Operation Overload and the Invasion of Normandy
Operation Overload is a code name for the Allied invasion of North-West Europe that took place in June 1994. The operation, popularly known as the Battle of Normandy, took place during the World War II. Troops emanating from Canada, Britain, United States and Poland joined hands to liberate Western Europe from the Nazi control. American General Dwight D Eisenhower led the collective force known as the Allied Expeditionary Force. General Dwight worked together with Air Marshall Leigh-Mallory, Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, Air Marshall Tedder and Admiral Bertram Ramsey. The operation was one of the largest military invasions in the world, necessitating the participation of many men and a special kind of planning.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor came before the planning of Operation Overlord. President Roosevelt of the United States anticipated to form an operation that would help in redeeming French from the Nazi’s suppression (Harrison 7). The leader of Soviet Russia suggested that the allies adopt two-front war to ensure that Germany was defeated since they could not maintain their army contact on two fronts. The Allies formed The Combined Chief of Staffs to assist President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill on instigating the warfare. Initially, they planned to launch an attack on Europe, but there were inadequate supplies, labor and equipment, culminating to its postponement until 1994. From the Japanese attack, the Allies had learned a few lessons that would guide them in the next operation. They deliberated on a few resolutions such as; to ensure that one of the beaches was within easy reach, to have the beach and naval defenses, and to be within range of a fighter aircraft on the southern part of England.
The first concern that needed deliberation on was the landing spot in France for a mass landing of the troops with their weapons. In May 1943, The Trident Conference held in Washington resulted to the coast of Normandy chosen as the most appropriate site for landing. Normandy was a good choice because of its proximity to the English and Cherbourg ports. Each of the troops had their own landing beaches along the Normandy coast. The goal was to get Germany’s unconditional surrender and destroy its armed forces if need be. All the streets, highways, ports and beaches needed to be captured from Germans authority. One of the most effective strategy that the allied troops deemed appropriate was military deception. Subsequently, a campaign was conducted to mislead the Germans on the target of the invasion (Ambrose 12). Due to the campaign, Adolf Hitler beefed up security in the wrong areas, and this contributed to the success of the invasion.
General Dwight organized his troops and equipped them with more comprehensive martial planning for the invasion.All the planning was in place, and the troops were ready for the invasion. The concluding strategy was to deploy three air force divisions to Normandy, to protect the five groups of the main attacking forces down at the beach. Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery took charge of the land operations while general Omar Bradley and Sir Dempsey were in charge of the attacking troops (June 50). The forces were ready for the battle and awaited the ratification from their general to proceed.
One of the things that scared the allied forces was the possibility of the Germans finding out their main landing point. They developed a strategy to mislead the Germans on how and when the attack would be. They placed fake landing crafts along the eastern coast. Several dummy tanks were intentionally put in areas with German surveillance Camerasso so that they would be captured. The allies went ahead to set up desertedcampsites along the East. A fake radio network was established to act as a communication channel. The primary aim of this exercise was to distract the German security forces (Ambrose 12). All evidence put in place indicated that Pas de Calais was the center of the invasion. German troops deployed in the area and security was beefed to counter the said ‘Americans’, By fourth of June, General Dwight had a period of four days in which the invasion would be possible. Otherwise, bad weather would kick of, and the invasion would be impossible. Prediction suggested that the weather would last for the next two weeks. He battled between the options of postponing the operation and letting his troops get into battle (Cornelius 22). On June 5 in the morning, he received a favorable though watchful report from his weather experts and decided to let the troops go. Back in the United States, President Franklin Roosevelt stayed behind waiting for feedback on the invasion.
The president wanted to be in England with the rest of the team, but his deteriorating health could not allow. He wrote a speech that was later turned into a prayer for the team. The prayer was named ‘Let our hearts be stout’ (Harrison 7). When he received a call about the beginning of the operation, President Roosevelt offered the prayer through the radio and asked the country to join him in prayer together with his family.With the much planning and effort that was in place for this operation, Roosevelt was hopeful that it would be a success. Nazi Germany would let go of Western Europe.
The D-Day required an estimate of about 6000 ships. The ships were for transportation of equipment and troops. Overlord was making arrangements on how to move over a hundred thousand men and thirteen thousand vehicles. There were also arrangements in place on how to move an artificial harbor to ensure ease of landing for the forces and equipment.The movement was a success with three million men moved in forty-seven divisions (Ambrose13). Five thousand fighter planes provided cover for the six hundred ships that were moving the troops.
Dwight composed an inspirational message to every military man participating in the operation. He incessantly encouraged and told them they were on a good course. He expressed confidence and assured them of victory. In the message, he also mentioned that the whole world was looking upon these soldiers to deliver the best of their ability to save Western Europe from the hands of Nazi Germany (NGS 20). At the end of his message, Eisenhower wished the troop good luck and prayed for God’s blessings and guidance in the mission. Unknown to many, the general scribbled a note stating that he took all the responsibility if the undertakingwas not a success, and put it in his pocket.
It was obvious that the Allies were planning an attack although the details of the exact location were unclear. It was top secret, and only a few people knew about it. In readiness for the invasion, Adolf Hitler appointed General Rommel to lead the German troops in countering the Allied forces. Earlier in his speech, Hitler boasted of how strong Germany was, and of how he had total control of the entire West Coast of Europe. Hitler had sworn to protect the Front from the enemies (June 51). German laborers worked day and night to create obstacles all around the coastline, to keep away the attackers. The defenses along the coastline were improved by establishing an impassable area that was a hundred meters deep. It was later deployed with two hundred million mines that were to ensure no vessel passes by the area. The sections behind the beach were flooded with water to prevent any movement and further to contain the allied troops.
The weather and the tides were the main determinants of when the day would be, because the operation was amphibious. During the time of the invasion, the waves needed to be low to give clarity of sight to the allies while attacking. The earlier date set was May 1 but was later postponed to June 5 due to inadequate landing crafts and work force.After days of planning and organization, the D-Day finally came. When General Dwight gave the order to proceed, the airborne troops parachuted. They left for France to capture the beach, the streets and bridges (Harrison13). They were scattered to avoid giving the Germans an exact estimate or scope of the invasion.
By dawn, the air force troops were already landing in Normandy to carry out their mission. The main attacking troops were approaching the Normandy Coastline in large numbers, accompanied by the naval and air borne forces. Some aircrafts deviated from their planned landing grounds due to increased cloud cover at the beach. Many paratroopers who landed in areas that were intentionally camouflaged by the Germans, drowned (Rose 64). Despite these losses, the Allied troops still proceeded with their mission and tried to clear the coastline just before the Sea-borne troops arrived. The British sixthair-borne troop arrived and subdued the Melville battery, which was a colossal threat to the incoming Sea-borne troops.
German general Rommel had improved security in Normandy but due to the military deception by the allied forces, he did not put more emphasis on the Western region. The deception gave the allies an opportunity to go further into the land. During this time, there was conflict within the German high command on the running of operations (Cornelius 69). The point of conflict was the best way to distribute their few available troops and weapons. As the Germans fought and argued among themselves, the Allied troops worked together and deployed about a million military men, and over five thousand military vehicles into the Southern part of England.
Hundreds of planes were flying overhead. Some were to bomb the German soldiers at the beach, and others acted as distractions. The troops at the sea were ordered to maintain their position to avoid a collision that would have been very hazardous at the time. At nightfall, the France Coast line was visible, and the fires from the airborne bombings were evident from afar (D’Este 40). Stan Grayland who narrated the story after the operation explains that from the sea, they could tell that the Germans did not have a clue of their presence in the sea.
The Germans spotted the US destroyer, Corry, as it was approaching Normandy in the morning. It was perceptible because they had already shot down the plane that was covering Corry (Hastings 84). At some point, Corry lost direction and hit a mine, and the central deck sank. There was a serious exchange of fire from the beach and the sea (Rose 65). The rocket ships at sea carried 1020 5-inch rockets and about 30 fired onto the enemy. From the Allies side, about twenty-four men died from the, but most of them survived. There was massive destruction of the German troops and their equipment from the impact. The Allied troops were six miles away from the beach, and there were destroyers that were about four miles away. The bombs knocked out some minefields at the beach and the smoke made everything around the coast almost invisible.
The first attack happened at 0455hours at a beach code-named ‘Utah’ (Ambrose 13). Initially, Utah seemed like it was the riskiest and difficult of them all, but it was the least stressful. There was less counter-attack from the Germans. Thirty-six square miles of French soil were liberated at Utah beach and about two hundred lives lost. The second beach was coded ‘Omaha’, which was the toughest part of the invasion. The Germans received the landing troops with a scornful fire, both from the air and on land. The navy team was shot at, drowned, and stepped on by the German soldiers (White 13). Their weaponsand tanks were destroyed while others were soaked in water so that they could sink and drown the soldiers. They were dropped into the ocean in large numbers, and some of their colleagues tried to save them. The brave ones were killed and thrown into the ocean.
The German Pfc.Hein Severloh ordered his solders to get the allies while they were still in one line before spreading. The fire between the Germans and the Allies at Omaha was heavy and many allies lost their lives. Later in that morning, there was barely any sign of movement. The Allied forces were seriously injured, and most of them were worn out (Harrison 10). They, however, encouraged themselves and took advantage of the fewer attacks from Germans to get back on their feet. The front pushed to one and a half miles inland. Food, supplies, and reinforcements were later sent to the Omaha beach.
The third attack was the ‘Sword’ beach. It began at 0725hours, about one hour later than the Omaha and the Utah beaches. Sword beach had sections of quicksand that were quite distractive. The troops had to wait until there was a high tide to hide the quicksand and allow the ships to get ashore. Sword beach was less hazardous as compared to the Omaha beach (White 40). By the time the British forces captured the front, there were about six hundred and fifty casualties. The Anglo Canadian troops also captured the ‘Gold’ and ‘Juno’ beaches. The British troops were supposed to take Caen, but they failed (Davies 13). Aside from that, the operation overlord was a success. The Allied forces lost about eleven thousand men, but they had undoubtedly won the battle. This marked the beginning of the end of World War II.
The Allied forces then embarked on a mission to capture the Cherbourg Port. They traveled to the Cotentin Peninsula. By June 18, they got to the Peninsula and later headed north towards Cherbourg. After a three days travel, they got to the port. The German troops were already occupying the port by the time they arrived. There was a serious exchange of gunfire between the troops at Cherbourg (Grebstad 6). For the subsequent eight days, there was a continuous fight, and the allied forces won. The fort was liberated and the Germans were driven out. They retreated further away from the Coastline but unfortunately, they had already destroyed most of the important amenities of the port.
In search of a weak point to attack the Germans, Montgomery found out that the Allies were often frustrated and slowed down by the uneven and thorny terrain. The area had small pitches that were encircled by bushy hedges. The nature of the terrain was of great benefit to the Germans since they knew the terrain so well, taking advantage of it to hide and defend themselves from the Allied forces (Rose 64). Despite that, he followed the Germany troops and pursued them away from all the forts. He engaged them further in the East, such as in operation Epsom which began on the 26th of June. He later ordered a direct assault on Caen. The city was destroyed, and the remains were ashes and ruins. The Anglo Canadian troops writhed through its streets up until 10 July when the war ended.
The eastern and the southern ends of Caen remain under the Germans, although this was one of Montgomery’s strategy. Later on, there was an operation named Good wood on 18 July. The aim was to push the Germans further east. Unfortunately, operation Good wood was a total failure and caused the British army a great deal of loss of lives and weapons (Grebstad 6). On the positive side, however, the American team on the West were able to prepare for the Cobra operation without much attention from the German soldiers.
Cobra operation was launched by the American troops on 25 July. Due to the Good wood operation, the Cobra operation was not very loud, and that is one of the reasons why the operation was successful. The American troops conquered the Germans and made their way until the advent of Constance. By the 30th day of July, the Americans had captured Constance’s and Avranchesports, which are in the Western part of Germany (Cornelius 22). Later on, they moved onto to capture the Breton ports. General Bradley advised his army to move east, to the Seine River, in a move to back up the Anglo-Canadian army and force a withdrawal from the Germans (Harrison 7). The American army was advised to attack towards the Vire River, and ensure that the Germans did not redeploy. Despite the counter-attack from Hitler’s team, the plan worked. The Allies captured Le Mans and went ahead to occupy Nantes, Angers, and Seine.
There was great progress with the Allies and by this time, they had already seized most of the control from the hand of Nazi German. However, there was a bit that was yet to be conquered. The Allies headed towards the Seine, others to the North, while the rest went to join the Anglo Canadian team that was attacking south from Falaise and Caen. By 21 August, the Germans escaped in large numbers approximated to be about forty thousand (Grebstad 6). A good number of Adolf Hitler’s team was destroyed together with their equipment. As from that moment, The German army in Normandy ceased to exist, and the Allies took over.
In Paris, communists seized public offices in the capital as they awaited liberation. General Charles ordered general Philippe to lead his French second armored division into Paris to liberate the city from Hitler’s command (Cornelius 22). General Dwight ordered the Allied army to follow General Charles’ command. On 24th of August, the French second armored division reached the capital. On 26 August, came the day that the French had been awaiting. The liberation of France! It was a historical day and the beginning of the destruction for not only the German’s army but also the reign of the dictatorial, Adolf Hitler.
After the liberation of Paris, the German troops attacked the Allied troops. There was a combat known as the battle of the Bulge that happened on 16 January 1945(D’Este 6). However, the Allied forces gave Germany a run for their money as they defeated them overwhelmingly. Germany retreated due to the deficiency of supplies, and the death of their soldiers. In March, later in the Year, the Allies occupied the Rhine and completely defeated the Germans. The culmination of it all came when Adolf Hitler committed suicide on 30 April. One week later, the Second World War was officially over, and the world was at peace again!
The operation overlord and the invasion of Normandy was one of the most successful invasions in the world history! The organization, planning, and strategies that were adopted played a big role in achieving the positive results. The unity of the British, American and the Anglo Canadian forces was of great importance. Military deception is also a very effective strategy as it neutralizes the attention of the enemy as seen with the Germans.Although there was massive loss of lives, it was for a good cause. The Allied soldiers died serving a noble cause that is celebrated to date. Without the Overlord Invasion, the turning point of the Second World War would not have come. Were it not for the Operation Overlord; the world would be a different place.
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