In 2002 and 2003, we used our holidays to visit the Normandy battlefields. There are eight routes which are the most important and raise the most curiosity. So you will be able to follow how the Americans landed on the beaches of Normandy and fought along with Allied forces until August 1944 to liberate Normandy. The English and the Canadians also had their routes through the region.
Roosevelt, Churchill, De Gaulle and Giraud signed an agreement on 24 January 1943 to set up a landing on the northwest coasts of Europe in efforts to overthrow Nazi Germany.
Three plans are prepared:
- Starsky, a diversion in 1943
- Rankin, an attack which could be used at any moment if the German capacitance would collapse
- Overlord, the landing operation in May 1944
The choice for landing location falls on Normandy because of the circumstances; wind, easily connectable strand of land and less heavy maintenance. In December 1943, the chief of command of operation Overlord is entrusted to General Dwight Eisenhower.
There are three factors that determine the day of landing; a half heyday for the ships, an attack at first daylight and a full moon night for the air landing troops. This limits the options to but only a couple days per month. The date Eisenhower determined was Monday the 5th of June, 1944 with alternative arrangements for Tuesday the 6th or even Wednesday the 7th.
In America in 1943, 30,000 tanks and 86,000 airplanes had been fabricated. All which are transported by Liberty Ships to the United Kingdom. Also, each month 150,000 soldiers made their way across the Atlantic by steamer.
French and Belgian resistance had important information concerning the German materials, their proposition supplies and troop movements. In the early spring of 1944, all road and railway connections are systematically bombarded to isolate the North West part of France.
Since the French ports were too well defended, a plan is developed to moor artificial ports.
To fool the Germans, the Allies built an imaginary army with inflatable rubber jeeps and tanks under command of General George S. Patton. The Allies then cleverly leaked false information to the press. This diversion works very well and the invasion remained a secret.
On 4 June 1944, it is then to the point that 150,000 soldiers, 20,000 vehicles, 11,000 airplanes are lead by 7,000 ships for the invasion in Normandy. With raging storms in the area, the operation was postponed for 24 hours. Then, the Meteorological Office announced a break in the bad weather and with diminished winds all was calm for the morning of June 6th. The forecast looked favorable for up to 36 hours and finally, the invasion could proceed as planned.
D-day (Decision day) starts on the 6th of June shortly after midnight with the conquest of the bridges at Bénouville and Ranville along with the landing of the paratroopers in the Sainte-Mère-Eglise area. The landing operations start at 6:30 a.m. on American assigned beaches and around 7:30 a.m. on the English and Canadian assigned beaches. The landing operations continue throughout the day, sometimes easy like on Utah Beach and other times with heavy losses like suffered at Omaha Beach.