Planning and Preparation:

Following the Tehran Conference, President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill continued the preparation for an invasion of France and chose General Eisenhower as Operation Overlord's, the invasion's code name, commander. Many American soldiers, airplanes, and tons of equipment were then sent to England for the invasion. The last decision to be made regarded the date for the invasion which proved to be very difficult, as there were many stipulations to ensure this attack was successful. Firstly, the assault had to take place at night so that the ships crossing the Channel were not visible. Secondly, a low tide was necessary (at dawn) for arrival in order for the troops to see obstacles on the beach and their targets. Also, a moonlit night was crucial so the paratroopers could see where to land. Lastly and most importantly, good weather was needed for the airplanes and landing craft. With all of the aforementioned conditions, few days in each month were suitable for the attack. The first window of opportunity was from June 5 to June 7, 1944. When June 5, 1944, approached, however, the weather proved to be undesirable with many clouds, strong wind, and rough waves. The invasion was pushed back to June 6, with the weather was still not ideal but improved and navigable.

The Allies worked together to plan this attack on Normandy.


The Trick:

Adolf Hitler, sensing an invasion from the Allies to liberate France, fortified the English Channel coast. The Allies, however, were one step ahead of Hitler, and they deceitfully placed tank decoys and dummy equipment across from Pas-de-Calais, a region located in France near Great Britain, to trick the Germans about their invasion spot. This trickery created what is known as the "Ghost Army," a seemingly ever present group of soldiers that engaged in staged military performances using both illusions and sounds to make the Germans think that it was the Allied forces. Meanwhile, the actual American troops advanced with their real target located much further south along the coast of Normandy at five different beaches: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Sword, and Juno.

Soldiers are seen lifting one of the decoys, an inflatable tank.
A decoy plane, made out of wood and burlap or canvas. From the sky, these looked very realistic.


The Battle:

On June 6, 1944, shortly following midnight, General Eisenhower approved the invasion. The Allied paratroopers and ships reached the beaches, ready to partake in their "Longest Day." On the east, the British and Canadian troops at Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches were able to move a few miles inland. Likewise, the American landing at Utah Beach was successful. At Omaha beach, however, facing strong German opposition, over 2,000 American soldiers perished. Though retreat was beginning to become an option, the troops eventually advanced up the beaches and were triumphant in their invasion.

Soaking wet troops struggle to come ashore on the different beaches.
Soldiers pulling their comrades onto the shore of Omaha after they arrived on life rafts.
Normandy's coast was faced with more than 100,000 soldiers in nearly 7,000 ships.
A couple beaches were overtaken almost immediately, but Omaha proved to be difficult and almost failed.
After they had taken control of a beach, soldiers marched inland, covering miles of land.
As the fighting at the beaches took place, 23,000 paratroops were dropped inland and fighter-bombers destroyed bridges, radar sites, and bunkers.


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The success of the Allied D-Day invasion ultimately led to the capture of France and the defeat of Germany which was the beginning of the end. Although many devastating deaths occurred, it was a major turning point of World War II for both America and the Allied forces.

There were over 425,000 Allied and German casualties during the Battle of Normandy, with 2,500 American soldiers dead.
Many cities were destroyed. Pictured here is the city of Saint-Lô, which was 95% destroyed.


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“D-Day.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005158. Accessed 19 Apr. 2017.

“D-Day and the Battle of Normandy: Your Questions Answered.” D-Day Museum, Portsmouth Museum Services, www.ddaymuseum.co.uk/d-day/d-day-and-the-battle-of-normandy-your-questions-answered. Accessed 19 Apr. 2017.

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