The Importance of D-Day in the Second World War

 On June 6th, 1944, the Allies launched the largest invasion on the beaches of Normandy, France. This led to liberation of Western Europe, which gave more strength back to the allies. The allies were able to take back France, which created another army to rejoin the war.

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Lastly it made Germany fight a two front war again. Just like in the first world war, which was why they lost. The Allies would not have won World War 2 if D-Day was not successful as it led to advancements to take back France, liberation of Western Europe, and made Germany fight a two front war.

 The allied army led by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6th, 1944. This day would be go on to be known as D-day. But months before D-Day took place, the operation had already begun. Elaborate plans and deceptions of the Nazi’s had already begun, codenamed Operation Bodyguard, in the months leading up to the invasion to stop the Germans from learning any details of the invasion, such as when and where. The whole plan for Operation Bodyguard, was the Allies conducted several operations made to mislead the Germans as to when and where the Allied landings would occur. This would leave the Germans in the dark and leave them totally clueless. Then Operation Fortitude which included Fortitude North and South, a campaign using fake radio signals to tell Germans into expecting an attack on Norway, which was never a place that the Allies planned on attacking, then Fortitude South, another deception operation, that created a fake First United States Army Company under General George S. Patton, that was supposedly located in Kent and Sussex. The idea was Fortitude South was intended to trick the Germans into believing that a main attack would take place at Calais, which never occurred. All of this planning of misdirection and deception left Germany totally unaware of the plans for the invasion of Normandy (D-Day). Then in the days before the invasion Operation Pointblank was in place to to gain the air superiority needed to ensure a successful invasion, the Allies undertook a bombing campaign that targeted German aircraft production, fuel supplies, and airfields.

 Just as important as these “set-up” operations was actually the weather. The invasion planners determined a set of conditions involving the phase of the moon, the tides, and the time of day that would be  on only a few days in each month. A full moon was ideal, as it would have the highest tides and provide camouflage for aircraft pilots. The Allies wanted to schedule the landings for shortly before dawn, midway between low and high tide, with the tide coming in. This would improve the visibility of obstacles on the beach, while decreasing the amount of time men would have to be out in the open. Eisenhower had originally selected june 5th, 1944 as the date for the invasion on the beaches of Normandy. But, on 4 June, high winds and rough seas made it almost impossible to launch any bombing planes as well as ships across the channel.

James Stagg the Group Captain of the Royal Air Force met with Eisenhower on June 4th. It was predicted that the weather would improve enough for the invasion to proceed on June 6th. But after that the next available dates with the much need tidal conditions would be in two weeks, from June 18th to 20th. Postponement of the invasion would have made a disaster of the order of troops and alignment and along with ships already in position to cross the channel. Furthermore it would have increased the chance that the invasion plans would be detected. After much conversation with the other surrounding leaders, Eisenhower decided that the invasion should proceed on the 6th.

On June 6th, 1944 the Allies stormed the beaches of Normandy. Although it may sound like troops just assaulted on to a beach. It was way more complex than that. Normandy was broken up into five beaches. The Americans given two, Utah led by General Joseph Collins and Omaha led by Leonard Gerow. And Britain and Canada had a combined three, Gold led by General Gerard Bucknall along with Juno and Sword led by John Crocker.

The Normandy landings was the biggest seaborne invasion in the history of the world, with almost five thousand landing and assault craft, nearly three hundred escort vessels, and nearly three hundred minesweepers. Close to a hundred and sixty thousand troops crossed the English Channel on D-Day, with at least eight hundred and seventy-five thousand soldiers disembarking by the end of June. The allies lost as least ten thousand brave soldiers on D-Day, with four thousand confirmed dead. There were at least one thousand German casualties. The Allied invasion plans were to capture Carentan, St. Lô, Caen, and Bayeux on the first day of the invasion, with all the beaches linked with a front line six to ten miles from the beaches. But none of these objectives were achieved by the end of the first day. The five beaches did not connect with one another until June 12th, when by which time the Allies held a front close to sixty miles long and fifteen miles deep. Caen, another major objective, was still held by German until July 21st. The Germans had ordered French civilians other than those deemed essential to the war effort to leave potential combat zones in Normandy. But civilian casualties on D-Day are estimated to be around three thousand people.

There were several factor that led to victory in Normandy. The German preparations along the Atlantic Wall in Northern France were not completely finished. In the days before D-Day, German General Erwin Rommel explained that construction was not even a quarter of the way finished. The long and extraneous deceptions undergone in Operation Fortitude were a success as it paid off, leaving the Germans to defend a tens of miles of the Atlantic Wall. The Allies air forces, gained and kept air superiority throughout June and July, which meant the German force could not make observations of the preparations that were taking place in Britain and also unable to interfere with bomber raids. The Germans transportation in France was severely disrupted as Allied bombers kept bombaring the lines and the French Resistance, would cut off German supply lines in efforts to aid the Allies. Early in the bombardment it was not well aimed with poor information and locations. Therefore most of the early raids were off-target or not close enough to have any impact. On the five beaches there was specialised armor that was used, that provided artillery support for troops that were invading onto the beaches. Along with German failure to answer the invasion of Normandy and a very complicated command structure in the Nazi Party also aided to the Allied success on the beaches of Normandy. 

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