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D-Day

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D-Day has always been a celebrated day throughout the entire world in which the Western Allied forces were finally able to break Hitler grasp on Europe. The landings that occurred on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944 was a great military victory at the cost of many lives. But the motives behind D-Day are unclear. Why did Britain want to go through Italy and did everything in its power to stop the invasion of Normandy? Why did the US promise Stalin that a second front would be open? The motives behind Operation Overlord are more because of political power play between the allied nations rather than opening a decisive military front.

The most remarkable aspect of World War II was how America committed itself to the battles occurring in Europe and had not concentrated on Japan, the United States’ main aggressor. It was the Americans who were impatient to confront the German army on the continent while the British were haunted by the deepest misgivings about doing so. ““Why are we doing this?” cried Winston Churchill in a bitter moment of depression about Operation OVERLORD in February 1944, which caused him a spasm of enthusiasm for an alternative Allied landing in Portugal. ‘I am very uneasy about the whole operation,” wrote the Chief of the Imperial general Staff, Sir Alan Brooke, as late as June 5, 1944. “At the best, it will come very short of the expectation the bulk of the people, namely all those who know nothing about its difficulties. At its worst, it may well be the most ghastly disaster of the whole war,”” (Ambrose, 56). It seems that the British favored opening a second front to relieve some of the pressure from Russia, but did not agree with the second front being opened in the beaches of Normandy, but rather that of Italy through the Mediterranean. Had the United Sates Army been wavering in its commitment to a landing in Normandy, it is unlikely that the landing would have taken place before 1945. Until the very last weeks before OVERLORD was launched, its future was the subject of bitter dissension and debate between the generals of Britain and America.

For a year following the fall of France in 1940, Britain fought on without any actual prospect of final victory. When Hitler invaded Russia in June 1941,the first gleam of hope presented itself to Britain. For the remainder of that year, Britain was preoccupied with the struggle to keep open her Atlantic lifeline, to build her bomber offensive into a meaningful menace to German, and to keep hopes alive in any theatre of war where British army could fight (Africa and the Middle East). Then in December of 1941 came the miracle of Pearl Harbor. Britain’s salvation and the turning point of the war happened when Hitler declared war upon the United States.

After that, the outcome of World War II was never in serious doubt. Great delays and difficulties lay ahead in mobilizing America’s industrial might for the battlefield, and in determining by what strategy the Axis were to be crushed. To the relief of the British, President Roosevelt and his Chiefs of Staff at once asserted their acceptance on the principle of “Germany first.” “They acknowledged that her war-making power was by far the most dangerous and the following her collapse, Japan must soon capitulate. The war in the Pacific became overwhelmingly the concern of the United States Navy” (Keegan, 167). The principal weight of the army’s ground forced, which would grow to about eight million men, was to be directed against Germany and Italy. This decision was confirmed at Arcadia, the first Anglo-American conference of the war that began in Washington on December 31, 1941. American committed herself to BOLERO, a program for a vast build-up of American forces in Britain. “Churchill, scribbling his own exuberant hopes for the future during the Atlantic passage to that meeting, speculated on the possible landing in Europe by 40 Allied armored divisions in the following year: “we might hope to win the was at the end of 1943 or 1944,” “ (Hastings, 90).

But in the months after Arcadia, as the first United States troops journeyed to Europe, it was the American who began to focus directly upon an early cross-Channel invasion. The debate now began, and continued with growing heat through the next 20 months, “…reflected, “an American impatience to get on with direct offensive action as well as a belief, held quite generally by the US War Department, that the war could most efficiently be won by husbanding resources for an all-out attack deliberately planned for a fixed date. American impatience was opposed by British note of caution: American faith in an offensive of fixed date was in contrast to British willingness to proceed one step at a time, molding a course of action to the turns of military fortune.” Here, in the words of the American official historian…” (Ambrose, 60),

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