Four Years of World War II

Topics: Operation Overlord, Normandy Landings, Airborne forces Pages: 8 (2893 words) Published: June 9, 2002
Operation Overlord

By 1944 World War II had lasted nearly four and a half years. The entire war now depended on the success or failure of an invasion of France. The first three years of the war had almost entirely been a chain of Nazi victories. They had succeeded in crushing Poland and forcing France to surrender. Hitler's attempts at capturing England were halted by the RAF, Royal Air Force. After the devastating Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hitler declared war on the United States and forced Italy to follow.

By November of 1942 Hitler began to pay for his string of mistakes. In Egypt his favorite General, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, had been defeated at The Alamein by the British Eighth Army, after being trapped between two armies. Hitler, fearing he would be captured, ordered him back. The fighting in Russia had been so severe and deadly that Marshal Stalin was demanding an allied landing in France, so as to force Hitler to move his troops from Stalin's divisions in the East. The line of trust between Stalin and the allies was thin, but fearing Russia would leave the was, the United States and Britain send Canadian soldiers and British commandos to raid France's Port of Dieppe. Nearly five-thousand troops were either dead, wounded or captured by the alert German forces, it had been a disaster.

Britain and the United States were butting heads on whether to invade Europe at the earliest possible opportunity. Britain argued that a failure of not capturing a strong hold on a beachhead could set them back two years. In August of 1943, Roosevelt and Churchill met in Quebec, Canada and the invasion was approved. The plan included the landing of allied troops on different beaches, and also the battles that would follow, on the quest for Berlin. The shortest route would be Dover to Calais, but that would be a place where Germany would expect an invasion and would be heavily guarded. Now all eyes were pointing towards Normandy. The distance was almost twice that of Dover to Calais.

The final review of Operation Overlord was held on May 15,1944 at the St. Paul's school in West London. The plan had taken nearly two years to plan. Attending the review was everyone who had a role in the plan. Some in attendance were King George VI, Winston Churchill, General Dwight Eisenhower and General Bernard Montgomery. Many of the British commanders in attendance had served in the first World War and were weary of sending mass amounts of troops into a battle where the enemy may be laying and waiting for them.

The plan was complicated, precise and heavily relied on the element of surprise. Timing and coordination were of great importance, a failure at one of the hundred points could send the whole balanced plan in to chaos. The first assault wave would have eight division, close to 80,000 men. Three of the eight divisions, 1 of Britain and two of the United States, would be airborne paratroopers and glider troops that would be dropped at night. The other five divisions would be Infantry divisions and would land on five beaches at the crack of dawn. After the ‘Atlantic Wall' had been broken by the first assault and a stable beachhead was obtained, more than thirty-nine divisions would rapidly pour in.

Capturing a strong hold of a beachhead was crucial to the success of the invasion. The beachhead would need to be able to hold back the inevitable counterattack of strong German forces. A port would have to be seized to be able to supply necessary supplies for land invasion. A strategic drop was to be made at the Contentin Peninsula of Normandy because its North was Cherbourg a major harbor. Unless this mission was successful, supplies would have to be shipped through open invasion beaches subject to attacks by guns, planes and "buzz bombs."

British Admiral Sir Bertram would be responsible for five-thousand ships that would carry the assault troops across the channel, bombard the enemy defenses threatening the beaches,...
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