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Operation Overlord was the code name of what is known today as D-Day, the invasion of Europe via Normandy in June 1944, which ended up a great success. By 1944 Nazi Germany was controlling  France and most of Western Europe, making it very hard for the Allies to launch attacks. To get a foothold in Europe, they needed to find a way to get a large amount of men to the other side of the English Channel. Moving around 160,000 troops was quite a feat and required a lot of planning and preparation. The invasion started with air support, of 1,200 planes, followed by an amphibious assault of close to 6,000 vessels.

Why Normany?

Pays de Calais, which is where France and Britain are closest to one another, was the most obvious choice for an invasion, but the Allies under command of General Dwight Eisenhower decided on Normandy instead. Because the Germans were expecting an attack at Pays de Calais, that area was very well defended and the Nazis concentrated their forces there. The trick was to keep reinforcing that belief to keep them focussing on Pays de Calais and to carry out such a large-scale operation without the Germans getting word of it via spies or interception. Normandy did have large enough beaches to receive a mass landing of soldiers and equipment, but the building of artificial harbors would be required.

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Challenges

Eisenhower faced many challenges when planning this invasion. Equipment and aeroplanes were a large headache, as such a large scale operation they needed enough air support and most aeroplanes were already in use in other WW2 conflicts. There were also not enough ships in England to carry all the men, which meant they had to be built, along with the artificial harbors and amphibious tanks used to make the landing.

Result

Although the Allies didn’t exactly reach their goals on the first day, Operation Overlord was a great success. By the end of August, over three million allied troops were stationed in France. The Germans made a counterattack on 8 August, which failed miserably and left 50,000 Nazi soldiers trapped in the Falaise pocket. On 15 August, South France was invaded during Operation Dragoon and France was liberated by 25 August.

This article is part of our larger educational resource on World War Two. For a comprehensive list of World War 2 facts, including the primary actors in the war, causes, a comprehensive timeline, and bibliography, click here.

Cite This Article
"What was Operation Overlord?" History on the Net
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July 8, 2020 <https://www.historyonthenet.com/what-was-operation-overlord>
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