The War Archives - D-DAY

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D-DAY - Allied Vehicles, Aircraft & Equipment

If the Allies were to defeat the Nazis, an invasion of occupied Europe was inevitable, and had first been mooted as early as January 1942. However, it was believed that the German U-Boat menace had first to be neutralised, and that the Allies must have virtual air superiority. The following year, the invasions of Sicily and the Italian mainland served as proving grounds for the concept of an air-supported amphibious assault... and the Allied superiority in men, equipment and materiel ensured the right result. The lessons that were learned in Italy served the Allies well during the invasion of Normandy, which began on 6 June 1944 (D-Day).

The invasion of Europe was codenamed ‘Operation Overlord’, with the initial phase dubbed ‘Neptune’. Some 18 months in the planning, ‘Neptune’ was the largest such operation the world had ever seen, involving Allied land, sea and air forces. Some 6,939 naval vessels participated in the operation, of which 4,126 were landing ships or landing craft and, by the end of D-Day, 156,115 personnel had been put ashore on the five invasion beaches, or had been dropped by glider and parachute. The landings were supported by 11,590 aircraft, of which just 127 were downed by enemy action.

By midnight 11 June 1944 (D+5) the five landing areas were close to being united in a single front, and the number of Allied soldiers in France had reached 326,547. When the assault phase ended on 30 June, there were 850,279 men, 148,803 vehicles and 570,505 tons of supplies in Normandy. Facing them was Rommel’s Army Group B, with 59 divisions, comprising around half a million men, stationed in France, Belgium and the Netherlands, but, crucially, with just 380,000 men in Normandy, or able to be easily moved to Normandy.

There can be no argument but that the D-Day invasion was a pivotal point in the war, and a turning point in history.