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Landing at Normandy
During the Second World War, the Allies which were comprised of the United States, England, the Soviet Union, Canada, and several other smaller nations took arms against the Axis Powers. On June 6, 1944, the Allied forces landed on Normandy Beach in France, soundly defeating German forces at that location. This assault, also known as the D-Day Invasion, would be the turning point of the war and led to the Allied victory over the Axis powers of Japan, Italy, and Germany. The operation was unquestionably the largest of all amphibious invasions in history with almost 200,000 soldiers landing on the shores of France (Utah). Not only where ships launched from England to Normandy, but there were also air forces and other military departments all working together. What makes the whole procedure so amazing is the fact that so many nations came together and agreed to a plan that was both audacious and risky and yet it was successful. It was an enormous undertaking that required the participation of many nations under complete secrecy to prevent the enemy discovering the plan. What follows is a complete account of the landing at Normandy beach from the inception of the plan to the after-effects from the success.
The heads of the Allied Forces during World War II were President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and the leader of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin. These men, as well as military organizer Frederick Morgan, determined that the best way to defeat their enemies was in a large, combined surprise attack against the German forces. To this end, they created the position of "Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander" (Battle). The missions of the COSSAC were to choose the exact place of the landing for this combined attack. The COSSAC was also responsible for gaining as much information as possible about the enemy and their supply lines before launching the attack. The third responsibility of the COSSAC was to determine how the Allied troops would be formed, how they would be organized upon the landing, and how the landing and subsequent attack would proceed.
All three heads of the Allies agreed that the war efforts against Germany would have to be successful if they were to have any hope of victory in the Pacific (Teaching). It was believed that the Japanese forces would never surrender to the Allied forces so long as they had Germany still fighting. This unified leadership, which was created at the Arcadia Conference of December 1941, would last throughout the rest of the war (Badsey 2008,-page 11). In October of 1941, Prime Minister Winston Churchill commanded a young captain named Lord Mountbatten to lead a force which he dubbed "Combined Operations." This procedure led by Mountbatten was also known as Operation Mulberry (Battle). He told the captain, "You must prepare the invasion of Europe because unless bringing the fight against Hitler on land, we will never win this war" (Battle). The first big successes for the Allied forces were in Northern Africa, specifically in French Morocco and Algiers. Due to his successes leading the Allies in these maneuvers, General Dwight David Eisenhower was named commander of all Allied forces in Europe of 1943.
In February of 1944, Eisenhower was ordered to take over plans for what was then known as Operation Overlord, a project which had already been in development for over a year. Churchill believed that the key to defeating the German forces was in the recapturing of France from the Axis Powers (Battle). To this end, he and the two other heads of the Allied Powers, along with Eisenhower and other important officers went about planning a heavy assault on the enemy. Three points were determined as necessary for a successful military attack. The first was that the attack had to be launched from England so that the Germans would be psychologically inclined to prohibit ground attacks on England. The second point was that Britain would require much new training and equipment to fulfill seriously depleted supply lines. The final point was that the economics and industry of the United States should be utilized as much as possible since they were the freshest in terms of supplies and lack of fatigue (Battle). All of these three points were able to be achieved through unification of the nations, and the eventual invasion of France took form. "The American fighting doctrine was that wars are won by administration and organization. The best American troops went to rear-area positions, the less good to the fighting arms, the worst of all to the infantry" (Badsey 2008,-page 17). From the outset, the Allied forces were far more organized than their enemies. It was this organization that would lead to their military success. Organization and agreement prevented the Allied forces from imploding like the Germans.
A few days before the invasion, hidden messages were broadcast through French radio. Listening to the BBC, listeners heard the first three lines of the Chant d'automne, which sent the message that the invasion would take place forty-eight hours later (Battle). Just before the mission began, General Dwight D. Eisenhower transmitted a now famous message to his fellow officers and their troops:
You are about to embark upon the great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes 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 (World).
In his pocket, he held a speech that he would read in case the invasion was not a success. The letter states that all forces did their utmost to launch a successful attack and that "if any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone." Obviously, he did not have to send that letter nor say those words because the assault at Normandy was a success. It says much about the leader that Eisenhower fully intended to take responsibility for the failure of the invasion, but went on to share the praise for the success. This is indicative of the feeling of the leaders of the invasion, who took the entire situation upon themselves and each felt responsibility for the results of D-Day.
From the outset, it did not seem like the signs were in favor of the Allied troops. Indeed it seemed very doubtful that their mission would be a success. It had been raining for days on end. This increment weather made the seas choppy and even more dangerous than usual (Landing). Although this slowed the forces down, it did not prohibit their efforts or stop the invasion. On the morning of June 6, 1944, more than 4,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes, and nearly three million soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines met in England to cross over into Normandy, France. According to the servicemen who were there on that historic morning, the atmosphere was one of excitement, trepidation, and apprehension for no one was certain how the day would end. Adolph 'Bud' Warnecke said:
We were so loaded down with equipment -- every man had at least one anti-tank mine, and we had bundles in the doors, bundles under the aircraft, and the C-47 was loaded to the point where he could take off but he couldn't land with it so he had to drop it…Looked down and had never seen so many ships in all my life and probably will never see 'em again. You coulda walked across the English Channel -- not that you had to walk on water -- you could just step from ship to ship -- that is how it looked from the air (D-Day).
Reportedly, a Nazi commanding officer who witnessed the beginnings of the Allied attack from the shores of the French beaches were to have said, "Don't worry Pluskat, the Allies haven't got that many ships" (Normandy). Obviously this assessment by the Germans was completely incorrect.
Part of the reason that the Germans lost the battle was that they were so heavily undersupplied. Some portions of the blockade were only at half-supply and the highly-successful panzer divisions were out of support range to provide aid to the Germans at Normandy (Burbeck). The Germans did one thing going for them that the Allied troops had to be mindful of. Germany had set up a fortification wall near Normandy Beach which was dubbed "the Atlantic Wall." It was constructed by German engineers, the Organization Todt, which specialized in military construction (Battle). So, even though the Germans were in upheaval politically, they should have been relatively strong in their defense. Even in smaller numbers, the Axis Powers were still able to put up quite a fight. Still all the beaches were overturned quickly to the Allies, except for the attack on Omaha Beach which would…[continue]
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