On the side of D-Day being significant, my own knowledge comes into play. I know full well that a lot of planning and preparation went into the D-Day assault.
To begin with: The deceptions at Dover, where the allies put in fake airfields and landing craft and made a complete mock army in the surrounding areas tricked the German reconnaissance aircraft into thinking that an invasion force was being assembled for an attack at Calais. This belief was made stronger by the radio traffic that the Germans picked up from Dover, the transmissions were announcing the deployment of troops to this area in preparation of an invasion of Calais. But this was all a deception, the real invasion was to come to the beaches of Normandy. But Hitler has fallen for it and he had even ordered that no troops were to be moved from defending Calais, even if another invasion landed at Normandy or anywhere else on the French coast, without the explicit orders of Hitler himself. Hitler thinking that it would be a deception for the real invasion at Calais.
I also know that D-Day hinged on many crucial small objectives within the opening hours of D-Day. The capture of Pegasus bridge to hold back the German armour that would have spelt disaster for the whole invasion was executed without fail, the soldiers also set up an ‘Alamo’ just in case the Germans broke through the defence of their newly captured bridge, the Alamo being if the Germans broke through and were on their way over the bridge then they would blow it up, slowing down the Allied advance but also stopping German armour stopping the invasion.
After the initial landings a temporary port was set up at the seaside town of Arromanches called the Mulberry Harbour ‘B’. The Americans also has a Mulberry Harbour this one on Omaha beach, Mulberry Harbour ‘A’, however their port was severely damaged due to a storm that raged and made the harbour unusable. The Mulberry Harbours were big, hollow concrete blocks and big metal piers floated over the channel and put in place to create the worlds busiest port for a couple of months, they were only designed to last the war but the remnants can still be seen around the coast. These harbours brought ashore the equipment and manpower that was vital in the new front.
Also the defeat of German gun batteries that could have destroyed ships and landing craft out to 17 miles of sea were another crucial set of objectives that if not accomplished might have hindered the invasion. There were numerous gun batteries, there were some in particular:
* Point du hoc – this was a German gun battery on top of a cliff giving brilliant sighing of ships. Before the invasion took place it was bombed by the air force and shelled by the navy so that the Germans would not sink many ships before they got to shore and cause many allied casualties.
* Longues Sur Mer – this battery was used to destroy ships and landing craft before they got to the coast, once again for inflicting as much damage as possible before the troops could get ashore.
Gun emplacements, like the two above, were commanded by command/observation centres like Le Grand Bunker, literally translated ‘The big bunker’. Here artillery fire could be directed onto ships and onto the beaches. These buildings were of great strategic importance so the allies would try and take these out very fast before an invasion, however Le grand bunker was camouflaged to look as if it was just a seaside house.
The allies faced many objectives and tasks to win the war, and D-Day can be argued that it was the begging of the end of the second world war, but the other argument is that D-Day was not what condemned the Germans to losing it was many other things, that perhaps if the allies didn’t do these then D-Day might not have even happened or it would have been a lot harder to beat the Germans.
Such as the battle of Britain, if the RAF did not win the battle of Britain then the Germans might have invaded and conquered Britain, so D-Day would never have been launched from England.
Another is the battle of Kursk, quite possibly one of the biggest tank battles ever, the Russians held on and defeated the Germans. If they had lost Hitler might have pushed his forces into Russia and could have defeated one of the greatest nations that stood against the Nazi regime. It is argued that if Germany never invaded Russia then they might have won the war, this is argued to the belief that without the Russians opening a right front and essentially surrounding the Germans that Germany would have continued and built up their manpower and equipment.
In conclusion I believe that D-Day was the ending factor to the European Conflict as far as speeding the end up and opening another front. Looking at the sources and using my own knowledge I have built up a picture of the challenge that the western allies faced when coming across the Atlantic wall, with its numerous gun batteries and anti tank and aircraft emplacements. The flooded fields that drowned parachutists and Rommel’s asparagus that impaled gliders on their landings. And the way that it is remembered now by mass cemeteries with thousands buried in each. Germans, Americans and British row after row and occasionally buried together.
I believe that if the Russians did not come into the war than the outcome could have been much different, and if Stalin did not do his 3 5 year plans to modernise and equip Russia for war, then once again it could have been very different. I say this because Germany lost a lot of morale and many thousands of soldiers. This also spread evenly the opposition the allies faced to defeat Germany from all sides, from the 60 divisions that were in North France to the 120 that fought the Russians. Who knows, the war hinged on so many factors and it is our role as historians to find the truth working through bias, but there’s one thing I know for sure and that’s the fact that many people died and that its also our role as historians to make sure that’s never forgotten.
By Michael Strong
Marker, My apologies for this not all being typed up and being jumbled about, my finger was fractured before I had the opportunity to type it up, if you wish I can get the whole thing typed up, please ask if you do.