The Planning of "Operation Overlord"

 

The United States President, Franklin D Roosevelt, had been waiting to form an operation in order to gain back France from the German's in WWII. Since 1942 the US had been pressing the British for an attack and the need for one became imminent as the Battle of Stalingrad ensued in late 1942. Joseph Stalin, the leader of Soviet Russia, needed the rest of the Allies to create another front in the west of Europe to relieve his own army because the battle was costly for Russia. The same type two-front war had happened in WWI and caused the defeat of Germany. The theory for a two-front war was that Germany would not be able to keep its army intact on two fronts. In June 1943 it became clear that German U-Bats were no longer a big threat to the Allies. This meant the ocean was now safe for the flow of supplies and equipment from the US to Britain. And finally this gave Britain the confidence in November 1943 to agree with the plan of an immense operation to cross the English Channel and liberate France.


The United States chose US Army general Dwight D Eisenhower to lead the invasion. The Allied ground forces commander was British General Bernard Montgomery. Together the two planned an attack by the code name Operation Overlord.

“The broad outline of the attack was relatively simple: find suitable beaches, gather landing force, isolate the battlefield by attacking bridges, tunnels, and rail networks so that German defenders could not be easily reinforced, and land the troops. Once a beachhead was established, the plan was to pour in the supplies needed to sustain an offensive and then break out into the French countryside.” - "D-Day" Invasion," Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2005. http://encarta.msn.com Copyrighted 1997-2005 Microsoft Corperation. All Rights Reserved.

However the amphibious attack would not be as simple as it is stated. The success of D-day not only needed the things listed above, but Allied air and naval superiority and German troops not congregating in one area. That is why the Allies needed to setup a hoax in order to make sure the Germans had no idea where or when the operation would take place.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower and General Bernard Montgomery

 

D-Day was planned to begin with Paratroopers dropping into France by moonlight, the late evening or early morning before the invasion. Their goal was to take over the bridges and roads that the Germans to move the battlefields once the invasion began. The rest of the troops would land on 5 beaches. The British Army would land in the east on the code-named beaches Sword and Gold. The Canadians would invade Juno beach. Omaha and Utah beach would be invaded by the American Army.

“America’s forces included the 1st, 4th, and 29th Infantry Divisions, and the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. The British sent their 3rd and 50th Infantry Divisions and the 6th Airborne Divisions, while Canada used their 3rd Infantry Division.” - "D-Day Invasion," Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2005. http://encarta.msn.com Copyrighted 1997-2005 Microsoft Corperation. All Rights Reserved.

The Allies needed to be sure of the geographical information of Normandy; where the Nazis were, landmines, etc. They sent "frogmen" to get sand samples from the beaches that were patrolled by German sentries. French Patriots gave "anti-tank ditch around strong point" or "hedgehog 30 to 40 feet apart" map notations.

"French laborers conscripted by Nazis paced distances between obstacles or kept trakc of German troop movements. A house painter, hired to redecorate German headquarters in Caen, stole a blueprint of Atlantic Wall fortifications. French Resistance networks passed on precious bits of information, particularly the condition of bridges and canal locks. Wireless telegraph operators transmitted in bursts to evade German radio-detection teams." - "Untold Stories of D-Day." National Geographic.

Also, the French Resistance used pigeons to fly information to the Allies. Some of the pigeons were shot down, however most made the trip to the Allies.


Operation Overlord is most famously known as D-day, however it is not the only operation known as D-day. D-Day is a reference to Day-Day because the exact day was not known therefore it was represented by the letter D. The weather, tides, and moonlight conditions were the main decision makers on when the operation would take place. Tides were important since the invasion was amphibious. It was necessary for it to be low tide because it would give the Allies the advantage of seeing where mines and other obstacles were located. The risk with low tide was the larger amount of land the Infantries would have to cross. The operation had been previously scheduled for May 1, 1944. Because the date was fast approaching, the US wanted to practice the operation and on April 27th 1944 Exercise Tiger occurred. However by that date the Allies still did not have enough landing crafts to proceed. The operation was pushed back until June 5th of the same year.


Dwight D. Eisenhower on June 5th made a speech to the troops to boost their moral and to help them realize just how important their jobs were.
He said,

“Soldiers, sailors, and airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon the greatest crusade toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you.” - "Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme Allied Commander." The History Channel.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower Talking to Troops

 

General George Patton also made his famous D-day speech on June 5th, 1944. He spoke to the soldiers in a way that motivated them.

“You are not all going to die. Only two percent of you here today will die in a major battle. Death must not be feared. Every man is frightened at first in battle. If he says he isn’t, he’s a goddamn liar. Some men are cowards, yes! But they fight just the same, or get the hell shamed out of them watching men who do fight whoa are just as scared. The real hero is the man who fights even though he is scared. Some men get over their fright in a minute under fire, some take an hour. For some it takes days. But the real man never lets the fear of death overpower his honor, his sense of duty to this country and his innate manhood.” He also said, “There is one great thing you men will all be able to say when you go home. You may thank God for it. Thank God, that at least, thirty years from now, when you are sitting around the fireside with your grandson on your knees, and he asks you what you did in the Great War, you won’t have to cough and say, and ‘I shoveled shit in Louisiana.’ No, Sir, you can look him straight in the eye and say, ‘Son, your Granddaddy rode with the Great Third Army and a Son-of-a-Goddamned-Bitch named George Patton!” - "General George Patton's Famous D-Day Speech."

These words that made the soldiers not only think about the honor they will carry in the future but what a great sacrifice they are making for their country is immeasurable.


However, when June 5th was close it was obvious that the weather was terrible. Europe was having an awful storm. The Allies watched the weather closely seeing a break in the bad weather on June 6th 1944.

"The Germans were unaware of this break; all they saw was the bad weather hitting the shores of Normandy. This ignorance was fatal to the Germans, and the Allies were able to land in almost total surprise.” - "Modern British History - The Greatest Deception of all Time: Britain, Ultra, and D-Day." Joseph Sramek.

 

Main Page

B- The Allies' Hoax

C- Landing in Normandy

D- The Effects of D-Day

E- Works Cited

F- Photo Gallery