D-day – The Sixth of June 1944 – The Largest Sea Borne Invasion in  Mi…

D-day – The Sixth of June 1944 – The Largest Sea Borne Invasion in Mi…

“We are going to have peace, already if we have to fight for it”- General Dwight D. Eisenhower. June 1, 1944

“Sure, we want to go home. We want this war over with. The quickest way to get it over with is to go get the bastards who started it. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we can go home. The shortest way home is by Berlin and Tokyo. And when we get to Berlin, I am personally going to shoot that paper hanging son-of-a-bitch Hitler. Just like I’d shoot a snake!” General George S. Patton (just before the Normandy Invasion) June 5th 1944

In the summer in 1944, Hitler’s Wehrmacht (armed forces) nevertheless were nevertheless very much in command of all of the territories the Germans had fought over and won during their Blitzkrieg campaign of 1941- 1943. Most of the complete regionl of Europe was nevertheless in the stranglehold of Hitler’s clutches, and the allies were in a desperate position to somehow loosen his grip on Europe by any method necessary. A year before that summer of 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower was commissioned by Franklin Roosevelt to come up with a grand military plan to move into the European stronghold that the German army were holding steadfast to. The first proposal for the invasion was named “Operation Roundup”, and then changed to “Operation Sledgehammer” a few months later. The invasion was put on keep up until May of 1944 by the insistence of Joseph Stalin and FDR against the protestations of Winston Churchill who wanted to go forward with Eisenhower’s plan in August of 1943. The turning point that finally changed Churchill’s mind was the agreement that Stalin would help the allies by mounting an offensive against Hitler in eastern Europe at the same time that the US Army and Marines invaded Normandy, which would help to deliver a deadly two prong attack against Germany’s military.

On June 1st of 1944, the new campaign name for the invasion of Normandy was changed for the final time. Operation Overlord. was the new title for what would become the largest sea borne invasion that the world had ever seen, with over 3 million allied troops taking action against the Germans and more than 6900 sea vessels bringing the allied troops to the sandy beach at Normandy. In the late hours of June 5th, enormous air attacks and bombardments started waking up all of the sleeping French citizens and German troops stationed near Omaha Beach. A French woman who lived in a chateau overlooking the beach gives us a very descriptive first-hand account of what happened that night. “We’re deafened by the airplanes, which make a never-ending round, very low; clearly what I thought were German airplanes are quite simply English ones, protecting the landing. Coming from the sea, a thick artificial cloud; its threatening and begins to be upsetting; the first hiss over our heads. I feel cold.”

A complete two-thirds of the first bombardments were dropped outside of the actual invasion area to convince the German military that the sea landings would be made in the vicinity of the Seine, instead of at Omaha Beach. Because of decoded messages that the allies were able to acquire from a cadre of American spies, the US Army knew where the Germans would try any counterattack measures against the invasion. During that same night of June 5th, 822 aircraft carrying hundreds of parachuted military personnel started dropping off the soldiers to their designated landing zones near Normandy. The American 82nd and 101st airborne divisions did the best possible job imaginable and secured their objectives of taking out German machine gun turrets and blowing up 75 military tanks and vehicles behind enemy lines.

The complete-extent invasion began seriously at 6:30 AM on June 6th, when the more than 11,000 boats and ships came close to shore and the more than 80000 troops started swarming out of their landing vehicles to begin the fiery assault on the German forces waiting to reign down machine gun fire on the American soldiers. The Germans were lurking in their hiding places in the embankments in the rocky hills of Normandy overlooking the beach front. As the troops waded ashore at Omaha beach, the Germans let loose with Hell’s fury, cutting down almost two-thirds of the brave soldiers who were first to arrive. The 352nd division of the German army hit the US 1st division with complete wrath, taking the lives of more than 2,000 American GI’s. The American campaign was in trouble during this horrible phase of the invasion, and the US military intelligence needed to come up with a counter plan soon, or the complete mission would be in shambles.

If Hitler had begun to unleash his armored division of Panzer tanks against the allies for a complete counter attack on that dreadful morning of June 6th, Operation Overload would indeed have been a complete failure. But because Hitler was unwilling to take a gamble and dispatch the hundreds of tanks and other military armored vehicles to take out the allied forces, he waited too late to take advantage of the allies misfortunes on Omaha beach. By the time it took HItler to finally start sending his Panzer division in to Normandy, the American military had produced a new plan of attack using the British forces to move into the area of the strongest German stronghold at Périers-sur-le-Dan near the main battle lines behind the Normandy beach front.

The French woman that had witnessed the first air strikes against the Germans, also witnessed the British tanks rolling in from the southeast to attack the German Panzer division at Périers-sur-le-Dan. She describes the English invasion and the British soldiers in particular with great clarity. “The English tanks are silhouetted now and then on the road above Periers. Grand impassioned exchanges on the road with the people from the farm; we are all stupefied by the suddenness of events. I take a few steps down the excursion, toward the Deveraux house, and suddenly I see the substitute Speiss and his comrade hugging the wall of the pasture. I tell him that he must nevertheless have comrades at the guns, since we can nevertheless hear the battery firing. You feel that these two men are lost, disorientated, sad. Later, almost night, I see them again, their faces deliberately blackened with charcoal, crossing the park. What will be their fate? How many of them are nevertheless in the area, hiding and watching?”

The British antitank gunners took out the largest German tank divisions, which resulted in paralyzing any counter attack that the Germans could instigate against the allies. So by the night of June 6th, leading into the early morning hours of June 7th, the allies were enjoying a military victory that proved they were more than ready to beat the Germans back to their homeland and take back Europe for the allies. But on June 13th that joy was replaced by dread.

During the continued battles that were taking place between June 8th and June 13th. the allies had destroyed nearly 1500 German aircraft and armored tanks and taken more than 7500 German lives. But on June 13th,at a small village area called Villers-Bocage, the British armored division lost more than 40 British tanks and suffered 200 casualties against a well-equipped German tank division. A large-extent infantry offensive west of Caen, called Operation Epsom, was also defeated on June 25-29, which cast a huge shadow of doubt on the final success of Operation Overlord. The only hope the allies had at the time was the fact that the biggest German military leaders had begun to fall victim to a sudden series of fatalities involving suicides and bombing attempts on many members of the high command.

The complete disarray of German’s military leadership led to huge mistakes in Germany’s counterattacks against American troops at Saint-Lô, where 1500 American soldiers laid waste to Hitler’s tank and anti-aircraft divisions. The American forces were able to surround and attack all the German soldiers and armored vehicles, consequently laying ground for the ultimate allied strategy that would finally force the Germans to head back to their homeland.

By the last remaining days of July, most of the German’s tank divisions were forced to head westward by the British tank strategy known as Operation Goodwood. The allied forces used the without of German tanks to open up a huge wound in the German’s overall military offensive. Operation Cobra as it was called, would open up a devastating air strike on the front line of the German army on the afternoon hours of July 25th. The US Army took advantage of the gaping hole in the German front line, and Eisenhower got his Army troops together and sped like a demon toward the French vicinity of Avranches, where they blasted hell out of all of the remaining German troops.General George Patton’s newly formed third Army joined in the improvement. A enormous American spearhead now threatened to excursion into Brittany and, by a left turn, to encircle the Germans in Normandy from the rear.

That effort cause the final retreat of the Germans, and the American troops would cross the Seine River and ultimately liberate Paris during the month of August. The typical “Battle of the Bulge” would be the last great battle of WWII, causing the Germans to surrender to the Allies in 1945.

The Normandy invasion was the main plan of attack against the German war machine that signaled the final end to Hitler’s domination of Europe. Without the bravery and courage of all of the military divisions of the allied forces, Hitler’s devastation of the world would have continued for many more years, and taken millions of lives in the time of action. We should all be thankful and remember June 6th 1944 as the day that justice would finally be served.

“I have returned many times to honor the valiant men who died…every man who set foot on Omaha Beach was a hero.” Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, Commander of the US First Army at the Normandy Invasion

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