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Page Foreword xvii CHAPTER I: The Origins of 'OVERLORD' 1 Dunkirk to Pearl Harbour 1 Anglo-American co-operation 3 Combined Chiefs of Staff 4 North Africa landings, November 1942 7 Development of the Combined Bomber Offensive 9 Appointment of COSSAC 10 COSSAC's outline plan approved, August 1943 17 Combined Bomber Offensive and OVERLORD 21 Appointment of Supreme Allied Commander, December 1943 24 CHAPTER II. The Shaping and Command of OVERLORD 27 Allied build-up in Britain 28 Command and staff appointments 30 Enlargement of plan 32 Assault craft problems 34 Subsidiary landing in southern France? 36 OVERLORD's start postponed 36 Directive to General Eisenhower 39 Command of Allied Strategic Air Forces 40 CHAPTER III. The Situation in France 45 The Vichy régime 45 French Resistance and General de Gaulle 48 Allied help 50 Resistance in the Low Countries 51 Evolution of German defence policy 52 Appreciation by on Rundstedt, October 1943 54 Rommel to command an army group 56 Enemy situation, early 1944 56 German war production and new weapons 59 CHAPTER IV. The Plan of Campaign 63 NEPTUNE Initial Joint Plan, February 1944 63 Naval, air and army plans 65 Review of plans, April 1944 80 Eisenhower's view of future strategy 82 Administration and maintenance 83 Artificial harbours ('MULBERRIES') 87 COnditions governing choice of H-hour and D-day 91 CHAPTER V. Preparatory Operations 93 New directive to strategic air forces 94 'Big Week' and air superiority 94 Attacks on airfields and radar 96 Transportation Plan 97 Assault on enemy railway system 98 On coastal defences and other military targets 102 Deception and reconnaissance 103 Counter-offensive against V-weapons 105 Effort expended and results achieved 109 CHAPTER VI. Developments in France 115 Hitler's 'Atlantic Wall' 115 German Army in the West 117 Anti-invasion measures redoubled 119 Von Rundstedt and Rommel differ 119 German air and naval forces in the West 120 Sabotage by the Resistance 121 Security and de Gaulle 125 Allied cover plans 127 German forecast of Allied intentions 128 CHAPTER VII. The End of the Beginning 131 Naval preparations 131 Composition of Twenty-First Army Group 132 Final exercises and assembly of shipping 133 Briefing, maps and waterproofing 136 Rôle of airborne divisions 137 D-day provisionally 5th June 140 Naval movements begin and midget submarines leave 140 Postponement 141 D-day finally decided for 6th June 144 Assault forces sail 144 CHAPTER VIII. D-Day: Airborne Assault and Opening Bombardment 149 The airborne divisions open assault 149 Bomber Command attacks coastal defences 158 Tactical surprise achieved 159 Further measures to deceive 159 Naval bombardment begins 161 Allied fighters cover the fleets 161 Assault forces reach lowering positions and deploy 164 American bombers attack beaches 166 CHAPTER IX. D-Day: Seaborne Landings 169 Run-in and touch-down 169 50th Division at GOLD 173 3rd Canadian Division at JUNO 178 3rd British Division at SWORD 184 Americans at UTAH and OMAHA 187 Failure of German Air Force and Atlantic Wall 193 CHAPTER X. D-Day: Advance Inland 197 German dispositions and reactions 197 3rd British Division advance toward Caen 201 6th Airborne Division reinforced 204 3rd Canadian Division advance in centre 206 50th Division close on Bayeux 209 Allied air forces range the battlefield 211 American progress at OMAHA and UTAH 213 Germans prepare counter-attack 216 Beach organisation and anchorage defence 217 Casualties and the day's effort 222 CHAPTER XI. Consolidating Gains 225 Army operations, 7th to 9th June 225 Second Army repulses German armour 228 First American Army's lodgements expanded 232 German Air Force impotent 233 Allied air operations delay enemy reinforcements 234 Allied landings behind schedule 239 Maritime operations, 6th to 16th June 240 CHAPTER XII. Expansion of the Bridgehead 247 Second Army to outflank Caen 247 Small gains east of the Orne 248 Right repulsed at Villers-Bocage 255 Americans take Caumont and cut Cotentin peninsula 256 Von Rundstedt and Rommel report situation dangerous 257 Hitler demands counter-attack 259 MULBERRIES, small harbours and build-up 263 Flying bombs start, 13th June 266 Hitler visits his commanders in France 268 CHAPTER XIII. The Storm, 'EPSOM' and Cherbourg 271 Storm delays Caen operations 271 Second Army opens EPSOM operation, 25th June 277 Heavy panzer counter-attacks beaten off 283 Americans capture Cherbourg 288 Maritime successes 289 Naval reorganisation 293 NEPTUNE officially ended, 30th June 294 Von Rundstedt and Rommel visit Hitler in Germany 296 CHAPTER XIV. The Capture of Caen 299 Maritime operations 299 Effects of storm and los of American MULBERRY 301 Normandy base and build-up 302 Summary of Allied air operations since D-day 305 Opposing armies' strengths at end of June 307 Montgomery's policy unchanged 308 Second Army takes Caen, 0th July 311 Americans fight for St. Lô 318 Von Rundstedt replaced by von Kluge 321 Rommel injured and evacuated 326 CHAPTER XV. Operation 'GOODWOOD' 327 Evolution of the plan 327 Object to facilitate American break-out 330 Preliminary air bombardments 337 Progress of Second Army 340 Additional German tanks drawn to British front 347 Americans take St. Lô, 19th July 348 Postponement of attempt to break out 348 Public concern and SHAEF criticism 352 CHAPTER XVI. The Plot to Murder Hitler 361 Earlier conspiracies 363 Attitude of German commanders in West 366 Plot misfires and Hitler reacts promptly 369 Events at von Kluge's headquarters and in Paris 370 Consequences for the German Army 374 CHAPTER XVII. The American Break-out 377 First Canadian Army operational, 23rd July 377 American break-out succeeds 382 Enemy's left shattered and way to Brittany open 383 Germans start reinforcing from Pas de Calais 385 New British attack near Vire 386 German generals discuss withdrawal 395 Hitler admits its possibility, 31st July 395 Achievements of Allies' heavy bombers 399 CHAPTER XVIII. Beginning of the Envelopment 401 British hold German counter-attacks 401 Third American Army operational, 1st August 402 One corps to clear Brittany 403 Main American forces to wheel left 403 Hitler orders counter-thrust to west coast 405 Montgomery orders advance to R. Seine 407 Allied armies push ahead 408 Hitler's counter-thrust defeated near Mortain 413 Explosive motor boats, 'human torpedoes' and U-boats 416 CHAPTER XIX. Falaise 419 Canadians attack towards falaise, 7th August 419 Second Army progress 425 American corps turns north from le Mans 425 Bradley sends Third Army eastwards 429 Canadians capture Falaise 432 Hitler sanctions withdrawals 433 Model replaces von Kluge 434 Allies land in southern France, 15th August 437 CHAPTER XX. Advance to the Seine 439 Germans in a shrinking pocket 439 Allied air attacks devastating 442 Gap finally closed, 21st August 447 Allied and German intentions 449 Americans at Seine wheel down left bank 453 British and Canadians close to Seine 454 Air attacks on enemy's escape routes 455 Paris liberated, 25th August 457 Eisenhower and Montgomery differ on future strategy 459 CHAPTER XXI. The Seine to the Somme 465 Montgomery's objectives include Channel ports and Antwerp 465 Passage of the Seine 466 Second Army crosses the Somme 470 Americans abreast and Canadians in Dieppe 471 Le Havre blockaded from land and sea 471 U-boats lose heavily 471 Allied air operations 472 Supply problem of fast-moving armies 473 Eisenhower defines tasks 474 Assumes command in the field, 1st September 476 CHAPTER XXII. The Winning of OVERLORD 477 Naval contribution to OVERLORD 477 Merchant Navy's part 478 Artificial harbours, petrol and supplies 479 Maintenance area and airfields 481 Army specialist corps and services 481 Contribution of the Air Forces 484 German generalship 489 Allied fighting efficiency 491 Montgomery's conduct of the battle 493 Allied progress on other European fronts 496
Page I. Directive to Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force 499 II. Allied Naval Forces in Operation NEPTUNE 501 Part I. Command 501 II. Organisation of Task Forces showing associated Army formations 503 III. Bombarding Forces 504 IV. Summary of Forces assigned to Operation NEPTUNE 507 V. Landing ships and craft 511 III. German Naval Forces in the West, June 1944 519 IV. The Allied Armies 521 Part I. Forces engaged on the Continent 521 II. Notes on British Army organisation 533 III. Notes on American Army organisation 540 IV. British Army weapons, vehicles and equipment 541 V. Tanks and anti-tank guns 545 VI. Measures to deal with the German mortar 550 V. The Enemy 552 Part I. German Command in the West 552 II. German land forces encountered by the Allies 553 VI. Allied Air Forces 556 Part I. Forces engaged 556 II. Notes on Allied aircraft employed 563 VII. German Air Force in the West 567 Part I. Organisation and strength 567 II. Notes on German aircraft employed 569 VIII. Civil Affairs in France 571 IX. OVERLORD and French Resistance 573 X. CODE NAMES Mentioned in Text 575
Page Central Europe--At the outbreak of war, 3rd September 1939 15 The Normandy Battlefield 27 The British Assault Area 197 The Odon Battlefield 275 St. Lô to Falaise 389
German Army Dispositions, dawn 6th June 1944 120 The British Assault Area--Situation midnight 6th June 212 The American Assault Area--Situation midnight 6th June 222 Situation morning 10th June 248 Villers-Bocage, 11th to 15th June 256 Situation midnight 17th June 262 The EPSOM Battle, 24th June to 1st July 286 Situation midnight 30th June 288 Capture of Caen, 7th to 9th July 312 The GOODWOOD Battle Plan 350 The GOODWOOD Battle, 18th to 20th July 352 Situation midnight 24th July 378 The Break-out, 24th to 31st July 380 Situation midnight 31st July 386 Caumont and Mt. Pinçon, 29th July to 6th August 410 Mortain Counter-Attack, 6th and 7th August 414 The Envelopment, 1st to 6th August 428 Capture of Falaise, 7th to 16th August 432 The Falaise Pocket, 16th to 20th August 448 The Crossing of the Seine and Advance to the Somme, 21st August to 1st September 470
DIAGRAMS AND SKETCH MAPS
Combined Chiefs of Staff Organisation 4 Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force 38 German Armies in the West, June 1944 57 Assault Force--Naval organisation 67 Allied Air Forces--Outline order of battle, 6th June 1944 74 Operation 'NEPTUNE'--Air cover for the assault of D-day 76 Assault Force--Army organisation 79 British Supply System 86 MULBERRY Harbour at Arromanches, 4th September 1944--D+90 days 89 Zerstörungskarte Mai 1944 (Railway Destruction) 112 Operation 'NEPTUNE'--Convoy Routes and naval covering forces 136 Fly-in Routes of the American Airborne Divisions 157 Operation 'NEPTUNE'--The naval bombardment 168 Organisation of the Seaborne Assault--British Second Army 172 'KING' Beach in 'GOLD Area--Showing the German defenses as known to Allied Intelligence, May 1944 176 Organisation of the Seaborne Assault--United States First Army 189 Beach Organisation--British Sector 218 Seaward Defence System--Assault Area 220 British and German forces, July 1944 333 Battle Forecast Diagrams--I 357 Battle Forecast Diagrams--II and III 359 Zerstörungskarte Juni, Juli 1944 (Railway Destruction) 400 The Rear Maintenance Area--Layout early August 1944 482 Europe, 5th June and 1st September 1944 495 OVERLORD--Chain of Command 500 German Naval Command Group West, June 1944 518 German Air Force in the West, June 1944--Location of headquarters 568
A majority of the illustrations are from copyright photographs supplied by the Imperial War Museum. In selecting the most suitable from its vast national collection the help of the Director and Staff of the Museum is gratefully acknowledged. Acknowledgements are also made of the help given by the U.S. Department of the Army, the Canadian Department of National Defence, the Air Ministry and the National Maritime Museum in supplying photographs which were not otherwise available.
1. General Paget Following page 30 2. General Morgan 30 3. General Eisenhower 30 4. Air Marshal Tedder 30 5. Admiral Ramsay 80 6. Admiral Kirk 80 7. Admiral Vian 80 8. General Montgomery 80 9. General Bradley 80 10. General Dempsey 80 11. General Eisenhower, General Brereton, Air Marshal Coningham, General Vandenberg, Air Marshal Leigh-Mallory 96 12. British Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Cunningham, Field-Marshal Brooke, Air Marshal Portal, Field-Marshal Dill, General Ismay 96 13. The President with the British and Canadian Prime Ministers. Mr. Roosevelt, Mr. Churchill, Mr. Mackenzie King 96 14. Field-Marshal von Rundstedt 144 15. Field-Marshal ROmmel 144 16. Field-Marshal von Kluge 144 17. Field-Marshal Model 144 Preparation for D-day 18. Aircraft for the British airborne assault 144 19. Landing craft for the naval assault 144 20. Enemy beach obstacles 160 21. Engineer tanks of the 79th Armoured Division 160 22. Mine-clearing (flail) tank 160 Airborne Assault 23. Gliders near Ranville 24. Bénouville bridge and gliders of coup de main party Seaborne Approach 25. British warships open fire 192 26. Assault craft head for the beaches 192 Landing on D-day 27. Infantry and amphibious (DD) tank 192 27. Royal Marine Commandos 192 29. Canadian troops 208 30. Follow-up units 208 31. Beach organisation taking shape 208 32. MULBERRY harbour under construction 208 33. Rocket-firing Typhoon 280 34. General de Gaulle returns to France 280 35. Air Marshal Harris 280 36. General Doolittle 280 37. General Spaatz 280 38. Lancasters of Bomber Command attack armoured divisions near Villers-Bocage 280 Air attacks on railways 39. Near Paris 280 40. At Vire in Normandy 280 41. Spitfires in flight 320 42. Air Marshal Sholto Douglas 320 43. Air Marshal Hill 320 44. In the Normandy bocage 320 45. In the Normandy bocage 320 46. General Hodges 336 47. General Patton 336 48. General Crerar 336 49. Lancaster bomber and Spitfire fighter 336 50. Cromwell and Sherman tanks advance south of Caen 336 51. Infantry with Churchill tanks attack in the cornfields 336 52. German dual-purpose 88-mm gun 424 53. Knocked-out German Tiger tank 424 54. British medium (5.5-in.) gun 424 55. Shermans in the Caumont country 424 56. ROcket-firing Typhoons over the Falaise 'pocket' 424 57. German transport destroyed by air attack 424 58. Knocked-out German Panther tank 424 59. Six-barrelled German mortar ('nebelwerfer') 424 60. Mosquito of Coastal Command 476 61. Seine bridges, old and new 476 62. Trail of a beaten army at the Seine 476 63. Advance of a victorious army from the Somme 476
A CAMPAIGN which began with the greatest assault that has ever been made on a fortified and strongly defended coast by combined sea, land and air forces, and ended with the total defeat and unconditional surrender of Germany, must hold an outstanding position in military history. Such was the Allied campaign in North-West Europe in 1944 and 1945, of which the British operations in particular are the subject of these volumes.
Before describing how it was fought and won, the reader may be reminded of two under-lying considerations about which there can be no dispute.
This campaign could not have been fought at all if the Allies had not possessed the power to make full use of the sea and air.
All the Allied forces which defeated Germany in the West and all their material equipment reached the Continent from overseas. The combined maritime power expressed by the Allies' naval and air forces and their merchant shipping enabled the to control and use sea communications stretching thousands of miles across the oceans of the world. Had the Allies not been able to transport their strength overseas how little would it have availed them. Hitler on his successors might still be holding in thrall most of western Europe.
Moreover, the Allies' mastery in the air was not only a necessary ingredient of their maritime power but of all operations of war. The most significant revolution of warfare during the present century has been effected by the development of air power. The essential part it played in the war against Germany will appear as Allied operations are described.
Yet in spite of the Allies; maritime power, the strength of their armies, and their almost complete mastery in the air,the campaign could hardly have been fought successfully in 1944-1945 if Germany had not at the same time been fighting for life against Russia.
To measure the relative strengths of armies it is usual to take a division as the yardstick, thought divisions vary greatly in size, composition and fighting value. In June 1944, Germany had some sixty divisions with which to fight the Allies on the western front; at the same time she had over two hundred divisions fighting the Russian armies on the eastern front and about twenty divisions opposing the Allied armies in Italy. In the course of the war relative strengths changed, but it is certainly true that the western Allies defeated much
less than half of the German forces and that much more than half were defeated by Russia--assisted by over £400,000,000 of war material provided by her western Allies. In appraising the conduct of the western operations these fundamental facts should not be forgotten.
Apart from its size, the dramatic completeness of the Allied victory, and the fact that it destroyed Hitler's Nazi régime and freed western Europe from German domination, the campaign has several distinctive features which add to its military significance.
In the first place Allied co-operation, built on a foundation of Angl-American partnership, was closer and more effective than in any former war. This was indeed the key to success. In this history attention is focused on operations under British command. That must not seem to imply under-valuation of Britain's allies; American forces were responsible for a major share of the fighting and of the Allied victory but it must also be remembered that French, Polish, Belgian, Dutch and Czechoslovak fighting men also contributed to the Allied victory, so fare as they were able. The American history is being written by their own historians and several volumes are already published; we are greatly indebted for permission to use their historical studies and the results of their research. Here only enough is told of American operations to explain the conduct and progress of the fighting and the setting in which their operations took place. We also owe much to the work done by Canadian historians and gratefully acknowledge their help in describing Canadian operations under British command.
Another noteworthy feature of the campaign was the successful conjunction of sea, land and air forces in combined operations. The potential unity of military power was realised more fully than ever before and in planning, training and execution the three Services combined their distinctive skills to weave the final pattern of victory. The establishment of a British Combined Operations Headquarters was evidence of the new emphasis on inter-Service co-operation.
During the years that preceded the opening of the assault in the West the Allies had enlarged their experience of warfare with Germany in North Africa and Italy and had greatly developed their military strength. Science was called on increasingly to reinforce military knowledge and full use was made of technical skill and of organised industrial capacity. For their conclusive defeat of Germany's armed forces the Allies were equipped with advantages that no invading army had ever enjoyed before. As in every war human courage, character and skill were ultimately deciding factors, but in all three Services the human element was supported by unparalleled wealth of material power, scientifically developed and supplied on an unprecedented scale through the faithful and sustained labours of the civil population. The millions of men and women engaged in
war production knew that they were indeed essential partners of those in the fighting Services, and the latter gained not only material but moral support form this knowledge of their common purpose.
Yet military success depends largely on leadership, as does the use in wartime of a nation's human and material resources. It is perhaps to the political leadership of the British and American peoples as well as to the quality of their respective military leaders and of the forces they commanded that history will largely attribute the Allied victory in the West.
This account of the British share in the campaign will be published in two volumes. The present volume contains the story up to the end of August 1944; the second will describe the remainder of the campaign which ended with victory in May 1945.
Our account is based mainly on the vast quantity of contemporary records of all three Services and of those captured form the enemy. References to published sources have been given but our far more numerous references to contemporary documents, which are not available for public inspection, are included only in a confidential edition. This should be available for use by students when the archives are opened.
We have had the advantage of personal advice and help from many of the leading commanders who were concerned and from members of the Editor's Advisory Panel. We are greatly indebted to them. We also wish to thank Mrs. R. Donald, Mrs. H. Southern, Miss D.J. Dawson and Lieut.-Colonel G. W. Harris who at various stages have helped us in our researchers; Mr. B.M. Melland, Mr. R.R.A. Wheatley and Mr. A.M. Sefi for the study and translation of captured German documents; and Mr. D.K. Purle who, under the guidance of Colonel T.M. Penney, has drawn all the maps and diagrams. We are deeply grateful to them and we acknowledge thankfully how much we owe to their work. We have learnt much from the criticism and counsel fo Sir James Butler and we thank him for his unfailing kindness and help.
We have had unrestricted access to naval, army and air force records and to other relevant documents which are not available to the public, and complete freedom in using them; the Historical Sections of the Cabinet Office and the Service Ministries have been consistently helpful and we have never been asked to modify our text in order to conform to an 'official' view. What is written in the following chapters is our own view of the campaign, formed after very careful study. For any errors of fact or judgement we alone are responsible.
L. F. ELLIS