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


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Author Topic: D-Day, the Normandy Landings - June 6, 1944  (Read 7958 times)
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« Reply #15 on: June 07, 2009, 12:06:47 am »

On March 23, 1942 Führer Directive Number 40 called for the official creation of the Atlantic Wall. After the St. Nazaire Raid, on April 13, 1942 Adolf Hitler ordered naval and submarine bases to be heavily defended. Fortifications remained concentrated around ports until late in 1943 when defences were increased in other areas.[2]

Organisation Todt, which had designed the Siegfried Line (Westwall) along the Franco-German border, was the chief engineering group responsible for the design and construction of the wall's major fortifications. Thousands of forced laborers were impressed to construct these permanent fortifications along the Dutch, Belgian and French coasts facing the English Channel.

Early in 1944, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was assigned to improve the Wall's defenses. Rommel believed the existing coastal fortifications were entirely inadequate and he immediately began strengthening them. Under his direction, a string of reinforced concrete pillboxes were built along the beaches, or sometimes slightly inland, to house machine guns, antitank guns, and light artillery. Minefields and antitank obstacles were planted on the beaches themselves, and underwater obstacles and mines were placed in waters just off shore. The intent was to destroy the Allied landing craft before they could unload.
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« Reply #16 on: June 07, 2009, 12:07:02 am »

By the time of the invasion, the Germans had laid almost six million mines in northern France. More gun emplacements and minefields extended inland, along roads leading away from the beaches. In likely landing spots for gliders and parachutists, the Germans emplaced slanted poles with sharpened tops, which the troops called Rommelspargel ("Rommel's asparagus"). Low-lying river and estuarine areas were permanently flooded, as well.

Rommel firmly believed that Germany would inevitably be defeated unless the invasion could be stopped at the beach.

Although the defensive wall was never completed the Wall's existence has served to explain away concerns of the Soviet Union for why the Second Front was not opened until June 6, 1944 (less than a year before the end of the war). The Wall primarily consisted of batteries, bunkers, and minefields, which during 1942–1944, stretched from the French-Spanish border to Norway (Festung Norwegen). Many bunkers still exist, for example near Scheveningen, Den Haag, Katwijk and in Normandy. In Oostende, Belgium the public may visit a well-preserved part of the defenses. That section consists of emplacements of the "Saltzwedel neu battery" and the "Stützpunkt Bensberg", comprised of several men’s quarters and the necessary facilities. These constructions were used by a unit of German military engineers (Pionierstab) who were in charge of bunker construction.

The Channel Islands were heavily fortified, particularly the island of Alderney which is closest to France. Hitler had decreed that 10% of the steel and concrete used in the Atlantic Wall go to the Channel Islands, because of the propaganda value of controlling British territory.
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« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2009, 12:07:12 am »

Despite the mooting of Operation Constellation et al., the Allies bypassed the islands and did not try to liberate them when they invaded Normandy. The islands' German garrisons did not surrender until 9 May 1945 - one day after the rest of the German armed forces. The German garrison on Alderney did not surrender until 16 May.

Walcheren Island was considered to be the "strongest concentration of defences the Nazis had ever constructed."[3]
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« Reply #18 on: June 07, 2009, 12:07:57 am »



A fortification in northern France.
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« Reply #19 on: June 07, 2009, 12:08:41 am »



German bunker at Søndervig in Denmark.
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« Reply #20 on: June 07, 2009, 12:09:18 am »



German bunkers at Longues-sur-Mer in France.
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« Reply #21 on: June 07, 2009, 12:10:43 am »



Command post for the batteries at Longues-sur-Mer in France.
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« Reply #22 on: June 07, 2009, 12:11:21 am »

Atlantic Wall Fortresses

Many major ports and positions were made part of the Atlantic wall and received heavy fortifications, Hitler ordered them all to fight to the end [4] and some of them remained in German hands till the unconditional surrender of Axis Forces on May 8, 1945. Several of the port fortresses were resupplied by submarine after being surrounded by Allied forces. The defenders of these positions included Slavic soldiers and SS troops. [5]
Location    Commander    Garrison    Details of Battle    Surrender    Allied Use
Cherbourg    General von Schlieben    47,000 men in whole Cotentin Peninsula    Port wrecked by demolitions. Hitler refused to allow demolitions earlier in the year.    June 27, 1944 majority of strong points surrendered    Put back into use by Americans. Limited use by the middle of August
Saint-Malo/Dinard    Colonel von Aulock    12,000+ men including paratroopers and SS    Port wrecked by demolitions. 300 men on the fortified island of Cézembre held out till September 2, 1944. The island controlled the approaches to the port    August 17, 1944.    Out of use for whole campaign
Alderney    --       One of the most heavily defended fortresses on the Atlantic Wall    May 16, 1945    Surrendered a week after the official Nazi Surrender
Brest    General Ramcke    38,000+ men including the 2nd Parachute Division    Fighting began on August 25, 1944. Port was completely demolished    September 2, 1944    --
Lorient    General Junck    15,000    --    May 8, 1945    Not captured during the conflict
Quiberon Bay and Belle Island    General Fahrmbacher    25,000    --    --    --
St. Nazaire    General Junck    35,000    --    May 8, 1945    Not captured during the conflict
La Rochelle/La Pallice    Admiral Schirlitz    Naval Units, 158th Reserve Infantry Division    --    May 8, 1945    Not captured during the conflict
Le Havre    Colonel Wildermuth    14,000    Surrendered after 3 days of fighting    September 14, 1944    Put back into action in October 1944
Boulogne    General Heim    10,000    Fighting started on September 7, 1944    September 22, 1944    British opened the port again in October
Calais/Cap Gris-Nez    Lt Colonel Schroeder    9,000    Batteries at Cap Gris-Nez surrendered a few days earlier. Port heavily damaged    September 31, 1944    Returned to service late November 1944
Dunkirk    Admiral Friedrich Frisus    12,000 from the 18th Luftwaffe Ground Division    Port isolated on September 13, 1944    May 1945    --
Ostend    --    --    No resistance given, port not heavily damaged    --    --
Zeebrugge    General Eberding    14,000    Held as part of the Scheldt Fortress denying access to the Port of Antwerp. Fighting started in Early October 1944    November 1, 1944    --
Scheldt Fortress    General Daser    8,000    Defended South Beveland and Walcheren Island. Fighting started in late October 1944    November 6, 1944    --
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« Reply #23 on: June 07, 2009, 12:13:35 am »



Geschützrohr der II. Batterie in Hanstholm
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« Reply #24 on: June 07, 2009, 12:14:22 am »





Blockhaus de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, falaise de Fécamp, Normandie, France
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« Reply #25 on: June 07, 2009, 12:15:08 am »



Blockhaus de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, falaise de Fécamp, Normandie, France
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« Reply #26 on: June 07, 2009, 12:16:11 am »



Vestiges du mur de l'Atlantique
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« Reply #27 on: June 07, 2009, 12:17:03 am »



Vestiges du mur de l'Atlantique
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« Reply #28 on: June 07, 2009, 12:18:18 am »

Divisional Areas

    * 716th Infantry Division (Static) defended the Eastern end of the landing zones, including most of the British and Canadian beaches. This division, as well as the 709th, included Germans who were not considered fit for active duty on the Eastern Front, usually for medical reasons, and soldiers of various other nationalities (from conquered countries, often drafted by force) and former Soviet prisoners-of-war who had agreed to fight for the Germans rather than endure the harsh conditions of German POW camps (among them so called hiwis). These "volunteers" were concentrated in "Ost-Bataillonen" (East Battalions) that were of dubious loyalty.
    * 352nd Infantry Division was a well-trained and equipped formation defending the area between approximately Bayeux and Carentan, including Omaha beach. The division had been formed in November 1943 with the help of cadres from the disbanded 321st Division, which had been destroyed in the Soviet Union that same year. The 352nd had many troops who had seen action on the eastern front and on the 6th, had been carrying out anti-invasion exercises.
    * 91st Air Landing Division (Luftlande–air transported) (Generalmajor Wilhelm Falley), comprising the 1057th Infantry Regiment and 1058th Infantry Regiment. This was a regular infantry division, trained, and equipped to be transported by air (i.e. transportable artillery, few heavy support weapons) located in the interior of the Cotentin Peninsula, including the drop zones of the American parachute landings. The attached 6th Parachute Regiment (Oberstleutnant Friedrich August Freiherr von der Heydte) had been rebuilt as a part of the 2nd Parachute Division stationed in Brittany.
    * 709th Infantry Division (Static) (Generalleutnant Karl-Wilhelm von Schlieben), comprising the 729th Infantry Regiment, 739th Infantry Regiment (both with four battalions, but the 729th 4th and the 739th 1st and 4th being Ost, these two regiments had no regimental support companies either), and 919th Infantry Regiment. This coastal defense division protected the eastern, and northern (including Cherbourg) coast of the Cotentin Peninsula, including the Utah beach landing zone. Like the 716th, this division comprised a number of "Ost" units who were provided with German leadership to manage them.
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« Reply #29 on: June 07, 2009, 12:18:38 am »

Adjacent Divisional Areas

Other divisions occupied the areas around the landing zones, including:

    * 243rd Infantry Division (Static) (Generalleutnant Heinz Hellmich), comprising the 920th Infantry Regiment (two battalions), 921st Infantry Regiment, and 922nd Infantry Regiment. This coastal defense division protected the western coast of the Cotentin Peninsula.
    * 711th Infantry Division (Static), comprising the 731th Infantry Regiment, and 744th Infantry Regiment. This division defended the western part of the Pays de Caux.
    * 30th Mobile Brigade (Oberstleutnant Freiherr von und zu Aufsess), comprising three bicycle battalions.
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