Header Ads

Breaking News
recent

D - Day - The Normandy landings


The Normandy landings, codenamed Operation Neptune, were the landing operations on 6 June 1944 (termed D-Day) of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. The largest seaborne invasion in history, the operation began the invasion of German-occupied western Europe, led to the restoration of the French Republic, and contributed to an Allied victory in the war.
Planning for the operation began in 1943. In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted a substantial military deception, codenamed Operation Bodyguard, to mislead the Germans as to the date and location of the main Allied landings. The weather on D-Day was far from ideal, but postponing would have meant a delay of at least two weeks, as the invasion planners set conditions regarding the phase of the moon, the tides, and the time of day that meant only a few days in each month were deemed suitable. Hitler placed German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in command of German forces and of developing fortifications along the Atlantic Wall in anticipation of an Allied invasion.

The amphibious landings were preceded by extensive aerial and naval bombardment and an airborne assault—the landing of 24,000 British, US, and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight. Allied infantry and armoured divisions began landing on the coast of France starting at 06:30. The target 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast was divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword Beach. Strong winds blew the landing craft east of their intended positions, particularly at Utah and Omaha. The men landed under heavy fire from gun emplacements overlooking the beaches, and the shore was mined and covered with obstacles such as wooden stakes, metal tripods, and barbed wire, making the work of the beach clearing teams difficult and dangerous. Casualties were heaviest at Omaha, with its high cliffs. At Gold, Juno, and Sword, several fortified towns were cleared in house-to-house fighting, and two major gun emplacements at Gold were disabled using specialised tanks.

The Allies failed to achieve all of their goals on the first day. Carentan, St. Lô, and Bayeux remained in German hands, and Caen, a major objective, was not captured until 21 July. Only two of the beaches (Juno and Gold) were linked on the first day, and all five bridgeheads were not connected until 12 June. However, the operation gained a foothold that the Allies gradually expanded over the coming months. German casualties on D-Day were around 1,000 men. Allied casualties were at least 12,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead. Museums, memorials, and war cemeteries in the area host many visitors each year.

Weather

The invasion planners determined a set of conditions regarding the phase of the moon, the tides, and the time of day that meant only a few days in each month were deemed suitable. A full moon was desirable, as it would provide illumination for aircraft pilots and have the highest tides. The Allies wanted to schedule the landings for shortly before dawn, midway between low and high tide, with the tide coming in. This would improve the visibility of obstacles on the beach, while minimising the amount of time the men had to spend exposed in the open.[37] 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 from finding their targets.[38]

Group Captain James Stagg of the Royal Air Force (RAF) met with Eisenhower on the evening of 4 June. He and his meteorological team predicted that the weather would improve sufficiently so that the invasion could go ahead on 6 June.[39] After much discussion with the other senior commanders, Eisenhower decided that the invasion should go ahead on the 6th.[40] Had Eisenhower postponed the invasion, the next available date with the correct combination of tides (but without the desirable full moon) was two weeks later, from 18 to 20 June. But, during this period, they would have encountered a major storm that lasted four days, between 19 and 22 June, which would have made the initial landings impossible to undertake.[38] Postponing the invasion would also mean recalling men and ships that were already in position to cross the Channel, and increase the chances of the invasion being detected.[41]

Allied control of the Atlantic meant that German meteorologists did not have access to as much information as the Allies on incoming weather patterns.[35] As the Luftwaffe meteorological centre in Paris was predicting two weeks of stormy weather, many Wehrmacht commanders left their posts to attend war games in Rennes, and men in many units were given leave.[42] Field Marshal Erwin Rommel returned to Germany for his wife's birthday and to meet with Hitler to try to get more Panzers.[43]

German order of battle

Nazi Germany had at its disposal fifty divisions in France and the Low Countries, with another eighteen stationed in Denmark and Norway. Fifteen divisions were in the process of formation in Germany.[44] Combat losses throughout the war, particularly on the Eastern Front, meant that the Germans no longer had a pool of able young men from which to draw. German soldiers were now on average six years older than their Allied counterparts. Many in the Normandy area were Ostlegionen (eastern legions) – conscripts and volunteers from Russia, Mongolia, and elsewhere. They were provided mainly with unreliable captured equipment and lacked motorised transport.[45] Many German units were understrength.[46]
German Supreme commander: Adolf Hitler

709th Infantry Division (Cotentin Peninsula)

Allied forces attacking Utah Beach faced the following German units stationed on the Cotentin Peninsula:
Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.