One of the longest and most important days in the history of modern times is the so-called D-day – the Normandy landings.
Allies’ invasion of the Western Europe
The Battle of Normandy, during World War II, began on June 6, 1944 and lasted until august 1944. The Normandy invasion was the first signal for a long and expensive campaign of the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi control, by removing the Germans from the North-West of France. It was also a psychological victory, as Hitler could no longer send his own troops, from France in order to stop the Soviets. After Paris was set free again, the Allied forces were ready to enter Germany and meet the Soviet troops that were coming from the East and next year, on May 8, 1945, the Nazi Germany unconditionally surrendered to the Allies.
The preparation for D-Day
The Americans and the British started to consider the possibility of an invasion across the English Channel as early as 1943, when the Americans entered the war. But Hitler was aware of this threatening possibility and he charged Erwin Rommel with the organizing of the defense operations centered on the Atlantic Wall. But he had no idea about where the American intended to strike, so he multiplied bunkers, fortifications, landmines, water obstacles.
To achieve this impressive military assault – one of the largest in history – the Allies had to thoroughly plan it, first of all by misleading the enemy as to the invasion target, making the Germans believe that they were going to land in Pas-de-Calais or even in Norway, and not in Normandy. The Allies used fake equipment, double agents, fraudulent radio transmission as war tactics to mislead the Germans.
The fact is that D-Day required a lot more than a battle plan, the main problem was how to reach such a cooperation between international military forces, as the Allies were indeed determined to defeat Germany, but such a sophisticated project implied the overcoming of all political, cultural, personal animosities or rivalries.
The essential battle of Normandy, codenamed Operation Overlord and commanded by general Dwight Eisenhower, began on June 6, 1944, also known as D-Day, when 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces (but also Australian, Belgian, Czech, Dutch, French, Greek, New Zealand, Norwegian, Rhodesian and Polish) landed on five beaches of the fortified coast of the Normandy region in France. It was the beginning of the end of Second World War in Europe. In fact, general Eisenhower had chosen June 5 as the date for the invasion, but the bad weather made him delay the operation. When he gave the go-ahead, he encouraged his troops by telling them: ”The eyes of the world are upon you.”
The invasion had two main phases : an airborne assault and amphibious landing. The same day, 5,000 ships carrying troops left England, while more than 11,000 aircrafts were providing air cover to the Allied troops. Almost a week later, after the beaches had been completely secured, over 326,000 troops, more than 50,000 vehicles and about 100,000 of equipment landed in Normandy.
The mad dream of Nazi domination was put an end to by the largest air, land and sea operation even accomplished, known as Overlord.
Some estimations speak about 4,000 Allies who lost their lives in the D-Day invasion, but the German losses were a lot more important, as the Nazi troops were confused, Rommel was away and Hitler didn’t want to send divisions for the counterattack, believing that it was a feint of the Allies. By the end of June, these ones had occupied the port of Cherbourg and had landed more than 850.000 men in Normandy. Hitler wouldn’t take advice from anybody and, above all, wouldn’t accept the reality on the field, reason why World War Two ended sooner than expected and with huge losses: it seems that the total combined German military and civilian war dead was of 7,375,800.