8 Least Known Secrets About D-Day
8 Least Known Secrets About D-Day

8 Least Known Secrets About D-Day

Maria - June 17, 2016

Some facts are well known from the 1944 June 6 day that marked the successful invasion of Western Europe occupied by Germans at the time.

For one, most people are aware that the date significantly determined the course of World War II and marked the start of victory for the Allied forces. Also known to many is the fact that the op was code named Operation Overlord, was the Battle of Normandy that commenced by the Normandy landings of the Allied forces on June 6, 1944.

Less known might be the fact that D-Day was actually scheduled for June 5, and not June 6 as it turned out to be.

8. D-Day was Placed on June 6 Because of Terrible Weather of June 5

8 Least Known Secrets About D-Day

Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), the North West Europe center of operations of the Allied Forces Commander, arrived at Normandy on June 5 with the dismal prospect of terrible weather.

They had to postpone the invasion by a day at the behest of General Eisenhower. June 6 was no ideal either, but a meteorological report offered a slim assurance that there would be a lull in the storm to allow just enough time to launch the planned invasion.

7. D-Day was a Mixed Coordinated Attack that Marked the Start of Operation Overlord

8 Least Known Secrets About D-Day

The Allied forces launched a combined land, naval and air assault on the German-occupied Northern France. This marked the beginning of what was codenamed Operation ‘Overlord’- the Allied invasion of Western Europe and a long and costly battle to liberate Northwest Europe from the hands of Nazi-Germany.

Allied airborne forces were dropped at designated locations across northern France early on June 6, the D-Day. In Utah, Omaha, Juno, Gold and Sword, ground troops landed to join the rest of the forces. The Allied forces had established a firm foothold in the coastal region by the end of the day and forced the Germans to retreat inland. Their advancement into France would begin.

6. D-Day Involved Detailed Planning

8 Least Known Secrets About D-Day

Operation Overlord was the culmination of an intense and comprehensive plan that began more than two years earlier. It started off as a British operation called Roundup intended to move troops inland should German collapse. The US then entered the war and changed its course. The idea became a joint British-American operation.

By 1944, more than 12 countries had joined the action and sent over 2 million troops to Britain in preparation for the D-Day invasion. With the primary participants being American, British and Canadian troops, the Allied forces consisted of Australian, Dutch, Belgian, Czech, French, Polish, Greek, Norwegian, Rhodesian and New Zealand forces as well.

5. Overlord Marked the Beginning of the Long-awaited Second Front Against the Nazi

8 Least Known Secrets About D-Day

The Western Allies had one main war agenda from as early as 1941: to defeat Germany. This would liberate France and lessen the pressure the Soviet Union was experiencing on the east. Germany was a great bother to the West, and the Allies wanted to block its access to key military sites. With a bridgehead in Normandy, the Western Allies would establish a viable foothold in northern Europe, for the very first time since 1940.

4. D-Day was the Biggest Naval, Land and Air Operation Ever

8 Least Known Secrets About D-Day

There has never been a larger naval, air and land coordinated invasion of the magnitude of D-Day’s. It was conducted in two main phases: the amphibious Normandy landings and an airborne assault. Well over 18,000 Allied paratroopers were parachuted into the drop zone along the coast shortly after 6 June midnight to support the infantry divisions that landed earlier on the beaches.

The Allied forces had apparent air supremacy over Germany and flew more than 14,000 forays in support of the coastal landings. Also, they had about 7,000 naval vessels which carried out Operation ‘Neptune’, Overlord’s naval component. They landed well over 132,000 ground troops at Normandy and took care of German coastal defenses before and during the landings.

3. Allied Deception Campaigns Succeeded in Weakening German Defenses in Normandy

8 Least Known Secrets About D-Day

Germany built the ‘Atlantic Wall’, a series of fortifications along the coast of Scandinavia and continental Europe as a defense against the anticipated Allied invasion that materialized on June 6, 1944.

These defenses were often insufficiently manned. The Allied forces ran a series of deception campaigns that succeeded as late as July 1944 in persuading the Germans that the main invasion was yet to come. It would land somewhere else. The anticipation of larger invasion kept the Germans shaken, and their reinforcements tied down away from Normandy, weakening their defense of that coastal region.

2. D-Day was Made Possible by Allied Efforts Elsewhere

8 Least Known Secrets About D-Day

Allied efforts were not just centralized at the Normandy beach. They were spread out across various fronts before and after June 1944. The Allies conducted a strategic bombing campaign that started in 1942. This destabilized the German establishment and forced the Nazi to commit manpower and resources to home defense away from Normandy.

Allied control of the Atlantic achieved through the 1943 victory in the Atlantic Battle also determined the success of the D-Day invasion by directing away the German troops. So did Operation ‘Bagration’, the Soviet Belorussian offensive launched soon after ‘Overlord’. It smashed the entire German Army Group Centre and kept German forces knotted down in the east.

1. There is More to the Allied Normandy Campaign than D-Day

8 Least Known Secrets About D-Day

D-Day did not end the war, but it sure was the turning point in the history of World War II. With that significance, D-Day often tends to overshadow the overall importance of the whole Normandy campaign.

It was necessary for the Allied groups to establish a bridgehead, though this was just their first step. They launched a series of additional assaults in the three months that followed D-Day to try and advance further into France. Strong German forces were resisting them all the way. The Normandy landscape was peculiarly characterized by recessed lanes and thick high hedges. These gave the advantage to the Germans and made it difficult for the invaders to penetrate.

Nonetheless, the protracted and bloody Normandy war paved the way for the Allied victory and the eventual liberation the broader Northwest Europe.