Panzer, Memorial, France, Normandy

“We will have peace of mind, even if we must fight for it”- General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

General George S. Patton (just prior to the Normandy Invasion) June 5th 1944

In the summertime in 1944, Hitler’s Wehrmacht (armed forces) nevertheless were very much in control of each the lands the Germans had fought and won throughout their Blitzkrieg campaign of 1941- 1943. The majority of the whole regionl of Europe was still in the stranglehold of Hitler’s clutches, and the allies were in a desperate place to somehow loosen his grip on Europe by any means necessary. A year earlier that summer of 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower was commissioned by Franklin Roosevelt to think of a grand military strategy to invade the European stronghold that the German military were holding loyal to. The first proposal for the invasion was called”Operation Roundup”, then changed to”Operation Sledgehammer” a couple of months later. The invasion has been put on hold until May of 1944 through the insistence of Joseph Stalin and FDR from the protestations of Winston Churchill who desired to proceed with Eisenhower’s strategy in August of 1943. The turning point that eventually changed Churchill’s head was the arrangement that Stalin would assist the allies by mounting an offensive against Hitler in eastern Europe in exactly the exact same time that the US Army and Marines invaded Normandy, which might help deliver a mortal two prong attack against Germany’s army.

On June 1st of 1944, the brand new campaign title for the invasion of Normandy has been changed for the last time. Operation Overlord. Was the new title for what could eventually become the largest sea borne invasion the world had ever seen, with over 3 million allied troops taking action against the Germans and over 6900 sea boats bringing the allied troops into the sandy beach at Normandy. In the late hours of June 5th, massive air strikes and bombardments began waking up all the sleeping French citizens and German troops stationed near Omaha Beach. A French woman who lived in a chateau overlooking the beach gives us a very descriptive firsthand account of what occurred that evening. “We are deafened by the planes, making a never-ending round, very low; of course what I believed were German planes are quite simply English ones, protecting the landing. Coming from the sea, a compact artificial cloud; its menacing and starts to become alarming; the first hiss over our minds.

A complete two-thirds of the first bombardments were dropped out the actual invasion region to convince the German army the sea landings could be created in the neighborhood of the Seine, as opposed to at Omaha Beach. Due to decoded messages which the allies could obtain from a cadre of American spies, the US Army knew where the Germans would attempt any counterattack steps against the invasion. During that very same night of June 5th, 822 aircraft carrying countless parachuted military personnel began dropping off the soldiers for their designated landing zones near Normandy. The American 82nd and 101st airborne divisions did the best possible job possible and secured their objectives of carrying out German machine gun turrets and blowing 75 military tanks and vehicles behind enemy lines.

The full-scale invasion started in earnest at 6:30 AM on June 6th, when the more than 11,000 ships and ships came near shore and the greater than 80000 troops began swarming from their landing vehicles to start the fiery attack on the German forces awaiting reign down machine gun fire on the American soldiers. The Germans were lurking in their hiding places from the embankments from the rocky mountains of Normandy overlooking the shore. Since the troops waded ashore at Omaha beach, the Germans let loose with Hell’s fury, cutting almost two-thirds of the courageous soldiers that were first to arrive. The 352nd branch of the German army struck the US 1st division with complete wrath, taking the lives of over 2,000 American GI’s. The American effort was in trouble in this horrible stage of the invasion, and the US army intelligence required to think of a counter plan shortly, or the whole mission will be in shambles.

If Hitler had started to unleash his own armored division of Panzer tanks against the allies for a complete counter assault on that dreadful morning of June 6th, Operation Overload would really have been a complete failure. However, because Hitler was reluctant to take a bet and dispatch the hundreds of tanks and other army armored vehicles to carry out the allied forces, he waited too late to make the most of their allies misfortunes on Omaha beach. By the time that it took HItler to finally begin sending his Panzer division into Normandy, the American army had established a new strategy of attack employing the British forces to invade the region of the most powerful German stronghold in Périers-sur-le-Dan near the primary battle lines supporting the Normandy shore front.

The French girl that had witnessed the initial air strikes against the Germans, also observed the British tanks rolling in from the southeast to assault the German Panzer division at Périers-sur-le-Dan. She clarifies the English invasion and the British soldiers in particular with terrific clarity. “The English tanks are silhouetted from time to time on the street above Periers. Grand impassioned exchanges on the street with the folks from the farm; we’re stupefied by the suddenness of events. I inform him that he should still have comrades in the guns, because we could still listen to the battery firing. You feel that both of these guys are lost, disorientated, gloomy. Afterwards, nearly night, I see them , their faces intentionally blackened with charcoal, crossing the playground. What is going to be their fate? How many of them are still in the region, hiding and watching?”

The British antitank gunners took out the biggest German tank divisions, which led to paralyzing any counter attack the Germans could instigate against the allies. By the night of June 6th, leading to the early morning hours of June 7th, the allies were enjoying a military victory that demonstrated they were ready to conquer the Germans back to their homeland and return Europe for its allies.

During the constant battles which were taking place between June 8th and June 13th. The allies had destroyed nearly 1500 German aircraft and armored tanks and taken over 7500 German lives. But on June 13th,in a little village area named Villers-Bocage, the British infantry division lost over 40 British tanks and endured 200 casualties against a well-equipped German tank division. A large scale infantry offensive west of Caen, known as Operation Epsom, was also defeated on June 25-29, which cast a massive shadow of uncertainty on the final success of Operation Overlord. The only expect the allies had at the time was that the largest German military leaders had begun to fall prey to a sudden collection of deaths between suicides and bombing attempts on several members of their high command.

The complete disarray of German’s military leadership resulted in huge errors in Germany’s counterattacks against American troops in Saint-Lô, where 1500 American soldiers laid waste to Hitler’s tank and anti-aircraft branches. The American forces could surround and attack all of the German soldiers and armored vehicles, thus laying ground for the supreme allied strategy that would ultimately force the Germans to return to their homeland.

From the last remaining days of July, the majority of the German’s tank divisions were made to head westward from the British tank strategy called Operation Goodwood. The allied forces used the absence of German tanks to start up a massive wound in the German’s entire military offensive. Operation Cobra as it was called, would open up a devastating air attack on the front of the German military on the afternoon hours of July 25th. A enormous American spearhead now threatened to push into Brittany and, by a left turn, to encircle the Germans in Normandy in the rear.

That effort cause the last retreat of the Germans, and the American troops would cross the Seine River and finally liberate Paris during the month of August. The classic”Battle of the Bulge” are the last great battle of WWII, causing the Germans to surrender to the Allies in 1945.

The Normandy invasion was the primary plan of attack against the German war machine that indicated that the last end to Hitler’s domination of Europe. Without the bravery and courage of each the military branches of the allied forces, Hitler’s devastation of the planet could have continued for many more years, and taken countless lives in the procedure.

“I’ve returned several times to honor the valiant men who perished. . .every guy who set foot on Omaha Beach was a fanatic.” Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, Commander of the US First Army in the Normandy Invasion

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