Battle Of Normandy Essay

1827 words - 7 pages

One of the most significant encounters of World War II was the Battle of Normandy (the first day of which is commonly referred to as D-Day). Nearly three million soldiers were deployed for the invasion. Those deployed consisted mainly of American and British soldiers, however Canadian, French, Polish, Belgian, and Czech forces were represented as well (Jensen). The battle was fought in an effort to gain European ground and to reduce the German potential for overrunning Russia (Lucas). The Battle of Normandy was significant in that it was the turning point of World War II, incurred heavy casualties on each side, and was the greatest amphibious landing in history (Cohen).
The events leading up to the Battle of Normandy are perhaps just as important as the battle itself. The hold that Hitler had across Europe was one that had to be broken. The decision was made to invade Europe across the English Channel between May fifteenth and twenty-fifth 1943, when Winston Churchill (Britain’s wartime leader and Prime Minister) met with United States President Theodore Roosevelt at the Trident Conference in Washington D.C. (Newark 144). After this meeting, planning to invade began immediately and May 1944 was originally selected as the time for the attack. United States forces were then transported to Britain in order to begin intensive training (Newark 144). A campaign was created for the sole purpose of confusing German intelligence. This was called Operation Bodyguard and included the construction of dummy installations and shipping in addition to misinformation (Newark 144-145). Preparing to cross the wall that Hitler had erected across the Atlantic was a huge obstacle for invading forces to overcome. The wall stretched 2,600 km (1,600 miles) from the Arctic Circle to the Spanish border. Massive concrete bunkers had been built all along the French coast and six million-plus mines had been laid along the beaches. Thousands of large still spikes (known as hedgehogs) were also sunk into the sand to halt the progress of enemy tanks (Newark 145). Allied troops readied themselves for the assault. The attack on Normandy had been pushed to June fifth, 1944; however the forecast on June third predicted unfavorable conditions due to unusually high winds. The invasion ultimately took place on June 6th, 1944 (D-Day) (Cohen).
The first troops deployed into battle were paratroopers. Over thirteen thousand U.S. paratroopers were dropped by an armada of C-47s behind German lines before dawn. Their mission was to seize bridges, disrupt communications, and prevent German soldiers from reinforcing the Normandy beaches as the Allied assault hit the coastline (Alberecht). Heavy cloud coverage made for difficult navigation and forced many of the paratroopers to jump “blind”. This resulted in them being scattered over a 100-square mile radius. Thirty-five percent of these soldiers landed at their designated drop point, while many others died when they...

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