Battle of Normandy
|Battle of Normandy|
|Part of World War II|
Assault landing one of the first waves at Omaha Beach as photographed by Robert F. Sargent. The U.S. Coast Guard caption identifies the unit as Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.
| United States
| Dwight Eisenhower
(Supreme Allied Commander)
Bernard Montgomery (land)
Bertram Ramsay (sea)
Trafford Leigh-Mallory (air)
Omar Bradley (U.S. 1st Army)
Miles Dempsey (UK 2nd Army)
Harry Crerar (Canadian 1st Army)
| Gerd von Rundstedt (OB WEST)|
Erwin Rommel (Heeresgruppe B)
Friedrich Dollmann (7.Armee Oberkommando)
|155,000||380,000 (by July 23)
casualties: United States: 29,000 dead, 106,000 wounded or missing;
|Nazi Germany: 23,019 dead, 67,060 wounded,|
198,616 missing or captured
The Battle of Normandy, codenamed Operation Overlord was the Allied invasion of Normandy, part of the Normandy Campaign. It began on June 6, 1944 (commonly known as D-Day), and is held to end on June 30, 1944, with Operation Cobra. Operation Neptune was the codename given to the initial naval assault phase of Operation Overlord; its mission, to gain a foothold on the continent. It involved over 156,000 troops crossing the English Channel from England to Normandy.
Allied land forces that saw combat in Normandy on D-Day itself came from Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Substantial Free French and Polish forces also participated in the battle after the assault phase, and there were also contingents from Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, the Netherlands, and Norway. Other Allied nations participated in the naval and air forces.
The Normandy invasion began with overnight parachute and glider landings, massive air attacks, naval bombardments, and an early morning amphibious phase began on June 6. The "D-Day" forces deployed from bases along the south coast of England, the most important of these being Portsmouth.
The Battle of Normandy was one of the most important events in modern history as the Allied Forces broke the back of the Nazi army, hastening the destruction of Nazi Germany, securing the victory of democracy over totalitarianism.
|Battle of Normandy|
|Neptune – Airborne landings – Tonga – Pegasus Bridge – Albany – Boston – Chicago – Detroit – Elmira – Sword – Juno – Gold – Omaha – Utah – Pointe du Hoc – Brécourt Manor – La Caine – Carentan – Villers-Bocage – Cherbourg – Epsom – Goodwood – Atlantic – Spring – Cobra – Bluecoat – Lüttich – Totalise – Tractable – Falaise – Brest – Paris|
|West European Campaign|
|Normandy - Dragoon - Siegfried Line - Ardennes Offensive - Invasion of Germany - German capitulation|
(World War II)
|France - The Netherlands - Dunkirk - Britain - Dieppe - Villefranche-de-Rouergue - Normandy - Dragoon - Siegfried Line - Market Garden - Aintree - Scheldt - Hurtgen Forest - Aachen - Bulge - Colmar Pocket - Plunder|
The objective of the operation was to create a lodgement that would be anchored in the city of Caen (and later Cherbourg when its deep-water port would be captured). As long as Normandy could be secured, the Western European campaign and the downfall of Nazi Germany could begin. About 6,900 vessels would be involved in the invasion, under the command of Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay (who had been directly involved in the North African and Italian landings), including 4,100 landing craft. A total of 12,000 aircraft under Air Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory were to support the landings, including 1,000 transports to fly in the parachute troops; 10,000 tons of bombs would be dropped against the German defenses, and 14,000 attack sorties would be flown.
Some of the more unusual Allied preparations included armored vehicles specially adapted for the assault. Developed under the leadership of Maj. Gen. Percy Hobart (Montgomery’s brother-in-law), these vehicles (called Hobart’s Funnies) included "swimming" Duplex Drive Sherman tanks, the Churchill Crocodile flame throwing tank, mine-clearing tanks, bridge-laying tanks and road-laying tanks and the Armored Vehicle, Royal Engineers (AVRE)–equipped with a large-caliber mortar for destroying concrete emplacements. Some prior testing of these vehicles had been undertaken at Kirkham Priory in Yorkshire, England. The majority would be operated by small teams of the British 79th Armoured Division attached to the various formations.
Allied forces rehearsed their roles for D-Day months before the invasion. On April 28, 1944, in south Devon on the English coast, 749 U.S. soldiers and sailors were killed when German torpedo boats surprised one of these landing exercises, Exercise Tiger.
In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted a deception operation, Operation Bodyguard. The Allies prepared a massive deception plan, called Operation Fortitude.
There were several leaks prior to or on D-Day. Through the Cicero affair, the Germans obtained documents containing references to Overlord, but these documents lacked all detail. Double Cross agents, such as Juan Pujol (code named Garbo), played an important role in convincing the German High Command that Normandy was at best a diversionary attack. Another such leak was Gen. Charles de Gaulle's radio message after D-Day. He, unlike all the other leaders, stated that this invasion was the real invasion. This had the potential to ruin the Allied deceptions Fortitude North and Fortitude South. For example, Gen. Eisenhower referred to the landings as the initial invasion. The Germans did not believe de Gaulle and waited too long to move in extra units against the Allies.
Allied Order of Battle
The order of battle was approximately as follows, east to west:
British sector (Second Army)
- 6th Airborne Division was delivered by parachute and glider to the east of the River Orne to protect the left flank. The division contained 7,900 men.
- 1st Special Service Brigade comprising No.3, No.4, No.6 and No.45(RM) Commandos landed at Ouistreham in Queen Red sector (leftmost). No.4 Commando were augmented by 1 and 8 Troop (both French) of No.10 (Inter Allied) Commando.
- I Corps, 3rd Infantry Division and the 27th Armored Brigade on Sword Beach, from Ouistreham to Lion-sur-Mer.
- No.41(RM) Commando (part of 4th Special Service Brigade) landed on the far right of Sword Beach, where 29,000 men would land.
- Canadian 3rd Infantry Division, Canadian 2nd Armored Brigade and No.48 (RM) Commando on Juno Beach, from Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer to Courseulles-sur-Mer, where 21,400 troops would land.
- No.46(RM) Commando (part of 4th Special Service Brigade) at Juno to scale the cliffs on the left side of the Orne River estuary and destroy a battery. (Battery fire proved negligible so No.46 were kept off-shore as a floating reserve and landed on D+1).
- XXX Corps, 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division and 8th Armored Brigade, comprising of 25,000 men landing on Gold Beach, from Courseulles to Arromanches.
- No.47(RM) Commando (part of 4th Special Service Brigade) on the West flank of Gold beach.
- 79th Armored Division operated specialist armor ("Hobart's Funnies") for mine-clearing, recovery and assault tasks. These were distributed around the Anglo-Canadian beaches.
Overall, the British contingent would consist of 83,115 troops (61,715 of them British).
U.S. Sector (First Army)
- V Corps, 1st Infantry Division and 29th Infantry Division making up 34,250 troops for Omaha Beach, from Sainte-Honorine-des-Pertes to Vierville-sur-Mer.
- 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions at Pointe du Hoc (The 5th diverted to Omaha).
- VII Corps, 4th Infantry Division and the 359th RCT of the 90th Infantry Division comprising of 23,250 men landing on Utah Beach, around Pouppeville and La Madeleine.
- 101st Airborne Division by parachute around Vierville to support Utah Beach landings.
- 82nd Airborne Division by parachute around Sainte-Mère-Église, protecting the right flank. They had originally been tasked with dropping further west, in the middle part of the Cotentin, allowing the sea-landing forces to their east easier access across the peninsula, and preventing the Germans from reinforcing the north part of the peninsula. The plans were later changed to move them much closer to the beachhead, as at the last minute the 91st Air Landing Division was found to be in the area.
In total, the Americans contributed 73,000 men (15,500 were airborne).
The Invasion Fleet was drawn from eight different navies, comprising 6,939 vessels: 1,213 warships, 4,126 transport vessels (landing ships and landing craft), and 736 ancilliary craft and 864 merchant vessels.
The overall commander of the Allied Naval Expeditionary Force, providing close protection and bombardment at the beaches, was Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay. The Allied Naval Expeditionary Force was divided into two Naval Task Forces: Western (Rear-Admiral Alan G. Kirk) and Eastern (Rear-Admiral Sir Philip Vian).
The warships provided cover for the transports against the enemy—whether in the form of surface warships, submarines, or as an aerial attack—and gave support to the landings through shore bombardment. These ships included the Allied Task Force "O."
German Order of Battle
The number of military forces at the disposal of Nazi Germany, reached its peak during 1944, tanks on the east front peaked at 5,202 in November 1944, total aircraft in the Luftwaffe inventory peaked at 5,041 in December 1944. By D-Day 157 German divisions were stationed in the Soviet Union, 6 in Finland, 12 in Norway, 6 in Denmark, 9 in Germany, 21 in the Balkans, 26 in Italy and 59 in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. However, these statistics are somewhat misleading since a significant number of the divisions in the east were depleted; German records indicate that the average personnel complement was at about 50 percent in the spring of 1944.
Standing in the way of the Allies was the English Channel, a crossing which had eluded the Spanish Armada and Napoleon Bonaparte's Navy. Compounding the invasion efforts was the extensive Atlantic Wall, ordered by Hitler as part of Directive 51. Believing that any forthcoming landings would be timed for high tide (this caused the landings to be timed for low tide), Rommel had the entire wall fortified with tank top turrets and extensive barbed wire, and laying a million mines to deter landing craft. The sector which was attacked was guarded by four divisions.
- 716th Infantry Division (Static) defended the Eastern end of the landing zones, including most of the British and Canadian beaches. This division, as well as the 709th, included Germans who were not considered fit for active duty on the Eastern Front, usually for medical reasons, and various other nationalities such as conscripted Poles and former Soviet prisoners-of-war who had agreed to fight for the Germans rather than endure the harsh conditions of German POW camps.
- 352nd Infantry Division defended the area between approximately Bayeux and Carentan, including Omaha beach. Unlike the other divisions this one was well-trained and contained many combat veterans. The division had been formed in November 1943 with the help of cadres from the disbanded 321st Division, which had been destroyed in the Soviet Union that same year. The 352nd had many troops who had seen action on the eastern front and on the 6th, had been carrying out anti-invasion exercises.
- 91st Air Landing Division (Luftlande – air transported) (Generalmajor Wilhelm Falley), comprising the 1057th Infantry Regiment and 1058th Infantry Regiment. This was a regular infantry division, trained, and equipped to be transported by air (i.e. transportable artillery, few heavy support weapons) located in the interior of the Cotentin Peninsula, including the drop zones of the American parachute landings. The attached 6th Parachute Regiment (Oberstleutnant Friedrich August Freiherr von der Heydte) had been rebuilt as a part of the 2nd Parachute Division stationed in Brittany.
- 709th Infantry Division (Static) (Generalleutnant Karl-Wilhelm von Schlieben), comprising the 729th Infantry Regiment, 739th Infantry Regiment (both with four battalions, but the 729th 4th and the 739th 1st and 4th being Ost, these two regiments had no regimental support companies either), and 919th Infantry Regiment. This coastal defense division protected the eastern, and northern (including Cherbourg) coast of the Cotentin Peninsula, including the Utah beach landing zone. Like the 716th, this division comprised a number of "Ost" units who were provided with German leadership to manage them.
Adjacent Divisional Areas
Other divisions occupied the areas around the landing zones, including:
- 243rd Infantry Division (Static) (Generalleutnant Heinz Hellmich), comprising the 920th Infantry Regiment (two battalions), 921st Infantry Regiment, and 922nd Infantry Regiment. This coastal defense division protected the western coast of the Cotentin Peninsula.
- 711th Infantry Division (Static), comprising the 731th Infantry Regiment, and 744th Infantry Regiment. This division defended the western part of the Pays de Caux.
- 30th Mobile Brigade (Oberstleutnant Freiherr von und zu Aufsess), comprising three bicycle battalions.
Rommel's defensive measures were also frustrated by a dispute over armored doctrine. In addition to his two army groups, von Rundstedt also commanded the headquarters of Panzer Group West under General Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg (usually referred to as von Geyr). This formation was nominally an administrative HQ for von Rundstedt's armored and mobile formations, but it was later to be renamed Fifth Panzer Army and brought into the line in Normandy. Von Geyr and Rommel disagreed over the deployment and use of the vital Panzer divisions.
Rommel recognized that the Allies would possess air superiority and would be able to harass his movements from the air. He therefore proposed that the armored formations be deployed close to the invasion beaches. In his words, it was better to have one Panzer division facing the invaders on the first day, than three Panzer divisions three days later when the Allies would already have established a firm beachhead. Von Geyr argued for the standard doctrine that the Panzer formations should be concentrated in a central position around Paris and Rouen, and deployed en masse against the main Allied beachhead when this had been identified.
The argument was eventually brought before Hitler for arbitration. He characteristically imposed an unworkable compromise solution. Only three Panzer divisions were given to Rommel, too few to cover all the threatened sectors. The remainder, nominally under Von Geyr's control, were actually designated as being in "OKW Reserve." Only three of these were deployed close enough to intervene immediately against any invasion of Northern France, the other four were dispersed in southern France and the Netherlands. Hitler reserved to himself the authority to move the divisions in OKW Reserve, or commit them to action. On June 6, many Panzer division commanders were unable to move because Hitler had not given the necessary authorization, and his staff refused to wake him upon news of the invasion.
Army Group B Reserve
- The 21st Panzer Division (Generalmajor Edgar Feuchtinger) was deployed near Caen as a mobile striking force as part of the Army Group B reserve. However, Rommel placed it so close to the coastal defenses that, under standing orders in case of invasion, several of its infantry and anti-aircraft units would come under the orders of the fortress divisions on the coast, reducing the effective strength of the division.
The other two armored divisions over which Rommel had operational control, the 2nd Panzer Division and 116th Panzer Division, were deployed near the Pas de Calais in accordance with German views about the likely Allied landing sites. Neither was moved from the Pas de Calais for at least 14 days after the invasion.
The other mechanized divisions capable of intervening in Normandy were retained under the direct control of the German Armed Forces HQ (OKW) and were initially denied to Rommel:
Four divisions were deployed to Normandy within seven days of the invasion:
- The 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend (Brigadeführer Fritz Witt) was stationed to the southeast. Its officers and NCOs (this division had a very weak core of NCOs in Normandy with only slightly more than 50 percent of its authorized strength) were long-serving veterans, but the junior soldiers had all been recruited directly from the Hitler Youth movement at the age of 17 in 1943. It was to acquire a reputation for ferocity and war crimes in the coming battle.
- Further to the southwest was the Panzerlehrdivision (General major Fritz Bayerlein), an elite unit originally formed by amalgamating the instructing staff at various training establishments. Not only were its personnel of high quality, but the division also had unusually high numbers of the latest and most capable armored vehicles.
- 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler was refitting in Belgium on the Netherlands border after being decimated on the Eastern Front.
- 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division Götz von Berlichingen (Generalmajor Werner Ostendorff) was based on Thouars, south of the Loire River, and although equipped with Assault guns instead of tanks and lacking in other transport (such that one battalion each from the 37th and 38th Panzergrenadier Regiments moved by bicycle), it provided the first major counterattack against the American advance at Carentan on June 13.
Three other divisions (the 2nd SS Division Das Reich, which had been refitting at Montauban in Southern France, and the 9th SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen and 10th SS Panzer Division Frundsberg which had been in transit from the Eastern Front on June 6), were committed to battle in Normandy around 21 days after the first landings.
One more armored division (the 9th Panzer Division) saw action only after the American breakout from the beachhead. Two other armored divisions which had been in the west on June 6 (the 11th Panzer Division and 19th Panzer Division) did not see action in Normandy.
Just prior to the invasion, General Eisenhower transmitted a now-historic message to all members of the Allied Expeditionary Force. It read, in part, "You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months." In his pocket was an unused statement to be read in case the invasion failed.
The final factor in determining the date of the landing was the anticipated weather. By this stage of the war, the German U-Boats had largely been driven from the Atlantic, and their weather stations in Greenland had been closed down. The Allies possessed an advantage in knowledge of conditions in the Atlantic, which was to prove decisive.
A full moon was required both for light for the aircraft pilots and for the spring tide, effectively limiting the window of opportunity for mounting the invasion to only a few days in each month. Eisenhower had tentatively selected June 5 as the date for the assault. Most of May had fine weather, but this deteriorated in early June. On June 4, conditions were clearly unsuitable for a landing; wind and high seas would make it impossible to launch landing craft, and low clouds would prevent aircraft finding their targets. The Allied troop convoys already at sea were forced to take shelter in bays and inlets on the south coast of Britain.
It seemed possible that everything would have to be canceled, and the troops returned to their camps (a vast undertaking, because the enormous movement of follow-up formations was already proceeding). The next full moon period would be nearly a month away. At a vital meeting on June 5, Eisenhower's chief meteorologist (Group Captain J.M. Stagg) forecast a brief improvement for June 6. Montgomery and Eisenhower's Chief of Staff General Walter Bedell Smith wished to proceed with the invasion. Leigh Mallory was doubtful, but Admiral Ramsay believed that conditions would be marginally favorable. On the strength of Stagg's forecast, Eisenhower ordered the invasion to proceed.
The Germans meanwhile took comfort from the existing poor conditions and believed no invasion would be possible for several days. Some troops stood down, and many senior officers were absent. Rommel, for example, took a few days' leave with his wife and family, while dozens of division, regimental, and battalion commanders were away from their posts at war games.
The various factions and circuits of the French Resistance were included in the plan for Overlord. Through a London-based headquarters which supposedly embraced all resistance groups, Etat-major des Forces Françaises de l'Interieur or EMFFI, the British Special Operations Executive orchestrated a massive campaign of sabotage tasking the various Groups with attacking railway lines, ambushing roads, or destroying telephone exchanges or electrical substations. The resistance was alerted to carry out these tasks by means of the messages personnels, transmitted by the BBC in its French service from London. Several hundred of these were regularly transmitted, masking the few of them that were really significant.
Among the stream of apparently meaningless messages broadcast by the BBC at 21:00 CET on June 5, were coded instructions such as Les carottes sont cuites (The carrots are cooked) and Les dés sont jetés (The dice have been thrown).
One famous pair of these messages is often mistakenly stated to be a general call to arms by the Resistance. A few days before D-Day, the (slightly misquoted) first line of Verlaine's poem, "Chanson d'Automne," was transmitted. "Les sanglots longs des violons de l'automne"(Long sobs of autumn violins) alerted the resistance of the "Ventriloquist" network in the Orléans region to attack rail targets within the next few days. The second line, "Bercent mon coeur d'une langueur monotone" (soothes my heart with a monotonous languor), transmitted late on June 5, meant that the attack was to be mounted immediately.
Josef Götz, the head of the signals section of the German intelligence service (the SD) in Paris, had discovered the meaning of the second line of Verlaine's poem, and no less than 14 other executive orders they heard late on June 5. His section rightly interpreted them to mean that invasion was imminent or underway, and they alerted their superiors and all Army commanders in France. However, they had issued a similar warning a month before, when the Allies had begun invasion preparations and alerted the Resistance, but then stood down because of a forecast of bad weather. The SD having given this false alarm, their genuine alarm was ignored or treated as merely routine. Fifteenth Army HQ passed the information on to its units; Seventh Army ignored it.
In addition to the tasks given to the Resistance as part of the invasion effort, the Special Operations Executive planned to reinforce the Resistance with three-man liaison parties, under Operation Jedburgh. The Jedburgh parties would coordinate and arrange supply drops to the Maquis groups in the German rear areas. Also operating far behind German lines and frequently working closely with the Resistance, although not under SOE, were larger parties from the British, French and Belgian units of the Special Air Service brigade.
The success of the amphibious landings depended on the establishment of a secure lodgment from which to expand the beachhead to allow the build up of a well-supplied force capable of breaking out. The amphibious forces were especially vulnerable to strong enemy counterattacks before the buildup of sufficient forces in the beachhead could be accomplished. To slow or eliminate the enemy's ability to organize and launch counterattacks during this critical period, airborne operations were utilized to seize key objectives, such as bridges, road crossings, and terrain features, particularly on the eastern and western flanks of the landing areas. The airborne landings some distance behind the beaches were also intended to ease the egress of the amphibious forces off the beaches, and in some cases to neutralize German coastal defense batteries and more quickly expand the area of the beachhead. The U.S. 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions were assigned to objectives west of Utah Beach. The British 6th Airborne Division was assigned to similar objectives on the eastern flank.
British airborne landings
East of the landing area, the open, flat, floodplain between the Orne and Dives Rivers was ideal for counterattacks by German armor. However, the landing area and floodplain were separated by the Orne River, which flowed northeast from Caen into the bay of the Seine. The only crossing of the Orne River north of Caen was 7 kilometres (4.5 mi) from the coast, near Bénouville and Ranville. For the Germans, the crossing provided the only route for a flanking attack on the beaches from the east. For the Allies, the crossing also was vital for any attack on Caen from the east.
The tactical objectives of the British 6th Airborne Division were (a) to capture intact the bridges of the Bénouville-Ranville crossing, (b) to defend the crossing against the inevitable armored counter-attacks, (c) to destroy German artillery at the Merville battery, which threatened Sword Beach, and (d) to destroy five bridges over the Dives River to further restrict movement of ground forces from the east.
Airborne troops, mostly paratroopers of the 3rd and 5th Parachute Brigades, including the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, began landing after midnight, June 6 and immediately encountered elements of the German 716th Infantry Division. At dawn, the Battle Group von Luck of the 21st Panzer Division counterattacked from the south on both sides of the Orne River. By this time the paratroopers had established a defensive perimeter surrounding the bridgehead. Casualties were heavy on both sides, but the airborne troops held. Shortly after noon, they were reinforced by commandos of the 1st Special Service Brigade. By the end of D-Day, 6th Airborne had accomplished each of its objectives. For several days, both British and German forces took heavy casualties as they struggled for positions around the Orne bridgehead. For example, the German 346th Infantry Division broke through the eastern edge of the defensive line on June 10. Finally, British paratroopers overwhelmed entrenched panzergrenadiers in the Battle of Bréville on June 12. The Germans did not seriously threaten the bridgehead again. 6th Airborne remained on the line until it was evacuated in early September.
American airborne landings
The U.S. 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, numbering 13,000 paratroopers, were delivered by 12 troop carrier groups of the IX Troop Carrier Command, were less fortunate in quickly completing their main objectives. To achieve surprise, the drops were routed to approach Normandy from the west. Numerous factors affected their performance, but the primary one was the decision to make a massive parachute drop at night (a tactic not used again for the rest of the war). As a result, 45% of units were widely scattered and unable to rally. Efforts of the early wave of pathfinder teams to mark the landing zones were largely ineffective, and the Rebecca/Eureka transponding radar beacons used to guide in the waves of C-47 Skytrains to the drop zones were a flawed system.
Three regiments of 101st Airborne paratroopers were dropped first, between 00:48 and 01:40, followed by the 82nd Airborne's drops between 01:51 and 02:42. Each operation involved approximately 400 C-47 aircraft. Two pre-dawn glider landings brought in anti-tank guns and support troops for each division. On the evening of D-Day two additional glider landings brought in 2 battalions of artillery and 24 howitzers to the 82nd Airborne. Additional glider operations on June 7 delivered the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment to the 82nd Airborne, and two large supply parachute drops that date were ineffective.
After 24 hours, only 2,500 troops of the 101st and 2,000 of the 82nd were under the control of their divisions, approximating a third of the force dropped. The dispersal of the American airborne troops, however, had the effect of confusing the Germans and fragmenting their response. In addition, the Germans' defensive flooding, in the early stages, also helped to protect the Americans' southern flank.
Paratroopers continued to roam and fight behind enemy lines for days. Many consolidated into small groups, rallied with NCOs or junior officers, and usually were a hodgepodge of men from different companies, battalions, regiments, or even divisions. The 82nd occupied the town of Sainte-Mère-Église early in the morning of June 6, giving it the claim of the first town liberated in the invasion.
The assault on Sword Beach began at about 03:00 with an aerial bombardment of the German coastal defenses and artillery sites. The naval bombardment began a few hours later. At 07:30, the first units reached the beach. These were the DD tanks of 13th/18th Hussars followed closely by the infantry of 8th Brigade.
On Sword Beach, the regular British infantry came ashore with light casualties. They had advanced about 8 kilometers (5 mi) by the end of the day but failed to make some of the deliberately ambitious targets set by Montgomery. In particular, Caen, a major objective, was still in German hands by the end of D-Day, and would remain so until the Battle for Caen, August 8.
1st Special Service Brigade, under the command of Brigadier The Lord Lovat DSO and MC, went ashore in the second wave led by No.4 Commando with the two French Troops first, as agreed among themselves. The 1st Special Service Brigade's landing is famous for having been led by Piper Bill Millin. The British and French of No.4 Commando had separate targets in Ouistreham: the French a blockhouse and the Casino, and the British two batteries which overlooked the beach. The blockhouse proved too strong for the Commandos' PIAT (Projector Infantry Anti Tank) weapons, but the Casino was taken with the aid of a Centaur tank. The British Commandos achieved both battery objectives only to find the gun mounts empty and the guns removed. Leaving the mopping-up procedure to the infantry, the Commandos withdrew from Ouistreham to join the other units of their brigade (Nos.3, 6 and 45), moving inland to join-up with the 6th Airborne Division.
The Canadian forces that landed on Juno Beach faced 11 heavy batteries of 155 mm guns and 9 medium batteries of 75 mm guns, as well as machine-gun nests, pillboxes, other concrete fortifications, and a seawall twice the height of the one at Omaha Beach. The first wave suffered 50 percent casualties, the second highest of the five D-Day beachheads. The use of armor was successful at Juno, in some instances actually landing ahead of the infantry as intended and helping clear a path inland.
Despite the obstacles, the Canadians were off the beach within hours and beginning their advance inland. The 6th Canadian Armored Regiment (1st Hussars) and the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada achieved their June 6 objectives, when they crossed the Caen–Bayeux highway over 15 kilometers (9 mi) inland. The Canadians were the only units to reach their D-Day objectives, although most units fell back a few kilometers to stronger defensive positions. In particular, the Douvres Radar Station was still in German hands, and no link had been established with Sword Beach.
By the end of D-Day, 15,000 Canadians had been successfully landed, and the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division had penetrated further into France than any other Allied force, despite having faced strong resistance at the water's edge and later counterattacks on the beachhead by elements of the German 21st and 12th SS Hitlerjugend Panzer divisions on June 7 and June 8.
At Gold Beach, the casualties were also quite heavy, partly because the swimming Sherman DD tanks were delayed, and the Germans had strongly fortified a village on the beach. However, the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division overcame these difficulties and advanced almost to the outskirts of Bayeux by the end of the day. With the exception of the Canadians at Juno Beach, no division came closer to its objectives than the 50th.
No.47 (RM) Commando was the last British Commando unit to land and came ashore on Gold east of Le Hamel. Their task was to proceed inland then turn right (west) and make a 16-kilometer (10 mi) march through enemy territory to attack the coastal harbor of Port en Bessin from the rear. This small port, on the British extreme right, was well sheltered in the chalk cliffs and significant in that it was to be a prime early harbor for supplies to be brought in including fuel by underwater pipe from tankers moored offshore.
Elements of the 1st Infantry Division and 29th Infantry Division faced the veteran German 352nd Infantry Division, one of the best trained on the beaches. Allied intelligence failed to realize that the relatively low-quality 716th Infantry Division (static) had been replaced by the 352nd the previous March. Omaha was also the most heavily fortified beach, with high bluffs defended by funneled mortars, machine guns, and artillery, and the pre-landing aerial and naval bombardment of the bunkers proved to be ineffective. Difficulties in navigation caused the majority of landings to drift eastwards, missing their assigned sectors, and the initial assault waves of tanks, infantry and engineers took heavy casualties. The official record stated that: "within 10 minutes of the ramps being lowered, [the leading] company had become inert, leaderless and almost incapable of action. Every officer and sergeant had been killed or wounded […] It had become a struggle for survival and rescue."
Only a few gaps were blown in the beach obstacles, resulting in problems for subsequent landings. The heavily defended draws, the only vehicular routes off the beach, could not be taken and two hours after the first assault the beach was closed for all but infantry landings. Commanders considered abandoning the beachhead, but small units of infantry, often forming ad hoc groups, supported by naval artillery and the surviving tanks, eventually infiltrated the coastal defenses by scaling the bluffs between strongpoints. Further infantry landings were able to exploit the initial penetrations and by the end of the day two isolated footholds had been established. American casualties at Omaha on D-Day numbered around 3,000 out of 34,000 men, most in the first few hours, whilst the defending forces suffered 1,200 killed, wounded, or missing. The tenuous beachhead was expanded over the following days, and the original D-Day objectives were accomplished by D+3.
Pointe du Hoc
The massive concrete cliff-top gun emplacement at Pointe du Hoc was the target of the 2nd Ranger battalion, commanded by James Earl Rudder. The task was to scale the 30 meter (100 ft) cliffs under enemy fire with ropes and ladders, and then attack and destroy the guns, which were thought to command the Omaha and Utah landing areas. The Ranger commanders did not know that the guns had been moved prior to the attack, and they had to press farther inland to find them but eventually destroyed them. However, the beach fortifications themselves were still vital targets since a single artillery forward observer based there could have called down accurate fire on the U.S. beaches. The Rangers were eventually successful, and captured the fortifications. They then had to fight for 2 days to hold the location, losing more than 60% of their men.
Casualties on Utah Beach, the westernmost landing zone, were the lightest of any beach, with 197 out of the roughly 23,000 troops that landed. The 4th Infantry Division troops landing at Utah Beach found themselves in the wrong positions because of a current that pushed their landing craft to the southeast. Instead of landing at Tare Green and Uncle Red sectors, they came ashore at Victor sector, which was lightly defended, and as a result, relatively little German opposition was encountered. The 4th Infantry Division was able to press inland relatively easily over beach exits that had been seized from the inland side by the 502nd and 506th Parachute Infantry Regiments of the 101st Airborne Division. This was partially by accident, because their planned landing was further down the beach (Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr, the Asst. Commander of 4th Division, upon discovering the landings were off course, was famous for stating "We will start the war from right here."). By early afternoon, the 4th Infantry Division had succeeded in linking up with elements of the 101st. American casualties were light, and the troops were able to press inward much faster than expected, making it a near-complete success.
After the landings
Once the beachhead was established, two artificial Mulberry harbors were towed across the English Channel in segments and made operational around D+3 (June 9). One was constructed at Arromanches by British forces, the other at Omaha Beach by American forces. By June 19, when severe storms interrupted the landing of supplies for several days and destroyed the Omaha harbor, the British had landed 314,547 men, 54,000 vehicles, and 102,000 tons of supplies, while the Americans put ashore 314,504 men, 41,000 vehicles, and 116,000 tons of supplies. Around 9,000 tons of materiel were landed daily at the Arromanches harbor until the end of August 1944, by which time the port of Cherbourg had been secured by the Allies and had begun to return to service.
The Allied invasion plans had called for the capture of Carentan, Saint-Lô, Caen, and Bayeux on the first day, with all the beaches linked except Utah, and Sword (the last linked with paratroopers) and a front line 10 to 16 kilometers (6–10 mi) from the beaches. In practice none of these had been achieved. However, overall the casualties had not been as heavy as some had feared (around 10,000 compared to the 20,000 Churchill had estimated), and the bridgeheads had withstood the expected counterattacks.
The German 12th SS (Hitler Youth) Panzer division assaulted the Canadians on June 7 and June 8 and inflicted heavy losses but was unable to break through. Meanwhile, the beaches were being linked: Sword on June 7, Omaha June 10, Utah by June 13. The Allies were reinforcing the front faster than the Germans were. Although the Allies had to land all their supplies on the beaches, Allied air superiority and the destruction of the French rail system made every German troop movement slow and dangerous.
The resulting disposition of Allied forces within the bridgehead was then the U.S. First Army in the west, and the British Second Army in the east.
In the western part of the lodgement, U.S. troops were able to capture the deep water port of Cherbourg. Behind Utah and Omaha beaches were a series of bocage, up to three metres (10 ft) thick. Before surrendering however, von Schlieben had most of the facilities destroyed, making the harbor inoperable until the middle of August.
Caen, a D-Day target, was still in German hands by the end of June. It was severely bombed and then occupied north of the River Orne in Operation Charnwood from July 7. Operation Goodwood was the operation to capture the remainder of Caen and the high ground to the south.
Operation Cobra, was launched on July 24 by the U.S. First Army and was extremely successful with the advance guard of VIII Corps entering Coutances at the western end of the Cotentin Peninsula, on July 28, after a penetration through the German lines.
Assessment of the battle
The Normandy landings were the first successful opposed landings across the English Channel for nine centuries. They were costly in terms of men, but the defeat inflicted on the Germans was one of the largest of the war. Strategically, the campaign led to the loss of the German position in most of France and the secure establishment of a new major front. Allied material weight told heavily in Normandy, as did intelligence and deception plans. The general Allied concept of the battle was sound, drawing on the strengths of both Britain and the United States. German dispositions and leadership were often faulty, despite a credible showing on the ground by many German units. In larger context the Normandy landings helped the Soviets on the Eastern front, who were facing the bulk of the German forces and, to a certain extent, contributed to the shortening of the conflict there.
Although there was a shortage of artillery ammunition, at no time were the Allies critically short of any necessity. This was a remarkable achievement considering they did not hold a port until Cherbourg fell. By the time of the breakout the Allies also enjoyed a considerable superiority in numbers of troops (approximately 3.5:1) and armored vehicles (approximately 4:1) which helped overcome the natural advantages the terrain gave to the German defenders.
Allied intelligence and counterintelligence efforts were successful beyond expectations. The Operation Fortitude deception before the invasion kept German attention focused on the Pas de Calais, and indeed high-quality German forces were kept in this area, away from Normandy, until July. Prior to the invasion, few German reconnaissance flights took place over Britain, and those that did saw only the dummy staging areas. Ultra decrypts of German communications had been helpful as well, exposing German dispositions and revealing their plans such as the Mortain counterattack.
Allied air operations also contributed significantly to the invasion, via close tactical support, interdiction of German lines of communication (preventing timely movement of supplies and reinforcements—particularly the critical Panzer units), and rendering the Luftwaffe as practically useless in Normandy. Although the impact upon armored vehicles was less than expected, air activity intimidated these units and cut their supplies.
Despite initial heavy losses in the assault phase, Allied morale remained high. Casualty rates among all the armies were tremendous, and the Commonwealth forces had to create a new category—Double Intense—to be able to describe them.
German commanders at all levels failed to react to the assault phase in a timely manner. Communications problems exacerbated the difficulties caused by Allied air and naval firepower. Local commanders also seemed unequal to the task of fighting an aggressive defense on the beach, as Rommel envisioned. For example, the commander of the German 352nd Infantry Division failed to capitalize on American difficulty at Omaha, committing his reserves elsewhere when they might have been more profitably used against the American beachhead.
The German High Command remained fixated on the Calais area, and von Rundstedt was not permitted to commit the armored reserve. When it was finally released late in the day, any chance of success was immeasurably more difficult. Overall, despite considerable Allied material superiority, the Germans kept the Allies bottled up in a small bridgehead for nearly two months, aided immeasureably by terrain factors.
Although there were several well-known disputes among the Allied commanders, their tactics and strategy were essentially determined by agreement between the main commanders. By contrast, the German leaders were bullied and their decisions interfered with by Hitler, controlling the battle from a distance with little knowledge of local conditions. Field Marshals von Rundstedt and Rommel repeatedly asked Hitler for more discretion but were refused. Von Rundstedt was removed from his command on June 29 after he bluntly told the Chief of Staff at Hitler's Armed Forces HQ (Field Marshal Keitel) to "Make peace, you idiots!" Rommel was severely injured by Allied aircraft on July 16.
The German commanders also suffered in the quality of the available troops; 60,000 of the 850,000 in Rundstedt's command were raised from the many prisoners of war captured on the east front. These "Ost" units had volunteered to fight against Stalin, but when instead unwisely used to defend France against the Western Allies, ended up being unreliable. Many surrendered or deserted at the first available opportunity.
Given the Soviets' later domination of Eastern Europe, if the Normandy invasion had not occurred there might conceivably have been a complete occupation of northern and western Europe by communist forces, a contention which is supported by Stalin's statement that the Allies introduced their social system as far as their armies could reach. Alternately, Hitler might have deployed more forces to the Eastern Front, conceivably delaying Soviet advance beyond their pre-war border. In practice though, German troops remained in the West even in the absence of an invasion.
War memorials and tourism
The beaches at Normandy are still referred to on maps and signposts by their invasion codenames. There are several vast cemeteries in the area. The American cemetery, in Colleville-sur-Mer, contains row upon row of identical white crosses and Stars of David, immaculately kept, commemorating the American dead. Commonwealth graves, in many locations, use white headstones engraved with the person's religious symbol and their unit insignia. The largest cemetery in Normandy is the La Cambe German war cemetery, which features granite stones almost flush with the ground and groups of low-set crosses. There is also a Polish cemetery.
Streets near the beaches are still named after the units that fought there, and occasional markers commemorate notable incidents. At significant points, such as Pointe du Hoc and Pegasus Bridge, there are plaques, memorials or small museums. The Mulberry harbor still sits in the sea at Arromanches. In Sainte-Mère-Église, a dummy paratrooper hangs from the church spire. On Juno Beach, the Canadian government has built the Juno Beach Information Center, commemorating one of the most significant events in Canadian military history. In Caen is a large Museum for Peace, which is dedicated to peace generally, rather than only to the battle.
- "Morning: Normandy Invasion (June–August 1944)," episode 17 of the 1974 ITV series The World at War narrated by Laurence Olivier features an extensive coverage of the Allied preparations and the actual events.
- D-Day: The Lost Evidence, 100 minute 2004 "History Channel" documentary that relies on Allied reconnaissance photos, computer graphics, reenactments, and the firsthand eye witness accounts of combatants who were there.
- Battlefield - "The Battle for Normandy," 100 minute 1994 documentary that compares Allied and German commanders, personnel, equipment, and tactics before, during, and after the battle.
- Ken Burns - The War, a seven-part PBS documentary series about World War II as seen through the eyes of men and women from four quintessentially American towns.
- The Longest Day, a 1962 American film, based on the book of the same name, starring Robert Mitchum, John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Richard Burton, and a host of other stars in small roles.
- Testa di sbarco per otto implacabili (Hell in Normandy), a 1967 Italian and French film directed by Alfonso Brescia.
- The Big Red One, a 1980 American film by Samuel Fuller, based on his own experiences in The First Infantry Division.
- Saving Private Ryan, a 1998 Academy Award-winning American film directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks and Matt Damon.
- Overlord, a 1975 British movie directed by Stuart Cooper. The film uses documentary footage of the landing, rather than a recreation.
- The Blockhouse, a 1973 movie starring Peter Sellers about French construction labourers trapped inside a German fortification on D-Day and for a further six years.
- D-Day the Sixth of June, a 1956 love triangle involving Robert Taylor, Dana Wynter, and Richard Todd that allocates 10 minutes, (more or less), of the 106 minute movie to reenacting the invasion. Richard Todd, (D-Day combat veteran), later co-starred in The Longest Day.
- Band of Brothers, a 2001 American miniseries produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks based on the book of the same name by Stephen Ambrose.
- D-Day on the BBC, 60 years on. Retrieved January 28, 2022.
- Ike: Countdown to D-Day, a 2004 American TV-movie aired on The History Channel starring Tom Selleck.
- "By midnight, 155,000 Allied troops were already ashore" quoted from Sir Martin Gilbert, The Second World War: A Complete History (Macmillan, 2004), 5.
- Niklas Zetterling, Normandy 1944. German Military Organization, Combat Power and Organizational Effectiveness (Winnipeg, Manitoba: J.J. Fedorowicz Publishing Inc., 2000, ISBN 0921991568), 32: "When Operation Cobra was launched, the Germans had brought to Normandy about 410,000 men in divisions and non-divisional combat units. If this is multiplied by 1.19 we arrive at approximately 490,000 soldiers. However, until July 23, casualties amounted to 116,863, while only 10,078 replacements had arrived."
- Zetterling, 77: "The following casualties were recorded during the summer of 1944 for OB West," followed by a table for the months of June, July and August, previously he also noted casualty ratings as reported in "British literature" he assumes to be based on wartime estimates; "210,000 prisoners and 240,000 killed and wounded."
- John Keegan, The Second World War (New York: Viking, 1990, ISBN 9780670823598).
- JUNE 6, 1944. National D-Day Memorial Foundation. Retrieved January 28, 2022.
- Chester Wilmot, The Struggle for Europe (London: Wordsworth Editions Ltd, 1997, ISBN 1853266779).
- Kurt von Tippelskirch, Gechichte der Zweiten Weltkrieg (1956). (in German)
- Zetterling, 350.
- "Transcript of General Dwight D. Eisenhower's Order of the Day (1944) Retrieved January 28, 2022.
- Gordon A. Harrison, European Theatre of Operations: Cross Channel Attack (Washington, DC: Dept. of the Army, 2002, ISBN 0160018811), 211.
- Verlaine originally wrote, "Blessent mon coeur" (wound my heart). The BBC replaced Verlaine's original words with the slightly modified lyrics of a song entitled Verlaine (Chanson d'Autome) by Charles Trenet.
- M.R.D. Foot, "SOE": An Outline History of the Special Operations Executive (Pimlico, 1999, ISBN 0712665854).
- C.P. Stacey, Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War. Volume III: The Victory Campaign (Ottawa: Published by Authority of the Minister of National Defence, 1946).
- Charles Cromwell Martin, Battle Diary (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1994, ISBN 155002213X), 16.
- Forrest C. Pogue, United States Army in World War II: European Theater of Operations. The Supreme Command. CMH Publication 7–1. (Washington, DC: Office of the chief of military history, Department of the Army, (1954) Retrieved January 28, 2022.
- John Keegan, Six Armies in Normandy (Penguin Books, 1982, ISBN 014005293), 61.
ReferencesISBN links support NWE through referral fees
- Ambrose, Stephen. D-Day June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994. ISBN 1471158268
- Badsey, Stephen. Normandy 1944: Allied Landings and Breakout. London: Osprey Publishing, 1990. ISBN 978-0850459210
- D'Este, Carlo. Decision in Normandy. London: Penguin, 2001. ISBN 978-0141390567
- Foot, M. R. D. SOE: An Outline History of the Special Operations Executive. (1984) Pimlico, 1999. ISBN 0712665854
- Ford, Ken. D-Day 1944 (3), Sword Beach & the British Airborne Landings. London: Osprey Publishing, 2002. ISBN 978-1841763668
- Ford, Ken. D-Day 1944 (4), Gold & Juno Beaches. London: Osprey Publishing, 2002. ISBN 978-1841763682
- Gilbert, Sir Martin. The Second World War: A Complete History, Macmillan, 2004. ISBN 0805076239
- Hamilton, Nigel. "Montgomery, Bernard Law," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography O.U.P., 2004. OCLC 56568095
- Harrison, Gordon A. European Theatre of Operations: Cross Channel Attack. Washington, DC: Dept. of the Army, 2002. ISBN 0160018811
- Holderfield, Randy. D-Day: The Invasion of Normandy, June 6, 1944. Savas, 2000. ISBN 978-1882810468
- Keegan, John. The Second World War. New York: Viking, 1990. ISBN 978-0670823598
- Keegan, John. Six Armies in Normandy. New York: Viking Press, 1982. ISBN 978-0670647361
- Kershaw, Alex. The Bedford Boys: One American Town's Ultimate D-Day Sacrifice.New York: Da Capo, 2003. ISBN 978-0306811678
- Martin, Charles Cromwell. Battle Diary. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1994. ISBN 155002213X
- Neillands, Robin. The Battle of Normandy, 1944. Cassell, 2002. ISBN 978-0304358373
- Ryan, Cornelius. The Longest Day, 2nd ed. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1959. ISBN 0671208144
- Stacey, C.P. Canada's Battle in Normandy. Ottawa: Published by Authority of the Minister of National Defence, 1946. OCLC 65877842
- Tippelskirch, Kurt von. Gechichte der Zweiten Weltkrieg. 1956. (in German)
- Tute, Warren, John Costello & Terry Hughes. D-Day. New York: Macmillan, 1974. ISBN 978-0020380900
- Williams, Jeffery. The Long Left Flank: Hard-fought Way to the Reich, 1944-45. Pen & Sword Books Ltd, 1988. ISBN 0850528801
- Wilmot, Chester. The Struggle For Europe. London: Wordsworth Editions Ltd, 1997. ISBN 978-1853266775
- Whitlock, Flint. The Fighting First: The Untold Story of The Big Red One on D-Day. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2004. ISBN 978-0813342184
- Zaloga, Steven J. Operation Cobra 1944, Breakout from Normandy. Praeger, 2004. ISBN 978-0275982638
- Zaloga, Steven J. D-Day 1944 (1), Omaha Beach. London: Osprey Publishing, 2003. ISBN 978-1841763675
- Zaloga, Steven J. D-Day 1944 (2), Utah Beach & the US Airborne Landings. London: Osprey Publishing, 2004. ISBN 978-1841763651
- Zetterling, Niklas. Normandy 1944. German Military Organization, Combat Power and Organizational Effectiveness. Winnipeg, Manitoba: J.J. Fedorowicz Publishing Inc., 2000. ISBN 0921991568
- Those who wish to study the Normandy Campaign in more detail will find numerous volumes in the U.S. Army in World War II series, produced by the U.S. Army Center of Military History, particularly useful. Gordon A. Harrison, Cross-Channel-Attack (1951), remains a basic source, but several other studies bear heavily upon the operation. They include:
- Coakley, Robert W., and Richard M. Leighton, Global Logistics and Strategy (1968). ASIN B0007H556A
- Blumenson, Martin. Breakout and Pursuit (1961). ISBN 978-0794837679
- Pogue, Forrest C. The Supreme Command (1954). ISBN 978-1258454586
- Ruppenthal, Roland G. Logistical Support of the Armies (1965). ASIN B002WYKKCA
- Cosmas, Graham A., and Albert E. Cowdrey, The Medical Department: Medical Service in the European Theater of Operations (1992). ASIN B000IIHFDY
- The Historical Division of the War Department
They produced three volumes on the event. All have been reprinted by the Center of Military History. Classified as the American Forces in Action series, they include:
- OMAHA Beachhead. 1994. ISBN 978-0160019357
- UTAH Beach to Cherbourg. 1947. ISBN 978-0160019364
- ST-LO. 1984. ASIN B000RMSRLU
- British Government
The British Government following the war also issued an official history of the British involvement in the war to be researched and published, the final result being the massive series known as History of the Second World War. The following cover the Normandy Campaign:
- Ellis, L.F. Victory in the West: The Battle of Normandy, Official Campaign History v. I (History of the Second World War: United Kingdom Military), Naval & Military Press Ltd; New Ed edition (Sep 2004). ISBN 1845740580
- Hinsley, F.H. British Intelligence in the Second World War: Volume 5, Strategic Deception, Cambridge University Press (26 Oct 1990). ISBN 0521401453
- Grand Strategy, Volume 5: August 1943-September 1944, 1956.
- Numerous abbreviated summaries have been written. Among the most useful are:
- MacDonald, Charles. The Mighty Endeavor: American Armed Forces in the European Theater in World War II (1969);
- MacDonald, Charles, and Martin Blumenson. "Recovery of France," in Vincent J. Esposito (ed.), A Concise History of World War II (1965).
- Memoirs by Allied commanders contain considerable information. Among the best are:
- Bradley, Omar N. A Soldier's Story (1951). ASIN B001CZQVWS
- Bradley, Omar N. A General's Life (1984). ISBN 978-0671410247
- Eisenhower, Dwight D. Crusade in Europe (1997). ISBN 978-0801856686
- Montgomery of Alamein, Sir Bernard Law. Normandy to the Baltic (1947). ASIN B0006D6K14
- Montgomery of Alamein, Sir Bernard Law. The Memoirs of Field Marshal the Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, K.G.. (1990). ISBN 978-0830640102
- Morgan, Sir Frederick Edgeworth. Overture to Overlord (1950). ISBN 978-0598737168
- Memoirs by Allied soldiers of various ranks also give a good insight into the campaign.
- Meyer, Kurt. Grenadiers, Stackpole Books, 2005. ISBN 0811731979
- Hills, Stuart. By Tank Into Normandy, Cassell military, 2003. ISBN 0304366404
- von Luck, Hans. Panzer Commander: The Memoirs of Colonel Hans von Luck, Cassell military, 2006. ISBN 0304364010
- Liddell-Hart, B.H. The Rommel Papers, 1982. ISBN 978-0306801570 (section on Normandy by Lt.Gen Fritz Bayerlein)
- Almost as useful are biographies of leading commanders. Among the most prominent are:
- Ambrose, Stephen E. The Supreme Commander: The War Years of General Dwight D. Eisenhower (2012). ISBN 978-0307946621
- Ambrose, Stephen E. Eisenhower, Soldier, General of the Army, President-Elect, 1890–1952 (1991). ISBN 978-0671747589
- Hamilton, Nigel. Master of the Battlefield: Monty's War Years, 1942–1944 (1983). ISBN 978-0070258068
- Lamb, Richard. Montgomery in Europe, 1943–1945: Success or Failure (1984). ISBN 978-0531097694
- Lewin, Ronald. Rommel as Military Commander (1999). ISBN 978-0760708613
- Numerous general histories also exist, many centering on the controversies that continue to surround the campaign and its commanders. See, in particular:
- Ambrose, Stephen. D-Day: June 6, 1944, The battle for the Normandy beaches (2002). ISBN 978-0743449748
- Colby, John. War From the Ground Up: The 90th Division in World War II (1991). ISBN 978-0890158449
- D'Este, Carlo. Decision in Normandy: The Unwritten Story of Montgomery and the Allied Campaign (1984). ISBN 978-0330283793
- Hart, Stephen Ashley. Colossal Cracks: Montgomery's 21st Army Group in Northwest Europe, 1944-45 (2007). ISBN 978-0811733830
- Hastings, Max. Overlord: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy (2006). ISBN 978-0307275714
- Holmes, Richard. The D-Day Experience: From the Invasion to the Liberation of Paris (2005). ISBN 978-0760771457
- Keegan, John. Six Armies in Normandy: From D-Day to the Liberation of Paris (1994). ISBN 978-0140235425
- Neillands, Robin. The Battle of Normandy 1944 (2002). ISBN 978-0304358373
- Powers, Stephen T. "Battle of Normandy: The Lingering Controversy," Journal of Military History 56 (1992):455–71.
- Shulman, Milton. Defeat in the West (1995). ISBN 978-1872947037
- Weigley, Russell F. Eisenhower's Lieutenants: The Campaign of France and Germany, 1944–45 (1981). ISBN 978-0253206084
- Wilmot, Chester. The Struggle for Europe (2005).. ISBN 978-1568525259
- Collier, Richard. Fighting Words: The Correspondents of World War II (1990). ISBN 978-0312038281
- Oldfield, Barney. Never a Shot in Anger (1989). ISBN 978-0884963073
All links retrieved September 22, 2023.
- American D-Day: Omaha Beach, Utah Beach & Pointe du Hoc
- U.S. Army's official interactive D-Day website
- Ike's D-Day Message Geneneral Eisenhower addresses the Allied Expeditionary Force on the morning of June 6.
- WW2DB: The Normandy Campaign
- BBC World War II history
- Utah Beach to Cherbourg CMH Pub 100–12: Official U.S. Military History.
- Personal accounts of members of the 6th Airborne Division in Normandy (Pegasus Bridge)
- D-Day: Etat des Lieux
- D-Day Fact Sheet
- Hitler's Atlantic Wall (2000) by Johan Op de Beeck
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