The Invasion Of D-Day In Hastings's Book

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Max Hastings book Overlord is about the invasion of D-Day on June 6, 1944. This book talks about the preparations, the beaches, inland, and the airmen during this invasion.

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The preparations for this invasion were greatly needed because they could not fail this or else they would lose control of Normandy. The President met General Omar Bradley and they talked about the President’s fear that the Germans might have been able to develop their atomic bomb in time to influence the invasion. The 21st Army Group knew there would be resistance like Germans being rear guard positions on river obstacles. The 21st know that their formations would be well trained but most of them would have little battle experience.

Disagreements between the services were not uncommon either in Britain or America. None of the services generated more heat and passion or diverted so much attention from defeating the Germans than the surrounding the proper use of the Allies. The airmen of both England and America embraced theories of strategic air power. Their enthusiasm for ground support techniques such as the obsession of the RAF. These next couple of sentences will be about the plane that helped the Allies win this invasion. The American P-51 Mustang fighter plane won the battle for air superiority over Germans before the actual invasion. In its original form powered by the Allison engine, the fighter was disappointing. But when fitted with the Rolls-Royce Merlin, it was transformed into one of the top dogs in the air. This fighter would have been able to fly from Berlin and back with long- range drop tanks. It was employed over Normandy as an interceptor and ground attack roles. This plane was normally armed with .50 cal machine-guns. This mighty fighter was able to reach speeds of 575 mph and had a ceiling of 42,000 feet.

By the Spring of 1944 all of Southern England and much of the country became a military encampment. Hitler in December of 1943, he said that “If they attack in the west… that attack will decide the war.” (58) meaning that if the Allies attacked in the West like Normandy, the victors of that battle will more than likely win the war. Hitler knew that no matter what he had to defend the West which made him ready for an attack at Normandy. The invasion had different landing beaches that the Allies were to land at. The beaches were named from left to right in this order. Charlie, Dog, Easy, Fox, George, How, Item, Jig, King, Love, Mike, Nan, Oboe, Peter, Queen, Roger, Tare, and Uncle. The US First Army split into 2 groups called the US 7 Corps and the US 5 corps. The planned assault area was at Tare but the attack spread out. The US 5th Corps was split so they could attack Charlie, Dog, Easy, and Fox. The groups that attacked Charlie was the 115 RCT and the 116 RCT. After they landed at Charlie they split into Dog. Then the 16 RCT and the 18 RCT attacked Easy and Fox.

The Utah beach which is the most West of the allied landing zones just above the elbow of the cotentin peninsula was being stunned by the bombardment by the germans. Private Lindley Higgins waded through water to reach the beach. He had to get on the ground because the Germans were sending in artillery. The artillery shell hit and Higgins had a pressure at his waist so he called for the aid man. Turns out Higgins accidentally pulled the string to inflate his life vest.

At 7:25 am an hour after the Americans landed on Omaha the minesweeping flail tanks of the 22nd Dragoon Guards touched sword beach. The 50th division were attacking Gold the most West beach of the 3 British ones. They ran into their first major difficulty in front of the fortified German positions at Le Hamel. The British supporting tanks arrived too late to give the infantry immediate support. Some of the fire falling on Sword beach during the morning came from 4 150mm self-propelled guns. The 1716th Artillery Regiment firing from a position at plumetot, 3,000 yards from the shore. They waited since midnight, at dawn its commander, Lieutenant Rudolf Schaaf walked forward a little way until he could see the great invasion fleet stretched out before him off the coast. He wondered thoughtfully “what do we do now” (104). On Juno beach, a few miles west of Sword the Canadians had also broken through the coastal crust, but at a much heavier cost. The local naval commanders delayed H-Hour from 7:35 to 7:45 am and even then many craft were late. The fast incoming tide covered a reef off the shore which would prove a serious hazard. The first units found themselves landing right in the German beach obstacles. As the landing craft went astern after unloading. The coxswains could do nothing to prevent themselves from becoming helplessly caught up in the mines surrounding the beach. Close artillery support for all the British landings was to be provided by Royal Marines manning obsolete Centaur tanks mounting 95 mm howitzers. A howitzer is almost a mix between a mortar and an artillery gun. The men operating these guns are normally called batteries. These guns were very unseaworthy; they caused landing ships to tip and capsize and get lost.

Hitler’s appointments for the morning of June 6th were not altered by the news of the allied landings. Corporal Werner Kortenhaus and the rest of his company of 21st Panzer had begun to move up the Falaise-Caen road at 8:00 am. The company was very unhappy because the road ran straight and open. The company moving in a column in the broad daylight made them feel very vulnerable. The company was frequently halted to allow other units to speed past them. On the horizon they glimpsed the smoke of the battlefield. They had to pull to the side of the road and get beneath their tanks because there were aircraft flying low in the sky. The following will be about probably one of the most feared things in WWII the panzer. The Panzer IV was the most produced German tank of the war. Equipping half on the German tank units in Normandy. But by 1944 it was obsolete, but in its upgunned version weighing 25 tons and moving at up to 25 mph, it carried 80mm of frontal armour and 30mm of side armour. It had a 75-mm KwK 40 gun that could penetrate 99mm of armour at 100 yards, 92mm at 500 yards, and 84mm at 1,000 yards! The skirts shown surrounding the hull in this version were designed to absorb the impact of hollow-charge projectiles, but all German armoured units in Normandy were exasperated by the manner in which these were torn off during their movements. The reason why I picked this book is because I have always been interested in the invasion of D-Day. This book has a lot of details surrounding this invasion so I hope this makes you interested in the invasion of D-Day.

07 July 2022

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