Communication problems exacerbated the difficulties caused by Allied air and naval firepower. Local commanders also seemed unequal to the task of fighting an aggressive defence on the beach, as Rommel envisioned. The German High Command remained fixated on the Calais area, and von Rundstedt was not permitted to commit the armored reserve. When it was finally released late in the day, success was immeasurably more difficult, and even the 21st Panzer Division, which was able to counterattack earlier, was stymied by strong opposition that had been allowed to build at the beaches. Overall, despite considerable Allied material superiority, the Germans kept the Allies bottled up in a small bridgehead for nearly two months, aided immeasurably by terrain factors.

The German commander of the unit at Normandy was also unable to organize his unit properly as the scattered paratrooper landings created reports of landings all over the area which became the product of much confusion, and some units tried to engage non-existent American units.

Although there were several well-known disputes among the Allied commanders, their tactics and strategy were essentially determined by agreement between the main commanders. By contrast, the German leaders were bullied and their decisions interfered with by Hitler, controlling the battle from a distance with little knowledge of local conditions. Field Marshals von Rundstedt and Rommel repeatedly asked Hitler for more discretion but were refused. Von Rundstedt was removed from his command on 29 June after he bluntly told Field Marshal Keitel
Wilhelm Keitel
Wilhelm Bodewin Gustav Keitel was a German field marshal . As head of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht and de facto war minister, he was one of Germany's most senior military leaders during World War II...

, the Chief of Staff at OKW
Oberkommando der Wehrmacht
The Oberkommando der Wehrmacht was part of the command structure of the armed forces of Nazi Germany during World War II.- Genesis :...

 (Hitler's Armed Forces HQ), to "Make peace, you idiots!" Rommel was severely injured by Allied aircraft on 16 July. Field Marshal von Kluge
Günther von Kluge
Günther Adolf Ferdinand “Hans” von Kluge was a German military leader. He was born in Posen into a Prussian military family. Kluge rose to the rank of Field Marshal in the Wehrmacht. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords...

, who took over the posts held by both von Rundstedt and Rommel, was compromised by his association with some of the military plotters against Hitler, and he would not disobey or argue with Hitler for fear of arrest. As a result, the German armies in Normandy were placed in deadly peril by Hitler's insistence on counterattack rather than retreat after the American breakthrough. Kluge was relieved of command on 15 August and took his own life shortly afterwards. The more independent Field Marshal Walter Model
Walter Model
Otto Moritz Walter Model was a German general and later field marshal during World War II. He is noted for his defensive battles in the latter half of the war, mostly on the Eastern Front but also in the west, and for his close association with Adolf Hitler and Nazism...

 took over when the Germans in Normandy were already in the midst of defeat.

The German commanders also suffered in the quality of the available troops – 60,000 of the 850,000 men under von Rundstedt's command were prisoners of war captured on the Eastern Front.{{sfn|Keegan|1982|p=61}} These Ost units had volunteered to fight against Stalin, but when instead used to defend France against the Western Allies, ended up being unreliable. Many surrendered or deserted at the first available opportunity.

Allies


The cost of the Normandy campaign had been high for both sides. From D-Day to 21 August, the Allies had landed 2,052,299 men in northern France{{sfn|Tamelander|Zetterling|2003|p=341}} There were around 209,672 Allied casualties from 6 June to the end of August, around 10% of the forces landed in France. The casualties breaks down to 36,976 killed, 153,475 wounded and 19,221 missing. Split between the Army-Groups; the Anglo-Canadian Army-Group suffered 16,138 killed, 58,594 wounded and 9,093 missing for a total of 83,825 casualties. The American Army-Group suffered 20,838 killed, 94,881 wounded and 10,128 missing for a total of 125,847 casualties. To these casualties it should be added that 4,101 aircraft were lost and 16,714 airmen were killed or missing in direct connection to Operation Overlord. Thus total Allied casualties rises to 226,386 men.{{sfn|Tamelander|Zetterling|2003|p=341}}

81 Free French SAS (Special Air Service) were killed and another 195 wounded from 6 June to the beginning of August in Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

.{{sfn|Corta|1952|p={{page number|date=December 2011}}}}{{sfn|Corta|1997|p={{page number|date=December 2011}}}} For Allied tank losses there are no direct number. Estimations are that around 4,000 tanks were destroyed, of which 2,000 were fighting in American units.{{sfn|Tamelander|Zetterling|2003|p=342}}

Germany


The German casualties remain unclear.{{sfn|Tamelander|Zetterling|2003|p=342}} The German forces in France reported losses of 158,930 men between D-Day and 14 August – the night before the start of Operation Dragoon
Operation Dragoon
Operation Dragoon was the Allied invasion of southern France on August 15, 1944, during World War II. The invasion was initiated via a parachute drop by the 1st Airborne Task Force, followed by an amphibious assault by elements of the U.S. Seventh Army, followed a day later by a force made up...

 in Southern France.{{sfn|Tamelander|Zetterling|2003|p=343}} Just in the following battle of the Falaise pocket, a minimum of another 50,000 men were lost in Normandy, of which approximately 10,000 were killed and 40,000 captured.{{sfn|Tamelander|Zetterling|2003|p=342}} Figures over total casualties stretches from a calculation based on German reports of approximately 210,000 men{{sfn|Tamelander|Zetterling|2003|p=342}} to estimates between 393,689 and 450,000 men. The majority of the German casualties in Normandy consisted of POWs. Allied forces captured at least 200,000 men during the campaigns in France.{{sfn|Tamelander|Zetterling|2003|p=343}}

There are neither exact figures over German tank losses in Normandy. The German forces reported 481 tanks destroyed between D-day and 31 July,{{sfn|Tamelander|Zetterling|2003|p=343}} but of the approximate 2,300 tanks and assault guns committed to the battle in Normandy, only around 100 to 120 were brought back across the Seine.{{#tag:ref|Wilmot quotes Günther Blumentritt
Günther Blumentritt
Günther Blumentritt was a German officer in World War I, who became a Staff Officer under the Weimar Republic and went on to serve as a general for Nazi Germany during World War II...

, von Rundstedt's Chief-of-Staff, who states that around 2,300 tanks and assault guns had been committed to the battle in Normandy and "only 100 to 120 could be brought back across the Seine."|group=nb}}

Civilians and French heritage


During the course of the liberation of Normandy between 13,632 and 19,890 French civilians were killed.{{sfn|Flint|2009|pp=336–337}} Information held at Caen university concludes that 13,632 civilians were killed, includes the deaths of 7,557 within the Calvados department.{{sfn|Flint|2009|pp=336, 370}} Other French sources calculate that the death rate was only 15,000.{{sfn|Flint|2009|p=336}} However, the civilian casualty toll is actually much higher due to the greater number of people who were wounded:{{sfn|Beevor|2009|p=519}} for example by D+7 French casualty estimates had reached 22,499.{{sfn|Flint|2009|p=267}} In addition to those who died during the campaign between 11,000 and 19,000 Normans are estimated to have been killed during pre-invasion bombing; the higher figure however are disputed.{{sfn|Flint|2009|pp=336–337}} Following the end of the campaign mines and unexploded ordnance continued to inflict casualties upon the Norman population.{{sfn|Flint|2009|p=305}}

Many cities and towns in Normandy had been totally devastated by the fighting and bombings. In particular by the end of the Battle of Caen there remained only 8,000 livable quarters for a population of over 60,000.{{sfn|Beevor|2009|p=520}} Out of Caen’s 210 strong Jewish community, on liberation, only one person had survived the occupation. By the end of the campaign 125,000 inhabitants of the Calvados department had been listed as war victims, including 76,000 who had lost everything including their homes.{{sfn|Flint|2009|p=337}}

Prior to the invasion SHAEF issued instructions (later the basis for the 1954 Hague Convention Protocol I) emphasizing the need to limit the destruction to French heritage sites, including looting and sacrilege. These sites were named in Official Civil Affairs Lists of Monuments, were not to be used by troops unless given express permission from the upper echelons of their chain of command, were defined as "structures or object of historic artistic, scientific, or literary value, or any part or fragment thereof". Eisenhower issued personal instructions that "all measures consistent with military necessity, to avoid damage to all structures, objects, or document of cultural, artistic, archaeological or historical value; and to assist, wherever practicable, in securing them from deterioration consequent upon the process of war".{{sfn|Flint|2009|p=350}} It was established that the German occupation forces had completed similar lists however on the seizure of these documents it was determined that they "would not have served to preserve many monuments during an operation" and that they were primarily concerned with ensuring the billets were kept in good order.{{sfn|Flint|2009|p=354}} By 19 June British Second Army reported that no apparent damage had been caused to monuments in their area, however as the campaign proceeded so did the levels of damage; by mid-July across Normandy three monuments had been destroyed, 16 damaged and seven seriously. By early August a survey of 69 monuments found seven destroyed, 12 badly damaged, nine damaged, six slightly and the remaining were intact. Other surveys found similar levels of destruction; for example, by the end of the campaign, of 18 Caen’s listed churches five had been destroyed and four seriously damaged while 66 other monuments within the city had been destroyed. In 18 communes, in the Calvados department, monuments had been destroyed and in other locations damaged. A particular example is the Château d'Harcourt, that was destroyed, which contained family records dating back to William the Conqueror. However more optimistically the Bayeux Tapestry
Bayeux Tapestry
The Bayeux Tapestry is an embroidered cloth—not an actual tapestry—nearly long, which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England concerning William, Duke of Normandy and Harold, Earl of Wessex, later King of England, and culminating in the Battle of Hastings...

 was located in safe condition at the Château de Sourches in Mid-July and the destroyed roof of the Saint-Sepulcre, in Caen, was temporary repaired by French civilians and Royal Engineers to prevent further degradation of the historical and government records that had been exposed to the elements.{{sfn|Flint|2009|p=352–353}} Efforts were also made to comb the ruins and debris for artifacts before the rubble was removed.{{sfn|Flint|2009|p=354}}

During the Spring of 1944 French civilians had amassed plenty of evidence of newly arriving German troops looting civilian property;{{sfn|Flint|2009|p=354}} an issue that increased during the battle with all sides, including French civilians, taking part. Well known examples include British forces, generally lines of communication troops and not the infantry, looting Caen’s Musée des antiquaires and Bayeux’s Château d'Andrieu.{{sfn|Flint|2009|p=354}}

The Normandy campaign in context



The landings were planned to take place in May 1944, but poor weather conditions and insufficient buildup delayed the landings until June. By then, the Allies had taken Rome in the Italian Campaign, and in the Pacific War
Pacific War
The Pacific War, also sometimes called the Asia-Pacific War refers broadly to the parts of World War II that took place in the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and in East Asia, then called the Far East...

, the Americans were launching their first strikes on Japan.

The Normandy landings threatened Hitler's hold on the Belgian and northern French coasts as bases for the "V" weapons, which had started launching against the UK. As the Allies were closing in on Paris and sealing the Falaise Gap, an invasion in southern France
Operation Dragoon
Operation Dragoon was the Allied invasion of southern France on August 15, 1944, during World War II. The invasion was initiated via a parachute drop by the 1st Airborne Task Force, followed by an amphibious assault by elements of the U.S. Seventh Army, followed a day later by a force made up...

 was also launched. The linkup with the southern French forces occurred on 12 September as part of the drive to the Siegfried Line
Drive to the Siegfried Line
The Allied advance from Paris to the Rhine was one of the final Allied phases in World War II of the Western European Campaign.This phase spans from the end of the Operation Overlord incorporating the German winter counter offensive through the Ardennes up to the Allies preparing to cross the...

.{{sfn|Keegan|1989|pp=362–363}}

On the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

, the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 were planning their own offensive, Operation Bagration, to drive the Germans away from Soviet territory. Combined with the Allied lodgement established at Normandy, the second front in Western Europe that had been demanded by Stalin since the Tehran Conference had been established, the Axis powers were driven back from all fronts.{{sfn|Gilbert|1989|p=531, 540, 544|pages=531, 540, 544}}

While the Normandy landings are popularly believed to have signaled the "beginning of the end" for Nazi Germany, it is arguable that Germany's defeat had already been rendered inevitable by its huge losses on the Eastern Front. Germany had already been in almost continuous retreat on the Eastern Front since mid 1943, and the massive German defeats at the Battle of Stalingrad
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in southwestern Russia. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 and 2 February 1943...

 and the Battle of Kursk
Battle of Kursk
The Battle of Kursk took place when German and Soviet forces confronted each other on the Eastern Front during World War II in the vicinity of the city of Kursk, in the Soviet Union in July and August 1943. It remains both the largest series of armored clashes, including the Battle of Prokhorovka,...

 in early and mid 1943 were arguably more decisive for the course of the war in Europe, whether measured in terms of forces committed, the number of German casualties, or the amount of German war material destroyed. The American historian Jeffrey Herf
Jeffrey Herf
Jeffrey Herf is a professor of history at the University of Maryland. His specialty is in 20th century European intellectual history, especially in Germany....

 wrote that, "Whereas German deaths between 1941 and 1943 on the western front had not exceeded 3 percent of the total from all fronts, in 1944 the figure jumped to about 14 percent. Yet even in the months following D-day, about 68.5 percent of all German battlefield deaths occurred on the eastern front, as a Soviet blitzkrieg in response devastated the retreating Wehrmacht".{{sfn|Herf|2006|p=252}}

However, the Normandy landings were the largest seaborne invasion in history, and they did hasten the end of the war in Europe, drawing large forces away from the Eastern Front that might otherwise have slowed the Soviet advance. The opening of a second front in Europe was also a tremendous psychological blow for Germany's military, who had long feared a repetition of the two-front war of World War I. The Normandy landings also heralded the start of the "race for Europe," between the Soviet forces and the Western powers, which some historians consider to be the start of the Cold War
Origins of the Cold War
The Origins of the Cold War are widely regarded to lie most directly in the relations between the Soviet Union and its allies the United States, Britain and France in the years 1945–1947...

.{{sfn|Gaddis|1990|p=149}}

War memorials and tourism



The beaches of Normandy are still known by their invasion codenames today. Streets near the beaches are still named after the units that fought there, and occasional markers commemorate notable incidents. At significant points, such as Pointe du Hoc
Pointe du Hoc
Pointe du Hoc is a clifftop location on the coast of Normandy in northern France. It lies 4 miles west of Omaha Beach, and stands on 100 ft tall cliffs overlooking the sea...

 and Pegasus Bridge
Pegasus Bridge
Pegasus Bridge is a bascule bridge , built in 1934, that crossed the Caen Canal, between Caen and Ouistreham, in Normandy, France....

, there are plaques, memorials or small museums. The Mulberry harbour
Mulberry harbour
A Mulberry harbour was a British type of temporary harbour developed in World War II to offload cargo on the beaches during the Allied invasion of Normandy....

 still sits in the sea at Arromanches. In Sainte-Mère-Église
Sainte-Mère-Église
Sainte-Mère-Église is a commune in the Manche department in Normandy in north-western France.-History:Founded in the eleventh Century, the earliest records include the name Sancte Marie Ecclesia, Latin for "Church of St. Mary", while a later document written in Norman-French mentions Saincte...

, a dummy paratrooper hangs from the church spire.

Further reading


{{Portal|World War II}}
  • Numerous abbreviated summaries have been written. Among the most useful are:
  1. Charles MacDonald, The Mighty Endeavor: American Armed Forces in the European Theater in World War II (1969); and
  2. Charles MacDonald and Martin Blumenson
    Martin Blumenson
    Martin Blumenson was an American military historian who served as a historical officer with the U.S. Third and Seventh Armies in World War II and later became a prolific author whose works included an authoritative biography of General George S...

    , "Recovery of France," in Vincent J. Esposito, ed., A Concise History of World War II (1965).
    • Memoirs by Allied commanders contain considerable information. Among the best are:
  3. Omar N. Bradley, A Soldier's Story (1951);
  4. Sir Bernard Montgomery
    Bernard Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein
    Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, KG, GCB, DSO, PC , nicknamed "Monty" and the "Spartan General" was a British Army officer. He saw action in the First World War, when he was seriously wounded, and during the Second World War he commanded the 8th Army from...

    , Normandy to the Baltic (1948); and
    • Almost as useful are biographies of leading commanders. Among the most prominent are:
  5. Stephen E. Ambrose, The Supreme Commander: The War Years of General Dwight D. Eisenhower (1970), and Eisenhower, Soldier, General of the Army, President-Elect, 1890–1952 (1983);
  6. Richard Lamb, Montgomery in Europe, 1943–1945: Success or Failure (1984).
    • Numerous general histories also exist, many centering on the controversies that continue to surround the campaign and its commanders. See, in particular:
  7. Richard Collier, Fighting Words: The Correspondents of World War II (1989). CMH Pub 72–18

D-day Textbooks from Wikibooks

D-day Quotations from Wikiquote

D-day Source texts from Wikisource

D-day Images and media from Commons

D-day from Wikinews

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