On June 6, 1944, the Allied forces in World War I launched an attack on the beaches of Normandy. The aim of this attack was to free mainland Europe from occupation by Nazi Germany.
Codenamed Operation Overlord, the D-day assault was the largest amphibious operation in the history. It included above 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces.
In addition, nearly 200,000 naval personnel participated on the Allied side. The German defense forces in Normandy were believed to be comparatively weaker. They were also in range of fighter aircrafts based in Britain. The D-Day assault ultimately paved the way for the success of the Allies in World War I.
The planning that led to D-Day had begun as early 1940 with the Dunkirk evacuation. Churchill realized that in order to expel Hitler from France, an invasion of ‘Fortress Europe’ was needed and he ordered planning to this end with due speed.
After a lot of options, Normandy was finally chosen as the venue for D-day assault. The final decision of choosing Normandy was taken at the Quadrant conference in Quebec which was attended by Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt.
Unlike the other parts of the northern French coastline, the German defenses along this particular stretch of coastline were far less impressive.
A large number of American, British and Canadian leaders and generals were involved in the planning of D-Day. U.S President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill were central characters in the planning of the big day.
They spent months debating the feasibility of such a risky mission. Another important figure was Dwight D. Eisenhower who was the Supreme commander of all the Allied forces involved in Operation Overlord.
A shrewd deception dubbed ‘Operation Fortitude’ was planned during World War II. It convinced the German military command that the Allies intended to land at Pas de Calais.
To create this deception, the Allies deliberately let the Germans get hold of false secret information by using spies and double agents. Dummy military units were also created using elaborate measures such as inflatable airplanes and fake troop movements.
D-day was considered to be the riskiest, boldest and most anticipated operation of World War II. In order to succeed, the Allied commanders required detailed information about the coastal landing sites of French coast and the surrounding areas.
British and American reconnaissance flights focused on the main invasion area. The aerial photography combined along with French resistance reports, spying, code breaking and other intelligence sources directed an exceptionally complex plan that enabled the successful execution of a massive invasion.