The invasion of D-Day is the largest joint sea born invasion in the history of the world. Although very well planned, the amphibious landings were a gamble made by the Allied forces to gain foothold in Europe. Every American has heard about the Allied invasion of German-occupied Western Europe on D-Day. However, how many Americans stop and think about how much planning, preparation and luck that went into making it the success that it is remembered for? I will attempt to depict what it took to conquer the Normandy beaches using historical and military facts that make it such an iconic event in the world’s history still today.
Japan’s surprise attack on the United States came as a complete shock. The attacks cost the nation 18 warships, 164 aircraft, and more than 2,400 lives.1 The next day President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed congress asking for a declaration of war on Japan, labeling their attack “…a day which will live on in infamy”.2 The declaration was passed on 8 December 1941. Three days later, Germany and Italy, Japans’ allies, declared war on the United States on 11 December 1941.3
In December 1941, Hitler gave a speech boasting that he controlled all of the western coast of Europe. He then said “It is my unshakeable decision to make this front impregnable against every enemy”.4 He then started construction on 15,000 strongpoints that he manned with 300,000 troops. This stretch of 1,670 miles became known as the “Atlantic Wall”. The defenses were multiplied and fortified after Field Marshall Erwin Rommel’s inspection.5
Planning and Preparation
Immediately following the declaration of war, the Allies created the Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS). From March 1942 on, their job was to plan the full-scale invasion of Europe. The buildup of men and equipment began immediately in England. On 23 April 1943, Lieutenant-General Frederick Morgan was appointed head of Chief of Staff, Supreme Allied Command (COSSAC), to plan for the invasion of Europe until the appointment of a Supreme Commander. At the “Triton” conference in Washington D.C., the Allies decided this operation would be the invasion of Normandy and would be code named Operation Overlord.
They used lessons learned from the unsuccessful Dieppe raid to assist identifying parameters for the landing site, such as: it needed to be within range of fighters from England, within reach of a major port, suitable for prolonged operations, and have beach defenses that could be suppressed with bombing and bombardment.6 The resulting answer was a section of Norwegian coast between Caen and Cherbourg.
In July 1942 the first draft of Overlord plan was completed by COSSAC, and by August the Operation Overlord plan was approved by the CCS. Lieutenant-General Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed as Supreme Commander for Operation Overlord. General Sir Bernard Montgomery is given command of the 21st Army Group, which contains all the land forces that would be used in the...