Normandy Invasion



Introduction The Allied invasion of France on June 6, 1944 is variously known as D-Day, the Longest Day, Cross-Channel Attack, and probably some others as well. It was the largest single military operation of World War II. Hence, the Normandy beaches are a must stop if you get anywhere close to France. The 50th anniversary celebration in 1994 generated a lot of hype. The recent movie Saving Private Ryan rekindled that interest. However, the landing always held a special niche going back to the event itself. Much like Gettysburg, the Normandy attack has been studied in great detail -- hour by hour, person by person, shot by shot. We\'ll assume a flight landing in Paris and getting a rental car (a must) at the airport. Then you would drive over to Caen (about a 150 miles) and spend the night, which would put you at the east end of the beaches the next morning. This book by Bruce Bilven, Jr., is a historical documentation of D-Day, June 6, 1944. The book itself contains a lot of dates, names and places, which makes it a tough book to follow. Bruce Bilven Jr., himself took part in the massive D-Day invasion of Omaha Beach, as a second Lieutenant in the 29th Division Artillery. Drawing on his own experiances as a solider in World War II, he wrote two other Landmark Books about the war; From Casablanca to Berlin and From Pearl Harbor to Okinawa. Since the war he has written The American Revolution as well as many other books articles, and reviews. He lives with his wife and co-author, Naomi, and his college-age son in New York City. Summary Strategy D-Day began with the concept of the "Second Front." When Stalin\'s Russia was invaded in 1941, he immediately demanded that his new allies attack Hitler to take off the pressure. No matter his past complicity. Churchill and Roosevelt replied with the invasion of North Africa in November 1942 and Italy in 1943. Chief of staff George C. Marshall considered these sideshows draining away troops and time. The real war, argued Marshall, was to be a direct advance on Germany through France. Even as the "sideshows" proceeded, three other campaigns were under way -- the war against the German submarines, the US-British strategic bombing offensive against Germany, and the logistical buildup in Britain. The submarine conflict was a precondition for the bombing and the buildup. The Allies were fortunate that Hitler was had no interest in naval warfare. By 1943 the Allies had mastered the North Atlantic. The bombing offensive established control of the skies, which was another precondition for the invasion. The actual effect on German industrial production is still controversial, but there\'s no doubt that the bombing drained away German air resources that might have shown up over Normandy beaches in 1944. At the same time, the bombing forced the Germans to rationalize certain production techniques. The result, ironically, was the military production increased during the bombing offensive. British and American officers drew up plans for several contingencies in 1943. Operation OVERLORD was a large-scale assault against the German Army in France. This plan served as the basis for a final plan developed early in 1944 after General Eisenhower, designated as the supreme commander, arrived in Britain and established his command, Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force, or SHAEF. The overlooked question about D-Day is why it didn\'t happen in 1943. The Germans were greatly weakened after defeats at Stalingrad and North Africa in 1942. The French resistance was at its most effective. Instead, the British and Americans squabbled about how to proceed, and the delay meant that, in effect, nothing happened in 1943. It\'s one of the most interesting What If\'s of World War II. The over-all ground commander for the invasion was the former head of the British Eighth Army, General Montgomery, who also commanded the 21 Army Group, the controlling headquarters for the two Allied armies scheduled to make the invasion. The British were to assault on the left; the Americans on the right. This alignment explains why during the Cold War the weakened Brits defended the North German plain (on the left), while the much stronger American forces in Germany were deployed behind the Carpathian mountains (on the