As Supreme Expeditionary Forces Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower had the top military men of Great Britain and the United States under his command. These men would help him play out the great plans for the long awaited invasion. Their orders from the Combined Chiefs of Staff were very simple; they were to land on the coast of France and destroy the German armies.
The Nazis General Field Marshal Erwin Rommel took many different measures to prepare for the attacks by the Allies. He was the only General under Hitler’s command that believed Normandy not Pas Del Calais would be the invading point (Skipper 42). His troops worked feverishly to strengthen defenses. The entire coastline was littered with land mines. Their beaches had deadly obstacles and their weapons and bases were camouflaged. They felt that on shore they were invincible.
By early 1944 almost one million Allied soldiers arrived in the United Kingdom. That brought their total there to almost three million. The Allied airforce strength had grown from a few thousand planes to more than 15,000 planes. The 5,000 bombers were ready to drop over 100,000 bombs. All the available space in Britain was used for storage.
Newly thoughts up ideas were in the makings to be used at Normandy. One idea was to create artificial harbors on the coasts of Normandy. They would use heavy machinery to break German obstacles and destroy mines. These new ideas would be very useful in aiding Allied troops.
The men themselves were trained under conditions that would be similar to the ones they would soon be fighting at. These exercises were different from the ones they had known in the US. Troops continually worked at operating as a whole with other infantries. In some cases the men were even toughened up by having sessions of hand to hand combat. Paratroopers were also mentally and physically toughened up for their missions. The thirteen thousand plus men were said to be the greatest up to that time.
The heavy air attacks on the Germans coal railroads began in April of 1944 nearly two months before the actual invasion. These attacks were the first steps in the disruption of the Nazis communication centers. The three days that the Allies thought would be best for the invasion were the 5th, 6th, and 7th of June. If the weather did not meet their standard they would have to postpone the invasion. They believed that if they had to postpone the invasion that the consequences would be terrible.
On June 1st and 2nd the troops left their camps and headed straight for the Forts of embarkation. They were transferred under heavy surveillance of the military police. The day before the scheduled attack the weather turned terribly bad. General Eisenhower soon decided that the attack would have to be postponed. The weather soon cleared and the decision was made to go ahead with the act on June 6th.
The first men to see action would be the paratroopers from the American 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions who were scheduled to drop behind enemy lines (Skipper 53). To move the 175,000 troopers across shore over 4,000 ships were used. Weapons and artillery were also boarded onto ships so they could aid the troopers once they landed. At the end of June 5th the preparations for the invasion had been finished.
Air fighters were used to knockout key points that were to seal off roads and highways to the shores. They were also very useful as scouts. Next gliders were to be sent carrying soldiers and anti tank weapons before the troops had reached the shores. There were serious loses due to the fact that the fields where they were forced to land were so terrible. Sainte-Mere-Eglise was the first German town to be captured by paratroopers.
The Germans who were surprised by the invasion were quick to prepare. The coastal defenses that they had prepared for this very moment were readied quickly. Soon Allied destroyers were used to try and fight the coastal defenses that the air force attacks did not destroy. As the battle raged on the transports prepared to bring their troops onshore. After the air fighters and warships had done their jobs the fate of