In 1942 General Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, had warned Germany
to, “Beware the fury of an aroused democracy.” On D-Day, June 6, 1944, the Allies
mounted the largest amphibious assault in history and redeemed Eisenhower’s warning.
The invasion force consisted of more than 5,000 ships, 1,200 warships and 13,000
airplanes. Some 90,000 U.S., British, Canadian, and free French troops landed on the
beaches of Normandy while about 20,000 more came by parachute or glider. The
Invasion had been in preparation for a year. Over 55,000 brave American soldiers
stormed the beaches of Normandy, an appalling 2,700 Americans had took their last steps
of life defending their country, their world, and everything they stood for.
D-Day, planned by the Russians, Americans, and British insisted that the United
States help with the advancement on France (Atlantic front). British and Canadian forces
would also combine in the cross-channel invasion. Simultaneously in Eastern Europe
(eastern front) the Soviets would battle while the Americans, the British, and the Canadian
forces would attack a stretch of beaches along the French coast. The U.S. would attack a
part of Normandy code named Omaha and Utah beaches. These were two code names for
these particular sectors of the invasion front.
Around a year before D-Day, Hitler had gained and occupied Western Europe and
parts of Russia during it’s blitzkrieg crusade throughout 1939-41. Adolf Hitler, the Nazi
leader of Germany, had also acquired control of the North African coast. Without
intervention from the Western Allies, Hitler would reign Europe for years to come.
Subsequently while Russians were engaged in the war, Joseph Stalin, the Soviet
leader, had wanted the Allies to join and proceed to make a “second front” along Western
Europe. In 1942 this idea was virtually impossible for the United States because we
were still forming an army. The materials needed to have such an invasion were not yet
built to cross the English Channel. Meanwhile in the1940’s campaign, when the British
were battling in Dunkirk, France, the British had to withdraw forces from being
massacred by Hitler’s army. During this confrontation Hitler had declared war on the
United States on December 11, 1941 just after Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese
Roosevelt first stated that “Germany is priority first.” This was agreed in
Argentia, Newfoundland in August of 1941. Eisenhower, U.S. general, proposed an
attack in 1943 named (Operation “Roundup”) and another called (Operation
“Sledgehammer”), these would be used in the event of the Soviets collapsing or the
weakening of Germany. Both plans were presented in London, England and Roundup
was adopted. The British always had a second plan because of objective doubts. The
Anglo-American conferences were held in Washington and London. At first Americans
were told of the facts and were persuaded to agree on operation Sledgehammer which
was the landing on North Africa and the principal operation of 1942. Forces were
postponed for the invasion through Sicily and through the Italian mainland, in which it
delayed preparations for the cross-Channel invasion of 1943. The postponements were
due to Allied conferences at Washington (Trident, May 1943), Quebec (Quadrant, August
1943), Cairo (Sextant, November 1943), and Tehran (Eureka, November-December
1943). At the last Meeting Roosevelt and Stalin convinced Churchill to insist on the
invasion in May of 1944 as a fixed date for an invasion. The decision at Tehran was the
final sign that America would be apart of the Channel-crossing invasion. The British had
in fact been proceeding with structural plans, by Lieutenant General Fredrick Morgan who
has been named COSSAC (chief of staff to the supreme Allied commander) at the
Anglo-American Casablanca Conference in January 1943. The site of the operation
“Overlord” was Normandy, between Caed and the Cotentin Peninsula, France in a
strength of three divisions, with two brigades to be air-dropped. Another 11 divisions
were to land on two artificial harbors that would be towed across the Channel. Once a
foothold had been established, 100 division of forces would be brought in to France and
then assemble a major task force to attack Germany.
Hitler had known about the Anglo-American Allied conferences and knew their
would soon be an invasion across the Channel. Hitler could no longer ignore the western
front because the Americans had become involved in WWW II. Hitler had appointed Field
Marshall Erwin Rommel, former African commander, as the inspector the Atlantic front.
He fortified the English Channel coast.
January 1944 the Allies named a new invasion leader Bernard Montgomery.
Montgomery was Rommel’s opponent in North Africa. Montgomery under Eisenhower
was a ground commander for the invasion. Eisenhower named Walter Smith the chief of
staff as an Air chief Marshal. Montgomery’s first acts were “(1) to demand and to get five
divisions to make initial landing and (2) to widen the landing area to include the Orne river
estuary and the base of the Cotentin Peninsula.” stated by Montgomery. The invasion
included five infantry divisions, two of them American, two British and one Canadian
divisios. Each country was assigned beaches code-named, from east to west, Utah,
Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. On D-Day (the projected first day of the invasion), two
American airborne divisions were diploid behind enemy lines.
The invasion would be supported by more than 13,000 fighter, bomber, and
transport aircraft. The German air force could only organize fewer than 400 on D-Day.
Between April 1 and June 5, 1994, the British and American forces launched 11,000
aircraft’s, flew 200,000 sorties, dropping 195,000 tons of bombs on French rail trails,
German airfields, radar installations, military bases and coastal artillery batteries. 2,000
aircraft’s were lost during this period.
On the first day of the invasion forces would have to pass through a grueling 100
yards to a safe shore bunker. The troops would have to pass through the “Atlantic wall.”
The Germans had constructed a defending wall along the coast between 1942-44. The
Germans had planted an amazing 5,700,000 mines along the northern shore. The Germans
had made fortress of lines surrounding the coast. The lines consisted of
reinforced-concrete pillboxes and gun emplacement along the waterfront. They had also
built antitank guns and machine guns. Allied air power was so powerful that it literally
halted German forces from the Pas-de-Calais peninsula. The more battle-worthy men were
stationed in Pas-de-Calais because Hitler and Rommel thought the allies would attack at
this point in the English Channel.
May 1944 had been the chosen date to attack the German Army in May of 1943.
Difficulties in constructing landing craft forced the Allies to postpone the invasion till’
June 5. This date was the permanent set date by General Eisenhower. Because of the
bad weather their was a 24-hour delay. On June 5 in the afternoon when they were
assured a weather break. Announced by Eisenhower the go ahead. Within hours an
invasion force of 3,000 landing craft, another 2,500 other ships, and 500 naval vessels
began to leave English ports. That night, 822 aircraft, carrying parachutists or towing
gliders, roared overhead to the Normandy’s landing zones. A force of 13,000 aircraft’s
would join the invasion in support of D-Day. The Airborne troops of the 82nd and101st
airborne divisions would be dropped at the base of Catenation Peninsula. Around 6:30
A.M. on June 6, the British and Canadians on Gold, Juno and Sword beaches overcame
light resistance. American troops were assigned on Utah. American forces 1st division
came upon the best of German troops and coast division. At the time of attack on Omaha
the General was not their because of family.
“Omaha” was the code name for the second beach from the right of five landing
areas of the Normandy Invasion. Omaha was the largest of the assault areas, extending
for almost 6 miles. The landing site was between Port-en-Bessin and the Vire River. On
the site of the landing rose 100 foot high cliffs overlooked by the wide-eyed soldiers. The
troops had to go through five valleys that rose through the cliffs. Two of these valleys
became paths and another two valleys formed into a roads. Field Marshall Erwin
Rommel had built impregnable defenses to protect this encased battlefield. The waters
were strongly mined. Rommel had 12 strong points called Widerstandsnester (“resistance
nests”). The area was supported by an extensive trench system. With such a consistant
military backup. Omaha was a fatal attack zone for the United States army. Their were
many code names in the Normandy Invasion for example there were different assault
sections named Charlie, Dog and Fox with different code colors for example green was
the easiest and red was the hardest. I will give some knowledge of the Infantry divisions;
352nd Infantry division was sent on the beach of Omaha, 29th division and the 1st
division. By the end of D-Day 2,400 American men were killed on the dreaded Oamah
beach. With American persistence an amazing 34,000 men squalled ashore. The German
forces had lost 1,200 men in the invasion of Omaha. A quote stated by Pvt. Charles
Neighbor, 29th Division, Omaha Beach had so much meaning behind his words “As our
boat touched sand and the ramp went down I became a visitor of hell.”
“Utah” was the code name for the farthest on the right of five landing areas of the
Normandy invasion. Located on the eastern shore of the base of the Cotentin Peninsula,
this area of a landing site was a late edition of agenda. The Utah landing area was a three
mile stretch of beach wide. If related to the forces on Omaha beaches the defense was
rather light. Their were four causeways to exit the beach and toward inland. The assault
sectors were indicate as Tare Green, Uncle Red and Victor. U.S. used many types of
tactics to get ashore for example they a The invasion on this particular site wasn’t like the
blood bath on Omaha. Utah had an amazing 300 casualties of American men, Close to
20,000 men and 1,700 vehicles landed ashore.
Casualties turned out to be less than expected except at Omaha Beach where
strong German resistance and difficult seas resulted in about 2,400 U.S. casualties. By
June 11, 1944, the Allied forces had linked up and made a solid front, ensuring that they
would not be thrown back into the sea. When it was over, D-Day, the Allied forces had
suffered 9,758 casualties.
All the while of the planned invasion through; Normandy and from Africa into Italy
and through Europe to Germany meanwhile on the Eastern front the Russians would
attack the Germans, all simultaneously, this plan had no means of failing. Hitler reported
to have said: “The destruction of the enemy’s landing is the sole decisive factor in the
whole conduct of the war and hence in it’s final results.” But the Germans couldn’t stop
the invasion. In 1943 they were fighting the Americans and British in Italy and the
Mediterranean and the Russians in the East. The Atlantic Coastline, from Holland to
France, was 6,000 kilometers. It could not be watched in all places. In short, the
Germans were over extended.
After the Invasion
Fighting inland, the Allies also encountered difficulty. Thanks to successful
airborne landing and a firm stronghold on the beachheads but efforts by the Germans
withstand the attack and last effort resistances and counter attack particularly around Caen
in the British-Canadian sector. A large scale infantry offensive west of Caen, named
“Eposm,” was also defeated on June 25-29. Montgomery’s strategy was to draw German
armor toward the British front and win a battle of attrition between tank forces. In fact,
the Germans were also downhearted, for their severe defense was using up men and
equipment that could not be replaced. Furthermore, the Americans were now able to
benefit from the deployment of most of the enemy’s armor against the British to break into
the base of the Cotentin Peninsula and advance on Cherbourg. The last part of the heavily
fortified city fell on June 28, and vindication of the port began at once. These setbacks
brought about a emergency in the German high command, which in any case now suffered
unforeseeable casualties. Dollman, commander of 7th Army, died suddenly on June 28,
just after the surrender of the main garrison in Cherbourg; his death was blamed on heart
attack, though it is quite likely he committed suicide. Rommel was severely injured when
his car was strafed by a British fighter on July 17. Worst of all, Rundstedt confessed
defeatism to Hitler, urged him to make peace, and was dismissed on July 2. He was
replaced by , who soon came round to sharing Rundstedt’s doubts. On July 20 a
conspiracy of officers who believed the only hope of securing a peace lay in Hitler’s
removal made an at his East Prussian headquarters, Rastenburg. Its failure led to Hitler’s
taking draconian powers over the army and exacting terrible revenge on those suspected
of complicity. Rommel was forced to commit suicide in October, Kluge did so on August
The German defense of Normandy had by then taken a turn for the worse. Though
a large British armored offensive west of Caen, Operation “Goodwood,” failed on July
18-19, the U.S. 1st Army conducted a bitter battle of attrition around Saint-Lo in the
second and third weeks of July. Its success was to lay the basis for the long-awaited
What Happened Next?
In Normandy, where the first breaking in the defenses of Hitler’s fortress had been
won. The debris was being cleared from the towns and villages over which the armies had
battled. 200,000 buildings in the province’s near Normandy had been destroyed. In the
village of Vesly, across which Patton’s army, American General, had fought in August.
655 out of 700 inhabitants had lost their homes, at Saintenay 151 out of 245 houses had
been destroyed. Coutances, Saint-Lo, Falaise, and Argentan were in ruins. Caen was a
town of broken stones; 9,000 of its 15,000 buildings had been bombed or shelled flat.
The tragedy of French politics in the postwar years promised badly for the work of
rebuilding. But while the parties bargained and altercated in the capital, the overwhelming
machine of French act of governing geared American aid and energized to a labor of
obscure but sensational achievement. By the end of 1951 most of ruined Normandy had
been rebuilt. Le Havre by 1950 was once again a working port with a excellent
transatlantic terminal. By 1954 Caen was rebuilt to its revival. The Mount of William
the Conqueror’s Castle, cleared of the rubble of buildings that had covered its outline for
centuries. Memories are hardest for the Germans. Normandy was not their worst beating.
As a turning point, Stalingrad counted for much more; as strategic catastrophes, perhaps
Kursk or White Russia. Yet tens of thousands of Germans are buried in Normandy, and
there they lost a third of their armored divisions.
For the army of the United States, Normandy has proved to be an introduction rather than
a conclusion of military responsibility in the world. Eleven months after the troops landed
at Omaha and Utah, many were already begging their Journey home. Before 1945 was
over, their country was positively established as the most powerful the world had ever
known, a power, further, dedicated to the maintenance of the peace it had won.