D-Day/Battle of Normandy

Topics: Normandy Landings, Operation Overlord, Airborne forces Pages: 12 (4950 words) Published: November 13, 2007
An Overview In the years since 1945, it has become increasingly evident that the Grand Alliance forged between the British Commonwealth and the United States was often beset with disagreement over the correct strategy to insure the final defeat of the Axis powers. Early on, both British and American staffs could agree that Germany represented a greater military threat than Japan, but they did not often see eye to eye on the strategy that would most efficiently defeat the Reich. The Americans were early and persistent advocates of a direct strategy - a cross-Channel attack that would first destroy German military power in the West, then drive deep into the heart of industrial Germany to end the war. The British, on the other hand, sobered by their disastrous experiences at Dunkirk and Dieppe, preferred to stage a number of small-scale attacks around the perimeter of fortress Europe. They thereby hoped to weaken German defenses before leaping precipitously across the Channel into the teeth of the still powerful Wehrmacht. The British simply could not afford the staggering losses entailed in a frontal assault on the northwest coast of Europe. "Memories of the Somme and Passchendaele," wrote Sir Winston Churchill years later, "were not to be blotted out by time or reflection." British Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Morgan, Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander (COSSAC), put it more bluntly in his memoirs: "Certain British authorities instinctively recoiled from the whole affair, as well they might, for fear of the butcher bill." It is not surprising, then, that the harder the Americans pressed in 1942 and 1943 for a firm commitment on a cross-Channel attack, the more the British seemed to vacillate. After a debate lasting through much of 1942, the Americans agreed to postpone any cross-Channel attack in favor of the November landings in North Africa-Operation Torch. The strategic outcome of Torch was what American Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall had predicted. Success in Tunisia-the first the Allies had experienced against the Wehrmacht-inspired Churchill and his Chief of the Imperial Staff, Field Marshal Alan Brooke, to devise a Mediterranean strategy aimed at knocking Italy out of the war and at protecting British sea-lanes to the oil-rich Middle East. The July 1943 invasion of Sicily was followed by the landings at Salerno and Anzio, the collapse of Mussolini's government, and the beginning of the bitter and protracted fight up the Italian peninsula. Thus it was not until the Teheran Conference in November 1943 that the British, prodded by the Russians, reluctantly agreed to launch a cross-Channel attack, code-named Operation Overlord, in May of 1944 and to allow President Franklin D. Roosevelt to name a commander for the operation. Although both Marshall and Brooke coveted the appointment, had even been promised it, both were passed over. Instead, all concurred in the selection of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, then commanding United States forces in Europe. On 14 January 1944, Eisenhower, now titled Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force, arrived in London to begin work on the final invasion plan. Months before Eisenhower's appointment as Supreme Commander, General Morgan and his COSSAC staff had produced a preliminary plan for the seaborne invasion of Europe. Constrained by the range of fighters based in southern England and by the availability of suitable landing beaches, COSSAC planners' options narrowed quickly to the Pas-de-Calais area and a section of the Calvados coast on either side of the Norman town of Arromanches-les-Bains. The Pas-de-Calais beaches, attractive because of their closeness to England and the shortness of the lines of advance to the German border, were rejected because of their limited number, their remoteness from a major port, and their highly developed defenses. Normandy, almost by default, became the designated "lodgment area." COSSAC planners proposed to land...
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