Sunday, August 21, 2005

D-Day Timeline

IntroductionAfter years of planning, the invasion of Europe had been set for June 5th 1944. Secrecy was maintained until the very last moment when the vast, assembled fleet was ready to set sail.But then, everything had to be stopped. Weather reports over the coast of Normandy were terrible, and the invasion would have to be delayed for 24 hours. The forecast for the next day, June 6th, was still not good, but it was better, and every moment of delay now reduced the chance of catching the Germans by surprise. Eisenhower gave the order to sail. The attack on Normandy began from air, as paratrooper divisions from Britain and America were dropped into enemy territory. They had the essential task of capturing key bridges, so that the Germans would not be able to launch an effective counter-attack, at the same time eliminating some of the most deadly defenses of the Atlantic Wall. IN the darkness and in foreign territory, there were horrifically high casualty rates among these paratroopers. The Allies had already established air superiority and at 3am, 5000 Allied fighters quickly brushed away 119 enemy aircraft, allowing the heavy bombers to begin their work. They would soon be joined by the battleships, in a heavy bombardment which swept up to 20 miles inland. Finally, the land troops disembarked onto the beaches. There were five separate landing sites: the British and Canadian beaches codenamed Juno, Sword and Gold, and the two American sites codenamed Utah and Omaha. After heavy fighting, all five were eventually captured as beachheads.


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