D-Day

Normandy campaign

Normandy campaign, June to Aug., 1944, in World War II. The Allied invasion of the European continent through Normandy began about 12:15 descr='[AM]' on June 6, 1944 (D-day). The plan, known as Operation Overlord, had been prepared since 1943; supreme command over its execution was entrusted to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. In May, 1944, tactical bombing was begun in order to destroy German communications in N France. Just after midnight on June 6, British and American airborne forces landed behind the German coastal fortifications known as the Atlantic Wall. They were followed after daybreak by the seaborne troops of the U.S. 1st Army and British 2d Army. Field Marshal B. L. Montgomery was in command of the Allied land forces. Some 4,000 transports, 800 warships, and innumerable small craft, under Admiral Sir B. H. Ramsay, supported the invasion, and more than 11,000 aircraft, under Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, formed a protective umbrella. While naval guns and Allied bombers assaulted the beach fortifications, the men swarmed ashore. At the base of the Cotentin peninsula the U.S. forces established two beachheads—Utah Beach, W of the Vire River, and Omaha Beach, E of the Vire, the scene of the fiercest fighting. British troops, who had landed near Bayeux on three beaches called Gold, Juno, and Sword, advanced quickly but were stopped before Caen. On June 12 the fusion of the Allied beachheads was complete. The German commander, Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, found that Allied air strength prevented use of his reserves. U.S. forces under Gen. Omar N. Bradley cut off the Cotentin peninsula (June 18), and Cherbourg surrendered on June 27. The Americans then swung south. After difficult fighting in easily defendable "hedgerow" country they captured (July 18) the vital communications center of Saint-Lô, cutting off the German force under Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. The U.S. 3d Army under Gen. George S. Patton was thrown into the battle and broke through the German left flank at Avranches. Patton raced into Brittany and S to the Loire, swinging east to outflank Paris. A German attempt to cut the U.S. forces in two at Avranches was foiled (Aug. 7–11). The British had taken Caen on July 9, but they were again halted by a massive German tank concentration. They resumed their offensive in August and captured Falaise on Aug. 16. Between them and the U.S. forces driving north from Argentan the major part of the German 7th Army was caught in the "Falaise pocket" and was wiped out by Aug. 23, opening the way for the Allies to overrun N France.

See G. A. Harrison, Cross Channel Attack (1951); C. Ryan, The Longest Day (1959, repr. 1967); A. McKee, Last Round against Rommel (1964); A. A. Mitchie, The Invasion of Europe (1964); Army Times Ed., D-day, the Greatest Invasion (1969); S. E. Ambrose, D-day, June 6, 1944 (1994); R. J. Drez, Voices of D-day (1994); R. Miller, Nothing Less than Victory (1994); T. A. Wilson, D-day 1944 (1994); A. Beevor, D-day: The Battle for Normandy (2009).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

D-Day: Selected full-text books and articles

D-Day and Geography By Berman, Mildred The Geographical Review, Vol. 84, No. 4, October 1994
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Desert Fox in Normandy: Rommel's Defense of Fortress Europe By Samuel W. Mitcham Jr Praeger Publishers, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "D-Day"
Cross-Channel Attack By Gordon A. Harrison Center of Military History, U.S. Army, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VIII "The Sixth of June: The Invasion Is Launched"
From the Normandy Beaches to the Baltic Sea: The Northwest Europe Campaign, 1944-1945 By Alan J. Levine Praeger, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "The Normandy Beachhead"
Command Decisions By Kent Roberts Greenfield U. S. Government Printing Office, 1960
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "Overlord versus the Mediterranean at the Cairo-Tehran Conferences"
Strike Swiftly! The 70th Tank Battalion from North Africa to Normandy to Germany By Marvin Jensen Presidio Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "The Utah Beach Landings and Beachhead"
North Atlantic Civilization at War: The World War II Battles of Sky, Sand, Snow, Sea, and Shore By Patrick Lloyd Hatcher M.E. Sharpe, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of D-Day begins on p. 129
Utah Beach to Cherbourg (6 June-27 June 1944) By United States. Dept. of the Army. Historical Division U.S. G.P.O., 1948
A World in Flames: A Short History of the Second World War in Europe and Asia, 1939-1945 By Martin Kitchen Longman, 1990
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 13 "From Normandy to the Elbe (June 1944-May 1945"
From D-Day through Victory in Europe: The Eye-Witness Story as Told by War Correspondents on the Air By Paul M. Hollister; Robert Strunsky Columbia Broadcasting System, 1945
Librarian’s tip: Chap. II "D-Day at Last" and Chap. III "Break Through"
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