Today is the 79th anniversary of D-Day.
History on the net tells us:
The Normandy Invasion consisted of 5,333 Allied ships and landing craft embarking nearly 175,000 men. The British and Canadians put 75,215 troops ashore, and the Americans 57,500, for a total of 132,715, of whom about 3,400 were killed or missing, in contrast to some estimates of ten thousand.
The foregoing figures exclude approximately 20,000 Allied airborne troopers. Extensive planning was required to move all these troops.
The U.S. VII Corps sustained 22,119 casualties from 6 June to 1 July, including 2,811 killed, 13,564 wounded, 5,665 missing, and seventy-nine captured.
American personnel in Britain included 1,931,885 land, 659,554 air, and 285,000 naval—a total of 2,876,439 officers and men. While in Britain they were housed in 1,108 bases and camps.
The Allied forces for Operation Overlord comprised twenty-three infantry divisions (thirteen U.S., eight British, two Canadian); twelve armored (five U.S., four British, one each Canadian, French, and Polish); and four airborne (two each U.S. and British)—for a total of twenty American divisions, fourteen British, three Canadian, and one each French and Polish. However, the assault forces on 6 June involved two U.S., two British, and one Canadian division.
Air assets included 3,958 heavy bombers (3,455 operational), 1,234 medium and light bombers (989 operational), and 4,709 fighters (3,824 operational), for 9,901 total and 8,268 operational. Allowing for aircrews, 7,774 U.S. and British Commonwealth planes were available for operations on 6 June, but these figures do not include transports and gliders.
One of the most important weather forecasts in world history would occur in early June 1944, as Allied meteorologists prepared to deliver the final word for the long awaited D-Day invasion of Normandy.
Thousands of lives and the tide of the war depended entirely on teams of Allied meteorologists who determined what constituted suitable weather conditions for the invasion in a small time window.
“The Allies had decided that they wanted to go in at low tide on the landing beaches and that the airborne needed basically a full moon to have the proper dropping conditions,” Historian and Author John McManus said.
High winds and rough seas could impede the amphibious assault and low clouds could block vital air support. The weather factors that would play a significant role in the invasion would be wind, visibility and cloud cover according to met.ie.
“On the Allied side, six meteorologists working in three different teams were responsible for the D-Day forecasts,” according to a report by James R. Fleming, president of the International Commission on History of Meteorology.
By June 3, the forecasting team determined the June 5 would not be an ideal day for the invasion as high pressure over France and low pressure northwest of Ireland would maintain strong southwesterly winds in the [English] Channel, meaning seas too rough for landings and cloud coverage too thick for bombing operations, according to met.ie.
Years of preparation were at stake, but on June 4, hours before the launch of D-Day operations amid an approaching storm, British Group Captain James Stagg urged General Eisenhower for a last-minute delay, according to the History Channel.
…“June 5 becomes quickly off the table because of a terrible storm that is coming in and it’s going to make any invasion basically impossible,” McManus said. “So, Ike has to postpone it a day and then he has to sift through dozens of weather reports to ultimately decide on June 6 as a kind of an opening in the system that allows weather that’s at least good enough, while nowhere near ideal.”
We look back at D-Day is the turning point in the war in Europe, but there were no guarantees that the landing would be successful; and even if the landing was successful, the casualties would be high. We owe our freedom to the brave men who landed on the beaches of France on that day.