Operations[edit source | editbeta]
The Allied invasion was detailed in several overlapping operational plans. According to the D-Day Museum: "The armed forces used code names to refer to the planning and execution of specific military operations. Operation Overlord was the codename for the Allied invasion of northwest Europe. The assault phase of Operation Overlord was known as Operation Neptune. Operation Neptune began on D-Day (6 June 1944) and ended on 30 June 1944. By this time, the Allies had established a firm foothold in Normandy. Operation Overlord also began on D-Day, and continued until Allied forces crossed the River Seine on 19 August 1944." Just prior to the invasion, General Eisenhower transmitted a now-historic message to all members of the Allied Expeditionary Force. It read, in part, "You are about to embark upon the great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months." In his pocket was a statement, never used, to be read out in case the invasion failed. Deception plans[edit source | editbeta]
Under the high-level plan Operation Bodyguard, the Allies had instituted a comprehensive and complex series of deceptions which led to the landings achieving strategic and tactical surprise. One of the key successes of these operations was Operation Fortitude South which convinced Hitler that the Allies' plan was for their main attack to be across the Strait of Dover by the fictitious First United States Army Group to be led by George S. Patton and that the Normandy landings were a diversionary tactic. The fiction was maintained after the Normandy landings to the effect that Hitler, still believing an attack was imminent across the straits, was unwilling, until it was too late, to reinforce his troops in Normandy with forces placed to defend the Pas de Calais. Particularly relevant to the Normandy landings was the use of heavy bombers in Operations Glimmer and Taxable which flew in highly precise patterns over the Straits of Dover, to drop radar-reflecting aluminium strips ("window", now known as chaff), to create a picture on German radar of an invasion fleet moving across the straits simultaneously with the arrival of the invasion fleet in Normandy. Weather[edit source | editbeta]
Only 10 days each month were suitable for launching the operation: a day near the full moon was needed both for illumination during the hours of darkness and to take advantage of the spring tides, the former to illuminate navigational landmarks for the crews of aircraft, gliders and landing craft, the latter to provide the deepest possible water to help in navigating over defensive obstacles placed by the German forces in the surf on the seaward approaches to the beaches. A full moon occurred on 6 June (Tuesday). Allied Expeditionary Force Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower had tentatively selected 5 June (Monday) as the date for the assault. The weather was fine during most of May, but deteriorated in early June. On 4 June (Sunday), conditions were clearly unsuitable for a landing; wind and high seas would make it impossible to launch landing craft from larger ships at sea, and low clouds would prevent aircraft finding their targets. The Allied troop convoys already at sea were forced to take shelter in bays and inlets on the south coast of Britain for the night. It seemed possible that everything would have to be cancelled and the troops returned to their embarkation camps (which would be almost impossible, as the enormous movement of follow-up formations into them was already proceeding). The next full moon period would be nearly a month away. At a vital meeting on 5 June, Eisenhower's chief meteorologist (Group Captain J.M. Stagg) forecast a brief improvement for 6 June. Commander of all land forces for the invasion General Bernard Montgomery and Eisenhower's Chief of Staff General Walter Bedell Smith wished to proceed with the invasion. Commander of the Allied Air Forces Air Chief Marshal Leigh...
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