Prostatahyperplasie operation overlord
WW2 land, sea and air forces of the Allied Nations planning, training and operating together as a unified force on amphibious raids and landings against the enemy.
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THE D-DAY LANDINGS
Operation Neptune, the largest amphibious invasion force in history, was the seaborne phase of Operation Overlord. On June 6th 1944, 4,000 landing craft, supported by 3,000 naval combat ships, ancillary craft and merchant vessels, transported 132,600 assault troops from the south coast of England to the Normandy beaches, together with thousands of tons of vehicles, tanks, supplies and ammunition.
Earlier, 23,400 paratroops were dropped behind enemy lines, 15,500 in the American sector and 7,900 in the British/Canadian sector. Their mission was to capture strategic bridges, road junctions and installations. Meanwhile, RAF and USAF bombers and fighters flew in support of the initial assault troops to soften up beach defences in advance of the landings and to destroy targets inland identified by Forward Observation Officers and the advancing troops.
Immediately after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour the Allies created the "Combined Chiefs of Staff" (CCS) comprising the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff and the British Chiefs of Staff. Their function was to assist and advise President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill on the direction and conduct of the war. The CCS confirmed a previous policy of "Germany first" and, from March 1942, their planning group began work on an outline plan for a full-scale invasion of occupied Europe. Initial hopes of mounting an invasion in 1943 proved unrealistic with limited human and material resources and the demands of already agreed commitments on other operations. The invasion was delayed until 1944 despite persistent agitation from Stalin to open a second front in the west to relieve pressure on his forces in the east.
The CCS planning group, with the lessons learned from the ill fated Dieppe raid in their minds, ruled out a frontal attack on a fortified port so determined to find safer landing sites. The requirements for a suitable landing site were for it to;
be within range of fighter aircraft based in southern England,
have at least one major port within easy reach,
have landing beaches suitable for prolonged support operations, with adequate exits and backed by a good road network,
have beach defences capable of being suppressed by naval bombardment and bombing.
The Normandy coast between Caen and Cherbourg met these requirements and they prepared a basic outline paper in support of this proposal which was approved by the CCS. In March 1943, Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Morgan was appointed Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander (COSSAC). His heavy responsibility was to prepare detailed plans for the largest amphibious invasion force in history. In doing so his plans would utilise the combined forces of the three mainstream services of the participating Allied nations. Morgan was an excellent choice having been involved as a task force commander in the 1942 invasion of North Africa and in the preliminary planning for the invasion of Sicily which was to take place in July 1943.
[Map courtesy of Google Map Data 2017].
The ultimate goal was to secure Germany’s unconditional surrender through the destruction of its armed forces if necessary. Morgan worked backwards from that outcome to determine what manpower and material resources would be required to complete the task. It was a complex task of monumental proportions which would produce detailed plans down to specific landing areas, at specific times, with specific orders for all involved. The overall invasion plan was given the codename "Overlord" with the amphibious phase codenamed "Neptune."
American General Dwight D Eisenhower was appointed Supreme Allied Commander in December 1943 and as his senior commanders took up their posts, the original plan was modified. The ground commander, during the initial assault phase and subsequent beachhead build up, was British General Bernard Montgomery. He increased the extent of the landing beach spread from around 25 miles to 50 miles and increased the size of the initial assault from 3 to 5 divisions, together with an additional 2 American airborne divisions and 1 British airborne division of paratroops. Their primary task was to seize vital bridges and crossroad strong-points at each extremities of the invasion area to protect the eastern and western flanks from counterattack during the initial landings.
The assault force itself was divided into an American western task force landing on two beaches and a British and Canadian eastern task force landing on three beach areas in the eastern section. Commando and US Ranger forces, as part of the initial assault, were to neutralize specific coastal strong-points thought to be too difficult for regular infantry to tackle successfully.
On D Day, each of the 5 assault forces was to secure their respective beachheads and to progress inland. On D+1 the separate beachheads were to combine into one continuous front. During D+2 to D+9 they should form a secure staging area to accommodate the substantial follow up forces and their supplies and equipment.
The plan then envisaged a breakout towards Paris and the Rhine but the senior Allied commanders knew a crucial race against the Germans would come into play. To succeed in this, the Allies‘ build up of their forces in the beachhead area, would need to be faster than the Germans‘ build up of forces to mount an effective counter attack. To impede the movement of German men, supplies and armour, road and rail communications across the north of France were bombed intensively prior to the landings but over a wider area than necessary to prevent the enemy from identifying the landing beaches.
Lessons learned on previous raids and landings were incorporated into the overall plan on D-Day, including extensive bomber, fighter and naval bombardment support and improved radio communications at all levels. Novel techniques and equipment were adopted to overcome enemy beach obstacles while under enemy fire on heavily defended open beaches. These were most likely used on the British and Canadian beaches, where specialized armoured units led the attack. Former Major General, Percy Hobart, an eccentric lateral thinker, was personally selected by Churchill to modernize Britain’s tank program. He developed so called "Hobart’s Funnies" which included the "flail tank", whose rotating drum and chains cleared paths through mine fields, while other adaptations were designed to clear tank obstacles and pill boxes and to lay down pathways to aid movement of heavy wheeled vehicles over soft sand.
There was no guarantee that a working harbour would fall into Allied hands since they were heavily defended and would be destroyed in the event of a determined attack. Although supplies could be landed on the beaches, a fully functioning harbour would provide relatively safe and secure docking facilities less susceptible to the vagaries of tide and weather. Many thousands of tons of supplies and equipment needed to be landed each day during the build up period. One planner suggested that the invasion force should "take a harbour over with them" an idea Churchill had considered during WW1. Twenty thousand workers laboured for eight months to construct an ingenious solution to the challenge which became known as "Mulberry Harbours". They were installed in both American and British sectors.
There were a number of disparate factors that determined the date of invasion given that it would take place just after dawn. Amongst these, were Rommel’s extensive beach obstacles, which would become visible and thereby more easily destroyed by engineers during a low or rising tide. Those being dropped behind enemy lines the night before the landings required sufficient moonlight for the airborne forces (parachutes and gliders) to find their predetermined targets. These and other factors restricted the periods of opportunity in June to the 5th, 6th, 7th or 19 th .
"It is my unshakeable decision to make this front impregnable against every enemy" declared Hitler in a speech he delivered in December 1941 when he boasted, to the world, that Germany controlled the entire west coast of Europe from the Arctic Ocean to the Bay of Biscay. His impregnable defences included some 15,000 strong-points which were to be manned by 300,000 troops.
Construction of the obstacles officially started in early 1942. For 2 years, a quarter of a million, mainly slave labourers, worked night and day. They used more than a million tons of steel and poured over 20 million cubic yards of concrete. The heaviest concentration of defence works was along the narrowest part of the English Channel between the Netherlands and Le Havre in Normandy.
It was no secret that the Allies were building up to an invasion, although the location and timing were beyond ‚top secret‘ and known only to a select few. In November 1943, Hitler appointed Field Marshall Rommel, initially to the position of Inspector of Coastal Defences and later to the command of Army Group B, which occupied the channel coastal defences. He moved to France in December 1943 and immediately set about further improvements to the defences. He planned an impassable zone, initially100 meters deep, along the whole channel coast, which would be extended to a kilometre by deploying 200 million mines. He dramatically accelerated the rate of construction and, by May 11 th, over half a million mines had been laid along the channel foreshore and on likely glider and parachute landing zones behind the beaches. Additionally, some areas immediately behind the beaches, were deliberately inundated with water to further inhibit movement off the beaches and to contain the Allies.
I n November 1943, in anticipation of an amphibious invasion in the west, Hitler issued Fuhrer Order 51 . Meantime, Rommel planned to stop and contain the invading force on the beaches, since the Allies air supremacy would inhibit the daytime movement of his troops and tanks once battle was joined; a lesson he learned to his cost in North Africa.
As part of this strategy, he planned to locate enough Panzer (Armoured) divisions, sufficiently close by, to counter attack and overrun the beachheads before they became established. From May onwards the Germans braced themselves for an attack and were puzzled when the relatively mild weather of May passed by without incident. They took the opportunity to complete more beach obstacles. Rommel was now sure that his improved "Atlantic Wall" would hold the enemy on the beaches and believed the Allies would attack on a high tide at dawn. These two conditions coincided for a few days around the middle of June.
Rommel didn’t know that General Eisenhower had set the invasion date for June 5 th. However, in the event, bad weather caused a postponement of 24 hours. It was an unwelcome delay for the combat ready force and even more so for those onboard ships recalled while at sea. On June 6th the armada of over 5,000 vessels set off. It comprised minesweepers, heavy battleships, troop carriers, landing craft of many types, HQ ships and Fighter Direction Tenders to provide extended radar and communications cover off the Normandy beaches .
The Airborne Forces
Hours before daylight, over 1000 bombers dropped their payloads on German coastal defences to soften them up prior to the arrival of the initial assault troops. Additionally, over 800 planes dropped paratroops or towed gliders to pre-determined locations behind enemy lines. To add to the confusion and alarm other bombers parachuted hundreds of dummies all over Normandy.
Shortly after midnight, the American 101 st and 82 nd airborne divisions parachuted into their prescribed landing zones at the base of the Cotentin peninsula to the west of the invasion area. Some planes deviated from their final approach because of cloud and flak with unfortunate consequences. Many paratroopers, who landed in areas deliberately inundated by the enemy, drowned but despite these losses these elite troops secured their main objectives and held on grimly – their link up with the main sea-borne landings was only hours away.
The British 6 th airborne division of paratroopers and a special task force in gliders, simultaneously landed in the east side of the invasion area. The glider task force quickly captured the key bridges on the Orne River and Caen Canal. After a fierce fight, a substantially under strength paratrooper force subdued the Merville battery, which was a threat to the approaching Allied invasion fleet. The vanguard airborne troops landings were considered a heartening success.
The 7,000 ships and craft of the invasion fleet arrived off the beaches before dawn. Despite a slight improvement in the weather, gusty winds churned up five to six foot waves in the English Channel and most of the 132,000 seaborne assault troops suffered from seasickness.
[Photo left – LCT Flotillas in Southampton prior to departure for Normandy].
Stan Grayland (photo below right) recalls. f or four days our Landing Craft Flack, ( LCF 30), numbered because such small ships were not permitted names, sat tied to a buoy off Whale Island, the Royal Navy Gunnery School at Portsmouth, on the South Coast of England. LCF 30 was sealed, meaning no one could leave the craft and was readied for what everyone knew was inevitable. the invasion of France, considered to be the beginning of the end of World War 2. D-DAY.
It was Monday June 5th 1944 and our craft, together with some 4000 other forms of shipping with thousands of fully trained men lifted themselves, took up their stations and, with a last wave to onlookers on the shore, headed slowly out into the English Channel to assemble on the southern side of the Isle of Wight. In the early evening, with high winds and rough seas, the journey to France was about to begin.
Large passenger vessels crammed with troops, minesweepers, escort ships scurrying about, large warships and landing craft took up their p1aces ready to move off and the men entrusted with the initial assault looked, thought and wondered where they would be tomorrow. Barrage balloons floated above at the end of steel ropes to deter low flying aircraft from attacking the invasion force. They were blown from side to side in the strong winds and the men watched the choppy seas and knew it would be a very uncomfortable trip ending with disembarkation onto heavily defended enemy held beaches. Sadly the journey for some would end all too soon.
"Action Stations" for the men of LCF 30 required the manning of small Pom-Pom and Oerlikon anti aircraft guns throughout the night, not knowing what the morning would bring. For most of those 18 and 19 year olds, this was to be their first big adventure. Hundreds of planes flew overhead, some to drop bombs on the beach defences, some to slow down the deployment of enemy reinforcements and some troop carrying planes towing gliders packed full of troops with the task of landing silently to capture strategic positions before the main assault force had landed.
At sea the invading armada kept steadily on, no lights were visible. "Maintain your station" was the order, a very difficult thing to achieve with flat bottomed craft with no hull. Collisions at sea at this crucial time would be disastrous and could not be allowed to happen. During the night, the coast of France came into view. Along the 80 kilometre of landing beaches, fires caused by bombing and shelling were visible. At this early stage there was no indication that the enemy knew we were coming.
Sometime around 6.30am, and still some 8 kilometres from the beach, the ships carrying the assault troops hove too. The assault landing craft, LCAs were lowered, mostly with men already in their allotted places and then, when all were in place, escorts like LCF30, turned to the beach and the dangerous journey began.
Two things remain vividly in my memory. The first were the Rocket ships that went in with us. They carried 1020 5 inch rockets and on each firing of say 30 rockets, at least 1 would misfire and after wobbling its way out of the launcher would land amongst the assault craft. My guess is there were more casualties on landing craft at sea caused by them than any enemy fire from the beach. And my second memory is of the sky being full of planes in the early evening, Stirling bombers towing gliders – the planes dropping supplies and the gliders landing men some 1 or 2 miles inland. Then, when darkness came, we took station in TROUT LINE, where we were able to watch the tracer bullets being exchanged between sides.
German coastal batteries started firing on the fleet at 5.30 am and the Allied naval bombardment countered at 6 a.m. The battleships and cruisers were about 6 miles off the beaches and the destroyers held off at about 4 miles. As the orange flames from their gun muzzles lit up the dawn, the thunderous noise of their bombardment rolled up and down the coast. The bombardment detonated some large minefields and knocked out a few defensive positions but the clouds of smoke and sand soon made the shore almost invisible. Many German strong points escaped serious damage.
The American western task force approached their landing beaches codenamed Utah and Omaha. The US 4 th division was scheduled to land on the westernmost beach (Utah) at the foot of the Cotentin peninsula. When about 300 yards off the beach, they fired smoke signals high in the air; the signal to end the coastal bombardment and to target enemy defensive positions further inland. At 6.31 am the first amphibious soldiers to land in France on D-Day walked off their landing craft into waist deep water and waded 100 yards to dry land. There was surprisingly little response from the German defenders. Many Germans had been killed and their guns destroyed by the preliminary bombardment and many survivors were too dazed to provide an effective response. The beach area was cleared inside 3 hours and some 23,000 men and 28 tanks landed. Casualties were less than 200.
T he next beach to the east, Omaha, was an entirely different matter. The US 1 st division ran into heavy artillery and machine gun fire as soon as the landing craft ramps were lowered. A lateral current along the shore had badly scattered the men and their units and in the confusion the exceptionally strong German fire took its heavy toll on the initial assault units. Many wounded men were drowned in the rising tide and the initial assault stalled at the waterline.
To compound the problems on Omaha, only around 58 of the 112 planned tanks reached the beach. A number of Sherman DD ’swimming‘ tanks disembarked into the sea too far out and floundered, leaving m any troops opposing the enemy’s beach strong-points with their personal weapons. Destroyers from the bombarding fleet moved in as close to the beach as they dared to provide some covering fire. The outcome was in doubt for the first 3 hours and only through improvisation and courageous personal leadership were the troops at last able to get off the beach and onto the heights beyond. By nightfall, some 34,000 men were ashore at a cost of 2,000 casualties. At this point the beachhead was only 2 miles deep.
Two US Ranger battalions scaled the 100-foot high cliffs at Point du Hoc, three miles west of Omaha Beach, to silence six 155mm German howitzers believed to be in the battery. These mobile guns had recently been moved one mile inland to new positions and by nightfall the Rangers had suffered 60% casualties in attacking the defending German troops and beating off their counterattacks. Despite these losses, the Rangers located the guns and put them out of action.
[Photo; Troops from 50th Division coming ashore from LSI(L)s – Landing Ship Infantry (Large). Gold area, 6 June 1944. IWM].
The 3 beaches to the east of the invasion area, codenamed respectively Gold, Juno and Sword, were the responsibility of the British Second Army’s Eastern task force. Their landings commenced around almost 7.30 am to accommodate the tidal conditions in that area and their plan to beach on a rising tide. On Gold beach, nearest to Omaha, the 50 th Division and the 8 th Armoured Brigade were scheduled to land with the tanks in the vanguard. Some initial assault units were pinned down by accurate German fire, while others overran the German defences within half an hour. Subsequent waves flanked the defenders and pushed inland. By nightfall they had advanced about 2.5 miles inland on a front of 3 miles. However, there remained a seven mile gap between them and Omaha.
The Canadian 3 rd Division landed on Juno beach and met stiff initial resistance. Due to choppy seas they were half an hour behind schedule leaving little time for the assault engineers to clear beach obstacles before the incoming tide covered them. The mined obstacles and German shell fire disabled or sunk around 90 of the 306 landing craft but the Canadians attacked furiously and refused to be stopped. Some sections of the landing beach were strongly defended, which delayed the advance until the afternoon, while other parts were quickly overrun, allowing the assault troops to move rapidly inland. By the end of the day, they had almost reached their final D-Day objectives and were astride the vital Caen/Bayeux highway. They manage to link up with British troops from Gold beach and by the end of the day their beachhead was 12 miles wide and 6 miles deep; but they were still 3 miles short of linking up with the British forces on their left – the Sword force.
Bill Newell a young Canadian Commando recalls;
It was an event beyond imagination. The magnitude of activity was such that one could not take it all in but yet could easily understand its purpose. The difficulty was in comprehending that I was part of it all.
After a year of extremely arduous navy commando training in the hills of Scotland, our small Canadian unit was expected to be conditioned and ready for most circumstances anticipated in such an operation. In relieving a British commando unit, we were not the first to hit the beach but that did not dissipate the feeling of apprehension, nor did it affect the sense of confidence earned by our training.
There were ships of all types and sizes, from battleships with 15 inch guns firing inland over the beach, destroyers and minesweepers sweeping in closer, smaller supply trawlers, and many different landing craft going in full and coming out empty. There were heavy-duty tugs manoeuvring huge sections of floating steel docks into position together with damaged and crippled ships to form a line of sunken breakwater. This would reduce the wave action on the beach.
Wreckage of landing craft and armoured vehicles were impediments to be avoided until conditions permitted their salvage. The water was cluttered with the debris of combat from enemy bombing, strafing and shelling. Precision night shelling of Juno by a 200mm railway gun at Le Havre continued for some time.
LST’s (Landing Ship Tank) beached, unloaded in a hurry and withdrew with the tides, if they hadn’t been hit with shell-fire or bombs. If they had to wait for the next tide, they were loaded with casualties on stretchers, including those of the enemy. The safest time for this was in the dark of night with no lights but the risk of accidents, with so much activity in the darkness, was high. I spent much of my time guiding in tank and assault landing craft, unloading Sherman and Churchill tanks, retrieving bodies floating in on high tides and generally doing what had to be done to help keep the operation moving.
Mobile casualty stations were quickly improvised along with emergency airfields, which soon became assembly lines, with DC3 and C147 aircraft landing, being loaded with twelve occupied stretchers and taking off for England. Having the opportunity to see the entire operation of the five invasion beaches from my stretcher in one of these evacuation aircraft was not of my choosing but the sight was truly breath taking.
On approaching the airfield in the Midlands of England, one could see hundreds of ambulances with red crosses on their roofs on the roads leading to the airfield. On being offloaded, each casualty was examined as to the need for emergency surgery, nationality and hospital assignment. A large hanger, its floor literally covered with stretchers, was being used for washing and feeding the patients by young nursing aids.
The next morning, I awoke in a large ward at No11 Commando Military Hospital and spent the next few days focusing on an unspeakable element of the true cost of this war. Medical teams were constantly working during the days and nights. The sounds in the ward were pathetic, with many of patients still in shock. The two patients in the beds next to mine were only eighteen, with one having his leg off above the knee and the other with both hands missing.
After being transferred to a convalescent hospital for a few days, I was posted back to my operational base on the Isle of Wight and from there to Portsmouth and back across the channel on an MTB to Normandy. During the two days it took me to find my unit, I operated tanks for an armoured unit behind Gold Beach. Things were now much less hectic in the beach areas and it was time for further changes. Sixty years is a long time but still not long enough to diminish my memories of the greatest invasion in history.
The British 3 rd Division on Sword beach met intense opposition. They fell behind schedule due to offshore reefs and tricky tidal currents giving the German defenders valuable time to recover from the earlier bombardment. Despite this, the British broke through the crust of the German defences in an hour but, by then, the resultant build up of landing craft waiting to unload their cargoes caused congestion and further delays on the beaches behind them. By early afternoon, they had expanded their beachhead and linked up with the 6 th Airborne Division holding their left flank. In late afternoon, they repulsed the only serious German counterattack against the beachheads, destroying 76 of the 21 st Panzer Division’s 145 tanks. However, they were stopped short of their vital D-Day objective of taking the port city of Caen.
By the end of the day, the Allied commanders assessed the landings were successful in achieving most of what had been planned. While the beachheads were not continuous, or as deep as planned, they had successfully broken through Rommel’s ‚Atlantic Wall.‘ They had expected 10,000 dead but in the event about 2,500 lost their lives. Total casualties, including killed, wounded, missing and prisoners amounted to around 12,000, comprising 6,500 Americans, 3,500 British, and 1,000 Canadian.
Considering that the invasion of Normandy involved the greatest amphibious invasion force in history, it’s not surprising that most accounts of D Day concern Naval Ships and the ubiquitous landing craft. US Army Lt. Carroll Turner was with the Third Platoon, Company A, 348 Engineers and his perspective on the invading force was seaward from Omaha Beach. His job was to offload supplies from Landing Craft Tank (LCTs), across the sand and into trucks for distribution to the troops.
In November of 1943, his Company moved to Swansea, England. Of this time, he had many happy memories and friendships, including a British family who appreciated the special significance of Thanksgiving to a soldier from the United States. He was invited to dinner in the course of which he produced some corn kernels his mother had sent from home. Despite severe shortages, frying fat was found and heated up and the kernels thrown in. The family were amazed when popcorn filled the pan as if from nowhere. something they’d never seen before! [Photo; Lt C Turner].
In the spring of 1944, the Company moved from Swansea to the New Forest on the south coast of England. The trees provided cover from the unwelcome attentions of enemy aircraft but it was very damp and cold. Out of 201 troops and 7 Officers only 32 reported for duty one day, the remainder being confined to barracks with colds and pneumonia.
By the end of May, Lt Turner’s Company were briefed on their role in the forthcoming invasion, although not the timing or location. Their job was to take supplies from beached landing craft and to transport them across the beach to waiting trucks. The impression was given that German resistance would be softened up by bombing and shelling and that it would be an easy walk ashore.
The men were issued with special invasion currency for France and Belgium before they went ashore. They boarded LSTs (Landing Ship Tanks), which were "loaded to the gunnels" with trucks and heavy equipment. The LSTs were capable of 10 mph but with ‚Rhino Ferries‘ in tow, this was reduced to 3 mph. The Rhino Ferries were constructed of 4′ x 4′ x 6′ welded steel plates with a diesel engine to the rear. Each had an operator and carried around 28 vehicles.
[Photo; Loaded Rhino ferry going ashore.© IWM (A 24186)].
In the early morning of June 6 th, the Battleship USS Texas fired on the German positions with her 14-inch guns. Each shell cost $10,000, a huge sum of money in 1944, which brought home to Lt. Turner the great significance of the events that were about to unfold.
As dawn broke, the troops descended rope ladders down the side of their LSTs into LCVPs (Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel), which would take them on to the landing beaches. The rough sea and swell made the transfer difficult with 40 lb packs on their backs. Lt Turner’s platoon was to land at Omaha Easy Red beach. Their LCVPs and DUKWS (an amphibian wheeled vehicle) patrolled up and down the landing beach but could not find a suitable place to land. The water was full of bodies and debris and despite early reassurance to the contrary, enemy machine gun fire was heavy. Before the beach was declared safe for off loading, dead bodies were removed up the hill to where the cemetery is now located. 620 bodies were moved that day, which had a profound and lasting effect on the men concerned.
The Infantry and regular troops landed on D-Day + 1. An interesting insight into the enemy’s use of conscripted men from Eastern Europe and Russia was provided when the frightened faces of men and boys confronted them when a bunker door was opened. They had no desire to fight and just wanted to be taken prisoner, have a meal and a place to sleep. They had little allegiance to the German Army.
With 2 bulldozers, 2 cranes and dump trucks at the ready, the platoon was set up and ready for action. The LSTs unloaded their supplies into cargo nets which were picked up by the cranes and lifted into dump trucks. Early loads included barbed wire, TNT and mines. That night, German 88 mm shells landed close by but failed to hit their target. Another early load comprised 4 tons of beef, which warranted an extra guard on duty.
Since Lt. Turner was a Junior Officer, he was on night duty from 6 pm to 6 am. Difficult though it was, with noisy activity all around, he slept as best he could during the day.
[Photo; Omaha Beach in June 1944].
The work of unloading between 650 to 800 tons of materials for each of the 6 Battalions was hard, requiring the cranes and dump trucks to operate 24/7. Between June 7 th and August 31 st , 300 LSTs, some LCTs and ‘dumb barges" were unloaded. In mid June, stormy weather, lasting several days, interrupted the supply chain, when LSTs were unable to cross the Channel. By the time the storm broke, ammunition and food was in short supply.
The objective was to unload and, where appropriate, load the landing craft on the same tide but this was not always possible causing some vessels to be beached high and dry until the next tide. Usually 3 to 6 LSTs would be unloaded at a time.
Several weeks after D-Day, enough dunnage (rough lumber used to stabilize shipments) to build a mess hall had been gathered. The Troops appreciated eating at a table instead of individual K-Rations. Lt. Turner, himself, acquired enough wood from containers to build an ‚office‘ with space for his paperwork and a couple of beds. Some of his troops used stone walls around field boundaries as the sides of makeshift shelters by throwing a tarpaulin over them. The area at the base of the walls provided enough space and cover for the men to rest and sleep regardless of the weather.
Over the succeeding weeks and months the beach was well established and supplies flowed more smoothly through them and the Mulberry Harbours. As the Allies advanced, useable harbours also became available, so for Lt Turner and his men on the beaches, their important work was largely done. He and his platoon were then assigned to march toward Germany. but that’s another story well outside the remit of this website
Operation Overlord was an Allied landing in France that was scheduled for June in 1944. The operation had many commanders but the overall commander was General Dwight Eisenhower. Operation Overlord is not only notable for the significance it would have in World War II but also use it was an operation that required the kind of logistics that were unprecedented before it.
The element of surprise was essential for the operation to succeed, keeping it top secret was a challenge however because of the many parties that participated in the landings, beside the Americans there were also British troops and members of the French resistance present at operation Overlord.
Operation Overlord Commanders
Dwight Eisenhower (Supreme Allied Commander)
Senior U.S. officers watching operations from the bridge of USS Augusta (CA-31), off Normandy, 8 June 1944. They are (from left to right): Rear Admiral Alan G. Kirk, USN, Commander Western Naval Task Force; Lieutenant General Omar N. Bradley, U.S. Army, Commanding General, U.S. First Army; Rear Admiral Arthur D. Struble, USN, (with binoculars) Chief of Staff for RAdm. Kirk; and Major General Hugh Keen, U.S. Army.
Arthur Tedder (Deputy Supreme Allied Commander)
Bernard Montgomery (Ground Forces Commander in Chief)
Trafford Leigh-Mallory (Air Commander in Chief)
Bertram Ramsay (Naval Commander in Chief)
Gerd von Rundstedt (Oberbefehlshaber West)
Erwin Rommel (Heeresgruppe B)
Operation Overlord Losses
209,875 – 450,000 casualties
13,632–19,890 French civilians killed or injured
Operation Overlord Map
Operation Overlord Map
Operation Overlord Training and Preparation Video
Operation Overlord Summary
The decision to land on Normandy was a risky one but the beaches weren’t very well suited for landing that much equipment and that many troops. One of the earlier attacks that predated Operation Overlord was named COSSAC which stood for Combined Anglo-American plan. The plan was the use of airborne bridges to protect the landings and this plan was ultimate added to Operation Overlord was Montgomery. He wanted that the five beaches of Normandy are attacked by the land and sea forces while air forces served as support.
Eisenhower supported Montgomery’s plan as well and Operation Overlord was more or less how Montgomery wanted it, the only difference was that Montgomery wanted to land five divisions while Eisenhower wanted to have a lot more men, he wanted to have at least 18 initial divisions with a contingency for more later on.
This operation was like no other in history because of the massive amount of equipment and troops involved, one of the most important parts of the operation was keeping it top secret because the main idea of the operation was to catch the Germans off guard, but if the Germans got wind of Operation Overlord it could turn out disastrous. What the Allies did was present Pays de Calais as the main target so Germans don’t expect a full out attack on Normandy.
The operation required so much equipment and logistics that it was a logistical nightmare, over 100,000 troops and more than 13,000 vehicles. The operation even included a man-made harbor that would make it easier to land both troops and equipment. Overlord ultimately had around 3,000,000 men in 47 divisions that were transported with 6000 ships and were protected by over 5000 fighter planes.
Invasion of Normandy Video
Operation Overlord Conclusions
The success of operation Overlord shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s familiar with how much military planning was done.
Troops in an LCVP landing craft approaching „Omaha“ Beach on „D-Day“, 6 June 1944. Note helmet netting; faint „No Smoking“ sign on the LCVP’s ramp; and M1903 rifles and M1 carbines carried by some of these men.
This operation was planned out so well that it would have been surprising if it failed especially if one takes into account the state of the German military at the time. The training of the Allied troops was a testament to how well prepared the operation was, the troops to be were trained with live ammunition on terrain that closely resembled the place of invasion. They were trained how to properly operate in teams and use teamwork to their advantage even in getting rid of obstacles like enemy gun placement and trenches. Special units were trained in taking out special targets such as close range artillery.
Napoleon famously said „an army marches on its stomach“ in modern times supplies are the equivalent of what food was in Napoleon’s time. For the supplies during Operation Overlord two artificial harbors were created and were to serve as the primary location for unloading the supplies from ships to the shore until the port was available. Unfortunately a violent storm destroyed one of the harbors and severely damaged the other so it was decided to unload the supplies directly on the beech which all in all proved to be much more efficient than anybody thought.
Even though Operation Overlord was the first part of what would go down in history as The Invasion of Normandy or the Battle of Normandy, as many people don’t know it’s name. It is significant because it would be the first part of an operation that would turn the tide in the war against Germany for good. Most people remember the day that contributed to the ending of the way, D-Day which was in fact the first day of the Invasion of Normandy.
D-Day timeline: Operaton Overlord
“The tremendous thing there was that there was no firing at all. We had complete surprise. We had caught old Jerry with his pants down.”
- May 26, 2014
FILE – In this June 6, 1944 file picture, some of the first assault troops to hit the Normandy, France beachhead take cover behind enemy obstacles to fire on German forces as others follow the first tanks plunging through the water towards the German-held shore during World War II. (AP Photo)$RETURN$$RETURN$
- ASSOCIATED PRESS
American soldiers and supplies arrive on the shore of the French coast of German-occupied Normandy during the Allied D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944 in World War II. (AP Photo)
- ASSOCIATED PRESS
Men of the American assault troops of the 16th Infantry Regiment, injured while storming a coastal area code-named Omaha Beach during the Allied invasion of the Normandy, wait by the chalk cliffs at Collville-sur-Mer for evacuation to a field hospital for further treatment, June 6, 1944. (AP Photo)$RETURN$$RETURN$
- ASSOCIATED PRESS
The planning and logistics behind Operation Overlord, the code name for the invasion of Normandy, were unparalleled in history: landing vast amounts of troops and equipment by the end of D-Day. And then there was the fighting. The battles were the most intense — and the casualties the highest — at Omaha Beach (led by the Americans) and Juno Beach (led by the Canadians). The Battle of Normandy began June 6, 1944, and continued until the end of August 1944.
How events unfolded on June 6, 1944, with comments made in previous years by veterans who were part of D-Day:
Three gliders land just 30 meters from Pegasus Bridge. Commandos capture the bridge. “The tremendous thing there was that there was no firing at all. We had complete surprise. We had caught old Jerry with his pants down.” — Maj. John Howard
The Café Gondreé by Pegasus Bridge is the first building to be liberated in France. Allied troops were given champagne by its owner.
First airborne troops begin to land. American paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne make jumps at the western end of the beaches. Because of cloud cover, a number miss their targets and casualties are high. “Everything was quiet until we hit the coast. Everything broke loose. It went from midnight to daylight.” — Ed Mauser of Omaha, a member of the 101st Airborne Division
First Navy hands ordered to man battle stations. Landing craft begin to be lowered into the water; paratroopers cut phone lines and knock down telephone poles. “The landing craft was rolling in every possible direction. The sea-sickness pills had failed.” — Eric Broadhead, who was headed for Gold Beach with the Durham Light Infantry
First bombers take off to attack targets around the beachhead.
Gliders begin to reinforce paratroopers. “They got the hell blowed out of them.” — Omahan John “Jack” Fox, after German reinforcements moved forward at about dawn to meet the Allied invasion. Fox and 17 other paratroopers drifted to earth just behind Omaha Beach, between the Germans defending it and reinforcements three miles inland. Fox and his group planted their explosives everywhere they could, especially on curves in the road, and hid.
German radar detects Allied invasion fleet. German Adm. Theodor Krancke orders shore batteries to prepare for invasion.
German E-boat flotillas (dubbed Enemy boats, or E-boats, by the Allies, they were fast-moving torpedo boats) and two armed trawlers get underway.
St. Merè-Eglise is the first French town to be liberated. “(American) paratroopers began jumping out by the hundreds. . I will never forget the sight.” — Resident Raymond Paris
Sunrise. Bombers drop first bombs on German targets. “As we reached Omaha Beach, all 40 aircraft dropped their bombs. More than 100 tons of bombs exploded in a few seconds. This was the only mission over Europe when I felt the concussion of our own bombs.” — Henry Tarca, on a B-17 with the 8th Air Force
German shore batteries open fire; Allied naval forces return fire. “The Germans were shooting the (anti-aircraft guns) at us. You’d see the flashes, and in about 10 seconds the sky would explode and some planes would get hit.” — Leo Tomasiewicz of Omaha, who was with the 9th Air Force, 455th Bomb Squadron
E-boats fire torpedoes at Allied destroyers.
Landing craft launch their tanks. “The sight going over was one of the thrills of my lifetime.” — B-17 pilot Lee Seeman of Omaha, recalling the view from his cockpit of the Allied armada in the English Channel
Allied landing craft approach the beach. “Oh, I was scared on D-Day. I thought if I could wiggle underneath that paint on the deck, I’d get underneath there. But that paint was awful thin.” — Floyd “Marvin” Hood of Grand Island, a sailor on a destroyer escort that was about 3,000 yards from the shore while landing craft took men and equipment ashore
H-Hour on Utah, Omaha Beaches; LCT 535 lands the first tanks on Omaha; 116th and 16th Infantry land at Omaha; Higgins boats near the beach; 8th Infantry Regiment lands at Utah Beach. “Our bombing and shelling had not been as effective as expected. There was still a lot of fire coming down from the German strong points above the beach.” — Paul Melville McCollum of Omaha
“Even before the landing craft got to the beach, there was complete confusion. The impression was that somebody screwed this up — this isn’t how it was supposed to be.” — Roger McCarthy of the 149th Combat Engineers, who was among those in the first wave
“During the first hour on the beach, while enduring the intense enemy action and viewing carnage and havoc in all directions to seaward, I had the feeling, which I am sure was shared by many others, that this was our last day on earth alive.” — Herbert Nolda of Ravenna, a Coast Guard boatswain’s mate
USS Corry forced to abandon ship because of heavy gunfire and mine damage.
Rangers assault Point-du-Hoc; 70th Tank Battalion begins to land at Utah.
H-Hour for Sword Beach; British 3rd Division begins to land.
British UDT (underwater demolition team) and Royal Engineers land at Gold Beach, followed by infantry from the 50th Division.
3rd Canadian Division lands at Juno Beach. “The German machine gunners in the dunes were stupified to see a tank emerge from the sea. Some ran away or just stared, mouths wide open.” — Sgt. Leo Gariepy
More landing craft land armor at Omaha.
2nd Ranger Battalion soldiers take Point-du-Hoc and defend it for the rest of the day.
Destroyers engage the enemy at Omaha under orders of U.S. Adm. C.F. Bryant; 18th Infantry goes ashore at Omaha.
115th Infantry lands at Omaha.
12th Infantry lands at Utah.
Utah fairly secure, reserve battalions coming ashore.
18th Infantry begins to land at Omaha.
101st and 4th Divisions link up on Utah securing the first exit from the beach.
Troops at Omaha begin to secure the beach. “If I would have known what was in store, I would have run the other way. We lost so many men that day.” — Ervin Cramer
Elements of the 3rd Canadian Division, North Nova Scotia Highlanders reach five kilometers inland. 1st Hussar tanks cross the Caen-Bayeux railway 15 kilometers inland. Canadian Scottish link up with the 50th Division at Creully.
1st Division commander, General Clarence R. Huebner, sets up command post on Omaha.