set up the operation which aims at opening a new front in Western
Europe, the Allies create a new command composed of several combined
operations. The combined operations during amphibious operations
refer to a new military concept for the leading nations which discover
its importance during World War II.
combined operations bureau is led by the “COSSAC”. It
is the “Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander”,
led by Frederick Morgan.
purposes of the COSSAC are as follows: to choose the exact place
of the landing, to collect as much information as possible from
the previous combined operations (operations in North Africa: “Sledghammer”
and “Torch”, and in Northern France : “Jubilee”),
and to deal with the troops transport issues.
COSSAC must first of all define the invasion location in Western
Europe. The opinions are very divided within the allied officers.
The strategy is presented in August 1943 at the Quebec conference:
Normandy is the starting point of the allied invasion in Western
did the Allies choose Normandy? The Britanny coasts are too far
away from England, the grounds in Holland are flooded and do not
allow the installation of a solid beachhead, the currents of the
Belgian coasts are very strong and thus dangerous, and the Germans
await the Allies in the Pas-de-Calais area.
Norman coast is mostly composed of sandy beaches. There are also
rollers. The composition of the Norman beaches is relatively close
to those that can be find along Western England. Thus, the soldiers
can train on the other side of the Channel and they can even test
the resistance of the tanks on this particular type of sand.
the biggest military base
carry out the preparation of the European invasion, it is necessary
for the Allies to gather their troops in Great-Britain in preparation
for a greater scale operation in France, which is by then called
within the framework of the preparation of the invasion, the allied
armies must be equipped and trained in order to carry out various
and precise missions. The American and Canadian troops first train
on their own soil, but it is already necessary to transfer their
armies accroos the Atlantic toward England, which becomes the starting
point of the attack in Europe.
1942, the first transport ships leave the United States and reach
the United Kingdom. An intense anti-submarine battle starts in the
Atlantic between the allied surface vessels and the German submarines.
In 1943, this battle is won by the Allied forces.
Once landed in England, the allied soldiers are installed at various
places of the country, while the material (tank, vehicles, guns…)
is stored in secret bases.
economic lend-lease program has extended well, and the Americans
deliver hundreds of vehicles, war ships, and individual armament
to the British, in exchange of the use of British military bases
all over the world.
work of the allied reconnaissance aircrafts is considerable: the
photographs taken bring important information to the allied strategists,
who consequently set up the missions of their forces. Many pilots
are trained, many amphibious exercises take place, and airbone exercises
are carried out above England.
allied troops are constantly trained and the moral is good. The
number of war ships and transports is increasing in the British
harbors and as well as the number of air raids over the North-Western
french coasts. Indeed, the French shore located between La Pallice
at the South and Dunkerque at North is constantly attacked. From
January 1944 to June 1944, the frequency of these raids increase
gigantic gathering of troops, vehicles and ships in England is not
unperceived and the Allies know it very well. The Germans, which
understands quickly that a vast amphibious operation is in preparation,
decide to increase the number of their secret agents in Great-Britain.
Allies, which expected this kind of situation, prepared “operation
Fortitude”, in order to give wrong intelligence to the German
services. Thus, a “phantom army” is set up in England,
equipped with inflatable armoured vehicles and wooden guns. These
fake units are positioned in front of the French Pas-de-Calais region,
in the area of Dover. The German reconnaissance aircrafts observe
this fake army and the German specialists think it is led by general
the German 15th Army, based in the Pas-de-Calais, is ordered to
prepare itself against a landing: the success of operation Fortitude
Allies need the help of the French resistance networks during and
after the preparation of the invasion which is then given the following
codename: operation Overlord.
is transmitted to the French resistance via the radio: the B.B.C.
(British Broadcast Company) sends coded messages during the French
broadcast. Every message, as weird as it could seem, has
its own meaning and purpose. Thus, five days before June 6, 1944
(D-Day), the first three lines of the “Chant d'automne”
poem of Verlaine ("Les sanglots longs - Des Violons - De
l'automne...") is broadcasted.
meaning of this message is as follows: the landing will happen this
week and once the three next lines of this poem are broadcasted
("Blessent mon coeur - D'une langueur - Monotone..."),
the offensive will start 48 hours later. These numerous messages
announce the beginning of the sabotage operations: the local
resistants destroy railroads, telephone lines and install anti-tank
mines on the roads. The night between June 5 and June 6, 1944, nearly
1,000 sabotage actions are carried out by the French resistance.
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