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Introduction The Allied invasion of France on June 6, 1944 is variously known as D-Day, the Longest Day, Cross-Channel Attack, and probably some others as well. It was the largest single military operation of World War II. Hence, the Normandy beaches are a must stop if you get anywhere close to France. The 50th anniversary celebration in 1994 generated a lot of hype. The recent movie Saving Private Ryan rekindled that interest. However, the landing always held a special niche going back to the event itself. Much like Gettysburg, the Normandy attack has been studied in great detail -- hour by hour, person by person, shot by shot. We'll assume a flight landing in Paris and getting a rental car (a must) at the airport. Then you would drive over to Caen (about a 150 miles) and spend the night, which would put you at the east end of the beaches the next morning. This book by Bruce Bilven, Jr., is a historical documentation of D-Day, June 6, 1944. The book itself contains a lot of dates, names and places, which makes it a tough book to follow. Bruce Bilven Jr., himself took part in the massive D-Day invasion of Omaha Beach, as a second Lieutenant in the 29th Division Artillery. Drawing on his own experiances as a solider in World War II, he wrote two other Landmark Books about the war; From Casablanca to Berlin and From Pearl Harbor to Okinawa. Since the war he has written The American Revolution as well as many other books articles, and reviews. He lives with his wife and co-author, Naomi, and his college-age son in New York City. Summary Strategy D-Day began with the concept of the "Second Front." When Stalin's Russia was invaded in 1941, he immediately demanded that his new allies attack Hitler to take off the pressure. No matter his past complicity. Churchill and Roosevelt replied with the invasion of North Africa in November 1942 and Italy in 1943. Chief of staff George C. Marshall considered these sideshows draining away troops and time. The real war, argued Marshall, was to be a direct advance on Germany through France. Even as the "sideshows" proceeded, three other campaigns were under way -- the war against the German submarines, the US-British strategic bombing offensive against Germany, and the logistical buildup in Britain. The submarine conflict was a precondition for the bombing and the buildup. The Allies were fortunate that Hitler was had no interest in naval warfare. By 1943 the Allies had mastered the North Atlantic. The bombing offensive established control of the skies, which was another precondition for the invasion. The actual effect on German industrial production is still controversial, but there's no doubt that the bombing drained away German air resources that might have shown up over Normandy beaches in 1944. At the same time, the bombing forced the Germans to rationalize certain production techniques. The result, ironically, was the military production increased during the bombing offensive. British and American officers drew up plans for several contingencies in 1943. Operation OVERLORD was a large-scale assault against the German Army in France. This plan served as the basis for a final plan developed early in 1944 after General Eisenhower, designated as the supreme commander, arrived in Britain and established his command, Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force, or SHAEF. The overlooked question about D-Day is why it didn't happen in 1943. The Germans were greatly weakened after defeats at Stalingrad and North Africa in 1942. The French resistance was at its most effective. Instead, the British and Americans squabbled about how to proceed, and the delay meant that, in effect, nothing happened in 1943. It's one of the most interesting What If's of World War II. The over-all ground commander for the invasion was the former head of the British Eighth Army, General Montgomery, who also commanded the 21 Army Group, the controlling headquarters for the two Allied armies scheduled to make the invasion. The British were to assault on the left; the Americans on the right. This alignment explains why during the Cold War the weakened Brits defended the North German plain (on the left), while the much stronger American forces in Germany were deployed behind the Carpathian mountains (on the right). A requirement that the invasion beaches had to be within easy range of fighter aircraft based in Britain and close to at least one major port sharply limited the choice. The state of German defenses imposed further limitations. The final selection was the base of the Cotentin peninsula in Normandy, southeast of Cherbourg. To facilitate supply until Cherbourg or some other port could be opened, two artificial harbors were to be towed from Britain and emplaced off the invasion beaches. The selection of Normandy was as much political as military. The British were still fearful of the Germans and wanted to land as far away as possible. Left to themselves, the American probably would have gone in through Pas de Calais -- the most direct route. In the end, Normandy was a compromise. Eisenhower was keenly aware of the Gallipoli problem. In World War I, Churchill engineered a landing in Turkey, which became a de factor prison camp. Normandy could have been easily sealed off. That's one reason why Eisenhower insisted on a second landing in South France (stripping troops from Italy) to force the issue. Selecting Normandy was so goofy that at first the Germans believed it was feint. They fed troops in piecemeal, which worked to the Allies' advantage. When they finally shifted the 15th Army from Pas de Calais down to Normandy, it was too late. The destruction of the 15th Army denuded France and set up the Allied drive that only ended at the German border. In some ways it was indeed the Longest Day, and the Allies were fortunate in their enemies. Battle Despite a weather forecast of high winds and a rough sea, Eisenhower made the decision to go ahead with the invasion on June 6. During the night more than 5,000 ships moved to assigned positions, and at 2 am the operation began. One British and two U.S. airborne divisions (the 82d and 101st) dropped behind the beaches to secure routes of egress for the seaborne forces. Following preliminary aerial and naval bombardment, the first waves of infantry and tanks began to touch down at 6:30, just after sunrise. A heavy surf made the landings difficult but, as in Sicily, put the defenders off their guard. The assault went well on British beaches, where one Canadian and two British divisions landed, and also at UTAH, westernmost of the U.S. beaches, ...

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Keywords: normandy landings, normandy beach, normandy farms, normandy invasion, normandy hotel, normandy high school, normandy homes, normandy to paris

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