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D-Day, the Normandy Landings - June 6, 1944


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Measured Justice
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« on: June 06, 2009, 11:56:45 pm »

D-Day is a term often used in military parlance to denote the day on which a combat attack or operation is to be initiated. "D-Day" often represents a variable, designating the day upon which some significant event will occur or has occurred; see Military designation of days and hours for similar terms. The initial D in D-Day has had various meanings in the past, while more recently it has obtained the connotation of "Day" itself, thereby creating the phrase "Day-Day", or "Day of Days".[1] On the same principle, the equivalent terms in French, Basque and Romanian are Jour J, E eguna and Ziua-Z.

The best known D-Day is June 6, 1944 — the day of the Normandy Landings— initiating the Western Allied effort to liberate mainland Europe from Nazi occupation during World War II. However, many other invasions and operations had a designated D-Day, both before and after that operation.[2]

The terms D-Day and H-Hour are used for the day and hour on which a combat attack or operation is to be initiated. They designate the day and hour of the operation when the day and hour have not yet been determined, or where secrecy is essential. There is but one D-Day and one H-Hour for all units participating in a given operation.

When used in combination with figures,and plus or minus signs, these terms indicate the point of time preceding or following a specific action. Thus, H−3 means 3 hours before H-Hour, and D+3 means 3 days after D-Day. H+75 minutes means H-Hour plus 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Planning papers for large-scale operations are made up in detail long before specific dates are set. Thus, orders are issued for the various steps to be carried out on the D-Day or H-Hour minus or plus a certain number of days, hours, or minutes. At the appropriate time, a subsequent order is issued that states the actual day and times.
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« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2009, 11:57:06 pm »

The earliest use of these terms by the U.S. Army that the Center of Military History has been able to find was during World War I. In Field Order Number 9, First Army, American Expeditionary Forces, dated 7 September 1918: "The First Army will attack at H hour on D day with the object of forcing the evacuation of the St. Mihiel Salient."

D-Day for the invasion of Normandy by the Allies was originally set for June 5, 1944, but bad weather and heavy seas caused Gen. Dwight D Eisenhower to delay until June 6 and that date has been popularly referred to ever since by the short title "D-Day". (In French, it is called Le Jour J.) Because of the connotation with the invasion of Normandy, planners of later military operations sometimes avoided the term to prevent confusion. For example, Douglas MacArthur's invasion of Leyte began on "A-Day", and the invasion of Okinawa began on "L-Day". The Allies proposed invasions of Japan that would have begun on "X-Day" (Kyūshū, scheduled for November 1945) and "Y-Day" (Honshū, scheduled for March 1946).
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« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2009, 11:57:41 pm »

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« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2009, 11:59:23 pm »

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« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2009, 12:00:17 am »

Normandy Landings

The Normandy Landings were the first operations of the Allied invasion of Normandy, also known as Operation Neptune and Operation Overlord, during World War II. The landings commenced on June 6, 1944 (D-Day), beginning at 6:30 British Double Summer Time (UTC+2). In planning, D-Day was the term used for the day of actual landing, which was dependent on final approval.

The assault was conducted in two phases: an air assault landing of American, British and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight, and an amphibious landing of Allied infantry and armoured divisions on the coast of France commencing at 6:30. There were also subsidiary 'attacks' mounted under the codenames Operation Glimmer and Operation Taxable to distract the Kriegsmarine and the German army from the real landing areas.[3]

The operation was the largest single-day amphibious invasion of all time, with 160,000[4] troops landing on June 6, 1944. 195,700[5] Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000[4] ships were involved. The invasion required the transport of soldiers and materiel from the United Kingdom by troop-laden aircraft and ships, the assault landings, air support, naval interdiction of the English Channel and naval fire-support. The landings took place along a 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.
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« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2009, 12:01:19 am »



U.S. Army troops wade ashore on Omaha Beach during the landings, 6 June 1944
Date    June 6, 1944
Location    Normandy, France coast and adjacent waters
Result    Allied victory
Territorial
changes    Allied beachhead in Normandy, France
Belligerents
 United Kingdom
 United States
 Canada
Flag of France Free France
 Poland
 Norway     Nazi Germany
Commanders
Flag of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower
Flag of the United Kingdom Bernard Law Montgomery
Flag of the United States Omar Bradley
Flag of the United Kingdom Trafford Leigh-Mallory
Flag of the United Kingdom Arthur Tedder
Flag of the United Kingdom Miles Dempsey
Flag of the United Kingdom Bertram Ramsay    Flag of Germany Erwin Rommel
Flag of Germany Gerd von Rundstedt
Flag of Germany Friedrich Dollmann
Strength
156,001    380,000
Casualties and losses
Total allied casualties (killed, wounded, missing, or captured) are estimated at approximately 10,000.
These comprised:[1][2]
United States–6,603, of which 1,465 fatal.
United Kingdom–2,700.
Canada–1,074, of which 359 fatal.    Between 4,000 and 9,000 dead, wounde
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« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2009, 12:01:51 am »

The Allied invasion was detailed in several overlapping operational plans according to the D-Day museum:

    "The armed forces use codenames to refer to the planning and execution of specific military operations. Operation Overlord was the codename for the Allied invasion of northwest Europe. The assault phase of Operation Overlord was known as Operation Neptune. Operation Neptune began on D-Day ( June 6, 1944) and ended on June 30,1944. By this time, the Allies had established a firm foothold in Normandy. Operation Overlord also began on D-Day, and continued until Allied forces crossed the River Seine on 19 August."[6]
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« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2009, 12:02:29 am »

Weather

Only a few days in each month were suitable for launching the operation, because both a full moon and a spring tide were required: the former to illuminate navigational landmarks for the crews of aircraft, gliders and landing craft, and the latter to provide the deepest possible water to help safe navigation over defensive obstacles placed by the Germans in the surf on the seaward approaches to the beaches. Allied Expeditionary Force Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower had tentatively selected 5 June as the date for the assault. Most of May had fine weather, but this deteriorated in early June. On 4 June, conditions were clearly unsuitable for a landing; wind and high seas would make it impossible to launch landing craft, and low clouds would prevent aircraft finding their targets. The Allied troop convoys already at sea were forced to take shelter in bays and inlets on the south coast of Britain for the night.

It seemed possible that everything would have to be cancelled and the troops returned to their camps (a vast undertaking because the enormous movement of follow-up formations was already proceeding). The next full moon period would be nearly a month away. At a vital meeting on 5 June, Eisenhower's chief meteorologist (Group Captain J.M. Stagg) forecast a brief improvement for 6 June. General Bernard Montgomery and Eisenhower's Chief of Staff General Walter Bedell Smith wished to proceed with the invasion. Leigh Mallory was doubtful, but Admiral Bertram Ramsay believed that conditions would be marginally favorable. On the strength of Stagg's forecast, Eisenhower ordered the invasion to proceed.

The Germans meanwhile took comfort from the existing poor conditions, which were worse over Northern France than over the Channel itself, and believed no invasion would be possible for several days. Some troops stood down, and many senior officers were away for the weekend. General Erwin Rommel, for example, took a few days' leave to celebrate his wife's birthday,[7] while dozens of division, regimental, and battalion commanders were away from their posts at war games.
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« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2009, 12:03:17 am »

Allied Order of Battle

The order of battle for the landings was approximately as follows, east to west:

British Second Army

    * 6th Airborne Division was delivered by parachute and glider to the east of the River Orne to protect the left flank. The division contained 7,900 men, including one Canadian battalion.[8][page needed]
    * 1st Special Service Brigade comprising No. 3, No. 4, No. 6 and No. 45 (RM) Commandos landed at Ouistreham in Queen Red sector (leftmost). No.4 Commando were augmented by 1 and 8 Troop (both French) of No. 10 (Inter Allied) Commando.
    * I Corps, 3rd Infantry Division and the 27th Armoured Brigade on Sword Beach, from Ouistreham to Lion-sur-Mer.
    * No. 41 (RM) Commando (part of 4th Special Service Brigade) landed on the far West of Sword Beach.[9]
    * 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade and No.48 (RM) Commando on Juno Beach, from Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer to Courseulles-sur-Mer.[8]
    * No. 46 (RM) Commando (part of 4th Special Service Brigade) at Juno to scale the cliffs on the left side of the Orne River estuary and destroy a battery. (Battery fire proved negligible so No.46 were kept off-shore as a floating reserve and landed on D+1).
    * XXX Corps, 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division and 8th Armoured Brigade, consisting of 25,000 men landing on Gold Beach,[10] from Courseulles to Arromanches.
    * No. 47 (RM) Commando (part of 4th Special Service Brigade) on the West flank of Gold beach.
    * 79th Armoured Division operated specialist armour ("Hobart's Funnies") for mine-clearing, recovery and assault tasks. These were distributed around the Anglo-Canadian beaches.
    * 4th Free French Special Air Service Battalion from the British SAS Brigade, by parachute in Brittany.

Overall, the 2nd Army contingent consisted of 83,115 troops (61,715 of them British).[8] In addition to the British and Canadian combat units, two troops of No. 10 Commando were employed, manned by Frenchmen, and eight Australian officers were attached to the British forces as observers.[11] The nominally British air and naval support units included a large number of crew from Allied nations, including several RAF squadrons manned almost exclusively by foreign flight crew.
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« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2009, 12:03:56 am »

U.S. First Army

    * V Corps, 1st Infantry Division and 29th Infantry Division making up 34,250 troops for Omaha Beach, from Sainte-Honorine-des-Pertes to Vierville-sur-Mer.[8][12]
    * 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions at Pointe du Hoc (The 5th diverted to Omaha).[12]
    * VII Corps, 4th Infantry Division and the 359th RCT of the 90th Infantry Division comprising of 23,250 men landing on Utah Beach, around Pouppeville and La Madeleine.[12]
    * 101st Airborne Division by parachute around Vierville to support Utah Beach landings.[12]
    * 82nd Airborne Division by parachute around Sainte-Mère-Église, protecting the right flank. They had originally been tasked with dropping further west, in the middle part of the Cotentin, allowing the sea-landing forces to their east easier access across the peninsula, and preventing the Germans from reinforcing the north part of the peninsula. The plans were later changed to move them much closer to the beachhead, as at the last minute the German 91st Air Landing Division was determined to be in the area.[12][13]

In total, the First Army contingent totalled approximately 73,000 men, including 15,500 from the airborne divisions.[8]
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« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2009, 12:04:25 am »

German Order of Battle

The number of military forces at the disposal of Nazi Germany reached its peak during 1944. By D-Day, 157 German divisions were stationed in the Soviet Union, 6 in Finland, 12 in Norway, 6 in Denmark, 9 in Germany, 21 in the Balkans, 26 in Italy and 59 in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.[14] However, these statistics are somewhat misleading since a significant number of the divisions in the east were depleted due to intensity of fighting; German records indicate that the average personnel complement was at about 50% in the spring of 1944.[15]
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« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2009, 12:04:47 am »

German Defenses

The German defenses used an interlocking firing style, so they could protect areas that were receiving heavy fire. They had large bunkers, sometimes intricate concrete ones containing machine guns and high caliber weapons. Their defense also integrated the cliffs and hills overlooking the beach. The defenses were all built and honed over a four year period.
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« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2009, 12:05:13 am »

Atlantic Wall

Standing in the way of the Allies was the English Channel, a crossing which had eluded the Spanish Armada and Napoleon Bonaparte's Navy. Compounding the invasion efforts was the extensive Atlantic Wall, ordered by Hitler in his Directive 51. Believing that any forthcoming landings would be timed for high tide (this caused the landings to be timed for low tide), Rommel had the entire wall fortified with tank top turrets and extensive barbed wire, and laid a million mines to deter landing craft. The sector which was attacked was guarded by four divisions.
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« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2009, 12:05:49 am »

The Atlantikwall (English: Atlantic wall) was an extensive system of coastal fortifications built by the German Third Reich in 1942 until 1944 during World War II along the western coast of Europe to defend against an anticipated Allied invasion of the mainland from Great Britain.[1]
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« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2009, 12:06:25 am »



The Atlantic Wall, shown in green
Built    1942-1944
In use    1942-1945
Current
condition    Partially demolished, mostly there
Open to
the public    Yes
Battles/wars    World War II
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