Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade August 2001

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D-Day was one of the most important and, also, one of the bloodiest battles in WWII. It directly resulted in the fall of Hitler. The soldiers that fought that day have improved the lives of everyone alive today, for if it wasn't for them, the Third Reich might still be in power today.

The Allied invasion of Europe began on the June 6, 1944. Before the landings, the coastal German defenses had to be weakened by bombing. On June 6, planes dropped more than 5,000 tons of bombs on the German coastline. As soon as the bombing was over, the American and British battleships started shooting at the Normandy coastline. Many bombers missed their targets by as much as five miles away because of thick clouds. Rockets that were fired from battleships landed short killing a lot of fish, but no Germans. Artillery from battleships missed their targets, and some went into nearby towns.

Enemy pillboxes, artillery, and machine guns still stood on the coast.

Utah Beach was much less fortified. The Germans didn't fully construct barriers or lay all their land mines. The underwater demolition teams helped a lot with the weakening of German defenses knocked off many of the coastal defense. As the soldiers came to Utah Beach, the effects of the bombing could be noticed. Pillboxes, machine gun posts, and infantry were weakened or destroyed by the attack. The artillery not only helped the troops to eliminate the coastal threats, but the shell holes also provided cover for the troops coming on the beach.

The assault on Utah Beach was carefully planned. Troops, armor, and equipment arrivals were carefully timed. The engineers and naval demolition teams came on the beach after the first wave. The engineers, who were highly trained in explosives, blew up the fist obstacles. They worked very fast clearing the way for more landing crafts that could not land earlier because of the obstacles. Engineering teams were working to get troops who were waiting to go through the minefields and the booby traps. The assault on Utah Beach was fairly easy and simple compare to what was going on at Omaha.

Omaha Beach was an easily defendable position. If the Germans were going to try and stop an Allied Invasion, Omaha Beach was the place to do it. Omaha Beach was 10 kilometers long. There was a stretch of 300 to 400 meters of beach to cross.

The Germans also had a height advantage over the soldiers on the beach. Eisenhower did not like the idea of having to attack Omaha, but he knew he had to do it.

The Germans heavily mined the coastline. They put a lot of barbed wire on the beach. They also had a lot of well-placed machine guns and artillery pieces on top of the hills. There were also dozens of pillboxes with machineguns, and obstacles to slow down the soldiers.

The first wave in was two battalions. The plan was to have tanks lead the invasion while demolition teams worked to clear the area. After the first wave, more landing crafts would bring more tanks, jeeps, medical units, and communication units. Two hours after the first wave, the allies planned to have vehicles on the hills and push further inland. Nothing they planned went right. Only one unit landed at its target. Another unit was more than 2 kilometers off course because to winds and waves. This resulted in gaps between the units coming on to the beach and gave the Germans a better chance to kill the soldiers going on the beach. Only a few dozen people of the 200 in the unit that was off coarse survived, and all were wounded. Ten minutes after the first wave, only one officer from the first unit was alive, and he had been shot twice. On one boat, when door was opened, every single man of the thirty was killed before they could get out of the boat.

It was becoming evident to commanders that if they stayed on the beach, they would all die. After more than a few hours of fighting, the soldiers had only won a few yards of beach, and there was a lot of enemy fire. As time passed, more of the beach was taken by the Allies. The forces knew that they had to get off the beach. As soldiers began to move froward, reinforcements arrived bringing tanks, engineers, and more troops. Barbed wire was blown clear and pillboxes were destroyed. By the end of the day more than 2,500 soldiers were dead on Omaha, compared to the 200 who were lost on Utah.

D-Day was the beginning of the end for the Nazis. The victory at Omaha came at a very high price, but it was worth it. In the beginning it appeared that the Germans had created the ultimate coast defense. It looked like the soldiers were not going to make it off the beach. Every soldier who was at Normandy that day is a hero. Their actions played a critical role destruction of the Nazis.