We are going to have peace of mind, even if we must fight for it”- General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The shortest way home is through Berlin and Tokyo. And once we get to Berlin, I am personally going to shoot that paper hanging son-of-a-bitch Hitler. General George S. Patton (just before the Normandy Invasion) June 5th 1944
In the summertime in 1944, Hitler’s Wehrmacht (armed forces) nevertheless were still very much in command of each of the lands the Germans had fought over and won during their Blitzkrieg campaign of 1941- 1943. The majority of the whole regionl of Europe was still in the stranglehold of Hitler’s clutches, and the allies were in a desperate place to somehow loosen his grip on Europe by any means necessary. A year earlier that summer of 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower was commissioned by Franklin Roosevelt to think of a grand military plan to invade the European stronghold that the German army were holding loyal to. The first proposal for the invasion was called”Operation Roundup”, and then changed to”Operation Sledgehammer” a few months later. The invasion was put on hold until May of 1944 through the insistence of Joseph Stalin and FDR against the protestations of Winston Churchill who desired to proceed with Eisenhower’s strategy in August of 1943. The turning point that finally changed Churchill’s mind was the agreement that Stalin would assist the allies by mounting an offensive against Hitler in eastern Europe in the exact same time that the US Army and Marines invaded Normandy, which might help deliver a deadly two prong attack against Germany’s military.
On June 1st of 1944, the brand new campaign title for the invasion of Normandy has been changed for the final time. Operation Overlord. Was the new title for what could become the largest sea borne invasion that the world had ever seen, with over 3 million allied troops taking action against the Germans and more than 6900 sea vessels bringing the allied troops into the sandy beach at Normandy. In the late hours of June 5th, massive air strikes and bombardments began waking up all the sleeping French citizens and German troops stationed near Omaha Beach. A French woman who lived in a chateau overlooking the beach gives us a very descriptive first-hand account of what happened that night. “We are deafened by the airplanes, making a never-ending round, very low; of course what I believed were German planes are quite simply English ones, protecting the landing. Coming from the sea, a compact artificial cloud; its menacing and begins to become alarming; the first hiss over our minds. I feel cold.”
A complete two-thirds of the first bombardments were dropped outside the actual invasion area to convince the German army the sea landings would be made in the neighborhood of the Seine, as opposed to at Omaha Beach. Due to decoded messages that the allies were able to obtain from a cadre of American spies, the US Army knew where the Germans would attempt any counterattack measures against the invasion. During that same night of June 5th, 822 aircraft carrying hundreds of parachuted military personnel began dropping off the soldiers for their designated landing zones near Normandy. The American 82nd and 101st airborne divisions did the best possible job possible and secured their objectives of taking out German machine gun turrets and blowing 75 military tanks and vehicles behind enemy lines.
The full-scale invasion began in earnest at 6:30 AM on June 6th, when the more than 11,000 boats and ships came near shore and the greater than 80000 troops started swarming from their landing vehicles to begin the fiery attack on the German forces waiting to reign down machine gun fire on the American soldiers. The Germans were lurking in their hiding places from the embankments in the rocky mountains of Normandy overlooking the beach front. As the troops waded ashore at Omaha beach, the Germans let loose with Hell’s fury, cutting down almost two-thirds of the brave soldiers that were first to arrive. The 352nd division of the German army struck the US 1st division with complete wrath, taking the lives of over 2,000 American GI’s. The American campaign was in trouble in this horrible stage of the invasion, and the US military intelligence required to think of a counter plan shortly, or the entire mission will be in shambles.
If Hitler had begun to unleash his armored division of Panzer tanks against the allies for a full counter attack on that dreadful morning of June 6th, Operation Overload would really have been a complete failure. But because Hitler was reluctant to take a bet and dispatch the hundreds of tanks and other military armored vehicles to carry out the allied forces, he waited too late to make the most of their allies misfortunes on Omaha beach. By the time it took HItler to finally start sending his Panzer division into Normandy, the American military had created a new strategy of attack employing the British forces to invade the region of the strongest German stronghold at Périers-sur-le-Dan near the primary battle lines behind the Normandy beach front.
The French woman that had witnessed the initial air strikes against the Germans, also witnessed the British tanks rolling in from the southeast to attack the German Panzer division at Périers-sur-le-Dan. She describes the English invasion and the British soldiers in particular with terrific clarity. “The English tanks are silhouetted from time to time on the street above Periers. Grand impassioned exchanges on the road with the people from the farm; we’re all stupefied by the suddenness of events. I inform him that he should still have comrades at the guns, because we could still listen to the battery firing. You feel that these two men are lost, disorientated, gloomy. Later, nearly night, I see them again, their faces deliberately blackened with charcoal, crossing the playground. What will be their fate? How many of them are still in the area, hiding and watching?”
The British antitank gunners took out the largest German tank divisions, which resulted in paralyzing any counter attack the Germans could instigate against the allies. So by the night of June 6th, leading to the early morning hours of June 7th, the allies were enjoying a military victory that proved they were more than ready to beat the Germans back to their homeland and take back Europe for its allies.
During the constant battles which were taking place between June 8th and June 13th. The allies had destroyed nearly 1500 German aircraft and armored tanks and taken more than 7500 German lives. But on June 13th,at a little village area called Villers-Bocage, the British armored division lost more than 40 British tanks and endured 200 casualties against a well-equipped German tank division. A large-scale infantry offensive west of Caen, called Operation Epsom, was also defeated on June 25-29, which cast a massive shadow of doubt on the final success of Operation Overlord. The only expect the allies had at the time was the fact that the largest German military leaders had begun to fall victim to a sudden collection of fatalities involving suicides and bombing attempts on many members of their high command.
The complete disarray of German’s military leadership resulted in huge mistakes in Germany’s counterattacks against American troops in Saint-Lô, where 1500 American soldiers laid waste to Hitler’s tank and anti-aircraft branches. The American forces could surround and attack all the German soldiers and armored vehicles, thus laying ground for the ultimate allied strategy that would ultimately force the Germans to head back to their homeland.
By the last remaining days of July, the majority of the German’s tank divisions were made to head westward from the British tank strategy called Operation Goodwood. The allied forces used the absence of German tanks to open up a massive wound in the German’s entire military offensive. Operation Cobra as it was called, would open up a devastating air strike on the front line of the German army on the afternoon hours of July 25th. The US Army took advantage of the gaping hole in the German front line, and Eisenhower got his Army troops together and sped like a demon toward the French region of Avranches, where they blasted hell out of each the remaining German troops.General George Patton’s newly formed third Army joined in the progress. A massive American spearhead now threatened to drive into Brittany and, by a left turn, to encircle the Germans in Normandy from the rear.
That effort cause the last retreat of the Germans, and the American troops would cross the Seine River and finally liberate Paris during the month of August. The classic”Battle of the Bulge” are the last great battle of WWII, causing the Germans to surrender to the Allies in 1945.
The Normandy invasion was the primary plan of attack against the German war machine that signaled the last end to Hitler’s domination of Europe. Without the bravery and courage of each the military branches of the allied forces, Hitler’s devastation of the planet would have continued for many more years, and taken countless lives in the process.
“I have returned several times to honor the valiant men who died. . .every guy who set foot on Omaha Beach was a hero.” Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, Commander of the US First Army at the Normandy Invasion