The Battle of Normandy - A Research Paper on History

Date:  2021-06-22 14:14:54
7 pages  (1845 words)
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University/College: 
George Washington University
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Research paper
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This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Normandy is located in northern coast of France. The battle of Normandy happened during the 2nd World War where western allies which included United States, Canada, and Britain were fighting with German forces occupying Western Europe. The allied nations launched an invasion to Normandy on June 6th, 1944. They landed in five separate beachheads where American forces moved west to free Brittany while Polish, Canadian and British troops were tasked to capture Caen which was the major city. The German forces were nearly finished at Falaise after thorough operations in Normandy and Brittany to secure them from German forces control. The Americans through Operation Cobra fought to liberate Brittany as capturing Caen and pushing the island towards Falaise was done through operations Totalise, Atlantic, Charnwood, and spring (Johnston).

Several codenames were used before the battle started. Operation Overload was to go through NW Europe while Operation Neptune was to begin on D-Day. The campaign began in Normandy coast after the allied bombers destroyed transportation links and weakening Germans forces strength by dropping more than 13,000 bombs using more than 300 planes. They also destroyed bridges, railroads and seizing landing fields through the use of six parachutes regiments with close to 13, 000 men. This early attack was a surprise to German forces led by General Irwin Rommel since they were only aware of battle but not the exact date and place where it would start as they expected to start in Pas de Calais which is located in French coastline along the Belgian border(Johnston). However, through deception campaign, the Allied forces launched behind enemy lines accurately dividing themselves into different beaches. American forces assaulted Utah and Omaha, Canadian army attacking Juno while British troops attacked Gold and Sword beaches. The operation overload is explained in the map below;

The Normandy battle participants had their order of battle. US forces who were the first army had stationed around 34, 250 troops at Omaha Beach, 23,250 men had landed on Utah beach, several parachutes which controlled VierVille and Sainte-Mere-Eglise and also choppers protecting the right flank and giving support to Utah beach landings. They had planned to drop further west around Cotentin so as to allow forces who landed in the sea to easily access across the Peninsula but they changed plans by moving closer to the beachhead. British soldiers who were the second army had 7,900 men who went to protect the left flank at the east of the River Orne. 29,000 men landed on Sword beach while 21,400 men landed on Juno beach to destroy battery and scale the cliffs on the left side of River Orne. Other 25,000 men landed on Gold beach from Arromanches to Courseulles. Overall, British armies consisted of 83,115 troops (Keegan). Naval participants were also part of the consignment where there was invasion fleet from eight different navies which comprised of 6,939 vessels, 864 merchant vessels, 4,126 transport vessels, 736 ancillaries aircraft and 1,213 warships. The warships were tasked to provide cover for the transports against Germans in the form of submarines, aerial attack or surface warships. The warships which included Allied Task Force O were to give support through shore bombardment to the landings (Mackey).

Germany who was the one being fought had 5, 202 tanks on East front, 5, 041 aircraft in Luftwaffe inventory and stationed themselves in Soviet Union, Finland, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Norway. Hitler ordered the Atlantic Wall which was standing in the Allies ways so as to time forthcoming landings for high tide. The entire wall was strengthened with long barbed wire, a million mines to prevent landing craft and tank top turrets. 716th Infantry Division who were not fit for active duty guarded most Canadian and British beaches and the eastern end of the landing zones. Well trained 352nd Infantry Division defended the area between Carentan and Bayeux and also Omaha beach. This division had many troops and combat veterans who had been carrying out anti-invasion exercises. The 1057th and 1058th Infantry Regiment who were equipped to be transported by air was tasked to go to the interior of the Cotentin Peninsula and other drop zones of parachute landings. Lastly, the 709th Infantry Division which comprised of 729th, 739th, and 919th Infantry Regiment protected the eastern and northern coast of Cotentin Peninsula and Utah beach landing zone(Keegan).

The primary objective of this Normandy operation was to create lodgment in the city of Caen because that was the gateway for German forces fall and the start of the Western European campaign. This war was pressured by the Soviet leader who challenged British and American to open another front in the war since the invaded occupied France in the west. This made allies to agree to launch an invasion the next year and planned on using France Harbor which will be employed sustain the attack. Secrecy and planning began as a surprise were deemed to be the greatest weapon. While they were building tanks, trucks and a dummy army of wooden in SE England so as to convince German forces that invasion was coming in the Pas de Calais, the entire assembly was going on in the southwest of England. In that assembly, they analyzed maps, photographs, and models of beaches so as to know layouts of the Normandy and landmarks like churches and headlands which will aid them in achieving their objectives (Kilvert-Jones & Major).

However, even after thorough planning on the invasion, many challenges rose during the start of the invasion. The allied bombardment was unable to destroy Nazi positions as they faced fierce resistance. This led to a high number of casualties in Omaha beach where US forces were attacked as they struggled to cross the vast sands, but after the long battle, they finally secured Omaha. This was because while they were planning for the D-Day, Double Cross Agents like Juan Pujol convinced the German side about the Normandy attack since there were leaks before the attack day. He told them that it was only a diversionary attack but Gen. Charles de Gaulle stated that invasion was real which had potential effects on Allied Deceptions Fortitude North and Fortitude South. Although the allied forces failed to reach their inland D-Day objectives, they managed to secure Normandy beachhead where they helped to bring other troops, tanks, and artillery to come offshore. They, however, lost over 10,000 soldiers which included 359 Canadian troops, many French civilians and in the process killed and captured hundreds of German forces (Johnston).

During landings, several factors such as weather were paramount. The full moon was necessary during landing by the aircraft and also to provide spring tide so as to limit the window of opportunity to mount an invasion to specific days in each month. However, severe weather on June 4th prevented the landing of aircraft; small clouds affected pilots from seeing landing targets, and troop convoys in seas were forced to take shelter in inlets and bays along Britain south coast. Eisenhower, however, ordered the invasion to proceed which found the German forces unprepared because they believed no invasion would take place from the existing poor conditions. Many senior officials were absent and many dozens of battalion commanders, division and regimental were at war games away from their posts (Johnston).

Airborne operations mainly used amphibious landings where they first secured lodgment where they will use to expand the beachhead to allow the buildup of their forces. Initially, they were vulnerable before additional troops came. The airborne operations were tasked to take hold and destroy bridges, road crossings and other features which will prevent Germans from organizing and launching counter attacks mainly along western and eastern flanks of the landing areas. Landing several kilometers behind the beaches were intended to neutralize German coastal defense batteries and rapidly expand the beachhead area. British Airborne Division was assigned to cover eastern flank while US Airborne Division took the area of west of Utah Beach. The British Airborne Division objectives were to capture untouched the bridge of Benouville-Ranville crossing and prevent it against inevitable armored counter-attacks, damage Merville batterys artilleries and restrict movement of ground forces by destroying bridges around Dives River. American airborne landings approached Normandy from the west and mainly dropped their parachutes at night causing them to scatter and hard to rally. This however confused the Germans who fragmented their response and also Americans southern flank were helped by Germans defensive flooding (Johnston).

After the landings, two artificial Mulberry harbors were brought across the English Channel after the beachhead was established. One was located at Omaha beach by the American forces while the British troops took one to Arromanches. These harbors became operational at around 9th June. American forces had landed over 314,504 men, supplies of about 116, 000 tons and about 41,000 vehicles while on the other hand, British troops had landed 314, 507 men, 102, 000 tons of supplies and close to 54,000 vehicles. Their plans to capture almost all beaches and areas like Caen, Carentan, and Bayeux on the first day bore no fruit, but they managed to reduce the casualties and also were able to protect the bridgeheads from counterattacks. The German troops were unable to move closer to where allied forces landed because of the Allied air superiority who destroyed the French rail system and they reinforced their front faster than Germans. Operation Goodwood captured the remainder of Caen while Operation Cobra successfully penetrated western end of the Cotentin Peninsula(Mackey).

This Normandy invasion which was also named D-Day remained the largest seaborne invasion in history even after 60 years later because it involved nearly three million troops and many nations were involved. The success in breaking into Nazi army, its destruction and subsequently securing democracy over totalitarianism makes the battle to be one of the important events in modern history. By the end of 23rd July 1944, there were close to 380,000 casualties. Among them were 29,000 American soldiers, 11,000 British troops, 5,000 Canadian troops, 12,200 France civilians and 23, 019 Nazi forces. It ended on 21st August 1944 with the cf closing the Falaise Gap and capturing more than 150,000 German soldiers. They also pursuit others who ran into Belgium, Germany, and Netherlands. After the war, the British and Canadian forces were criticized since they were poorly trained and unaggressive. The success was attributed to allied air power and superiority in both numbers and material (Mackey).

The Normandy invasion dealt a psychological blow to the Nazi as it went against their plans and subsequently prevented Hitler from sending troops from France to assist his Eastern front from advancing allied nations troops. This led him to commit suicide on April 30. The Normandy landings were very costly, but its victory superseded the costs. Coalition forces managed to sustain the battle even when faced with a shortage of artillery ammunition and had superiority in some armored vehicles at the ratio 4:1 and number of troops at the ratio 3:5:1. This assisted them to overcome terrain challenges. Credit also must be given to allied intelligence and counterintelligence because the successfully deceived the Germans and Ultra decrypts of German communication helped to reveal counterattacking German plans (Keegan).

This Normandy war will remain one of the favorite events since up to date the beaches of Normandy is referred in most of maps and signposts and also large cemeteries wer...

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