Sunday, June 06, 2010
Operation Overlord, June 6, 1944
Today we remember the most famous of all "D-Days", the Allied invasion of France, also known as Operation Overlord. In the planning in one form or another since the Allies retreated from Dunkirk in 1940, this D-Day amassed the largest invasion force in history. The Nazis knew that an invasion was imminent, although they did not know where or when it might begin. The Allies used this to their advantage in order to preserve what edge they might have from the element of surprise. For many months leading up to June 1944, misinformation was systematically fed to the Germans in an effort to convince them that the invasion would come at Calais. This strategy helped keep the German focus on areas other than Normandy, ensuring that the Allies would have a chance to gain a foothold in France before the Nazis could mobilize sufficiently to launch an effective counterattack.
Prior to the landing of the troops on the beaches, 24,000 paratroopers were dropped behind German lines in France. Then the first of the more than 6000 ships arrived, and the first troops attempted to land on Omaha beach, wading through the water into relentless machine gun fire. Of all the beaches, Omaha was the most heavily fortified, and American casualties ran high...most of the 5000 killed there were killed in the first hours of the battle.
The invasion of Normandy was the beginning of the end for the Nazis, as the Allies pushed steadily toward Germany. Less than a year later, the war in Europe was finally over.