Operation Overlord was the code name used for the Allied attack on German-occupied Northern France in the summer of 1944. The organization responsible for planning this task was SHAEF, the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, and the officer in command of Overlord was Major General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Command of ground forces was given to General Bernard Montgomery, while naval forces would be commanded by Admiral Bertram Ramsay. Air forces were under the control of Air Chief Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallary, and supply and logistics the task of Lt. General John Lee.
The extensive buildup of troops and supplies required to support Overlord began in April of 1942. Known as Operation Bolero, this effort eventually saw the movement of over 1.5 million military personnel to England, as well as the materials required to house, clothe and feed them. The total number of soldiers participating in all aspects of the invasion numbered 2.8 million.
The overall effort to deceive the Germans was known as Operation Bodyguard, and consisted of ten smaller operations including Operation Fortitude North, Operation Fortitude South, Operation Graffham and Operation Royal Flush. Operation Fortitude was specifically designed to provide deception for Operation Overlord. Among the many tools used by Fortitude were double agents, fake radio traffic and inflatable vehicles and craft designed to convince the Germans that the buildup of forces were intended to strike at Norway and/or the Pas-de-Calais region of France.
The seaborne aspects of Operation Overlord were known as Operation Neptune, and involved the embarkation of the troops, their transport across the English Channel, and their landings at Normandy. The Neptune forces were also responsible for providing covering gunfire during the landings and for continued supply operations following the landings.
By early June of 1944 the Allies had achieved air superiority over the skies of France, and had reduced the Luftwaffe to an almost token force. The Allied control of the air would play a key role in limiting the Germans ability to maneuver their forces once the Overlord landings began. With complete control of the skies, Allied planes could easily identify and destroy German forces moving during daylight.
American Order of Battle
The U.S. First Army forces chosen for Operation Overlord were as follows:
Utah Beach (VII Corps)
* 4th Infantry Division
* 82nd Airborne Division
* 101st Airborne Division
* 4th Cavalry Squadron
* 24th Cavalry Squadron
Pointe du Hoc
* 2nd Ranger Battalion
Omaha Beach (V Corps)
* 1st Infantry Division
* 29th Infantry Division
* 2nd Ranger Battalion
* 5th Ranger Batallion
British/Canadian Order of Battle
The British Second Army forces chosen for Operation Overlord were as follows:
Gold Beach (XXX Corps)