D Day Operation Neptune
A nation that forgets its past has no future.’ These words by Winston Churchill could not be more apt to describe the purpose
The Danger UXB books commemorate bomb disposal during the Second World War and aims not only to remember and commemorate those who fought and died, but also to remind future generations of the debt they owe to their forebears, and the inspiration that can be derived from their stories.
They will help those growing up now to be aware of the veterans’ sacrifices, and of the contributions they made to our security and to the way of life we enjoy today.
D-Day was the name given to the June 6, 1944, invasion of the beaches at Normandy in northern France by troops from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and other countries. Codenamed Operation Overlord, the allies landed some 156,000 soldiers on the beaches of Normandy by the end of the first day.
Despite their success, some 4,000 Allied troops were killed by German attacks defending the beaches. At the time, the D-Day invasion was the largest naval, air and land operation in history, and within a few days about 326,000 troops, and more than 50,000 vehicles and some 100,000 tons of equipment had landed. By August 1944, all of northern France had been liberated, and in spring of 1945 the Allies had defeated the Germans.
Over 6 million people were involved in the invasion from the Allied side. Made up from American and British, but there were many others Troops from all over the British Empire and English speaking world. Czechs, French, Hungarians, and Poles hoping to free their countries and Jews who had fled Austria and Germany. It was a remarkable alliance.
The number of Allied divisions in southern England immediately before the D-Day landings was 39. Of these, 20 were from the USA, 14 British, 3 Canadian, 1 French and 1 Polish.
With 138 battleships, cruisers, and destroyer The fleet that would bombard the French coast and protect the transports on their crossing was made up of 138 battleships, cruisers, and destroyer and supported by 287 minesweepers, with over 4,000 vessels were used to transport the troops across the Channel and land them on the beaches of Normandy.
Once the initial landings had taken place, infrastructure had to be put in to support and supply the invasion. 423 tugs and other ships carried out this construction work. Some transported and assembled the Mulberry harbours.
Others laid pipes and cables across the width of the English Channel.
This included telephone lines connecting the commanders in the field with those back in London, where SHAEF – the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force – contained the officers and staff commanding and coordinating the vast operation. Equally important was PLUTO – the Petroleum Line Under The Ocean – a pipeline used to pump fuel from Britain to the waiting Allied troops. Without it, every tank, transport and communications vehicle in the invasion force would soon have ground to a halt.
The air force that participated in the operation, fulfiled three vital roles. Some of these planes were used to get troops into the action, dropping paratroopers behind the enemy line or towing gliders to the point where they could detach and make their landing runs.
Others were used to weaken German resistance to the invasion, bombing important fortifications and attacking formations of occupying troops. Thirdly, some had the task of holding the airspace above the beaches, taking out any planes the Luftwaffe brought into action. Without such defence, the troops would have been vulnerable to German air attacks as they crossed the open ground to reach the defenders.
The fighting force was made up of equal numbers of British and American ground forces in the initial landings. The British would not be able to replace lost men and resources at the same rate as the Americans, and therfore the balance of commitment would shift over time.
The number of locomotives knocked out by French Resistance attacks and Allied bombing in the lead-up to the landings was over 1500. This amounted to three-quarters of the trains available in northern France, reducing the Germans’ ability to move troops around.
The volume of bombs dropped on German defenses by the RAF as the invasion fleet set sail was in excess of 5200 tons.
There were 24 bridges across the River Seine between Paris and the sea, Bombers and the French Resistance destroyed 18 of these prior to the invasion, further limiting German movement.
Allied forces arriving by sea landed at five points – Juno for the Canadians, Gold and Sword beaches for the British, and Utah and Omaha beaches for the Americans.
There were 3 airborne divisions made up of,2 American and 1 British airborne divisions. They landed on the in France between midnight and 3am on the night the attack began.
To allow so many paratroopers and glider troops to be deployed, the aerial forces launched from 20 different airbases spread across south-east England.