Tuesday, May 29, 2012

D-DAY

by Wanda Luce

In a strange contrast to my love of Medieval, Georgian, and Regency-era fictional romances, I have a profound love and respect for the true stories of those who have served in the armed forces and fought to defend their countries from those who would destroy their freedoms.  All my life I have had a strong, heartfelt appreciation for those who suffered so much to protect the rights of their fellow man.  The sacrifices and horrors of WWI and WWII have left a particularly keen mark on my soul.   


One of the greatest military maneuvers of all time began on the shores of Britain and extended to the shores of France and beyond, and I’d just like to share a brief description and a few pictures of D-Day, also known as Operation Overlord.   I fell in love with the book Band of Brothers by the acclaimed author, Stephen Ambrose, who told the true story of Easy Company of  the 101st Airborne.  I have supplied a YouTube link so you can watch a little clip. I cannot imagine anyone who would not be touched by it. I hope you will take a minute to watch.



Although it is the Americans who are portrayed, none of this would have been possible without the British; hence I still consider it a part of British history.  I am a Regency romance author who happens to have a passion for history. The following information is directly from the British National Archives (The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU. Tel: +44 (0) 20 8876 3444. Contact us)



Winston Churchill said that Operation Overlord was 'undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult' ever undertaken. With nearly three million troops involved, it was an incredible feat of organisation - and the first step towards the liberation of Western Europe and the defeat of Nazi Germany.


Planning the invasion

Thorough preparations began during 1943. A new planning staff was assembled, and General Eisenhower was appointed Supreme Commander of the operation.


Normandy was chosen for the landings because it was in range of fighter aircraft based in England and had open beaches that were not as well defended as those of the Pas de Calais. It also had a fairly large port (Cherbourg), and was opposite the main ports of southern England.


In the last few months before D-Day, the Allied air forces wrecked the railways and bridges of northern France and achieved the necessary weakening of German air force strength. Other preparations included the manufacture of equipment including transport ships, landing craft, amphibious tanks and artificial harbours.



Intelligence, deception and German preparations



The Allies enforced tight security to prevent the Germans learning the details of the invasion. The skilful use of intelligence and deception was also a key factor in the operation. An elaborate plan was implemented in order to convince the Germans that the invasion would be in the Pas de Calais. It worked: the Germans, faced with the need to defend coastlines stretching from Norway to south-west France, paid most attention to the Pas de Calais.

Crossing the channel

Overlord under way

 

Although D-Day was planned for 4/5 June 1944, bad weather caused a final delay of 24 hours. On 5 June, some 7,000 ships and other craft carrying assault troops left the invasion ports to arrive off the Normandy coast early next morning. Their target was the Bay of the Seine, from Cherbourg in the west to Le Havre in the east.


The naval force crossed the Channel largely undetected and relatively unscathed. German radar was put out of action by Allied bombing, jamming and decoys. Allied minesweepers cleared safe channels through the German minefields, and little opposition was met from the German naval forces (which were much weaker than those of the Allies).


In the meantime, Allied airborne troops had taken off from England and were the first to land in France, hours before dawn. The Americans landed inland from Utah beach to help secure the Cotentin Peninsula, while the British arrived east of them, at the mouths of the Caen Canal and the River Orne. Dummy parachutists were also dropped to confuse the Germans.


As the naval force approached the beaches, the coastal defences were bombarded by Allied ships and aircraft. This was important for the success of the landing, although not all the German guns were knocked out. Some landing craft were lost - either swamped by the waves or hit by German fire - and others stuck on beach obstacles (welded girders planted in the sand to impede progress).

I hope you will forgive the shortness of this tribute.  A special thank you to all those who have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice so much to bring freedom and peace to our world.

Wanda Luce, Regency Author
wandaluce.blogspot.com/

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for your post. My dad is a D-day Omaha Beach Veteran. He is still living at age 89.

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  2. Mine is 90 years old and also still blessedly alive. Dad served in the US Army Corps of Engineers and was stationed in England prior to D-Day. In the weeks leading up to the invasion, it was his job to put together the nightly aerial photos of the Normandy beaches and distribute them to the commanders.

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  3. What a wonderful tribute - and interesting as well. I didn't know a lot of this. I love learning new things, Wanda. Thanks!

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  4. The HBO Show Band of Brothers shows you what happen plus interviews the real People. It's amazing. Also the history on the British Royal Air Force is amazing, they did thing know thought they could in WW2.

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