Normandy Invasion, June 1944
Crossing the English Channel on "D-Day", The "D-Day" Landings

p r e s e n t
BattleFleet Naval Strategy Games
with Battleships Dynamics Game Engine
  Battlefleet: Pacific War is WW2 naval turn-based strategy game, extension to the classic Battleship game, where ships/planes, subs can move!  
  F e a t u r e s :  

45 Ship/Plane/Sub/Artillery types
20 Scenarios
18 Death Match Missions
2 Campaigns
Unit production
Various game objectives
Combat maps up to 96x96
Unit names and officer ranks are historic

( Size: 4.8 MB ) for Windows 98/XP/NT/Me/2000 Pentium 233 MHz, 32 MB RAM Current version: 1.24


Pearl Harbor Overview
Pearl Harbor Japs forces
Pearl Harbor Japs Aircraft
Coral Sea
Doolitle Attack
Japan Capitulates
Battleship Bismarck
Normandy Invasion
USN Admirals
Japan Admirals
Torpedo Bombers
USN WW2 Fighters
USN WW2 Battleships
Aircraft Carriers
Patrol Ships
Attack Sumbarines
Missile Sumbarines
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F-14 Tomcat
F-18 Hornet
P-3C Orion
S-3B Viking
CH-46 Sea Knight
CH-53 Sea Stallion
H-3 Sea King
MH-53 Sea Dragon
SH-60 Seahawk
HH/UH-1N Iroquois

Normandy Invasion, June 1944 - Overview

On 6 June 1944 the Western Allies landed in northern France, opening the long-awaited "Second Front" against Adolf Hitler's Germany. Though they had been fighting in mainland Italy for some nine months, the Normandy invasion was in a strategically more important region, setting the stage to drive the Germans from France and ultimately destroy the National Socialist regime.

It had been four long years since France had been overrun and the British compelled to leave continental Europe, three since Hitler had attacked the Soviet Union and two and a half since the United States had formally entered the struggle. After an often seemingly hopeless fight, beginning in late 1942 the Germans had been stopped and forced into slow retreat in eastern Europe, defeated in North Africa and confronted in Italy. U.S. and British bombers had visited ruin on the enemy's industrial cities. Allied navies had contained the German submarine threat, making possible an immense buildup of ground, sea and air power in the British Isles.

Schemes for a return to France, long in preparation, were now feasible. Detailed operation plans were in hand. Troops were well-trained, vast numbers of ships accumulated, and local German forces battered from the air. Clever deceptions had confused the enemy about just when, and especially where, the blow would fall.

Commanded by U.S. Army General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Normandy assault phase, code-named "Neptune" (the entire operation was "Overlord"), was launched when weather reports predicted satisfactory conditions on 6 June. Hundreds of amphibious ships and craft, supported by combatant warships, crossed the English Channel behind dozens of minesweepers. They arrived off the beaches before dawn. Three divisions of paratroopers (two American, one British) had already been dropped inland. Following a brief bombardment by ships' guns, Soldiers of six divisions (three American, two British and one Canadian) stormed ashore in five main landing areas, named "Utah", "Omaha", "Gold", "Juno" and "Sword". After hard fighting, especially on "Omaha" Beach, by day's end a foothold was well established.

As German counterattacks were thwarted, the Allies poured men and materiel into France. By late July these reinforcements, and constant combat, made possible a break out from the Normandy perimeter. Another landing, in southern France in August, facilitated that nation's liberation. With the Soviets advancing from the east, Hitler's armies were shoved, sometimes haltingly and always bloodily, back toward their homeland. The Second World War had entered its climactic phase.

Normandy Invasion, June 1944
-- Crossing the English Channel on "D-Day", 6 June 1944

The English Channel, nearly a hundred miles wide between Portsmouth, England, and the Normandy beaches, was a formidible military barrier. Early in the previous century it had thwarted Napoleon. In 1940 it stopped the conquering Germans. Now, in the spring of 1944, the Allies needed thousands of ships and craft to transport their armies across the Channel and begin the liberation of France. To compound the difficulties of a long water passage, the always problematical weather could fatally disrupt landing operations, and the Germans had liberally planted sea mines in the central Channel and off likely invasion beaches.

A storm delayed the operation, originally scheduled for 5 June, after much of the invasion force had left embarkation points, forcing landing vessels back into port, where their crews and passengers endured the wait amid often crowded and uncomfortable circumstances. Presented with a better forecast for the sixth, General Eisenhower made a tentative decision late in the evening of 4 June to get shipping moving, and gave the final "O.K. We'll go." shortly after 4AM on the fifth.

By then, minesweepers were clearing shipping lanes through a fifteen mile wide southward path. Invasion shipping, nearly sixty separate convoys in the initial assault, with more behind, headed for the target area via a wide-topped "T&quot-shaped route, gathering off the Isle of Wight from various ports along England's southern coast, then turning south to cross the Channel in the recently swept lanes. Many vessels towed barrage balloons, protection against German bombing attacks that didn't come, since the enemy's weak air reconnaissance kept him ignorant of what was happening.

The passage across was anything but smooth, especially for infantry and tank landing craft, many of whose passengers suffered hours of seasickness during the night of 5-6 June. As the convoys approached Normandy, their courses flared out somewhat, taking them to staging areas off the individual landing beaches. Most ships were in their places well before dawn. Further inshore, the busy minesweepers continued their work, opening safe (or at least relatively safe) channels and working areas for landing boats and gunfire support ships.

Overhead in the darkness, a steady procession of hundreds of transport planes and gliders moved over Normandy, dropping U.S. paratroopers inland of the westernmost ("Utah") beach. British parachutists descended in the southeastern part of the assault zone. Behind the initial waves of ships and planes came more, in a flow that would continue for months to come, reinforcing the initial landings and providing logistics support for the armies as they consolidated their beachhead, broke out, and fought their way across northwestern Europe

Normandy Invasion, June 1944
-- The "D-Day" Landings, 6 June 1944

The Normandy invasion took place in the Bay of the Seine, on the south side of the English Channel between the Cotentin Peninsula and the port of Le Havre. Some fifty-five miles broad and twenty deep, its waters were shallow, had a considerable tidal range, and, when the wind blew from the northward, could be very choppy. The planned landing beaches covered about forty-five miles of the Bay's shoreline. Westernmost was "Utah" Area, stretching eight miles southward along the low-lying southeastern coast of the Cotentin Peninsula. Directly to the east was "Omaha" Area, covering twelve miles of generally hilly terrain. United States forces were assigned to take both of those areas, with important assistance from the navies of Great Britain and other Allies. British and Canadian troops would assault the areas code-named "Gold", "Juno", and "Sword", which ran twenty miles eastward from "Omaha". This sector ended at the mouth of the Orne River, some fifteen miles west of Le Havre, where the German Navy based a group of potentially very dangerous torpedo boats.

The actual landing beaches occupied a fraction of the width of each area, but were intended to provide sufficient initial footholds to allow rapid reinforcement and expansion inland, with the attacking soldiers joining their flanks to create a continuous beachhead perimeter before the enemy could mount a major counterattack. Each area would be assaulted by approximately one army division, with initial landings being made by much smaller units at 6:30AM in the American areas and about an hour later in the British. Their arrival on the shore was to follow a bombardment by ships' guns and aircraft ordnance, kept relatively brief to maintain as much as possible of the element of surprise. As a result, German shore defenses frequently remained intact, and would prove troublesome to both the landing forces and ships offshore.

To protect the invasion zone's western extremity, and to facilitate the "Utah" landing force's movement into the Cotentin Peninsula, the U.S. 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions descended by parachute and glider in the small hours of "D-Day", 6 June 1944. Though badly scattered and lacking much of their equipment, these brave paratroopers kept the Germans occupied and helped ensure that the "Utah" Beach assault went relatively easily. The British and Canadian attacks, assisted by an air-dropped division on their eastern flank and a longer naval bombardment, generally also went well.

Not so in the "Omaha" area, where deep beaches backed by steep hills meant that the U.S. troops landing there were exposed to withering fire from enemy small arms, machine guns and artillery. Casualties were very heavy and the assult only succeeded after a day of brutal fighting, with warships coming in close to provide direct gunfire in support of the hard-pressed soldiers.

By nightfall on the sixth of June, the situation was favorable, even on Omaha. Entered the popular culture as THE "D-Day", a name it has retained ever since.

Credit: US Navy History Center