The Normandy landings, codenamed Operation Neptune, were the landing operations on 6 June 1944 (termed D-Day) of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II.
The largest seaborne invasion in history, the operation began the invasion of German-occupied western Europe, led to the restoration of the French Republic and contributed to an Allied victory in the war.
Planning for the operation began in 1943. In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted a substantial military deception, codenamed Operation Bodyguard, to mislead the Germans as to the date and location of the main Allied landings.
The weather on D-Day was far from ideal, but postponing would have meant a delay of at least two weeks, as the invasion planners set conditions regarding the phase of the moon, the tides, and the time of day that meant only a few days in each month were deemed suitable.
Hitler placed German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in command of German forces and of developing fortifications along the Atlantic Wall in anticipation of an Allied invasion.
Victory in Normandy stemmed from several factors. German preparations along the Atlantic Wall were only partially finished; shortly before D-Day Rommel reported that construction was only 18 per cent complete in some areas as resources were diverted elsewhere.
The deceptions undertaken in Operation Fortitude were successful, leaving the Germans obligated to defend a huge stretch of coastline. The Allies achieved and maintained air superiority, which meant that the Germans were unable to make observations of the preparations underway in Britain and were unable to interfere via bomber attacks.
Transportation infrastructure in France was severely disrupted by Allied bombers and the French Resistance, making it difficult for the Germans to bring up reinforcements and supplies.
Some of the opening bombardment was off-target or not concentrated enough to have any impact, but the specialised armour worked well except on Omaha, providing close artillery support for the troops as they disembarked onto the beaches.
Indecisiveness and an overly complicated command structure on the part of the German high command was also a factor in the Allied success.
So now we’ve had the overview of D Day and what it was and how it helped lead to the allied victory, here we are seventy years on. Can you believe it’s been seventy years? Sometimes it still amazes me that the events of World War Two were not that long ago really. I mean we probably all still have relatives who were born during that time or were growing up during that Second World War.
To celebrate the anniversary men who fought at Normandy from all over the world are gathering together again, with World Leaders to commemorate what was achieved on that day seventy years ago. I wish I could be there. I really do.
Unfortunately, I can’t be, so I’ll be glued to the internet and the TV, watching the ceremonies and the countless documentaries that will be on the history channel this weekend.
So thank you to all those thousands of troops who landed at Normandy, troops from all over the World, who risked their lives for the future generations, so that we could live in a world of democracy and have the right to live our lives the way we want to, and not the way a dictator thinks we should.
Sometimes people forget just how much we owe to these people. Let’s hope this week, we all remember the sacrifices they made for us.
Before I end this I also have a little fact for you all. Winston Churchill, who in 1944 was the British Prime Minister and helped plan the D Day Landings, had wanted to go with the troops, to as close as he could get to Normandy, to wave them off. Understandably, people did not think this was a good idea. Let’s face it, Churchill would have been a great target to take down! The only way they could prevent Churchill from going was with the help of King George VI, who told Churchill that if he went with the troops, then so would he. At this point Churchill accepted that he could not go with the troops. Just a little tidbit for you there! I found it interesting, so maybe you did too.