Title page for ETD etd-0411102-125147

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Emmert, James Clinton
URN etd-0411102-125147
Title Operation Overlord
Degree Master of Arts in Liberal Arts (M.A.L.A.)
Department Liberal Arts (Interdepartmental Program)
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Stanley Hilton Committee Chair
Karl Roider Committee Member
William Clark Committee Member
  • neptune
  • world war two
  • ww2
Date of Defense 2001-10-29
Availability unrestricted
On June 6, 1944, Allied soldiers assaulted the beaches of Normandy in France. In preparation for that one day, the Allies assembled millions of tons of supplies, hundreds of thousands of men, and thousands of ships in Great Britain. Allied leaders spent three years preparing plans and training troops. American and British intelligence agencies scoured Europe for information about German troops and fortifications and launched massive deception campaigns designed to keep their German counterparts in the dark about where and when the blow would fall. In the air, bombers rained destruction upon German factories and French railways while their escorts engaged the German defenders. By the end of May 1944, the Allies were ready to invade.

Beginning in 1942, the Germans prepared defenses to stop the invasion. The fortifications, named the Atlantic Wall, consisted of massive amounts of concrete, steel and barbed wire and contained millions of mines. The strategy that German leaders pursued to defeat the invasion, a product of rival views within the German High Command, resulted in chaos and ultimately defeat for their armed forces. The commander of Army Group B, defending the likeliest invasion sites, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, planned to meet the invasion at the water line and defeat the Allies before they could gain a foothold. Rommel's immediate superior and commander in the West, Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, wanted to defeat the invasion further inland; outside of the range of Allied naval guns. Adolf Hitler compromised between the two commanders and created a plan that depended upon his own appreciation of the battle for the release of critical reserves. Added to the problems of strategy were German manpower shortages caused by years of fighting a multi-front war and equipment and supply shortages due to bombing and attrition. By May 1944, the Germans knew the invasion was coming but could not foresee when or where.

On D-Day, the Allies dropped three airborne and landed six divisions in the initial assault on the Atlantic Wall. By the end of the day, they had carved a narrow beachhead and were in France to stay.

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