D-DAY : JUNE 6, 1944
By James Burbeck
On June 6, 1944, Allied
naval, air and ground forces operating with airborne assault troops and
paratroopers overwhelmed the German "West Wall" defenses built along France's
Channel Coast. Fortunately for the Allies the Germans had waited too long to
begin construction of their main defenses, and had kept their vaunted panzer
divisions out of immediate support range of the landing zone defenders. These
divisions in turn lost much of their strength on the marches to the Normandy
battle zone as Allied air attacks steadily whittled away at them. Some arrived
for battle at 50% of their previous strength.
By comparison, the
Allied landing forces lacked nothing, and were limited only by the ability of
their narrow man-made ports to accommodate the flood of supplies and troops.
The war machine which supplied them had focused most of its efforts on this
day, and literally millions of people had a part in its movement. Food,
equipment, ammunition, tanks, ships, guns, fighters, bombers and a bewildering
array of specialized inventions allowed the landing forces to break through to
the inland areas, where they eventually met the still dangerous panzer
divisions which were rushing toward Normandy. This animated Flash map depicts
the first day of the invasion, starting with an outline of the Allied airborne
landing zones (many troops were dropped outside these zones), followed by an
overview of the larger German troop and heavy gun positions which were
bombarded during the landing preparation. Finally, a progressive view of the
amphibious landing force's advance during the first 24 hours is shown along
with titles of the landing zones, combat notes and front line markers.
Anyone who has seen the recent movie special Band of Brothers
will be interested to know that the 506th Airborne Infantry Regiment landed on
the west side of this map, southwest of the Utah beach landing zone. Several of
Easy Company's objective cities appear on this map, and the German paratroopers
whom they fought were from the very unit noted here: the 6th Paratroop
Regiment. To zoom the map for a close view, right click anywhere on it and
select Zoom In.