The Day the Tide Was Turned – D-Day 1944

 In History, Military

Today is the anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1944 – the Day that Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, France. It was a day of tremendous bloodshed, and overwhelming victory all rolled into one.

d day

US military photo

Hitler’s mistake

Hitler snored through the first few hours of the landing, (slept until noon), content to believe that if Allied forces landed in one place, it was probably a ruse so they could land somewhere else. And besides, he strongly believed his army was superior to the Allies.

Historians have said that because Hitler was  prone to temper tantrums (sometimes fatal for the person who made him angry), no one wanted to wake him up to tell him that a massive Allied force had landed early that morning.

When they did wake him, he wasn’t his usual ballistic self. He assumed that the weather would be enough to deter Allied armies.

Earlier that morning, Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt had to request that two panzer divisions be released to the battle that was raging at Normandy.  But by the time Hitler allowed the request, it was at lunch time and too late to make a difference.

The divisions had to wait until night fall to move the 120 miles to Normandy  because Allied airplanes “ruled the skies.” Had they arrived sooner? We will never know.

panzer-tank

The point of the spear

By the time the Germans began a major counteroffensive, the Allies had already moved inland and begun to connect up to other units.

The Christian Science Monitor wrote:

“By day’s end 156,000 Allied troops had already landed in France. Six days later all beachhead sectors were connected and the Allies controlled an area about 15 miles deep at its thickest point. Two weeks later 650,000 American and British troops were in France, the point of a spear aimed at Berlin.”

Costly battles

Accurate casualty figures for the D-Day battles are continually being researched, and the numbers always change.  There are 9,387 US military members buried at the cemetery at St. Laurent, France. Other cemeteries are scattered through the region.

The main operation was code named “Overlord” which referred to the Allied invasion of Northwestern Europe. It began on June 6, and ended on August 16, 1944 after Allied Forces crossed the Seine river.  The landings at specific beaches was called “Operation Neptune.” Operation Neptune began on June 6, 1944 and ended on June 30, 1944 as allied armies established a firm hold in Normandy. The “Battle of Normandy” refers to the period from June 6 to the end of August, 1944.

The Omaha beach battle was by far the most costly in terms of the casualties of Allied forces, because Rommel fiercely defended German positions.

The Greatest Generation

The reason you and I aren’t speaking German is because of the men who were willing to die on the beaches of Normandy, France on D-Day. They fought for something higher than themselves- America. They fought for freedom, for their families, for all of us. Though Hitler’s mistakes and sheer arrogance helped tremendously, we know that Allied Forces had Right on their side.  We should remember and never forget their sacrifice.

 

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