D-Day was the beginning of the end of Hitler’s Europe. It started long before the actual invasion when spies and intelligence groups began trying to persuade Hitler that the invasion was coming somewhere else at a different time. Months were spent using known German spies in the UK, feeding them false information and a little useless truth mixed in for good measure, that they then reported back to Germany.
Long believed the Allied forces best General, George S. Patton, was given command of the 1st US Army, which did not really exist. Rubber tanks and trucks were made to look real from the air to confirm the lies being fed to the German spies.
Then, on the day planned to launch the attack, the weather turned bad and the attacked had to be postponed. For a while, it looked like the invasion might have to wait for as long as another month giving the Germans a chance to discover the real plans for invasion. But one day presented itself as a possibility, June 6th, and Eisenhower, the supreme commander, decided to chance it. The target was Normandy and close to 5,000 ships set sail during some very rough seas.
First in, were the men and women of the French Resistance already on the ground. Their job was to blow up bridges, railroad tracks, and hamper any movement towards the beaches. Next came the Airborne forces from Canada, Britain, Free France, and the US. They were dropped behind the front lines to hold key cross roads, take out artillery and cause confusion. They did their jobs well.
At dawn, the German sentries got to see what they were up against. Over 160,000 soldiers in an armada the likes of which had never been seen before. There were six beaches to be taken. Pointe Du Hoc was to be taken by the 2nd Ranger battalion, US.
It was their job to go up the side of some very sheer cliffs and take artillery positions believe to be there. They scaled the cliffs only to find the guns had been removed. They did find them later, a short distance from where they were believed to be and destroyed them.
Free French and British troops tackled Sword Beach.
Gold Beach fell to British Assault.
Juno was taken by the Canadians.
Utah and Omaha Beaches fell to the Americans after some heavy fighting.
By the end of the day, all the beaches had been taken and Hitler’s wall had fallen. Had the Germans called up their full troops the entire invasion could have failed, but Hitler, still not believing this was the real assault held them back. There were over 10,000 casualties to allied troops on June 6th, some 4,414 confirmed deaths.
How to celebrate: Just remember the day that so many sacrificed for. Read a book about the landings. Watch “Saving Private Ryan” – which many who were there said the movie was a little too real for them.