DDay The Invasion Of Normandy Essay Research

D-Day: The Invasion Of Normandy Essay, Research Paper

When on D-Day-June 6, 1944-Allied armies landed in Normandy on

the northwestern coast of France, possibly the one most critical event

of World War II unfolded; for upon the outcome of the invasion hung

the fate of Europe. If the invasion failed, the United States might

turn its full attention to the enemy in the Pacific-Japan-leaving

Britain alone, with most of its resources spent in mounting the

invasion. That would enable Nazi Germany to muster all its strength

against the Soviet Union. By the time American forces returned to

Europe-if indeed, they ever returned-Germany might be master of the

entire continent.

Although fewer Allied ground troops went ashore on D-Day than

on the first day of the earlier invasion of Sicily, the invasion of

Normandy was in total history’s greatest amphibious operation,

involving on the first day 5,000 ships, the largest armada ever

assembled; 11,000 aircraft (following months of preliminary

bombardment); and approximately 154,000 British, Canadian and

American soldiers, including 23,000 arriving by parachute and glider.

The invasion also involved a long-range deception plan on a scale the

world had never before seen and the clandestine operations of tens of

thousands of Allied resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied countries of

western Europe.

American General Dwight D. Eisenhower was named supreme

commander for the allies in Europe. British General, Sir Frederick

Morgan, established a combined American-British headquarters known as

COSSAC, for Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander. COSSAC

developed a number of plans for the Allies, most notable was that of

Operation Overlord, a full scale invasion of France across the English


Eisenhower felt that COSSAC’s plan was a sound operation.

After reviewing the disastrous hit-and-run raid in 1942 in Dieppe,

planners decided that the strength of German defenses required not a

number of separate assaults by relatively small units but an immense

concentration of power in a single main landing. The invasion site

would have to be close to at least one major port and airbase to allow

for efficient supply lines. Possible sites included among others, the

Pas de Calais across the Strait of Dover, and the beaches of Cotentin.

It was decided by the Allies that the beaches of Cotentin would be the

landing site for Operation Overlord.

In my opinion, the primary reason that the invasion worked was

deception. Deception to mislead the Germans as to the time and place

of the invasion. To accomplish this, the British already had a plan

known as Jael, which involved whispering campaigns in diplomatic posts

around the world and various distractions to keep German eyes focused

anywhere but on the coast of northwestern France. An important point

to the deception was Ultra, code name for intelligence obtained from

intercepts of German radio traffic. This was made possible by the

British early in the war having broken the code of the standard German

radio enciphering machine, the Enigma. Through Ultra the Allied high

command knew what the Germans expected the Allies to do and thus could

plant information either to reinforce an existing false view or to

feed information through German agents, most of it false but enough of

it true-and thus sometimes involving sacrifice of Allied troops,

agents or resistance forces in occupied countries-to maintain the

credibility of the German agents.

Six days before the targeted date of June 5, troops boarded

ships, transports, aircraft all along the southern and southwestern

coasts of England. All was ready for one of history’s most dramatic

and momentous events. One important question was left unanswered

though: what did the Germans know?

Under Operation Fortitude, a fictitious American force-the 1st

Army Group-assembled just across the Channel from the Pas de Calais.

Dummy troops, false radio traffic, dummy landing craft in the bay of

the Thames river, huge but unoccupied camps, dummy tanks-all

contributed to the deception. Although the Allied commanders could not

know it until their troops were ashore, their deception had been

remarkably successful. As time for the invasion neared, the German’s

focus of the deception had shifted from the regions of the Balkans

and Norway to the Pas de Calais. The concentration of Allied troops

was so great, that an invasion of France seemed inevitable. Bombing

attacks, sabotage by the French Resistance and false messages from

compromised German agents all focused on the Pas de Calais with only

minimal attention to Normandy. Also, German intelligence thought that

the Allies had 90 divisions ready for the invasion (really only 39),

so that even after the invasion of Normandy, the belief could still

exist that Normandy was just a preliminary measure and the main

invasion of the Pas de Calais was still to come. None of the German

high command in France doubted that the invasion would strike the Pas

de Calais. The F? hrer himself, Adolf Hitler, had an intuition that

the invasion would come to Normandy but was unable to incite his

commanders to make more than minimal reinforcement there.

Due to weather complications, the first step in the invasion

began a day late, on June 6 around 12:15 am. An air attack on

Normandy. The Germans saw the airborne assault as nothing more than a

raid or at most a diversionary attack. As the airborne landings

continued, Field Marshal von Rundstedt nevertheless decided that even

if the assault was a diversionary attack, it had to be defeated.

Around 4:00 am, he ordered two panzer divisions to prepare for counter

attack, but when he reported what he had done to the high command in

Germany, word came back to halt the divisions pending approval from

Hitler. That would be a long time coming, for Hitler’s staff was

reluctant to disturb the F?hrer’s sleep.

For the following 12 hours, Allied forces landed on five

beaches defeating with minimal casualties, the German defenses. It was

4 pm on D-Day before Hitler at last approved the deployment of the two

panzer divisions. Allied deception had been remarkably effective and

because Hitler had been sleeping and was then slow to carry out any

action, German power which could have spelled defeat for the invasion

had been withheld. The rest of the armoured reserve in France-five

divisions-and the 19 divisions of the massive Fifteenth Army in the

Pas de Calais, stood idle feeling that the main invasion was still to


The next day, after word reached Hitler that German troops had

found copies of U.S. operation orders indicating that the landing in

Normandy constituted the main invasion, he ordered the panzer reserve

into action, but Allied intelligence was ready for such an emergency.

Through Ultra the Allied command learned of Hitler’s orders, and

through a compromised German agent known as Brutus, it sent a word

that the American corps orders were a plant. The main invasion, Brutus

reported, was still to come in the Pas de Calais. Hitler canceled his


Had Allied commanders known of the near-bankruptcy of troops

on the German side, they would have had more cause for encouragement.

The Seventh Army (German defense of Normandy) had thrown into the

battle every major unit available. The commander of the Seventh Army

was reluctant to commit any forces from the West (Brittany) to the

invasion, fearful of a second Allied landing. Meanwhile, most German

officials-their eyes blurred by Allied deception-continued to believe

that a bigger landing was still to come in the Pas de Calais.

In my opinion, the primary reason that the invasion worked was

deception. D-Day was a tremendous achievement for British, Canadian

and American fighting men, but it also owed an immeasurable debt to

Ultra and to the deception that Ultra made possible.


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