D-Day The Normandy Invasion
Under a full moon, on the evening of the 5th June 1944, a powerful armada with highly trained Second British Army, US and Canadian troops, crossed the English channel towards Normandy, France. This mission, code-named, ‘Operation Neptune’ would be regarded as the most difficult amphibious operation England had ever attempted, involving over 160,000 soldiers.
‘The Grand Assault’ of Normandy had two phases: British, US and Canadian airborne troops landing shortly after midnight (6th June) and a well equipped naval and land force to arrive on the beaches at 6.30 am (GMT) on the 6th.
In order to succeed in this mission and give tactical surprise, Hitler had to be deceived yet again during WWII. He was led to believe a mission called, ‘Operation Bodyguard’ was to take place in the north, at Pas-de-Calais, sending his jack-booted armies on a wild goose chase.
Commander of the ground force’s 21st British Army group, General Bernard Law Montgomery
was to head for the three eastern side beaches of the 50 mile Normandy coastline. The US Army (who had agreed to help Britain in this D-Day attack three months earlier), with 73,000 American soldiers and 21,400 Canadian soldiers, were to sail to two of Normandy’s western beaches.
The D-Day operation had been planned with precision by a team under, Lieutenant-General Frederick Edgeworth Morgan.
The Landing Craft Assault (LCA) (see link below) had been specially designed for the invasion, enabling the ships to reach as close to shore as possible. It was the largest airborne, naval and ground force attack in history. Over 5,000 landing ships reached seven miles off shore from five Normandy stretches – the Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches. Two midget X23 and X20 submarines, which had been under water for over 64 hours, had guided the battleships in with flashing lights.
20,000 rockets were fired before the first of Mongomery’s ground force landed on the beaches.
Most of the beach invasion force overcame light opposition, however, troops wading in towards Omaha beach were met with heavy machine gunfire and this mission was threatened. Only strong leadership would lead to them being brought inland.
Although the cost of allied lives was high, resulting in more than 9,000 killed, D-Day was a success and more than 100,000 soldiers began their march across Europe to put an end to the Nazi grip.
By Jacqui copyright 2013