On 6 June 1944 The Normandy Landings took place, 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of the largest seaborne military operation in history and one of the most successful operations in military history.
In honour of this anniversary we’ve compiled a list of the most interesting and significant facts and figures from this major historical event and information on how you can bring this topic to life with immersive Battlefields history trips in Normandy and ensure future generations understand the global significance of this event. Continue reading to discover some of the most fascinating facts about the D-Day invasion and what exactly went into planning one of the greatest military achievements the world has ever seen.
1. Element of Surprise
As the war was well underway by the time of the Normandy Landings German Forces were expecting resistance and attacks from the Allied Forces, meaning that for any operation to be successful the Allies would have to take the German Army by surprise. This was exactly what they did, resulting in the immense success of the operation and its place in history as the largest and most successful seaborne operation in military history. Due to the expectant German Forces laying in waiting for an attack, Hitler was confident that his army could survive any attack from the Allies, which lead the Allied troops on an ingenious route of misdirection and ‘Operation Fortitude’ was born. Through intentional ‘leaks’ on intelligence such as staged radio transmissions and even elaborate inflatable ‘props’ and dummy paratroopers the Allies convinced the Germans to prepare for British and American attack on the Pas de Calais, rather than the beaches of Normandy. This misdirection and sneakiness from the Allies resulted in German troops being stationed in the masses at the rumoured locations leaving the beaches at Normandy significantly un-manned when the invasion began, working in the favour of the Allies.
2. Photo Submissions
It may be hard to believe, but the Allied Forces settled on the 5 beaches around Normandy as the location for the invasion thanks to a photo competition ran by the BBC in 1942. The BBC turned to the general public in a ‘photo competition’ in which entrants were convinced to send in photographs and postcards of any recent trips along the coast of Europe between Normandy and the Pyrenees. What was seemingly an innocent competition was actually a clever way for the War Office to gain valuable intel on the most effective landing spots for the D-Day operation, without arousing suspicion from the German Troops in the area. The War Office in Britain was aided with air reconnaissance by the French Resistance and chose the Normandy beaches as the superior spots for the troops to target.
3. What a Difference a Day Makes
As such a high pressure and rigorously planned operation even the timing was planned to the very minute with the timing of D-Day being very specific. The timing of the D-Day invasion was planned to include a number of factors such as weather conditions, tide times and overall weather condition. This was particularly important for the paratroopers who would be landing behind enemy lines and playing a crucial role in the attack on German communications, which greatly benefited the Allies. These specific requirements meant it drastically reduced the amount of suitable days for the invasion and an original date of the 5th June was reached. This original date was delayed due to a change in weather conditions which resulted in poor weather on the 5th so the operation was delayed 24 hours until the infamous date of 6th June 1944, despite weather conditions still not being ideal and adding difficulties for the Allied troops.
4. Hitler was Asleep
On the 5th June Hitler was at home in the Alps, hosting Joseph Goebbels and other guests and reportedly stayed entertaining his guests until 3am, meaning that when the Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy at 6:30am the German dictator was asleep. A further 6 hours since Allied paratroopers had been breaching enemy lines nearby since 12:00am that morning. Worsening Germany’s disadvantage Hitler wasn’t made aware of the attack on Normandy until noon that day, and further delayed reinforcements as he considered it a largely inconsequential attack as the German Army were expecting the larger invasions to strike in Pas de Calais. In fact, the Germans were so confident that any invasion would happen in Pas de Calais and the poor weather conditions would halt any such attacks that the German Commander Erwin Rommel actually left Normandy to visit his wife on her Birthday, and was in Germany with her present when he heard the news of the invasion. So, what was this present that he chose to hand deliver? A pair of shoes.
D-Day in Numbers
As the largest seaborne invasion in global history, the numbers associated with The Normandy Landings are just as large. To remember the impact and scale of this operation we’ve summarised D-Day in numbers.
200,00 marine vessels, military vehicles, amphibious landing craft and allied vehicles of all types
1,900 Allied aircraft deployed during the D-Day invasion
5 beaches: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword
2 Million + troops played a part in the preparation and execution of the Normandy Landings spanning across 12 countries
156,115 of these were Allied troops who landed in Normandy
11,590 Allied Aircraft in the skies above Normandy
23,400 Allied Airborne troops parachuted behind enemy lines
10,500 Allied casualties recorded at midnight on D-Day, involving those killed, wounded, missing or imprisoned
At Adaptable Travel we think its essential that the stories from WWII and the Battle of Normandy continue being told, explored and documented. We offer a range of visits and trips to the Normandy region where students can visit significant sites such as the landing beaches and develop a deeper understanding and enriched insight into the monumental events which took place there 75 years ago. Immersive visits to these historic sites allow students to understand and examine the events that took place and the affect these have had on the lives of themselves and those in other countries in the present day. We are extremely proud to offer these opportunities to students allowing them to remember the fallen, explore the sacrifices made by those who fought and to deepen understanding in preventing atrocities like these in the future.
If you’d like to learn more about our Normandy packages please get in touch with a member of our expert team and we’ll be happy to help.Alternatively you can read about our Normandy trip packages yourself and request a quote.
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