In 1943, Allied commanders began planning for a full-frontal attack on German coastal defenses of the Normandy region of France. Operation Bodyguard, a highly strategic and minutely planned deceptive prequel to the invasion was put into action to fool deceive the Germans who were aware an invasion was planned. This deception was broken down into several small staged plans of attacks, all bogus, designed to feed information to broadcasts fed to German airwaves.
As a result of incorrect prediction of bad weather by their meteorological office in Paris, many of the senior commanders of the Nazi force, despite knowing there was a possible invasion planned, took the chance that it would not take place during a storm and stood down for the weekend. The forces in the Normandy area were made up of a mainly conscript body recalled from the Eastern front and volunteers from Russia and other random areas. They were for the most part, understrength, with substandard inadequate equipment, and a distinct lack of transport.
The French Resistance forces were involved in the invasion, using their resources to sabotage rail networks and telegraph communications, and helping feed both misinformation and genuine transmissions, which were subsequently ignored by German interception as yet more misleading feed, they contributed to the complete isolation of Normandy, ready for the attack.
Operation Neptune, the beginning of the invasion proper was meticulously planned taking into account lunar cycles, tides and weather conditions. The Allied forces were to hit five points along a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coastline, code-named Juno, Omaha, Utah, Gold and Sword beaches.
Shortly after midnight on June 6th 1944, a pre-strike initiative involving heavy artillery bombardment from both Naval vessels and from the air, was followed by the deployment of 24000 airborne troops. At 6.30, amphibious craft carrying British, Canadian and American infantry and armoured divisions landed at the five key points and began their assault.
German defences were strong, and through the day the Allied forces struggled against many obstacles, barbed wire, cliffs at Omaha, mines and the German machine guns up on the beach heads. Many of the Allied forces made it to the German defences only to be engaged in hand to hand combat.
Despite heavy losses, around 10,000 Allied losses, including 4000 dead compared with around 1000 German troops, on the first day and the initial failure of certain objectives, the D-Day landings as they came to be known were the first strong foot-hold gained in what would eventually lead to the Allied victory.
But the invasion was just the beginning…….