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Learning Outcome. To know the series of events involved in D-Day To understand the different experiences of the D-Day landings. How did the Allies prepare for D-day?.

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Learning Outcome

  • To know the series of events involved in D-Day

  • To understand the different experiences of the D-Day landings.


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How did the Allies prepare for D-day?

  • Calais was too strong to stage an invasion so it Normandy was chosen instead, but the Allies would need detailed intelligence to succeed…

  • However preparations on this scale did not go unnoticed by the Germans...

  • The Germans were not totally fooled and had to be convinced by a Spanish double agent that Calais was the real target and in fact Normandy was the diversion…

  • Only time would tell if the Nazi’s were aware of the operation and would be ready for the Allies…

  • By 1944 the Allies were ready to retake mainland Europe. ‘Operation Overlord’ was led by General Eisenhower and planned for June.

  • The get an accurate picture of Normandy the Allies used aerial photos, holiday guides, the public’s holiday photos (10 million were sent), Sailing books, and French spies. A secret landing was even made to test the sand was hard enough to bear the weight of tanks.

  • Some forces were sent even to Dover with wooden models of tanks (called ‘Patton’s First Army’) to make the Nazis think that the invasion was planned for Calais. Meanwhile the real invasion force, gathered including thousands of Americans.

  • The Allies trained for months, attacking copies of the Nazi emplacements, building ‘mulberries’ – floating harbours that could be towed across the Channel and set up. Specialist machines were built (e.g. ‘crab’ tanks to clear mines/ bridge-carrying tanks).

The invasion force was ready by 1 June – but the invasion was delayed because of bad weather. Forecasters predicted that the weather would clear on 6 June. Eisenhower ordered the attack.


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What happened on D-Day?

  • A few Royal Navy ships raced back and forth between Dover and Calais to make Nazi radar operators think that the invasion was going to take place at Cala

  • The British and Canadians landed on 3 beaches – Gold, Juno and Sword. They experienced heavy casualties (over 4,500)…

  • At Utah beach the Americans landed by accident at the wrong place…

  • At Omaha beach the B17 bombers overshot the Nazi defences by 5km’s, and most of the naval bombardment fell short. The Nazi defences (dug into the cliffs) were still very strong. The expected 800 men had been joined by a crack Nazi Division. Many men and vehicles were swept back out to sea or sank due to the tide. 

  • However, casualties were massive - the Americans sustained 3,000 casualties in first few hours.

  • At 3 am on 6 June 1944, a 6,000 ships set sail for Normandy in 47 convoys. They carried 200,000 seamen, 185,000 soldiers and 20,000 vehicles

  • 20,000 men were dropped behind enemy lines to disrupt communications and seize key points. 11,000 planes, attacked the Nazis from the air and battleships bombarded the Nazi shore defences.

  • But by nightfall had captured a large area of coastline.

  • But, by chance, found little Nazi resistance and captured the beach with only 210 casualties.

  • Men managed to struggle ashore safely, and by nightfall the Americans still only had ‘a toehold’ on the beach.


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What was the result of D-Day?

  • By the end of D-Day, 132,715 men were ashore, which rose quickly (by 12 June 2 million men were in Normandy)

  • The Nazis fought desperately, but by August Paris had fallen and (despite a short Nazi counter-attack called ‘The Battle of the Bulge’)

  • The Allies pushed into Germany until they met up with Russian forces advancing from the east (23 April 1945).

  • On 7 May, 1945, the Nazis surrendered – it was VE Day (Victory in Europe)!


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