Friday, June 6, 2014

June 6, 1944

Today is the 70th Anniversary of the Allied Invasion of France.  The proper name of this invasion was Operation Overlord but in common vernacular, it has become known as D-Day.  D-day is simply the word the Army uses to indicate the planned day of attack.

Fairly extensive planning went into the Allied invasion.  They did not want to recreate the failures of the earlier Dieppe raid.  There were also extensive forces used in the operation.  This post is just about a part of that overall force.

In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, US and British transport aircraft take off from various airfields around England.  They would be transporting elements of the British 6th Airborne Division, the US 82nd Airborne Division, and the US 101st Airborne Division.  These movements would signify the opening of one of the largest amphibious invasions ever taken.  The British division would land behind the British Beaches and the US divisions would land behind the US beaches.  It was the first time that a night-time Airborne assault was undertaken (and the last time I believe until one of the opening moves in the Iraq Invasion).
 The British Airborne objectives on D-day were to capture the two bridges across the River Orne and the Caen Canal.  The Allied forces wanted these bridges intact because otherwise efforts to break out of Normandy would be seriously hampered.
The British forces were successfully in capturing the bridges intact.  In fact, the Caen Canal Bridge was renamed the Pegasus Bridge in commemoration of the British Airborne Insignia and the other Bridge was renamed Horsa Bridge after the name of the gliders used by some of the troops.

In the overall scheme of the invasion, these were small actions but they were critical to the success of the operation.  I used the British example because we in the United States tend to focus on our efforts in World War II but it was truly an Allied effort.

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