Operation Overlord: The Largest Sea Invasion in History

Landing in Omaha beach.
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World War II

Who doesn’t know this war? It is one of the greatest wars in history involving the Axis and the Allied. The main members of the axis are Germany, Italy, and Japan. While the main members of the allied were the Soviet Union, the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Republic of China.

The beginning of this war was marked by the German invasion of Poland in 1939. In the early years, the war was dominated by the axis. At that time, all of the Allied countries in Europe fell to Germany except Great Britain which was on an island not on the mainland of Europe.

The axis block in Europe in October 1942
Copyright: EmperorTigerstar

Everything seemed to be going well at first. Until 1941, Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor, and in 1942, Germany attacked the Soviet Union at Operation Barbarossa. This certainly makes the two super-strong countries into the allied.

Over time, the defeat of the axis is getting more and more real. The defeat in the axis forces in Eastern Europe and Italy made them even more oppressed. Until finally it getting worse on June 6, 1944, where Operation Overlord began.

Overlord and D-Day Operations

Operation Overlord is the codename of a sea invasion by allied forces against the axis in Normandy, the northern coast of France, also known as the Battle of Normandy. The day it was held—on June 6, 1944—was called D-Day. Allied troops crossed the English Channel to Normandy on 5 beaches which have codename Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword.

Peta invasi Normandia.
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On the first day, June 6, 1944, as many as 156,000 troops were deployed. Supported with 6,939 ships and 14,674 aircraft. Day after day the army continued to cross the English Channel to reach 1,452,000 soldiers on July 25 and 2,052,299 troops in August.

The amount above is certainly very large when compared with the second-largest sea invasion, the invasion of Okinawa which only deployed 50,000 troops on the first day with a total of only hundreds of thousands of troops.

The letter “D” on D-Day does not mean anything, it does not stand for anything. Some say that “D” means “day”, “departure”, “decision”, or “doomsday”. However, there is an explanation from the US military that the letter “D” only comes from their calendars which at that time on June 6, 1944, were marked with the letter “D”.

Fun Fact

Why the Normandy Coast?

There are several reasons why the Normandy coast was chosen as a landing site, including the following.

1. Geologically Suitable

The nature of the sand at the landing site is very influential for troop movements. If the beach sand is too rough, the heavy combat vehicle will be difficult to maneuver, as a result, the combat vehicle will become an easy target. Meanwhile, if the beach sand is too fine, combat vehicles will surely difficult to move. This has happened in the allied invasion of Dieppe—about 135 km from Normandy—where more than 50% of the invading tanks were trapped drowned in the sand beach that is too fine.

2. Close to the Cherbourg Port

In amphibious invasions like this, the role of the port is very important. In addition to facilitating the landing of troops, the port also greatly facilitates the dispatch of army logistics such as food and ammunition. In this invasion, Cherbourg was only tens of kilometers from the landing site.

3. Affordable From British Air Bases

This location is so close that even the shortest fighter can reach it. This certainly gives more value to the superiority in the air and fighter ground attack support.

4. Cross in the Middle of the English Channel

A strait has only two entrances, one end and the other. Therefore, the crossing of the troops can be easier to protect just by guarding the two entrances of the English Channel from the U-Boat (German’s submarine).

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Sources and References:

  1. Why Was Normandy Selected For D-Day? – Real Engineering
  2. World War II – Wikipedia
  3. Events Preceding World War II in Asia- Wikipedia
  4. Why Is It Called D-Day? – History
  5. D-Day: Fact About the 1944 Wwii Invasion of Normandy – History
  6. U.S. Troops Land on Okinawa – History

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