Allies prepare for D-Day - HISTORY
Year
1944

Allies prepare for D-Day

On this day in 1944, more than 1,000 British bombers drop 5,000 tons of bombs on German gun batteries placed at the Normandy assault area, while 3,000 Allied ships cross the English Channel in preparation for the invasion of Normandy—D-Day.

The day of the invasion of occupied France had been postponed repeatedly since May, mostly because of bad weather and the enormous tactical obstacles involved. Finally, despite less than ideal weather conditions—or perhaps because of them—General Eisenhower decided on June 5 to set the next day as D-Day, the launch of the largest amphibious operation in history. Ike knew that the Germans would be expecting postponements beyond the sixth, precisely because weather conditions were still poor.

Among those Germans confident that an Allied invasion could not be pulled off on the sixth was Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, who was still debating tactics with Field Marshal Karl Rundstedt. Runstedt was convinced that the Allies would come in at the narrowest point of the Channel, between Calais and Dieppe; Rommel, following Hitler’s intuition, believed it would be Normandy. Rommel’s greatest fear was that German air inferiority would prevent an adequate defense on the ground; it was his plan to meet the Allies on the coast—before the Allies had a chance to come ashore. Rommel began constructing underwater obstacles and minefields, and set off for Germany to demand from Hitler personally more panzer divisions in the area.

Bad weather and an order to conserve fuel grounded much of the German air force on June 5; consequently, its reconnaissance flights were spotty. That night, more than 1,000 British bombers unleashed a massive assault on German gun batteries on the coast. At the same time, an Allied armada headed for the Normandy beaches in Operation Neptune, an attempt to capture the port at Cherbourg. But that was not all. In order to deceive the Germans, phony operations were run; dummy parachutists and radar-jamming devices were dropped into strategically key areas so as to make German radar screens believe there was an Allied convoy already on the move. One dummy parachute drop succeeded in drawing an entire German infantry regiment away from its position just six miles from the actual Normandy landing beaches. All this effort was to scatter the German defenses and make way for Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Six-Day War begins

Israel responds to an ominous build-up of Arab forces along its borders by launching simultaneous attacks against Egypt and Syria. Jordan subsequently entered the fray, but the Arab coalition was no match for Israel’s proficient armed forces. In six days of fighting, Israel ...read more

Ronald Reagan dies

On this day in 2004, Ronald Wilson Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, dies, after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Reagan, who was also a well-known actor and served as governor of California, was a popular president known for restoring American confidence ...read more

Robert F. Kennedy shot

At 12:50 a.m. PDT, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, a presidential candidate, is shot three times in a hail of gunfire in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Five others were wounded. The senator had just completed a speech celebrating his victory in the California presidential ...read more

Profumo resigns in sex scandal

On June 5, 1963, British Secretary of War John Profumo resigns his post following revelations that he had lied to the House of Commons about his sexual affair with Christine Keeler, an alleged prostitute. At the time of the affair, Keeler was also involved with Yevgeny “Eugene” ...read more

FDR takes United States off gold standard

On June 5, 1933, the United States went off the gold standard, a monetary system in which currency is backed by gold, when Congress enacted a joint resolution nullifying the right of creditors to demand payment in gold. The United States had been on a gold standard since 1879, ...read more

Laird testifies before Congress

Testifying before a joint Congressional Appropriations Committee, Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird says the increase in U.S. military activity in Vietnam could add up to $5 billion to the 1973 fiscal budget, doubling the annual cost of the war. This increased American activity ...read more

Julie Krone wins the Belmont Stakes

On this day in 1993, Julie Krone rides 13-to-1 shot Colonial Affair to victory in the Belmont Stakes to become the first female jockey ever to win a Triple Crown race.Julieanne Louise Krone was born July 24, 1963, in Benton Harbor, Michigan, where her mother Judi was a riding ...read more

Discoverer of Klondike Gold dies

George W. Carmack, the first person to discover gold along the Klondike River, dies in Vancouver, British Columbia.Carmack was born into a life of prospecting and mining. His father was a forty-niner who settled his family in Contra Costa County, California. When he was in his ...read more

Elvis rocks The Milton Berle Show

By the end of 1955, Elvis Presley had nearly 18 months of nonstop touring behind him and two dozen singles already under his belt, though his only hits were on the Country and Western charts. He was a hardworking and hard-to-categorize up-and-comer, but the next six months would ...read more

Ken Follett is born

Bestselling thriller writer Ken Follett is born on this day in Wales to a devout Christian family that does not allow young Ken to watch TV, see movies, or listen to the radio.As a result of his strict media diet during childhood, Follett became a voracious reader. After college, ...read more

Jennifer Lopez marries Marc Anthony

On this day in 2004, some 40 guests watch as the pop star and actress Jennifer Lopez weds her third husband, the singer Marc Anthony, in an intimate ceremony held in the backyard of Lopez’s home in Los Angeles.Lopez was born in 1970 in the Bronx, New York, and went on to earn ...read more

Constantinople burns

A huge section of the city of Constantinople, Turkey, is set ablaze on this day in 1870. When the smoke finally cleared, 3,000 homes were destroyed and 900 people were dead. The fire began at a home in the Armenian section of the Valide Tchesme district. A young girl was ...read more

Bobby Kennedy is assassinated

Senator Robert Kennedy is shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after winning the California presidential primary. Immediately after he announced to his cheering supporters that the country was ready to end its fractious divisions, Kennedy was shot several times by the ...read more

George Marshall calls for aid to Europe

In one of the most significant speeches of the Cold War, Secretary of State George C. Marshall calls on the United States to assist in the economic recovery of postwar Europe. His speech provided the impetus for the so-called Marshall Plan, under which the United States sent ...read more