In less than twelve months after World War II began the Axis powers in Europe had conquered the countries of Poland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France having only suffered defeat at the battle of Britain. After the Axis powers in Europe had declared war on the US their main objective was to prevent any United States military landings. Nevertheless, after much clandestine preparation, which consisted of searching for and preparing a landing site, gathering supplies, and training soldiers, the United States military was ready to launch their amphibious landing which is forever remembered as D-Day.
D-Day was an important turning point in World War II because of the successful outcome of the covert preparation for the amphibious landings, the victorious execution of the amphibious landings, and the fruition and culmination of the American victories that occurred as a result of the landings on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. On July,15, 1943 the COSSAC, Chief of Staff Supreme Allied Commander, presented his covert plan for “Overlord” to the British Chiefs of staff*1*.
This plan consisted of three parts: reconnaissance, the psychological conditioning of the enemy, and the physical conditioning of the chosen landing site. The first part of this covet plan was photo reconnaissance. This part of the plan consisted of photos of all most fifteen thousand miles of coastline which represented a large list of landing sites. Fortunately, photo reconnaissance had being going on for a year in advance so a majority of their time was not wasted on collecting this information*2*.
After collecting this large list of possible landing sites, they then had to limit the invasion to an area in which they would hold a significant military advantage over the enemy. So the decision was made to use the spitfire aircraft, which was the most numerous Allied aircraft fighter at the time of the landing preparations. The main reason that they chose the spitfire was because of the overall amount of spitfire aircraft that would be able to be used in the invasion.
They then used the spitfire’s gas tank range to futher reduce the list of landing selections so that the allies would be able maintain air superiority. Because of the spitfire’s gas tank range the allies were able to fly over to the landing site stay there for a few minutes to provide cover for the landing forces and then return safely to base to refill and go back again *3*. After using the spitfire to reduce the list of landing sites they then reviewed the weather forecasts for the few places that they were considering for the landings.
They also acquired and studied soil samples from the landing sites. A UDT/s frogman crawled ashore on to one of the beaches of Normandy and acquired a small bucket of sand for the army engineers to analyze to determine how well it would support tanks and other heavy vehicles*4*. They calculated the tides to determine the best time to land so that they would avoid a majority of the enemy beach defenses. They even went as far as to study the moon’s phases so that they could find when the tide would be at its highest point so they could avoid as much of the beach defenses as possible during the landing*5*.
Now the second part of the COSSAC’s covert plan went in to effect. This part of the plan consisted of the psychological conditioning of the enemy forces. This consisted of almost two times the amount of air raids in the north of Europe than the south aiming to convince the Germans that the landings would take place some where in north. Meanwhile, strategically placed air raids that were intended to cut off the Normandy Beachhead landing sites from any German military support were occurring*6*.
They had airplanes filled with “chaff “, a special type of material that was designed to reflected radar. This was used to simulate fake landings in Norway and northern France. The Allied forces sent fake radio messages as well, which they allowed the Germans to intercept to mislead them in pinpointing the exact location of the actual landing site*7*. Now the final step was put in to effect this third part incorporated the physical conditioning of the chosen landing site. This consisted of special demolition teams called,”UDT/s” or underwater demolitions teams.
These teams were to swim up to the beaches and set explosives on any defenses the Germans had placed in or under the water and then remove them from the landing parties path. On the Utah beachhead alone they cleared some seven-hundred yards of beach in two hours and another nine-hundred yards by the afternoon*8*. After a year of planning, covet preparation, and conditioning of both the enemy and the landing sites the Allies were ready to launch “Overlord”. On the night of June,5,1944 and the early morning of June,6,1944 the Allies launch “Overlord”*9*.
The first stage of “Overlord” was to land paratroopers inland to secure any roads and bridges that might lead to and from the landing sites. The first paratroopers to land were the British sixth Airborne Division. Their mission was two secure the bridges on the left flank west of the Dives river and they were also ordered to destroy a coastal battery and were to then wait until they were relieved. Even though they lost some men they completed both of their objectives*10*. The second part of “Overlord” was the five separate landings themselves.
The first landings on Utah,by the Americans, and on Sword, by the British, were overall successful in forming a defendable position from which more troops could land safely. The Sword beachhead had been given the objective of capturing the city of Caen but, they only were able to reach the outskirts of Caen because of German armor in the city*11*. The Utah landing parties moved inland and were able to hold off and secure scattered defense positions until they were able to link up with the other beachhead landing parties*12*.
They suffered very minor casualties that day, only two hundred and ninety-seven out off a total twenty-three thousand menBoth the Utah and Sword beachhead landing divisions were able to establish individual footholds on the Normandy shores*13*. While the landings on Omaha did not go as planned. Since the Omaha beachhead was mainly dominated by cliffs the Americans were pinned on the Beaches for hours while the Germans were able to pick them off one by one. They only made it off their beachhead thanks to a few brave individuals.
Sadly, they also suffered the highest casualties on that day, four thousand six hundred out of fifty-five thousand men*14*. Yet, even after the many casualties that were inflicted the Allies were able to push back the Germans’ main defense line. This allowed over one hundred fifty-five thousand men, one off the largest landing forces ever recorded, to land which enabling future battle plans*15*. This is why the execution of the D-Day landings was so crucial to the success of the allies future engagements.
Now that the Allies had landed successfully there were three important outcomes which occurred because of their landings. First, they were able to establish special makeshift harbors called, “Mulberries”. These special harbors enabled the buildup of supplies and men for protecting their currently fragile position as well as future fighting engagements*16*. The second outcome of the the allied landings on D-Day was the allies advancement through France.
It required many days but the allies were able to break through the German line and swept through the French country-side liberating one town after another*17*. This vast outbreak through the countryside let the allies recapture the city of Le Mans. Which would then lead to the closing of the Falaise pocket*18*. The Most well known outcome of the allies outbreak is of course the liberation of the great city of Paris, which occurred on the twenty-fifth of August in nineteen forty-four*19*. From these examples we can see why the D-Day landing played an important role in World War II .
D-Day was a large turning point of World War II because of the preparation of the amphibious assault landing, the successful execution of the amphibious assault landing, and the multiple outcomes of the landings on D-Day. The preparation of the landing chose the landing site and helped the allies prepare themselves for anything that might happen on the day of the landings. The successful execution of the planned landings let the allies prepare themselves for future battles. The multiple outcome of the landings lead to other victories But most of all D-Day was the beginning of the end of the German’s rise of power.