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Battles of World War 2

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Normandy Invasion, D-Day

In December 1943, the chiefs of staff of the Allies chose American General Dwight D.

Eisenhower as supreme commander for the Allies in Europe. British General, Sir Frederick Morgan,

developed a number of plans for the Allies, most extraordinary was Operation Overlord, a full-scale

invasion of France across the English Channel. This was the code name for the most secret command in

the war. The invasion force was to cross the English Channel, land in France, and push on into Germany.

The invasion was set for the spring of 1944. British and American troops, already gathering in England

for the invasion, numbered more than 50 divisions (more than 150,000 troops), with thousands of

bombers, fighter planes, and ships. The Allies decided that the beaches of Cotentin would be the landing

sites for Operation Overlord. The invasion day, called D-Day by the military, was set for June 5. On the

4th, a storm swept into the English Channel and Eisenhower had to postpone the invasion. In the early

morning hours of June 5 he met with his officers. The heavy rain and wind from the storm was expected

to end by afternoon and the weather on June 6 was supposed to be acceptable for the amphibious assault.

Nearly 175,000 soldiers were waiting for their orders. Either they would go out that night, or they would

have to stay and wait for June 19, the earliest date when the tides would again be right for a landing. After

waiting for a few moments, Eisenhower stopped, stuck out his chin, and said, “O.K., let’s go!”

The first step in the invasion began a day late, on June 6 around 12:15 am. The D-Day invasion

began with a dangerous attack by American paratroopers. Dropped behind enemy lines to soften up the

German troops and to secure targets, the paratroopers knew that if the assault by sea failed, there would

be no rescue. Leaving from Portland Bill on the English coast, the 101st and 82nd U.S. Airborne

Divisions were dropped on the Cherbourg peninsula. From that point, the 101st was to secure the western

end behind UTAH and head off an eastern German advance. The 82nd, landing farther inland, was to

seize the bridges and stop advance from the west. Heavy fog and German guns caused many challenges.

The pilots were unable to drop the paratroopers accurately as planned. The 101st Division suffered great

losses. Only one sixth of the men reached their destination points. The first regiment of the 82nd Division

was better, but the second suffered heavy supply losses. Still, both divisions managed to form smaller

squads, and organized themselves to fight. By 4:30 am, the 82nd had captured the town of Ste-Mere-

Eglise.

By first light, Allied forces landed on five beaches defeating Germany's forces. The 4th Infantry

Division was to take Utah Beach. Their landing went good. The first wave landed 2,000 yards south of

the original beach. This also benefited the invasion because the original beach was heavily guarded unlike

the new beach. Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt changed the plans and made the reinforcements

land where the new beach was instead of marching up the beach to the original beachhead. Within hours

the beachhead was secured and the 4th Infantry Division moved inland to find the scattered the

paratroopers. At Omaha Beach, the land for the 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions and the Army Rangers

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