University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
The Successful Landings In Normandy On The D Day
The D-Day is the day that will ever remain memorable as a historic day in France and all over the world as the day that marked the beginning of the journey that saw the defeat of Adolf Hitler. It was on the 6th of June 1944, on a Tuesday. This is the day when massive combat troops invaded Franch in an attempt to fight against and defeat Hitler. This also marked one of the historic events that took place during the World War II. There were about 160,000 Allied troops composed of Americans, British and Canadians. The troops landed on the beaches of Normandy spanning from east to the west. They used aircrafts and warships to make this historic invasion. About 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft were involved. . The landings began very early in the morning of that day. By the end of the day, the troops had taken control over the beaches of Normandy. In this operation, there were many challenges. Some of the Allied soldiers lost their lives and others got wounded. However, a good number of them made it to the land and began marching across Europe to fight Hitler. Amid all these challenges, it is surprising how the entire operation was planned and executed until it became successful. Many factors contributed to its success. This paper seeks to bring to light some of the factors that came to play to make this operation successful..
The timing of the landings was right. The weather was a bit unfavorable such that the Germans could not have expected such a massive operation. On the other hand, the weather conditions favored the Allied troops in order for them to mount the landings by surprise. On that day, there was a full moon. The moonlight was of great help for the navigation of the aircraft and gliders. They could easily spot their targets and land safely. . The assessment of the different roles of women during the War conveys an imperative issue of feminist empowerment in times of conflict.
In addition, it was a Spring season where the tides were high in the sea. High tides provided deep waters that made it possible for the ships to navigate over the defensive obstacle that had been placed by the German forces along the beach. Moreover, during the Spring season, the clouds were not too low. It was thus possible for aircraft navigation without losing the focus of the target sites. It is important to note that the choice of the day was a carefully thought out plan and thus was not by accident. This is because the operation had been planned to be done a month earlier but cancelled until the historic D-Day. . Therefore, the weather, the presence of the full moon and the fact that the Spring tides were present made the D-Day (6th June, 1944) is the day that would be chosen for the landing operation.
Furthermore, the planners of the landing were not oblivious of a possible counter-attack before the entire landing had been achieved. Therefore, as a way of ensuring successful landings, airborne operations were done. These included dropping paratroops to secure the target areas before the landing. In addition, aircraft assaults were involved in the destruction of the German division units in France. This way, there was less resistance by the Germans against the invasion by the Allied troops. Moreover, the landings were carried out by Divisions. . The US Airborne Divisions were supposed to take charge of the Western part of the region ( the Utah Beach) while the British and the Canadians Airborne Divisions were assigned the eastern region. The major objective of these airborne operations was to attack the German divisions at their target sites in order to make it easier for the landings. In addition, they were supposed to destroy all the bridges especially over the Dives River and sea to restrict movement of the ground German soldiers from the east. Having achieved this operation, it was finally easier for the landings of the aircraft and the warships.
The other tactic that the Allied troops used to make the landings successful was the use of the deceptive method. The deceptions used were aimed at distracting the attention of Hitler from the impending invasion of France through the Normandy. One way they managed to cause this distraction was by planning an attack in Pas de Calais. The attacks were to occur across the Strait of Dover. As intended, Hitler shifted his full attention to protect the Strait. He was made to believe that this is where the intended invasion was to take place and that the Normandy landings were just but diversionary tactics. This is an interesting observation because it is ironic that Hitler thought that the Normandy landings were a diversionary tactic whereas the actual invasion was to take place in Normandy and not in Pas de Calais. This operation was codenamed Operation Bodyguard. In addition, two more operations were carried out with an intention to distract Hitler even more. These were Operation Glimmer and the Operation Taxable. What is unique about these two operations is that they were carried out at the same time as the Landings were taking place. They were also carried out on the Straits of Dover. They involved heavy bombers that flew over the region dropping radar-reflecting aluminum strips that were able to distort the German’s radar’s ability to detect aircraft. The distraction was successful because the landings had been accomplished by the time Hitler realized that indeed the attacks in Pas de Calais were diversionary tactics.
Moreover, the Germany army was spread all over the place because of the confusions that had been created following the impending invasion. This scattering made it possible for the landings to take place in Normandy. This is because there was less resistance in Normandy owing to the fact that there were few division units in the region to result to a significant counter-attack. In addition, the release of armored units required the approval of Hitler. This approval was slow to come by because Hitler needed to be convinced first that the real invasion was taking place in Normandy. As a result, it was easy for the landings and the subsequent invasion by the Allied troops. The problem was compounded by the fact that there was no clear chain of command within the Germany Forces. For this reason, it was not possible for the quick assembly of the forces and direct the focus in Normandy in time to prevent the invasion. Thus, this defect in the Germany Forces worked to the advantage of the Allied Soldiers who were able to land and invade the Hitler’s territory.
Another tactic that played well for the success of the landings in Normandy was the use of the coded language by the Allied troops. For instance, they used code names to refer to the operations that they intended to carry out. The major operation that culminated in the actual landings on the D-Day was codenamed Operation Overlord. The actual assault phase was codenamed Operation Neptune. The deceptive operations that were carried out had code names too. For instance, Operation Glimmer and Operation Taxable were the two operations that were carried out on the same day as the landings.
Operation Fortitude had been carried out earlier before the D-Day in order to shift the attention of Hitler from Normandy to Pas de Calais. This tactic of using code names helped the Allied troops conceal their intentions from the enemy. Furthermore, there were code names for the target sites marked for the attacks. For instance, the center of landings on the Normandy coast was codenamed Gold Beach. Messages passed among the soldiers were composed of the codes. In the end, the Allied troops were able to make the surprise landings and the subsequent invasion in Normandy. The tactic was successful because Hitler was caught off-guard by this invasion. Moreover, the fact that the operation was done by many nations united together made the entire operation successful. This unity helped the landings accomplishment in two main ways. First, the big nations pulled their resources together.
The United States of America, the British and Canada were at the forefront in this operation. It is in no doubt that the three nations are rich in terms of economic achievements. They came together united for a common goal. They contributed the necessary material resources such as the war equipments, ships and the aircraft. They also contributed the human resources in form of the soldiers who were to make the overall operation a success. Based on this knowledge, it is clear that the operation was done using sophisticated and the most expensive equipments available in those nations. Take for instance the number of aircraft involved and the number of the ships used. A single nation could not carry out such an operation because none has that number of aircraft or ships in their possession. The second way through which this unity led to the successful landings was through making arrangements that allowed their soldiers to train together and come to an agreement on the ways of achieving the intended invasion.
This way, the soldiers from the three nations interacted. This bore fruits because on the D-Day, the soldiers worked together under the instructions of the same General. The soldiers had been split into Divisions that understood their roles and therefore there were neither delays in executing the commands nor confusion in the responsibilities assigned to each. Therefore, the fact that the three big nations had a common goal that they needed to accomplish, they worked in togetherness and this resulted to the historic success of the landings in Normandy. The common goal was to fight and defeat Hitler.
Furthermore, the number and the training level of soldiers that took part in this operation contributed to the successful landings and ultimate invasion. They were about 160,000 soldiers. This large number was able to win against any counterattacks that were mounted by the German soldiers with a lot of ease. Recall that as a strategy, the Allied soldiers had succeeded in distracting the attention of Hitler, so that he was not aware that the real landings and invasion was taking place in Normandy. For that reason, the number of German soldiers in the region was not enough to fight against the Allied soldiers. In addition, all the soldiers who took part in this operation had received the highest level of training. They were selected from their respective nations has the best soldiers. These soldiers had been prepared specifically for this operation.
Even during their trainings, the purpose of their training was kept at the forefront. They were motivated and they understood that they had the responsibility to liberate France from the rule of Hitler and prevent his rule from penetrating to England. The nations such as the US and the Britain have had the best trained soldiers in history. Therefore, it is no wonder that these soldiers were able to take control of Normandy with such an ease.
The other factor that contributed immensely to the success in the landings in Normandy is that the landings were done division by division. This strategy was decided because the Allied troops knew that incase there was a massive counterattack, only a few of the soldiers would be directly involved and the rest would provide a backup from a safe distance.This is because if all the soldiers landed simultaneously and then all of them get ambushed by the German soldiers, it would be a catastrophic event. Perhaps many Allied soldiers would get killed. Worse still, the whole operation would become futile. Ultimately, it would become a lost battle and the German forces would go on with their plan of invading England. The loss borne by the nations that participated in the operation would be insurmountable. This knowledge guided the operation so that on the D-Day, soldiers and equipments were landed as per the Divisions.
According to the planners, six divisions were to land on the first day. They included three divisions from the US, two British divisions and ne Canadian division. The other divisions were to land progressively after the assault divisions had cleared the way by defeating the defenses along the beach.
It is also important to note that the choice Normandy as a landing site was a contributing factor to this success. To the credit of the diversionary operations that had been carried out, this place was less guarded. This facilitated the actual landings so much. The Allied soldiers were immediately able to capture most of the ports along the beach. Docking of the warships was possible. There was another aspect of choosing Normandy that contributed immensely to the success. Normandy, as we have already said, was the coast that had many harbors through which Germans got resources through importation. Therefore, on the one hand, this entrance to supply Germans had been blocked. It thus meant that the Germans would soon suffer fro limited resources in the course of the battle. On the other hand, the Allied troops used the same harbors to get supplies of the necessary equipments by ship.
Above all, the most important resource, the fuel, could be supplied with ease. Of particular importance was the capture of the port of Cherbourg and control of the English Channel. Therefore, the Allied forces could not fall short of fuel which was a strategic planning on the part of the planners of the landing. In a nutshell, the choice of Normandy as a landing site was a clear plan whose benefits had been weighed accordingly. That is why, as a starting point, the beginning of the battle was aimed at securing he entire beach first.
In conclusion, we have highlighted the fact that many factors contributed to the ultimate success of the Normandy landings. We have seen that the timing of the landings was right on the part of Allied soldiers because the Spring season provided high tides for water navigation and full moon provided enough light for air navigation. The ability of the Allied troops to use deceptive techniques such Operation bodyguard on Hitler worked well to enhance landings in Normandy. This is because Hitler did not pay much attention to what was happening in Normandy but in Pas de Calais. In addition, the Allied soldiers used coded language that made their plans secrets. They codenamed their operations and even the target sites. Moreover, the fact that this operation was carried out by big nations such as the US, Britain and Canada made it successful. This is because these nations had enough resources in terms of war equipments and soldiers to accomplish this goal . Finally, the large number of the soldiers that was involved in this operation made it succeed. Therefore, the landings were successful thanks to the planners.
Adams, Simon, World War I. Rev. ed. (New York: DK Pub., 2007)
Cheryl, Buckley, “Dehumanised Female and Amazonians”: British Wartime Fashion and its Representation in Home Chat, 19141918’, Gender and History 14, (2002) 12-21
Elizabeth, Domansky, Militarization and Reproduction in World War 1 Germany’, in Geoff Eley(ed.), Society, Culture and the State in Germany, 18701930 (Michigan, 1996)
Elshtain, Jean Bethke, Women and war. (New York: Basic Books, 1987)
Georgin, Clarsen, ‘”A Fine University for Women Engineers”: a Scottish munitions factory in World War 1’, Women’s History Review 12, (2003) 21-26
Hodge, Carl Cavanagh, “The Last Century Of Sea Power, Vol. 1: From Port Arthur To Chanak, 1894-1922.” First World War Studies 1, no. 2 (2010): 216-217.
Holm, Jeanne, Women in the military: an unfinished revolution. Rev. ed. (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1992)
Laura, Doan, ‘A Challenge to “Change”? New Perspectives on Women and the Great War’ (review article), Women’s History Review 15 (2006) 62-64
Margaret, Darrow, French Women and the First World War (Oxford, 2000)
Margaret, Darrow, ‘French Volunteer Nursing and the Myth of War Experience in World War 1’, American Historical Review 101, (1996) 11-17
Mathilde Dubesset, Françoise Thébaud & Catherine Vincent, The Female Munition Workers of the Seine’, in P. Fridenson ed. (The French Home Front 19141918: Oxford, 1992)
Maureen, Healy, ‘Becoming Austrian: Women, State and Citizenship in World War 1’, Central European History 35 (2002) 61-65
Melissa, Stockdale, ‘”My Death for the Motherland is Happiness”: Women, Patriotism and Soldiering in Russia’s Great War, 19141917’, American Historical Review 109 (2004) 22-25
Sanders, M. L.. “Wellington House and British Propaganda during the First World War1.” The Historical Journal 18, no. 01 (1975): 119.
Weatherford, Doris, Greatness in Women during World War I. (New York: Facts on File, 1990)