78TH ANNIVERSARY OF D-DAY LANDINGS
Reported By SGT K.Grigorov
Image source: marinamaral.com
Today marks the 78th anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy, France.
Operation Overlord was the allied codename for the Invasion of Normandy. More than 2 million allied personnel took part in the operation on the Allied side and more than 500 thousand on the opposite one.
The landings were only the start of what was to be a new theatre for the war. The operation itself would officially end on the 30th of August 1944.
The decision for a cross-channel invasion was made in 1943 and the entirety of Overlord took more than a year to prepare for.
Deception efforts from the allies in order to fool German High-Command about the landing spots were undertaken.
Training exercises started up as early as Summer 1943. While not smooth they were vital.
Over 3000 photo-reconnaissance sorties were flown from April till June.
On the Axis side an invasion was seen as imminent. It was clear to German High-Command that an invasion will take place somewhere across the channel on the beaches of France. The problem was were exactly would this happen.
The coastline was reinforced. From Spain to Norway the Atlantic Wall stood as a measure of defense and deterrence. Normandy was overlooked for the most part due to friendly intelligence and enemy deception.
The province only began being heavily fortified in early 1944. Troops would be moved from the Eastern Front in preparation and thousands of vehicles would enter France.
As the days drew longer and summer had come once again the defenders had entrenched themselves deep along the French coast.
On the 5th of June 1944 allied airborne drops would be done all across Normandy. Due to heavy defender AAA many planes would be shot out of the sky and many troops miss-dropped around the province.
Their job was to destroy enemy communication and logistical routes. Stop re-enforcements from reaching the beaches. Their counterparts on the other side, the engineer corps, would work tirelessly in order to open new channels of movement.
On the 6th of June 1944 as the light shown D-Day was underway. 5 beaches were picked for the invasion, Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. Each location had its issues. Omaha was the most heavily defended and saw the most blood that day. All goals for D-Day were achieved by D-Day+3.
What was supposed to take a single period of 24 hours lasted more than 100. Fighting at the beaches went on in to the deep red afternoon as on some shelling only stopped after 1700 local time. The defenders were stalwart in their resilience. Some had been in this conflict since 1939 and had fought hard at the dawn of the conflict. In total it is estimated that over 200 thousand allied troops gave their lives between the start of Operation Overlord and the 31st of August 1944. On the opposite side estimates range from equivalent to over double that of the invasion forces. And overall over 10 thousand vehicles would be lost from both sides combined. Close to 40 thousand civilians would lose their lives from the operation.
Today we remember the terrible loses from the 6th of June 1944, but also all those before and after.
"There is no glory in battle worth the blood it costs." -Dwight D. Eisenhower [Crusade in Europe 1948]