The D-Day Memorial Ride

The 2016 Ride - 18th June 2016

D-Day

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What was D-Day?

 D-Day also reffered to as the Normandy landings was the decisive battle that turned the tide on Hitlers dream of Nazi domination.

Overlord (The british code name for the operation) was the largest air, land, and sea operation undertaken before or since June 6, 1944.
The landing included over 5,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes, and over 150,000 service men.
After years of meticulous planning and a huge effort into persuading the Germans that the invasion was going to be around Calais, not Normandy. They invented a whole group of armies in Kent, building dummy equipment and placing General George S Patton in command, who the Germans considered the best allied general, in SE England.
From 12 March 1944 Britain barred all travel to Ireland in order to prevent the leaking of the date of the D-Day landings.The Germans took the bait so much that even after D-day they held many of their best troops in the Calais area expecting a second invasion.

Before D-day mini subs crept into the beaches and by night engineers would swim out to take soil samples, then swim back, sleep submerged all day in the subs, then repeat the following evening so that every piece of information about the beaches was analyised.
The planners were particular about the timing of D-day, they wanted a full moon, with a spring tide, so they could land at dawn on a flood tide, when it was about half way in.
This meant there were only a few days that were appropriate. June 5th was chosen but it had to be delayed 24 hours for bad weather.

It was the largest seaborne invasion in history: 7,000 ships took part, the attack was planned round five beaches codenamed, from east to west, Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha, Utah.

UTAH - Code name for most western beach between Pouppeville and La Madeleine, 3 miles long, assigned to the US 1st Army, 7th Corps. Casualties were the lightest of all the landings - out of 23,000 troops, only 197 men were killed or wounded.

OMAHA - Code name for the beach between Sainte-Honorine-des-Pertes and Vierville-sur-Mer, 6 miles long (largest). Taking Omaha was the responsibility of US 1st Army, 5th Corps, with sea transport provided by the US Navy and elements of the Royal Navy. The movie Saving Private Ryan portrays some of the events here. The 1st Infantry assault experienced the worst ordeal of the D-Day operation. The Americans suffered 2,400 casualties but 34,000 Allied troops had landed by nightfall. 

GOLD; - Code name for beach from Longues-sur-Mer to La Riviere, 5 miles long and includes Arromanches where the Mulberry Harbour was established. British 2nd Army, 30th Corps landed here and by nightfall, 25,000 troops had landed and pushed the Germans six miles inland. There were just 400 British casualties.

JUNO - Code name for beach spanning either side of the port of Courseulles-sur-Mer from La Riviere to Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer, 6 miles wide. Canadian 3rd Infantry Division & British 2nd Army, 1st Corps. Out of 21,400 men landed, there were 1,200 casualties.

SWORD - Code name for beach stretching 5 miles from Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer to Ouistreham at the mouth of the River Orne. British 2nd Army, 1st Corps with French & British commandos. It was nine miles north of the city of Caen – a major route centre of Northern France. The British landed 29,000 men and suffered just 630 casualties.

On the day it all came down to this: The boat ramp goes down, then jump, swim, run, and crawl to the cliffs. Many of the first young men (most not yet 20 years old) entered the surf carrying eighty pounds of equipment. They faced over 200 yards of beach before reaching the first natural feature offering any protection. Blanketed by small-arms fire and bracketed by artillery, they found themselves in hell.

When it was over, the Allied Forces had suffered nearly 10,000 casualties; more than 4,000 were dead. Yet somehow, due to planning and preparation, and due to the valor, fidelity, and sacrifice of the Allied Forces, Fortress Europe had been breached. 

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