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Operation Overlord was the codename for the Battle of Normandy, the
Allied An alliance is a relationship among people, groups, or sovereign state, states that have joined together for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement has been worked out among them. Members of an alli ...
operation that launched the successful invasion of German-occupied
Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical r ...
during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
. The operation was launched on 6 June 1944 with the
Normandy Landings (D-Day)
Normandy Landings (D-Day)
. A 1,200-plane airborne assault preceded an
amphibious assault Amphibious warfare is a type of Offensive (military), offensive military operation that today uses naval ships to project ground and air power onto a hostile or potentially hostile shore at a designated landing beach. Through history the operat ...
involving more than 5,000 vessels. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the
English Channel The English Channel,, "The Sleeve"; nrf, la Maunche, "The Sleeve" (Cotentinais Cotentinais is the dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , , "discourse", from , , "through" and , , "I speak") is used in two ...

English Channel
on 6 June, and more than two million Allied troops were in France by the end of August. The decision to undertake a cross-channel invasion in 1944 was taken at the
Trident Conference The third Washington Conference ( codenamed Trident) was held in Washington, D.C from May 12 to May 25, 1943. It was a World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war t ...
in
Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state), United States * Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States ** Federal government of the United States (metonym) ** Washington metropolitan area, the metropolitan area centered on Washingt ...
in May 1943. General
Dwight D. Eisenhower Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (; October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was an American military officer An officer is a member of an armed forces or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. In its broadest sense, the term " ...
was appointed commander of
Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF; ) was the headquarters of the Commander of Allies of World War II, Allied forces in north west Europe, from late 1943 until the end of World War II. U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was th ...
, and General
Bernard Montgomery Field Marshal Field marshal (or field-marshal, abbreviated as FM) is the most senior military rank, ordinarily senior to the general officer ranks. Usually it is the highest rank in an army and as such few persons are appointed to it. I ...
was named as commander of the
21st Army Group The 21st Army Group was a British headquarters formation, in command of two and other supporting units, consisting primarily of the and the . Established in London during July 1943, under the command of (SHAEF), it was assigned to , the , an ...
, which comprised all the land forces involved in the invasion. The coast of
Normandy Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie; from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, ...

Normandy
of northwestern France was chosen as the site of the invasion, with the Americans assigned to land at sectors codenamed
Utah Utah ( , ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. Utah is a landlocked U.S. state bordered to its east by Colorado, to its northeast by Wyoming, to its north by Idaho, to its so ...

Utah
and
Omaha Omaha ( ) is the largest city in the U.S. state of Nebraska and the county seat of Douglas County, Nebraska, Douglas County. Omaha is in the Midwestern United States on the Missouri River, about north of the mouth of the Platte River (also kno ...

Omaha
, the British at
Sword A sword is an edged, bladed weapon intended for manual cutting or thrusting. Its blade, longer than a knife A knife (plural knives; from Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Ge ...
and
Gold Gold is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elemen ...

Gold
, and the Canadians at
Juno Juno commonly refers to: *Juno (mythology), the Roman goddess of marriage and queen of the gods *Juno (film), ''Juno'' (film), 2007 Juno may also refer to: Arts, entertainment and media Fictional characters *Juno, in the film ''Jenny, Juno'' *Jun ...

Juno
. To meet the conditions expected on the Normandy beachhead, special technology was developed, including two artificial ports called
Mulberry harbour Mulberry harbours were temporary portable harbours developed by the United Kingdom during the Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. I ...

Mulberry harbour
s and an array of specialised tanks nicknamed Hobart's Funnies. In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted
Operation Bodyguard Operation Bodyguard was the code name for a World War II military deception, deception plan employed by the Allies of World War II, Allied states before the 1944 invasion of northwest Europe. The plan was intended to mislead the German high comm ...
, a substantial
military deception Military deception (MILDEC) is an attempt by a military unit to gain an advantage during warfare War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a mo ...
that used electronic and visual misinformation to mislead the Germans as to the date and location of the main Allied landings. Führer
Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler (; 20 April 188930 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician who was the dictator of Nazi Germany, Germany from 1933 to 1945. Adolf Hitler's rise to power, He rose to power as the leader of the Nazi Party, becoming Cha ...

Adolf Hitler
placed German Field Marshal
Erwin Rommel Johannes Erwin Eugen Rommel () (15 November 1891 – 14 October 1944) was a German general and a propaganda icon during World War II. Popularly known as the Desert Fox (, ), he served as field marshal Field marshal (or field-marsha ...

Erwin Rommel
in charge of developing fortifications all along Hitler's proclaimed
Atlantic Wall The Atlantic Wall (german: link=no, Atlantikwall) was an extensive system of coastal defences and fortifications built by Nazi Germany Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. " ...

Atlantic Wall
in anticipation of an invasion. The Allies failed to accomplish their objectives for the first day, but gained a tenuous foothold that they gradually expanded when they captured the port at Cherbourg on 26 June and the city of
Caen Caen (, ; nrf, Kaem) is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what ...

Caen
on 21 July. A failed counterattack by German forces on 8 August left 50,000 soldiers of the 7th Army trapped in the
Falaise pocket The Falaise pocket or battle of the Falaise pocket (; 12–21 August 1944) was the decisive engagement of the Battle of Normandy Operation Overlord was the codename for the Battle of Normandy, the Allied operation that launched the suc ...
. The Allies launched a second invasion from the
Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , on the south by , and on the east by the . The Sea has played a central role in the . Although the Mediterrane ...
of southern France (code-named
Operation Dragoon Operation Dragoon (initially Operation Anvil) was the code name for the landing operation Allied invasion of Sicily, 1943 A landing operation is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highl ...
) on 15 August, and the
Liberation of Paris The liberation of Paris (french: Libération de Paris) was a military battle that took place during World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war ...
followed on 25 August. German forces retreated east across the
Seine ) , mouth_location = Le Havre Le Havre (, ; nrf, Lé Hâvre) is an urban French commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''lati ...

Seine
on 30 August 1944, marking the close of Operation Overlord.


Preparations for D-Day

In June 1940, Germany's leader
Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler (; 20 April 188930 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician who was the dictator of Nazi Germany, Germany from 1933 to 1945. Adolf Hitler's rise to power, He rose to power as the leader of the Nazi Party, becoming Cha ...

Adolf Hitler
had triumphed in what he called "the most famous victory in history"—the
fall of France The Battle of France, also known as the Fall of France, was the German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of German ...
. British craft evacuated to England over 338,000 Allied troops trapped along the northern coast of France (including much of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF)) in the
Dunkirk evacuation The Dunkirk evacuation, codenamed Operation Dynamo and also known as the Miracle of Dunkirk, or just Dunkirk, was the evacuation of Allies of World War II, Allied soldiers during World War II from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, in the nort ...
(27 May to 4 June). British planners reported to Prime Minister
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Winston Churchill
on 4 October that even with the help of other
Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existenc ...

Commonwealth
countries and the United States, it would not be possible to regain a foothold in continental Europe in the near future. After the Axis
invaded the Soviet Union
invaded the Soviet Union
in June 1941, Soviet leader
Joseph Stalin ( – 5 March 1953) was a Georgians, Georgian revolutionary and Soviet political leader who governed the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death in 1953. He held power both as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1922–1952 ...
began pressing for a
second front The Western Front was a military theatre of World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved World War II by country, the ...
in Western Europe. Churchill declined because he felt that even with American help the British did not have adequate forces for such a strike, and he wished to avoid costly frontal assaults such as those that had occurred at the Somme and Passchendaele in
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
. Two tentative plans code-named Operation Roundup and
Operation Sledgehammer Operation Sledgehammer was an Allied plan for a cross-Channel invasion of Europe during World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It ...
were put forward for 1942–43, but neither was deemed by the British to be practical or likely to succeed. Instead, the
Allies An alliance is a relationship among people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying ...
expanded their activity in the Mediterranean, launching the
invasion An invasion is a military offensive An offensive is a military operation A military operation is the coordinated military action War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or par ...

invasion
of
French North Africa French North Africa (french: Afrique du Nord française) is the term often applied to the territories controlled by France in the Maghreb, North African Maghreb during the History of colonialism, colonial era. It encompassed French Algeria, French ...
in November 1942, the
invasion of Sicily The Allied invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky, was a major campaign of World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It in ...
in July 1943, and invading Italy in September. These campaigns provided the troops with valuable experience in
amphibious warfare Amphibious warfare is a type of offensive Offensive may refer to: * Offensive, the former name of the Dutch political party Socialist Alternative (Netherlands), Socialist Alternative * Offensive (military), an attack * Offensive language ** F ...
. Those attending the
Trident Conference The third Washington Conference ( codenamed Trident) was held in Washington, D.C from May 12 to May 25, 1943. It was a World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war t ...
in Washington in May 1943 took the decision to launch a cross-Channel invasion within the next year. Churchill favoured making the main Allied thrust into Germany from the Mediterranean theatre, but the Americans, who were providing the bulk of the men and equipment, over-ruled him. British Lieutenant-General
Frederick E. Morgan
Frederick E. Morgan
was appointed Chief of Staff, Supreme Allied Commander (COSSAC), to begin detailed planning. The initial plans were constrained by the number of available landing-craft, most of which were already committed in the Mediterranean and in the Pacific. In part because of lessons learned in the
Dieppe Raid Operation Jubilee or the Dieppe Raid (19 August 1942) was an Allies of World War II, Allied amphibious attack on the German-occupied port of Dieppe, Seine-Maritime, Dieppe in northern France, during the Second World War. Over 6,050 infantry, pred ...
of 19 August 1942, the Allies decided not to directly assault a heavily defended French seaport in their first landing. The failure at Dieppe also highlighted the need for adequate artillery and air support, particularly
close air support In military tactics Military tactics encompasses the art of organizing and employing fighting forces on or near the battlefield A battlefield, battleground, or field of battle is the location of a present or historic battle A battle i ...
, and specialised ships able to travel extremely close to shore. The short operating-range of British aircraft such as the
Spitfire The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft Fighter aircraft are fixed-wing A fixed-wing aircraft is a heavier-than-air flying machine, such as an airplane An airplane or aeroplane (informally plane) ...

Spitfire
and
Typhoon A typhoon is a mature tropical cyclone A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm, storm system characterized by a Low-pressure area, low-pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, Beaufort scale, strong winds, and ...

Typhoon
greatly limited the number of potential landing-sites, as comprehensive air-support depended upon having planes overhead for as long as possible. Morgan considered four sites for the landings:
Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to ...
, the
Cotentin Peninsula The Cotentin Peninsula (, ; nrf, Cotentîn ), also known as the Cherbourg Peninsula, is a peninsula in Normandy Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie; from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( ...

Cotentin Peninsula
, Normandy, and the
Pas de Calais Pas-de-Calais (, "strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrow, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. Most commonly it is a channel of water that lies between two land masses. Some straits are not navigable, ...

Pas de Calais
. As Brittany and Cotentin are peninsulas, the Germans could have cut off the Allied advance at a relatively narrow isthmus, so these sites were rejected. Pas de Calais, the closest point in continental Europe to Britain, was the location of launch sites for
V-1
V-1
and
V-2 rocket #REDIRECT V-2 rocket #REDIRECT V-2 rocket#REDIRECT V-2 rocket The V-2 (german: Vergeltungswaffe 2, "Retribution Weapon 2"), with the technical name '' Aggregat 4'' (A4), was the world's first long-range guided ballistic missile. The missile, ...

V-2 rocket
s, then still under development. The Germans regarded it as the most likely initial landing zone and accordingly made it the most heavily fortified region; however, it offered the Allies few opportunities for expansion as the area is bounded by numerous rivers and canals. On the other hand, landings on a broad front in Normandy would permit simultaneous threats against the port of Cherbourg, coastal ports further west in Brittany, and an overland attack towards Paris and eventually into Germany. The Allies therefore chose Normandy as the landing site. The most serious drawback of the Normandy coast—the lack of port facilities—would be overcome through the development of artificial harbours. The COSSAC staff planned to begin the invasion on 1 May 1944. The initial draft of the plan was accepted at the Quebec Conference in August 1943. General
Dwight D. Eisenhower Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (; October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was an American military officer An officer is a member of an armed forces or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. In its broadest sense, the term " ...
was appointed commander of
Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF; ) was the headquarters of the Commander of Allies of World War II, Allied forces in north west Europe, from late 1943 until the end of World War II. U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was th ...
(SHAEF). General
Bernard Montgomery Field Marshal Field marshal (or field-marshal, abbreviated as FM) is the most senior military rank, ordinarily senior to the general officer ranks. Usually it is the highest rank in an army and as such few persons are appointed to it. I ...
was named commander of the
21st Army Group The 21st Army Group was a British headquarters formation, in command of two and other supporting units, consisting primarily of the and the . Established in London during July 1943, under the command of (SHAEF), it was assigned to , the , an ...
, which comprised all of the land forces involved in the invasion. On 31 December 1943, Eisenhower and Montgomery first saw the COSSAC plan, which proposed amphibious landings by three
divisions Division or divider may refer to: Mathematics *Division (mathematics) Division is one of the four basic operations of arithmetic, the ways that numbers are combined to make new numbers. The other operations are addition, subtraction, and multi ...
, with two more divisions in support. The two generals immediately insisted on expanding the scale of the initial invasion to five divisions, with airborne descents by three additional divisions, to allow operations on a wider front and to speed up the capture of the port at Cherbourg. This significant expansion required the acquisition of additional landing craft, which caused the invasion to be delayed by a month until June 1944. Eventually the Allies committed 39 divisions to the Battle of Normandy: 22 American, 12 British, three Canadian, one Polish, and one French, totalling over a million troops.


Allied invasion plan

"Overlord" was the name assigned to the establishment of a large-scale
lodgement A lodgement is an enclave An enclave is a territory (or a part of one) that is entirely surrounded by the territory of one other state. Enclaves may also exist within territorial waters. ''Enclave'' is sometimes used improperly to denote a terr ...
on the Continent. The first phase, the amphibious invasion and establishment of a secure foothold, was code-named
Operation Neptune Operation or Operations may refer to: Science and technology * Surgical operation or surgery, in medicine * Operation (mathematics), a calculation from zero or more input values (called operands) to an output value ** Arity, number of arguments ...
and is often referred to as "D-Day". To gain the required air superiority needed to ensure a successful invasion, the Allies launched a bombing campaign (codenamed
Operation Pointblank #redirect Point-blank range Point-blank range is any distance over which a certain firearm can hit a target without the need to compensate for bullet drop. Like any object in flight, a bullet is pulled downwards by gravity, so for distant target ...
) to target German aircraft-production, fuel supplies, and airfields. Under the Transport Plan, communications infrastructure and road and rail links were bombed to cut off the north of France and to make it more difficult to bring up reinforcements. These attacks were widespread so as to avoid revealing the exact location of the invasion. Elaborate deceptions were planned to prevent the Germans from determining the timing and location of the invasion. The coastline of Normandy was divided into seventeen sectors, with codenames using a
spelling alphabet Spelling is a set of conventions that regulate the way of using graphemes (writing system) to represent a language in its written language, written form. In other words, spelling is the rendering of speech sound (phoneme) into writing (grapheme). ...
—from Able, west of
Omaha Omaha ( ) is the largest city in the U.S. state of Nebraska and the county seat of Douglas County, Nebraska, Douglas County. Omaha is in the Midwestern United States on the Missouri River, about north of the mouth of the Platte River (also kno ...

Omaha
, to Roger on the east flank of
Sword A sword is an edged, bladed weapon intended for manual cutting or thrusting. Its blade, longer than a knife A knife (plural knives; from Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Ge ...
. Eight further sectors were added when the invasion was extended to include
Utah Utah ( , ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. Utah is a landlocked U.S. state bordered to its east by Colorado, to its northeast by Wyoming, to its north by Idaho, to its so ...

Utah
on the Cotentin Peninsula. Sectors were further subdivided into beaches identified by the colours Green, Red, and White. Allied planners envisaged preceding the sea-borne landings with airborne drops: near Caen on the eastern flank to secure the
Orne River The Orne () is a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reac ...
bridges, and north of
Carentan Carentan () is a town, small rural town near the north-eastern base of the French Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy in north-western France near the port city of Cherbourg, with a population somewhat over 6,000. It is a former Communes of France, co ...
on the western flank. The initial goal was to capture Carentan, Isigny,
Bayeux Bayeux () is a commune An intentional community is a voluntary residential community designed from the start to have a high degree of group cohesiveness, social cohesion and teamwork. The members of an intentional community typically ho ...

Bayeux
, and Caen. The Americans, assigned to land at Utah and Omaha, were to cut off the Cotentin Peninsula and capture the port facilities at Cherbourg. The British at Sword and
Gold Gold is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elemen ...

Gold
, and the Canadians at
Juno Juno commonly refers to: *Juno (mythology), the Roman goddess of marriage and queen of the gods *Juno (film), ''Juno'' (film), 2007 Juno may also refer to: Arts, entertainment and media Fictional characters *Juno, in the film ''Jenny, Juno'' *Jun ...

Juno
, were to capture Caen and form a front line from
Caumont-l'Éventé Caumont-l'Éventé is a former Communes of France, commune in the Calvados (department), Calvados Departments of France, department in northwestern France. On 1 January 2017, it was merged into the new commune Caumont-sur-Aure.Falaise Falaise may refer to: Places * Falaise, Ardennes, France * Falaise, Calvados, France ** The Falaise pocket was the site of a battle in the Second World War * La Falaise, in the Yvelines ''département'', France * The Falaise escarpment in Quebec Ci ...
. A secure lodgement would be established and an attempt made to hold all territory captured north of the
Avranches Avranches () is a Communes of France, commune in the Manche department in the Normandy region in northwestern France. It is a subprefecture of the department. The inhabitants are called ''Avranchinais''. History By the end of the Roman Empire, Ro ...

Avranches
-Falaise line during the first three weeks. The Allied armies would then swing left to advance towards the
River Seine ) , mouth_location = Le Havre Le Havre (, ; nrf, Lé Hâvre) is an urban French Communes of France, commune and city in the Seine-Maritime Departments of France, department in the Normandy (administrative region), Normandy region of nor ...
. The invasion fleet, led by Admiral Sir
Bertram Ramsay Admiral Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navy, navies, and in many navies is the highest rank. In the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth nations and the United States, a "full" admiral is equivalent to a "full" general officer, ...
, was split into the Western Naval Task Force (under Admiral
Alan G Kirk Admiral Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navy, navies, and in many navies is the highest rank. In the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth nations and the United States, a "full" admiral is equivalent to a "full" general officer, g ...

Alan G Kirk
) supporting the American sectors and the Eastern Naval Task Force (under Admiral Sir
Philip Vian Admiral of the Fleet An admiral of the fleet or fleet admiral (equivalent rank to admiral of the navy or grand admiral) is a military naval A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a Nation's armed forces A milita ...
) in the British and Canadian sectors. The American forces of the First Army, led by Lieutenant General
Omar Bradley Omar Nelson Bradley (February 12, 1893April 8, 1981) was a senior Officer (armed forces), officer of the United States Army during and after World War II, rising to the rank of General of the Army (United States), General of the Army. Bradley ...

Omar Bradley
, comprised VII Corps (Utah) and
V Corps5th Corps, Fifth Corps, or V Corps may refer to: France * 5th Army Corps (France) * V Cavalry Corps (Grande Armée), a cavalry unit of the Imperial French Army during the Napoleonic Wars * V Corps (Grande Armée), a unit of the Imperial French Army ...
(Omaha). On the British side, Lieutenant-General
Miles Dempsey General (United Kingdom), General Sir Miles Christopher Dempsey, (15 December 1896 – 6 June 1969) was a senior British Army officer who served in both world wars. As a junior officer, he fought in France during the First World War, where he was ...
commanded the Second Army, under which XXX Corps was assigned to Gold and I Corps to Juno and Sword. Land forces were under the overall command of Montgomery, and air command was assigned to Air Chief Marshal Sir
Trafford Leigh-Mallory Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, (11 July 1892 – 14 November 1944) was a senior commander in the Royal Air Force "Through Adversity to the Stars" , colours = , colours_label = , march ...
. The
First Canadian Army The First Canadian Army (french: 1reArmée canadienne) was a field army The unit flag of the Sixth United States Army. The distinguishing flag of a United States army is bicolored, white over red, with gold fringe. In the center is a render ...
included personnel and units from
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Poland, administrative provinces, covering an area of , and has a largely Temperate climate, temperate seasonal cli ...
, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Other Allied nations also participated.


Reconnaissance

The Allied Expeditionary Air Force undertook over 3,200 photo-reconnaissance sorties from April 1944 until the start of the invasion. Photos of the coastline were taken at extremely low altitude to show the invaders the terrain, obstacles on the beach, and defensive structures such as bunkers and gun emplacements. To avoid alerting the Germans as to the location of the invasion, this work had to be undertaken over the entire European coastline. Inland terrain, bridges, troop emplacements, and buildings were also photographed, in many cases from several angles, to give the Allies as much information as possible. Members of
Combined Operations Pilotage Parties Combined Operations Headquarters was a department of the British War Office The War Office This article contains text from this source, which is available under th Open Government Licence v3.0 © Crown copyright was a Departments of the British ...
clandestinely prepared detailed harbour maps, including
depth sounding Depth sounding, often simply called sounding, is measuring the depth of a body of water. Data taken from soundings are used in bathymetry Bathymetry (pronounced ) is the study of underwater depth of ocean floor The ocean (also the sea ...
s. An appeal for holiday pictures and postcards of Europe announced on the
BBC The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster, headquartered at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London. It is the world's oldest national broadcaster, and the largest broadcasting, broadcaster in the world by ...

BBC
produced over ten million items, some of which proved useful. Information collected by the
French resistance The French Resistance (french: La Résistance) was a collection of organisations who fought the Nazi occupation of France The Military Administration in France (german: Militärverwaltung in Frankreich; french: Occupation de la France par l ...
helped provide details on Axis troop movements and on construction techniques used by the Germans for bunkers and other defensive installations. Many German radio messages were encoded using the
Enigma machine The Enigma machine is a cipher In cryptography, a cipher (or cypher) is an algorithm for performing encryption or decryption—a series of well-defined steps that can be followed as a procedure. An alternative, less common term is ''en ...

Enigma machine
and other enciphering techniques and the codes were changed frequently. A team of code breakers stationed at
Bletchley Park Bletchley Park is an English country house An English country house is a large house or mansion in the English countryside. Such houses were often owned by individuals who also owned a Townhouse (Great Britain), town house. This allowed ...

Bletchley Park
worked to break codes as quickly as possible to provide advance information on German plans and troop movements. British military intelligence code-named this information
Ultra Ultra was the designation adopted by British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Crown Dependencies. ** Britishness, the Brit ...

Ultra
intelligence as it could only be provided to the top level of commanders. The Enigma code used by Field Marshal
Gerd von Rundstedt Karl Rudolf Gerd von Rundstedt (12 December 1875 – 24 February 1953) was a German field marshal Field marshal (or field-marshal, abbreviated as FM) is the most senior military rank, ordinarily senior to the general officer A ...

Gerd von Rundstedt
, ''Oberbefehlshaber'' West (Supreme Commander West;
OB West ''Oberbefehlshaber West'' (German: initials In a written or published work, an initial or drop cap is a letter at the beginning of a word, a chapter (books), chapter, or a paragraph that is larger than the rest of the text. The word is derived fr ...
), commander of the
Western FrontWestern Front or West Front may refer to: Military frontiers *Western Front (World War I), a military frontier to the west of Germany *Western Front (World War II), a military frontier to the west of Germany *Western Front (Russian Empire), a major ...
, was broken by the end of March. German intelligence changed the Enigma codes right after the Allied landings of 6 June but by 17 June the Allies were again consistently able to read them.


Technology

In response to the lessons learned at the disastrous Dieppe Raid, the Allies developed new technologies to help ensure the success of Overlord. To supplement the preliminary offshore bombardment and aerial assaults, some of the landing craft were equipped with artillery and anti-tank guns to provide close supporting fire. The Allies had decided not to immediately attack any of the heavily protected French ports and two artificial ports, called
Mulberry harbour Mulberry harbours were temporary portable harbours developed by the United Kingdom during the Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. I ...

Mulberry harbour
s, were designed by COSSAC planners. Each assembly consisted of a floating outer breakwater, inner concrete caissons (called
Phoenix breakwaters Phoenix most often refers to: * Phoenix (mythology) The phoenix is an immortal bird associated with Greek mythology (with analogs in many cultures) that cyclically regenerates or is otherwise born again. Associated with the sun, a phoenix ob ...
) and several floating piers. The Mulberry harbours were supplemented by
blockship A blockship is a ship deliberately sunk to prevent a river, channel (geography), channel, or canal from being used. It may either be sunk by a navy defending the waterway to prevent the ingress of attacking enemy forces, as in the case of HMS Hood ...
shelters (codenamed "Gooseberries"). With the expectation that fuel would be difficult or impossible to obtain on the continent, the Allies built a "Pipe-Line Under The Ocean" (
PLUTO Pluto (minor-planet designation: 134340 Pluto) is a dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt, a ring of trans-Neptunian object, bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune. It was the first and the largest Kuiper belt object to be discovered. After Pluto wa ...
). Specially developed pipes in diameter were to be laid under the Channel from the
Isle of Wight The Isle of Wight () is a Counties of England, county and the List of islands of England, largest and second-most populous island of England. It is in the English Channel, between two and five miles off the coast of Hampshire, from which it is ...

Isle of Wight
to Cherbourg by D-Day plus 18. Technical problems and the delay in capturing Cherbourg meant the pipeline was not operational until 22 September. A second line was laid from
Dungeness Dungeness () is a headland on the coast of Kent, England, formed largely of a shingle beach in the form of a cuspate foreland. It shelters a large area of low-lying land, Romney Marsh. Dungeness spans Dungeness Nuclear Power Station, the hamlet ...
to Boulogne in late October. The British military built a series of specialised tanks, nicknamed Hobart's Funnies, to deal with conditions expected during the Normandy campaign. Developed under the supervision of Major-General
Percy Hobart Major General Sir Percy Cleghorn Stanley Hobart (14 June 1885 – 19 February 1957), also known as "Hobo", was a British military engineer noted for his command of the 79th Armoured Division during World War II World War II or th ...

Percy Hobart
, these were specially modified
M4 Sherman The M4 Sherman, officially Medium Tank, M4, was the most widely used medium tank A medium tank is a tank classification, classification of tanks, particularly prevalent during World War II which represented a compromise between the mobility ...

M4 Sherman
and
Churchill tank The Tank, Infantry, Mk IV (A22) Churchill was a British infantry tank The infantry tank was a concept developed by the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or ...

Churchill tank
s. Examples include the
Sherman Crab A mine flail is a vehicle-mounted device that makes a safe path through a minefield by deliberately detonating land mine A land mine is an explosive device concealed under or on the ground and designed to destroy or disable enemy targets, rang ...
tank (equipped with a mine flail), the
Churchill Crocodile The Churchill Crocodile was a British flame-throwing tank of late Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majori ...

Churchill Crocodile
(a flame-throwing tank), and the
Armoured Ramp Carrier
Armoured Ramp Carrier
, which other tanks could use as a bridge to scale sea-walls or to overcome other obstacles. In some areas, the beaches consisted of a soft clay that could not support the weight of tanks. The "
bobbin A bobbin is a spindle or cylinder, with or without flange A flange is a protruded ridge, lip or rim, either external or internal, that serves to increase strength Physical strength *Physical strength, as in people or animals *Hysteric ...

bobbin
" tank would overcome this problem by deploying a roll of matting over the soft surface and leaving the material in place as a route for more conventional tanks. The
Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers (AVRE), also known as Assault Vehicle Royal Engineers is the title given to a series of armoured military engineering vehicles operated by the Royal Engineers (RE) for the purpose of protecting engineers during ...
(AVREs) were modified for many tasks, including laying bridges and firing large charges into pillboxes. The Duplex-Drive tank (
DD tank#REDIRECT DD tank DD or Duplex Drive tanks, nicknamed " Donald Duck tanks", were a type of amphibious swimming tank developed by the British during the Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII ...
), another design developed by Hobart's group, was a self-propelled amphibious tank kept afloat using a waterproof canvas screen inflated with compressed air. These tanks were easily swamped, and on D-Day, many sank before reaching the shore, especially at Omaha.


Deception

In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted
Operation Bodyguard Operation Bodyguard was the code name for a World War II military deception, deception plan employed by the Allies of World War II, Allied states before the 1944 invasion of northwest Europe. The plan was intended to mislead the German high comm ...
, the overall strategy designed to mislead the Germans as to the date and location of the main Allied landings.
Operation Fortitude Operation Fortitude was the code name for a World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved World War II by country, the v ...
included Fortitude North, a misinformation campaign using fake radio-traffic to lead the Germans into expecting an attack on Norway, and Fortitude South, a major deception designed to fool the Germans into believing that the landings would take place at Pas de Calais in July. A fictitious First U.S. Army Group was invented, supposedly located in
Kent Kent is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambers (publisher), William and Robert ...

Kent
and
Sussex Sussex (), from the Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, e ...

Sussex
under the command of Lieutenant General
George S. Patton George Smith Patton Jr. (November 11, 1885 – December 21, 1945) was a general A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines Marines or naval infantry, are ty ...

George S. Patton
. The Allies constructed dummy tanks, trucks, and landing craft, and positioned them near the coast. Several military units, including II Canadian Corps and 2nd Canadian Division, moved into the area to bolster the illusion that a large force was gathering there. As well as the broadcast of fake radio-traffic, genuine radio messages from 21st Army Group were first routed to Kent via landline and then broadcast, to give the Germans the impression that most of the Allied troops were stationed there. Patton remained stationed in England until 6 July, thus continuing to deceive the Germans into believing a second attack would take place at Calais. Military and civilian personnel alike were aware of the need for secrecy, and the invasion troops were as much as possible kept isolated, especially in the period immediately before the invasion.
One American general
One American general
was sent back to the United States in disgrace after revealing the invasion date at a party. The Germans thought they had an extensive network of spies operating in the UK, but in fact, all their agents had been captured, and some had become
double agent A double agent In the field of counterintelligence Counterintelligence is an activity aimed at protecting an agency's Intelligence agency, intelligence program from an opposition's intelligence service. It includes gathering information and con ...
s working for the Allies as part of the
Double-Cross System The Double-Cross System or XX System was a World War II counter-espionage and deception operation of the British Security Service (a civilian organisation usually referred to by its cover title MI5). Nazism, Nazi agents in Britain – real and fals ...
. The double agent
Juan Pujol García Juan Pujol García (14 February 1912 – 10 October 1988), also known as Joan Pujol Garcia, was a Spanish spy who acted as a double agent loyal to Great Britain against Nazi Germany during World War II, when he relocated to Britain to carry o ...
, a Spanish opponent of the Nazis known by the code name "Garbo", developed over the two years leading up to D-Day a fake network of informants that the Germans believed were collecting intelligence on their behalf. In the months preceding D-Day, Pujol sent hundreds of messages to his superiors in Madrid, messages specially prepared by the British intelligence service to convince the Germans that the attack would come in July at Calais. Many of the German radar stations on the French coast were destroyed by the RAF in preparation for the landings. On the night before the invasion, in
Operation Taxable Operations Taxable, Glimmer and Big Drum were tactical military deceptions conducted on 6 June 1944 in support of the Allied landings in Normandy. The operations formed the naval component of Operation Bodyguard, a wider series of tactical a ...
, 617 Squadron (the famous "Dambusters") dropped strips of "window",
metal foil A foil is a very thin sheet of leaf, usually made by hammering or rolling (metalworking), rolling. Foils are most easily made with malleable leaves, such as aluminium, copper, tin, and gold. Foils usually bend under their own weight and can be tor ...
that German radar operators interpreted as a naval convoy approaching Cap d'Antifer (about 80 km from the actual D-Day landings). The illusion was bolstered by a group of small vessels towing
barrage balloon A barrage balloon is a large uncrewed tethered kite balloon . This sparless, ram-air inflated kite, has a complex bridle formed of many strings attached to the face of the wing. A kite is a tethered heavier than air flight, heavier-than-air o ...
s. No. 218 Squadron RAF also dropped "window" near
Boulogne-sur-Mer Boulogne-sur-Mer (; pcd, Boulonne-su-Mér; nl, Bonen; la, Gesoriacum or ''Bononia''), often called just Boulogne (, ), is a coastal city in Northern France. It is a sub-prefecture A subprefecture is an administrative division Administrat ...

Boulogne-sur-Mer
in Operation Glimmer. On the same night, a small group of
Special Air Service The Special Air Service (SAS) is a special forces Special forces and special operations forces (SOF) are military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intende ...
(SAS) operators deployed dummy paratroopers over
Le Havre Le Havre (, ; nrf, Lé Hâvre) is an urban French commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and co ...

Le Havre
and Isigny. These dummies led the Germans to believe an additional airborne assault had occurred.


Rehearsals and security

Training exercises for the Overlord landings took place as early as July 1943. As the nearby beach resembled the planned Normandy landing-site, the town of Slapton in Devon, was evacuated in December 1943, and taken over by the armed forces as a site for training exercises that included the use of landing craft and the management of beach obstacles. A
friendly fire Friendly fire is an attack by a military force on friendly or neutral troops while attempting to attack the enemy. Examples include misidentifying the target as hostile, cross-fire while engaging an enemy, long range ranging errors or inaccurac ...
incident there on 27 April 1944 resulted in as many as 450 deaths. The following day, an additional estimated 749 American soldiers and sailors died when German torpedo-boats surprised members of Assault Force "U" conducting
Exercise Tiger Exercise Tiger, or Operation Tiger, was one of a series of large-scale Operation Overlord#Rehearsals and security, rehearsals for the Operation Overlord, D-Day invasion of Normandy, which took place in April 1944 on Slapton, Devon, Slapton Sand ...
. Exercises with landing craft and live ammunition also took place at the Combined Training Centre in
Inveraray Inveraray ( or ; gd, Inbhir Aora meaning "mouth of the Aray") is a town in Argyll and Bute, Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the no ...

Inveraray
in Scotland. Naval exercises took place in Northern Ireland, and medical teams in London and elsewhere rehearsed how they would handle the expected waves of casualties. Paratroopers conducted exercises, including a huge demonstration drop on 23 March 1944 observed by Churchill, Eisenhower, and other top officials. Allied planners considered tactical surprise to be a necessary element of the plan for the landings. Information on the exact date and location of the landings was provided only to the topmost levels of the armed forces. Men were sealed into their marshalling areas at the end of May, with no further communication with the outside world. Troops were briefed using maps that were correct in every detail except for the place names, and most were not told their actual destination until they were already at sea. A news blackout in Britain increased the effectiveness of the deception operations. Travel to and from the
Republic of Ireland Ireland ( ga, Éire ), also known as the Republic of Ireland ('), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective id ...

Republic of Ireland
was banned, and movement within several kilometres of the coast of England restricted.


Weather forecasting

The invasion planners specified a set of conditions regarding the timing of the invasion, deeming only a few days in each month suitable. A full moon was desirable, as it would provide illumination for aircraft pilots and have the highest tides. The Allies wanted to schedule the landings for shortly before dawn, midway between low and high tide, with the tide coming in. This would improve the visibility of obstacles the enemy had placed on the beach while minimising the amount of time the men had to spend exposed in the open. Specific criteria were also set for wind speed, visibility, and cloud cover. Eisenhower had tentatively selected 5 June as the date for the assault, however, on 4 June, conditions were clearly unsuitable for a landing; high winds and heavy seas made it impossible to launch landing craft, and low clouds would prevent aircraft from finding their targets. By the evening of 4 June, the Allied meteorological team, headed by Group Captain James Stagg of the
Royal Air Force The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for th ...
, predicted that the weather would improve sufficiently so that the invasion could go ahead on 6 June. He met Eisenhower and other senior commanders at their headquarters at
Southwick House Southwick House is a Grade II listed 19th-century manor house of the Southwick, Hampshire, Southwick Estate in Hampshire, England, about north of Portsmouth. It is home to the Defence School of Policing and Guarding, and related military police cap ...

Southwick House
in Hampshire to discuss the situation. General Montgomery and Major-General
Walter Bedell Smith General Walter Bedell "Beetle" Smith (5 October 1895 – 9 August 1961) was a senior officer of the United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land military branch, service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one ...
, Eisenhower's chief of staff, were eager to launch the invasion. Admiral Bertram Ramsay was prepared to commit his ships, while Air Chief Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory expressed concern that the conditions would be unfavourable for Allied aircraft. After much discussion, Eisenhower decided that the invasion should go ahead. Allied control of the Atlantic meant that German meteorologists did not have access to as much information as the Allies on incoming weather patterns. As the Luftwaffe meteorological centre in Paris predicted two weeks of stormy weather, many
Wehrmacht The ''Wehrmacht'' (, ) was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the German Army (1935–1945), ''Heer'' (army), the ''Kriegsmarine'' (navy) and the ''Luftwaffe'' (air force). The designation "''Wehrmacht ...
commanders left their posts to attend war games in
Rennes Rennes (; br, Roazhon ; Gallo: ''Resnn''; ) is a city in the east of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "islan ...

Rennes
, and men in many units were given leave. Marshal
Erwin Rommel Johannes Erwin Eugen Rommel () (15 November 1891 – 14 October 1944) was a German general and a propaganda icon during World War II. Popularly known as the Desert Fox (, ), he served as field marshal Field marshal (or field-marsha ...

Erwin Rommel
returned to Germany for his wife's birthday and to meet Hitler to try to get more Panzers. Had Eisenhower postponed the invasion, the next available period with the right combination of tides (but without the desirable full moon) was two weeks later, from 18 to 20 June. As it happened, during this period the invaders would have encountered a major storm lasting four days, between 19 and 22 June, that would have made the initial landings impossible.


German preparations and defences

Nazi Germany had at its disposal 50 divisions in France and the Low Countries, with another 18 stationed in Denmark and Norway. Fifteen divisions were in the process of formation in Germany, but there was no strategic reserve. The Calais region was defended by the 15th Army under ''
Generaloberst A ("colonel general Colonel general is a or in some armies, usually equivalent to that of a in other armies. and have used the rank in that fashion throughout their histories. The rank is also closely associated with , where has forme ...
'' (Colonel General)
Hans von Salmuth Hans Eberhard Kurt Freiherr von Salmuth (11 November 1888 – 1 January 1962) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For ...

Hans von Salmuth
, and Normandy by the 7th Army commanded by ''Generaloberst''
Friedrich Dollmann Friedrich Karl Albert Dollmann (2 February 188228 JuneReynolds, M: ''Steel Inferno'', p. 163. Dell Publishing, 1997.D'Este, C: ''Decision in Normandy'', pp. 241–242. Penguin Books, 2004. 1944) was a German general during World War II Wor ...

Friedrich Dollmann
. Combat losses throughout the war, particularly on the
Eastern FrontEastern Front may refer to: * Eastern Front (World War I) * Eastern Front (World War II) * Eastern Front (Turkey), of the Turkish War of Independence ** Turkish–Armenian War, often referred to by itself as the Eastern Front * Eastern Front (Sudan) ...
, meant the Germans no longer had a pool of able young men from which to draw. German soldiers were now on average six years older than their Allied counterparts. Many in the Normandy area were ''
Ostlegionen Soldiers of the Turkestan Legion in France, circa 1943. ''Ostlegionen'' ("eastern legions"), ''Ost-Bataillone'' ("eastern battalions"), ''Osttruppen'' ("eastern troops"), and ''Osteinheiten'' ("eastern units") were units in the German Army (We ...
'' (eastern legions)—conscripts and "volunteers" from
Turkestan Turkestan, also spelled Turkistan ( fa, ترکستان, Torkestân, lit=Land of the Turks), is a historical region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the ...
, Russia, Mongolia, and elsewhere. The Wehrmacht had provided them mainly with unreliable captured equipment; they lacked motorised transport. Formations that arrived later, such as the 12th SS Panzer Division ''Hitlerjugend'', were, for the most part, younger and far better equipped and trained than the static troops stationed along the coast. In early 1944, OB West was significantly weakened by personnel and materiel transfers to the Eastern Front. During the Soviet Dnieper–Carpathian Offensive (24 December 1943 – 17 April 1944), the German High Command was forced to transfer the entire
II SS Panzer Corps The II SS Panzer Corps was a German Waffen-SS The ''Waffen-SS'' (, "Armed SS") was the combat branch of the Nazi Party The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arb ...
from France, consisting of the 9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisions, as well as the 349th Infantry Division, 507th Heavy Panzer Battalion and the 311th and 322nd StuG Assault Gun Brigades. All told, the German forces stationed in France were deprived of 45,827 troops and 363 tanks, assault guns, and self-propelled anti-tank guns. It was the first major transfer of forces from France to the east since the creation of Führer Directive 51, which no longer allowed any transfers from the west to the east. There were also transfers to the Italian front: von Rundstedt complained that many of his best units had been sent on a "fool's errand" to Italy, saying it was "madness ... that frightful boot of a country should have been evacuated ... we should have held a decent front with a few divisions on the Alpine frontier." The
1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler The 1st SS Panzer Division "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler", short LSSAH, (german: 1. SS-Panzerdivision "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler") began as Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler (; 20 April 188930 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German polit ...
, 9th, 11th,
19th 19 (nineteen) is the natural number File:Three Baskets.svg, Natural numbers can be used for counting (one apple, two apples, three apples, ...) In mathematics, the natural numbers are those numbers used for counting (as in "there are ''six'' ...
and 116th Panzer divisions, alongside the 2nd SS Panzer Division "Das Reich", had only arrived in March–May 1944 to France for extensive refit after being badly damaged during the Dnieper-Carpathian Offensive. Seven of the eleven panzer or panzergrenadier divisions stationed in France were still not fully operational or only partially mobile in early June 1944.


Atlantic Wall

Alarmed by the raids on
St Nazaire Saint-Nazaire (; ; Gallo: ''Saint-Nazère/Saint-Nazaer'') is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abst ...
and Dieppe in 1942, Hitler ordered the construction of fortifications all along the Atlantic coast, from Spain to Norway, to protect against an expected Allied invasion. He envisioned 15,000 emplacements manned by 300,000 troops, but due to shortages, particularly of concrete and manpower, most of the
strongpoint In military tactics Military tactics encompasses the art of organizing and employing fighting forces on or near the battlefield A battlefield, battleground, or field of battle is the location of a present or historic battle A battle ...
s were never built. As the expected site of an Allied invasion, Pas de Calais was heavily defended. In the Normandy area the best fortifications were concentrated at the port facilities at Cherbourg and
Saint-Malo Saint-Malo (, , ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Saent-Malô''; ) is a historic French port in Ille-et-Vilaine, Brittany (administrative region), Brittany on the English Channel coast. The walled city had a long history of piracy, earning much wealth ...

Saint-Malo
. A report by Rundstedt to Hitler in October 1943 regarding the weak defences in France led to the appointment of Rommel to oversee the construction of further fortifications along the expected invasion-front, which stretched from the Netherlands to Cherbourg. Rommel was given command of the newly re-formed
Army Group B Army Group B (German: ') was the title of three German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also Germ ...
, which included the 7th Army, the 15th Army, and the forces guarding the Netherlands. Nazi Germany's tangled command structure made it difficult for Rommel to achieve his task. He was not allowed to give orders to the
Organisation Todt Organisation Todt (OT) was a Civil engineering, civil and military engineering organisation in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, named for its founder, Fritz Todt, an engineer and senior Nazi Party, Nazi. The organisation was responsible for a huge ...
, which was commanded by armaments minister
Albert Speer Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer (; ; March 19, 1905 – September 1, 1981) served as the Minister of Armaments and War Production in Nazi Germany Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for ...
, so in some places he had to assign soldiers to do construction work. Rommel believed that the Normandy coast could be a possible landing point for the invasion, so he ordered the construction of extensive defensive works along that shore. In addition to concrete gun-emplacements at strategic points along the coast, he ordered wooden stakes, metal tripods, mines, and large anti-tank obstacles to be placed on the beach to delay the approach of landing craft and to impede the movement of tanks. Expecting the Allies to land at high tide so that the infantry would spend less time exposed on the beach, he ordered many of these obstacles to be placed at the high-tide mark. Tangles of barbed wire, booby traps, and the removal of ground cover made the approach hazardous for infantry. On Rommel's order, the number of mines along the coast was tripled. Given the Allied air supremacy (4,029 Allied aircraft assigned to operations in Normandy plus 5,514 aircraft assigned to bombing and defence, versus 570 Luftwaffe planes stationed in France and the Low Countries), booby-trapped stakes known as ''Rommelspargel'' ( Rommel's asparagus) were set up in meadows and fields to deter airborne landings.


Mobile reserves

Rommel, believing that the Germans' best chance was to stop the invasion at the shore, requested that mobile reserves—especially tanks—be stationed as close to the coast as possible. Rundstedt, General
Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg Leo Dietrich Franz Reichsfreiherr Geyr von Schweppenburg (2 March 1886 – 27 January 1974) was a general in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "Na ...
(commander of
Panzer Group West 5th Panzer Army (german: 5. Panzerarmee) was the name of two different German armoured formations during World War II. The first of these was formed in 1942, during the North African campaign#REDIRECT North African campaign {{Redirect category s ...
), and other senior commanders believed that the invasion could not be stopped on the beaches. Geyr argued for a conventional doctrine: keeping the Panzer formations concentrated in a central position around Paris and Rouen and deploying them only when the main Allied beachhead had been identified. Geyr also noted that in the Italian Campaign the armour stationed near the coast had been damaged by naval bombardment. Rommel's opinion was that because of the overwhelming Allied air superiority, large-scale movement of tanks would not be possible once the invasion was underway. Hitler made the final decision: he left three divisions under Geyr's command and gave Rommel operational control of three tank-divisions as reserves. Hitler took personal control of four divisions as strategic reserves, not to be used without his direct orders.


Invasion

By May 1944, 1.5 million American troops had arrived in the United Kingdom. Most were housed in temporary camps in the south-west of England, ready to move across the Channel to the western section of the landing zone. British and Canadian troops were billeted in accommodation further east, spread from
Southampton Southampton () is a port A port is a maritime law, maritime facility comprising one or more Wharf, wharves or loading areas, where ships load and discharge Affreightment, cargo and passengers. Although usually situated on a sea ...
to
NewhavenNewhaven may refer to: Places *Newhaven, Derbyshire, England, a hamlet *Newhaven, East Sussex, England, a port town *Newhaven, Edinburgh, Scotland *Newhaven Sanctuary, Northern Territory, Australia *Newhaven, Victoria, Australia Other uses *Newha ...
, and even on the east coast for men who would be coming across in later waves. A complex system called Movement Control assured that the men and vehicles left on schedule from twenty departure points. Some men had to board their craft nearly a week before departure. The ships met at a rendezvous point (nicknamed "Piccadilly Circus") south-east of the Isle of Wight to assemble into convoys to cross the Channel. Minesweepers began clearing lanes on the evening of 5 June, and a thousand bombers left before dawn to attack the coastal defences. Some 1,200 aircraft departed England just before midnight to transport three airborne divisions to their drop zones behind enemy lines several hours before the beach landings. The American 82nd and
101st Airborne Division The 101st Airborne Division ("Screaming Eagles") is a light infantry division (military), division of the United States Army specializing in air assault military operation, operations. The Screaming Eagles were referred to as "the tip of the s ...
s were assigned objectives on the Cotentin Peninsula west of Utah. The
British 6th Airborne Division The 6th Airborne Division was an Airborne forces, airborne infantry Division (military), division of the British Army during the Second World War. Despite its name, the 6th was actually the second of two airborne divisions raised by the British A ...
was assigned to capture intact the bridges over the
Caen Canal Caen (, ; nrf, Kaem) is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what ...
and River Orne. The
Free French Free France (french: France Libre) was the government-in-exile A government in exile (abbreviated as GiE) is a political group which claims to be a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It ...
4th SAS battalion of 538 men was assigned objectives in Brittany (
Operation Dingson Operation Dingson (5–18 June 1944) was an operation in the Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of ...
,
Operation Samwest During World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved World War II by country, the vast majority of the world's countries— ...
). Some 132,000 men were transported by sea on D-Day, and a further 24,000 came by air. Preliminary naval bombardment commenced at 05:45 and continued until 06:25 from five battleships, twenty cruisers, sixty-five destroyers, and two monitors. Infantry began arriving on the beaches at around 06:30.


Beaches

The craft bearing the
U.S. 4th Infantry Division The 4th Infantry Division is a Division (military), division of the United States Army based at Fort Carson, Colorado. It is composed of a division headquarters battalion, three brigade combat teams (two Stryker and one armor), a combat avia ...
assaulting Utah were pushed by the current to a spot about south of their intended landing zone. The troops met light resistance, suffering fewer than 200 casualties. Their efforts to push inland fell far short of their targets for the first day, but they were able to advance about , making contact with the 101st Airborne Division. The airborne landings west of Utah were not very successful, as only ten per cent of the paratroopers landed in their drop zones. Gathering the men together into fighting units was made difficult by a shortage of radios and by the terrain, with its hedgerows, stone walls and marshes. The 82nd Airborne Division captured its primary objective at
Sainte-Mère-Église Sainte-Mère-Église () is a Communes of France, commune in the northwestern French Departments of France, department of Manche, in Normandy. On 1 January 2016, the former communes of Beuzeville-au-Plain, Chef-du-Pont, Écoquenéauville and Foucarv ...
and worked to protect the western flank. Its failure to capture the river crossings at the River
Merderet The Merderet is a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reachin ...
resulted in a delay in sealing off the Cotentin Peninsula. The 101st Airborne Division helped protect the southern flank and captured the lock on the
River Douve
River Douve
at La Barquette, but did not capture the assigned nearby bridges on the first day. At
Pointe du Hoc La Pointe du Hoc () is a promontory A promontory is a raised mass of land Land is the solid surface of the Earth that is not permanently covered by water. The vast majority of human activity throughout history has occurred in land areas th ...

Pointe du Hoc
, the task for the two hundred men of the
2nd Ranger Battalion The 2nd Ranger Battalion, currently based at Joint Base Lewis–McChord south of Seattle, Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States, is the second of three ranger battalions belonging to the United States Army's 75th Ranger Regiment. History ...
, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel
James Rudder James Earl Rudder (May 6, 1910 – March 23, 1970) was a United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land military branch, service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the eight Uniformed services of the United St ...
, was to scale the cliffs with ropes and ladders to destroy the gun battery located there. While under fire from above, the men scaled the cliff, only to discover that the guns had already been withdrawn. The Rangers located the weapons, unguarded but ready to use, in an orchard some south of the point, and disabled them. Under attack, the men at the point became isolated, and some were captured. By dawn on D+1, Rudder had only 90 men able to fight. Relief did not come until D+2, when members of the
743rd Tank Battalion The 743rd Tank Battalion was an independent tank battalion that participated in the European Theater of Operations The European Theater of Operations, United States Army (ETOUSA) was a Theater (warfare), Theater of Operations responsible for di ...
arrived. Omaha, the most heavily defended sector, was assigned to the U.S. 1st Infantry Division, supplemented by troops from the U.S. 29th Infantry Division. They faced the 352nd Infantry Division, rather than the expected single regiment. Strong currents forced many landing craft east of their intended position or delayed them. Casualties were heavier than all the other landings combined, as the men were subjected to fire from the cliffs above. Problems clearing the beach of obstructions led to the beachmaster calling a halt to further landings of vehicles at 08:30. A group of destroyers arrived around this time to offer supporting artillery fire. Exit from Omaha was possible only via five gullies, and by late morning barely six hundred men had reached the higher ground. By noon, as the artillery fire took its toll and the Germans started to run out of ammunition, the Americans were able to clear some lanes on the beaches. They also started clearing the draws of enemy defences so that vehicles could move off the beach. The tenuous beachhead was expanded over the following days, and the D-Day objectives were accomplished by D+3. At Gold, high winds made conditions difficult for the landing craft, and the amphibious DD tanks were landed close to shore or directly on the beach instead of further out as planned. Aerial attacks had failed to hit the Le Hamel strongpoint, and its 75 mm gun continued to do damage until 16:00. On the western flank, the 1st Battalion,
Hampshire Regiment The Hampshire Regiment was a line infantry Line infantry was the type of infantry that composed the basis of European land armies from the late 17th century to the middle of the 19th century. Maurice of Nassau and Gustavus Adolphus are generall ...
captured
Arromanches Arromanches-les-Bains (; or simply Arromanches) is a Communes of France, commune in the Calvados (department), Calvados Departments of France, department in the Normandy (administrative region), Normandy région in France, region of north-western F ...

Arromanches
(future site of Mulberry "B"), and contact was made on the eastern flank with the Canadian forces at Juno. Landings of infantry at Juno were delayed because of rough seas, and the men arrived ahead of their supporting armour, suffering many casualties while disembarking. Most of the offshore bombardment had missed the German defences. In spite of these difficulties, the Canadians quickly cleared the beach and created two exits to the villages above. Delays in taking
Bény-sur-Mer Bény-sur-Mer is a Communes of France, commune in the Calvados (department), Calvados Departments of France, department (14) in the Normandy Regions of France, region, la Basse-Normandie, in northwestern France, 4.7 km from Bernières-sur-Me ...
led to congestion on the beach, but by nightfall, the contiguous Juno and Gold beachheads covered an area wide and deep. Casualties at Juno were 961 men. On Sword, 21 of 25 DD tanks succeeded in getting safely ashore to provide cover for the infantry, who began disembarking at 07:30. They quickly cleared the beach and created several exits for the tanks. In the windy conditions, the tide came in more quickly than expected, making manoeuvring the armour difficult. The 2nd Battalion,
King's Shropshire Light Infantry The King's Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI) was a light infantry regiment of the British Army The British Army is the principal Army, land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of the British Armed Forces. , the British Army comprises ...
advanced on foot to within a few kilometres of Caen, but had to withdraw due to lack of armour support. At 16:00, the German 21st Panzer Division mounted a counterattack between Sword and Juno and nearly succeeded in reaching the coast. They met stiff resistance from the
British 3rd Infantry Division The 3rd (United Kingdom) Division is a regular army A regular army is the official army of a state or country (the official armed forces), contrasting with irregular forces, such as volunteer irregular militias, private armies, mercenaries, etc ...
and were soon recalled to assist in the area between Caen and Bayeux. The first components of the Mulberry harbours were brought across on D+1 and the structures were in use for unloading by mid-June. One was constructed at Arromanches by the British, the other at Omaha by the Americans. Severe storms on 19 June interrupted the landing of supplies and destroyed the Omaha harbour. The repaired Arromanches harbour was able to receive around 6,000 tons of
materiel Materiel or matériel (; ) refers to supplies, equipmentEquipment most commonly refers to a set of tool A tool is an object that can extend an individual's ability to modify features of the surrounding environment. Although many animals u ...
daily and was in continuous use for the next ten months, but most shipments were brought in over the beaches until the port of Cherbourg was cleared of mines and obstructions on 16 July. Allied casualties on the first day were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead. The Germans lost 1,000 men. The Allied invasion plans had called for the capture of Carentan, St. Lô, Caen, and Bayeux on the first day, with all the beaches (other than Utah), linked with a front line from the beaches; none of these objectives were achieved. The five bridgeheads were not connected until 12 June, by which time the Allies held a front around long and deep. Caen, a major objective, was still in German hands at the end of D-Day and would not be completely captured until 21 July. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on 6 June, and more than two million Allied troops were in France by the end of August.


Cherbourg

In the western part of the lodgement, US troops were to occupy the Cotentin Peninsula, especially Cherbourg, which would provide the Allies with a deep water harbour. The terrain behind Utah and Omaha was characterised by
bocage Bocage (, ) is a terrain of mixed woodland and pasture characteristic of parts of Northern France, Southern England, Ireland, the Netherlands and Northern Germany, in regions where pastoral farming is the dominant land use. ''Bocage'' may als ...
, with thorny hedgerows on embankments high with a ditch on either side. Many areas were additionally protected by rifle pits and machine-gun emplacements. Most of the roads were too narrow for tanks. The Germans had flooded the fields behind Utah with sea water for up to from the coast. German forces on the peninsula included the 91st Infantry Division and the 243rd and 709th Static Infantry Divisions. By D+3 the Allied commanders realised that Cherbourg would not quickly be taken, and decided to cut off the peninsula to prevent any further reinforcements from being brought in. After failed attempts by the inexperienced 90th Infantry Division, Major General
J. Lawton Collins General (United States), General Joseph Lawton Collins (May 1, 1896 – September 12, 1987) was a senior United States Army officer. During World War II, he served in both the Asiatic-Pacific Theater, Pacific and European Theater of Operations, Un ...
, the VII Corps commander, assigned the veteran 9th Infantry Division to the task. They reached the west coast of the Cotentin on 17 June, cutting off Cherbourg. The 9th Division, joined by the 4th and 79th Infantry Divisions, took control of the peninsula in fierce fighting from 19 June; Cherbourg was captured on 26 June. By this time, the Germans had destroyed the port facilities, which were not brought back into full operation until September.


Caen

Fighting in the Caen area versus the 21st Panzer, the 12th SS Panzer Division ''Hitlerjugend'' and other units soon reached a stalemate. During
Operation Perch Operation Perch was a British offensive of the Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's cou ...

Operation Perch
, XXX Corps attempted to advance south towards
Mont Pinçon Mont Pinçon is the highest point of the department of Calvados (department), Calvados, in Normandy, with an elevation of . It is in the west of Norman Switzerland about to the south-west of Caen, near the village of Plessis-Grimoult. It was the ...
but soon abandoned the direct approach in favour of a
pincer attack The pincer movement, or double envelopment, is a military maneuver in which forces simultaneously attack both flanks (sides) of an enemy formation. The pincer movement typically occurs when opposing forces advance towards the center of an a ...
to encircle Caen. XXX Corps made a flanking move from Tilly-sur-Seulles towards Villers-Bocage with part of the 7th Armoured Division, while I Corps tried to pass Caen to the east. The attack by I Corps was quickly halted and XXX Corps briefly captured Villers-Bocage. Advanced elements of the British force were ambushed, initiating a day-long
Battle of Villers-Bocage The Battle of Villers-Bocage took place during the Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world' ...
and then the Battle of the Box. The British were forced to withdraw to Tilly-sur-Seulles. After a delay because of storms from 17 to 23 June,
Operation Epsom Operation Epsom, also known as the First Battle of the Odon, was a British offensive in the Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It ...
began on 26 June, an attempt by VIII Corps to swing around and attack Caen from the south-west and establish a bridgehead south of the
Odon The Separate Operational Purpose Division or ODON, formerly called OMSDON (a.k.a. ''Felix Dzerzhinsky, Dzerzhinsky Division''), is a rapid deployment internal security Division (army), division of the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal ...
. Although the operation failed to take Caen, the Germans suffered many tank losses after committing every available Panzer unit to the operation. Rundstedt was dismissed on 1 July and replaced as OB West by Field Marshal
Günther von Kluge Günther Adolf Ferdinand von Kluge (30 October 1882 – 19 August 1944), also known as Hans Günther von Kluge, was a German field marshal during World War II who held commands on both the Eastern Front (World War II), Eastern and Western Front ( ...
after remarking that the war was now lost. The northern suburbs of Caen were bombed on the evening of 7 July and then occupied north of the River Orne in
Operation Charnwood Operation Charnwood was an Anglo-Canadian offensive that took place from 8 to 9 July 1944, during the Battle for Caen The Battle for Caen (June to August 1944) is the name given to fighting between the British Second Army (United Kingdom), Se ...
on 8–9 July.
Operation Atlantic Operation Atlantic (18–21 July 1944) was a Canadian offensive during the Battle of Normandy Operation Overlord was the codename for the Battle of Normandy, the Allied operation that launched the successful invasion of German-occupied Weste ...
and
Operation Goodwood Operation Goodwood was a British offensive during the Second World War, which took place between 18 and 20 July 1944 as part of the larger battle for Caen in Normandy, France. The objective of the operation was a limited attack to the south, f ...
captured the rest of Caen and the high ground to the south from 18 to 21 July, by when the city was nearly destroyed. Hitler survived an assassination attempt on 20 July.


Breakout from the beachhead

After securing territory in the Cotentin Peninsula south as far as
Saint-Lô Saint-Lô (, ) is a Communes of France, commune in north-western France, the capital of the Manche Departments of France, department in the Regions of France, region of Normandy (administrative region), Normandy.
, the U.S. First Army launched
Operation Cobra Operation Cobra was the codename for an Offensive (military), offensive launched by the United States First United States Army, First Army under Lieutenant General Omar Bradley seven weeks after the D-Day landings, during the Invasion of Norman ...
on 25 July and advanced further south to Avranches by 1 August. The British launched
Operation Bluecoat Operation Bluecoat was a British offensive in the Battle of Normandy, from 30 July until 7 August 1944, during the Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war that laste ...
on 30 July to secure
Vire Vire () is a town and a former Communes of France, commune in the Calvados (department), Calvados Departments of France, department in the Normandy (administrative region), Normandy Regions in France, region in northwestern France. On 1 January 20 ...
and the high ground of Mont Pinçon. Lieutenant General Patton's U.S. Third Army, activated on 1 August, quickly took most of Brittany and territory as far south as the
Loire The Loire (, also ; ; oc, Léger, ; la, Liger) is the longest river in France and the 171st longest in the world. With a length of , it drains , more than a fifth of France's land while its average discharge is only half that of the Rhône ...

Loire
, while the First Army maintained pressure eastward toward
Le Mans Le Mans (, ) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routled ...

Le Mans
to protect their flank. By 3 August, Patton and the Third Army were able to leave a small force in Brittany and drive eastward towards the main concentration of German forces south of Caen. Over Kluge's objections, on 4 August Hitler ordered a counter-offensive (
Operation Lüttich Operation Lüttich was a codename given to a Nazi Germany, German counter-attack during the Operation Overlord, Battle of Normandy, which took place around the American positions near Mortain in northwestern France from 7 August to 13 August 1944. ( ...
) from Vire towards Avranches. While
II Canadian Corps II Canadian Corps was a corps-level formation that, along with I Corps (United Kingdom), I (British) Corps (August 1, 1944 to April 1, 1945) and I Canadian Corps (April 6, 1943 to November 1943, and April 1, 1945 until the end of hostilities), ...
pushed south from Caen toward Falaise in
Operation Totalize Operation Totalize (also spelled Operation Totalise in recent British sources) was an offensive launched by Allied troops in the First Canadian Army during the later stages of Operation Overlord, from 8 to 9 August 1944. The intention was to break ...

Operation Totalize
on 8 August, Bradley and Montgomery realised that there was an opportunity for the bulk of the German forces to be trapped at Falaise. The Third Army continued the encirclement from the south, reaching
Alençon Alençon (, , ; nrf, Alençoun) is a Communes of France, commune in Normandy, France, capital of the Orne Departments of France, department. It is situated west of Paris. Alençon belongs to the intercommunality of Alençon (with 52,000 people ...
on 11 August. Although Hitler continued to insist until 14 August that his forces should counter-attack, Kluge and his officers began planning a retreat eastward. The German forces were severely hampered by Hitler's insistence on making all major decisions himself, which left his forces without orders for periods as long as 24 hours while information was sent back and forth to the Führer's residence at
Obersalzberg Obersalzberg is a mountainside retreat situated above the market town of Berchtesgaden in Bavaria Bavaria (; German language, German and Bavarian language, Bavarian: ''Bayern'' ), officially the Free State of Bavaria (German and Bavarian: ''Frei ...

Obersalzberg
in Bavaria. On the evening of 12 August, Patton asked Bradley if his forces should continue northward to close the gap and encircle the German forces. Bradley refused because Montgomery had already assigned the First Canadian Army to take the territory from the north. The Canadians met heavy resistance and captured Falaise on 16 August. The gap was closed on 21 August, trapping 50,000 German troops but more than a third of the German 7th Army and the remnants of nine of the eleven Panzer divisions had escaped to the east. Montgomery's decision-making regarding the Falaise Gap was criticised at the time by American commanders, especially Patton, although Bradley was more sympathetic and believed Patton would not have been able to close the gap. The issue has been the subject of much discussion among historians, criticism being levelled at American, British and Canadian forces. Hitler relieved Kluge of his command of OB West on 15 August and replaced him with Field Marshal
Walter Model Otto Moritz Walter Model (; 24 January 1891 – 21 April 1945) was a German field marshal during World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1 ...

Walter Model
. Kluge committed suicide on 19 August after Hitler became aware of his involvement in the 20 July plot. An invasion in southern France (
Operation Dragoon Operation Dragoon (initially Operation Anvil) was the code name for the landing operation Allied invasion of Sicily, 1943 A landing operation is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highl ...
) was launched on 15 August. The French Resistance in Paris rose against the Germans on 19 August. Eisenhower initially wanted to bypass the city to pursue other targets, but amid reports that the citizens were going hungry and Hitler's stated intention to destroy it, de Gaulle insisted that it should be taken immediately. French forces of the 2nd Armoured Division under General
Philippe Leclerc Philippe François Marie Leclerc de Hauteclocque (22 November 1902 – 28 November 1947) was a Free-French general during the Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global ...
arrived from the west on 24 August, while the U.S. 4th Infantry Division pressed up from the south. Scattered fighting continued throughout the night, and by the morning of 25 August Paris was liberated. Operations continued in the British and Canadian sectors until the end of the month. On 25 August, the U.S. 2nd Armored Division fought its way into
Elbeuf Elbeuf () is a Communes of France, commune in the Seine-Maritime Departments of France, department in the Normandy (administrative region), Normandy Regions of France, region in northern France. Geography A light industry, light industrial town si ...
, making contact with British and Canadian armoured divisions. The 2nd Canadian Infantry Division advanced into the Forêt de la Londe on the morning of 27 August. The area was strongly held; the 4th and 6th Canadian brigades suffered many casualties over the course of three days as the Germans fought a delaying action in terrain well suited to defence. The Germans pulled back on 29 August, withdrawing over the Seine the next day. On the afternoon of 30 August, the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division crossed the Seine near Elbeuf and entered
Rouen Rouen (, ; or ) is a city on the River Seine in northern France. It is the prefecture of the Regions of France, region of Normandy (administrative region), Normandy and the Departments of France, department of Seine-Maritime. Formerly one of ...

Rouen
to a jubilant welcome.


Campaign close

Eisenhower took direct command of all Allied ground forces on 1 September. Concerned about German counter-attacks and the limited materiel arriving in France, he decided to continue operations on a broad front rather than attempting narrow thrusts. The linkup of the Normandy forces with the Allied forces in southern France occurred on 12 September as part of the drive to the Siegfried Line. On 17 September, Montgomery launched
Operation Market Garden Operation Market Garden was an Allies of World War II, Allied military operation during the World War II, Second World War fought in the Netherlands from 17 to 25 September 1944. Its objective was to create a Salient (military), salient into Ge ...
, an unsuccessful attempt by Anglo-American airborne troops to capture bridges in the Netherlands to allow ground forces to cross the
Rhine ), Surselva Surselva Region is one of the eleven administrative districts Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many s ...

Rhine
into Germany. The Allied advance slowed due to German resistance and the lack of supplies (especially fuel). On 16 December the Germans launched the Ardennes Offensive, also known as the
Battle of the Bulge The Battle of the Bulge, also known as the Ardennes Counteroffensive, was a major German offensive Offensive may refer to: * Offensive, the former name of the Dutch political party Socialist Alternative (Netherlands), Socialist Alternative * ...

Battle of the Bulge
, their last major offensive of the war on the Western Front. A series of successful Soviet actions began with the Vistula–Oder Offensive on 12 January. Hitler committed suicide on 30 April as Soviet troops neared his ''
Führerbunker The ''Führerbunker'' () was an air raid shelter located near the Reich Chancellery in Berlin, Nazi Germany, Germany. It was part of a subterranean bunker complex constructed in two phases in 1936 and 1944. It was the last of the Führer Headqua ...
'' in Berlin, and Germany surrendered on 7 May 1945. The Normandy landings were the largest seaborne invasion in history, with nearly 5,000 landing and assault craft, 289 escort vessels, and 277 minesweepers. The opening of another front in western Europe was a tremendous psychological blow for Germany's military, who feared a repetition of the two-front war of World War I. The Normandy landings also heralded the start of the "race for Europe" between the Soviet forces and the Western powers, which some historians consider to be the start of the Cold War. Victory in Normandy stemmed from several factors. German preparations along the Atlantic Wall were only partially finished; shortly before D-Day Rommel reported that construction was only 18 per cent complete in some areas as resources were diverted elsewhere. The deceptions undertaken in Operation Fortitude were successful, leaving the Germans obliged to defend a huge stretch of coastline. The Allies achieved and maintained air superiority, which meant that the Germans were unable to make observations of the preparations underway in Britain and were unable to interfere via bomber attacks. Transport infrastructure in France was severely disrupted by Allied bombers and the French Resistance, making it difficult for the Germans to bring up reinforcements and supplies. Much of the opening artillery barrage was off-target or not concentrated enough to have any impact, but the specialised armour worked well except on Omaha, providing close artillery support for the troops as they disembarked onto the beaches. The indecisiveness and overly complicated command structure of the German high command was also a factor in the Allied success.


Casualties


Allies

From D-Day to 21 August, the Allies landed 2,052,299 men in northern France. The cost of the Normandy campaign was high for both sides. Between 6 June and the end of August, the American armies suffered 124,394 casualties, of whom 20,668 were killed. The American armies suffered 10,128 soldiers missing. Casualties within the First Canadian and Second British Armies are placed at 83,045: 15,995 killed, 57,996 wounded, and 9,054 missing. Of these, Canadian losses amounted to 18,444, with 5,021 killed in action. The Allied air forces, having flown 480,317 sorties in support of the invasion, lost 4,101 aircraft and 16,714 airmen (8,536 members of the USAAF, and 8,178 flying under the command of the RAF). The Free French SAS paratroopers suffered 77 killed, with 197 wounded and missing. Allied tank losses have been estimated at around 4,000, with losses split evenly between the American and British/Canadian armies. Historians slightly differ on overall casualties during the campaign, with the lowest losses totaling 225,606 and the highest at 226,386.


Germany

German forces in France reported losses of 158,930 men between D-Day and 14 August, just before the start of Operation Dragoon in Southern France. In action at the Falaise pocket, 50,000 men were lost, of whom 10,000 were killed and 40,000 captured. Sources vary on the total German casualties. Niklas Zetterling, on examining German records, places the total German casualties suffered in Normandy and facing the Dragoon landings to be 288,695. Other sources arrive at higher estimates: 400,000 (200,000 killed or wounded and a further 200,000 captured), 500,000 (290,000 killed or wounded, 210,000 captured), to 530,000 in total. There are no exact figures regarding German tank losses in Normandy. Approximately 2,300 tanks and assault guns were committed to the battle, of which only 100 to 120 crossed the Seine at the end of the campaign. While German forces reported only 481 tanks destroyed between D-day and 31 July, research conducted by No. 2 Operational Research Section of 21st Army Group indicates that the Allies destroyed around 550 tanks in June and July and another 500 in August, for a total of 1,050 tanks destroyed, including 100 destroyed by aircraft. Luftwaffe losses amounted to 2,127 aircraft. By the end of the Normandy campaign, 55 German divisions (42 infantry and 13 panzer) had been rendered combat ineffective; seven of these were disbanded. By September, OB West had only 13 infantry divisions, 3 panzer divisions, and 2 panzer brigades rated as combat effective.


Civilians and French heritage buildings

During the liberation of Normandy, between 13,632 and 19,890 French civilians were killed, and more were seriously wounded. In addition to those who died during the campaign, 11,000 to 19,000 Normans are estimated to have been killed during pre-invasion bombing. A total of 70,000 French civilians were killed throughout the course of the war.
Land mine A land mine is an explosive device An explosive device is a device that relies on the exothermic reaction of an explosive material An explosive (or explosive material) is a reactive substance that contains a great amount of potential en ...
s and
unexploded ordnance Unexploded ordnance (UXO, sometimes abbreviated as UO), unexploded bombs (UXBs), and explosive remnants of war (ERW) are explosive weapons (bombs, shell (projectile), shells, grenades, land mines, naval mines, cluster munition, and other munit ...
continued to inflict casualties upon the Norman population following the end of the campaign. Prior to the invasion, SHAEF issued instructions (later the basis for the 1954 Hague Convention Protocol I) emphasising the need to limit the destruction to French heritage sites. These sites, named in the Official Civil Affairs Lists of Monuments, were not to be used by troops unless permission was received from the upper echelons of the chain of command. Nevertheless, church spires and other stone buildings throughout the area were damaged or destroyed to prevent them being used by the Germans. Efforts were made to prevent reconstruction workers from using rubble from important ruins to repair roads, and to search for artefacts. The
Bayeux tapestry The Bayeux Tapestry (, ; french: Tapisserie de Bayeux or ; la, Tapete Baiocense) is an embroidered Embroidery is the craft of decorating fabric or other materials using a needle to apply thread or yarn. Embroidery may also incorporate o ...
and other important cultural treasures had been stored at the Château de Sourches near Le Mans from the start of the war, and survived intact. The occupying German forces also kept a list of protected buildings, but their intent was to keep the facilities in good condition for use as accommodation by German troops. Many cities and towns in Normandy were totally devastated by the fighting and bombings. By the end of the Battle of Caen there remained only 8,000 liveable quarters for a population of over 60,000. Of the 18 listed churches in Caen, four were seriously damaged and five were destroyed, along with 66 other listed monuments. In the
Calvados Calvados (, ; ) often nicknamed Calva, is an apple An apple is an edible fruit produced by an apple tree (''Malus domestica''). Apple fruit tree, trees are agriculture, cultivated worldwide and are the most widely grown species in the genus ...
department (location of the Normandy beachhead), 76,000 citizens were rendered homeless. Of Caen's 210 pre-war Jewish population, only one survived the war. Looting was a concern, with all sides taking part—the retreating Germans, the invading Allies, and the local French population taking advantage of the chaos. Looting was never condoned by Allied forces, and any perpetrators who were found to be looting were punished.


War memorials and tourism

The beaches of Normandy are still known by their invasion code names. Significant places have plaques, memorials, or small museums, and guide books and maps are available. Some of the German strong points remain preserved; Pointe du Hoc, in particular, is little changed from 1944. The remains of Mulberry harbour B still sits in the sea at Arromanches. Several large cemeteries in the area serve as the final resting place for many of the Allied and German soldiers killed in the Normandy campaign. Above the English channel on a bluff at Omaha Beach, the
Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial (french: Cimetière américain de Colleville-sur-Mer) is a World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1 ...

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
has hosted numerous visitors each year. The site covers 172.5
acres The acre is a unit Unit may refer to: Arts and entertainment * UNIT Unit may refer to: Arts and entertainment * UNIT, a fictional military organization in the science fiction television series ''Doctor Who'' * Unit of action, a discrete piece ...
and contains the remains of 9,388 American military dead, most of whom were killed during the invasion of Normandy and ensuing military operations in World War II. Included are graves of Army Air Corps crews shot down over France as early as 1942 and four American women.


See also

* The Battle of Normandy leaders * British logistics in the Normandy Campaign * American logistics in the Normandy Campaign * List of Allied forces in the Normandy Campaign *
Liberation of France Liberation or liberate may refer to: Concepts * **', the concept of salvation within Indian religions **', a closely related term * * * or feminism * * * * * Publications *', French newspaper *, a Moroccan newspaper *''Liberation'', the newspap ...
*
Operation Downfall Operation Downfall was the proposed Allied An alliance is a relationship among people, groups, or sovereign state, states that have joined together for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement ...
*
Rhino tank "Rhino tank" (initially called "Rhinoceros A rhinoceros (, , ), commonly abbreviated to rhino, is a member of any of the five Extant taxon, extant species of odd-toed ungulates in the family (biology), family Rhinocerotidae, as well as any of ...


Notes


Explanatory notes


Citations


References

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* * * * * * * * *


External links

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