D-Day: we’ve all learned about it from our history books and some of our older relatives have even experienced it. It was the greatest amphibious invasion in history. The Allies made their way through the wild waters and stormed the coast of Normandy. Against all odds, the allies won the battle that determined the outcome of the Second World War. Yet there are also lesser known stories about D-Day. We have listed 7 of them here for you.
1. Eisenhower threatened to resign just before D-Day
Just a few months before D-Day, Commander-in-Chief of the Allies, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the English Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, became embroiled in a conflict over a controversial plan. Eisenhower wanted to bomb French infrastructure, but Churchill didn’t like it. France was a powerful ally and this would do much damage to the country.
However, Eisenhower did not deviate from his position and even threatened to resign if his plan did not go ahead. This had the desired result and the bombing followed anyway.
2. Hitler made a critical mistake
In 1942, the Germans started to build the Atlantic Wall, a very long network of bunkers, mines and landing obstacles along the coast of France. But due to a lack of money and manpower, it was not possible to defend the entire line. That is why the Nazis focused on established harbours.
The most important of these was the port of Calais. Most of the German weapons were placed here. In the meantime, the rest of the French coastline, including the beach of Normandy, remained poorly defended. This grave mistake of Hitler was on D-Day and partly decisive for the victory of the Allies.
3. Parts of the invasion did not go according to plan
The plan on D-Day was to bomb the Nazi weapons storage along the coast and to destroy bridges and roads. In this way, no reinforcements could be called in and there was no possibility for the Nazis to escape. Then the paratroopers would land on safe places after the invasion on the beach.
But, due to bad weather conditions, few weapons were defused. Also the paratroopers ended up far away from where they would land and were therefore an easy target for German snipers. Finally, the Allies also missed a naval tank that had sunk due to the bad weather.
4. Rambridges served as a shield
The loading bridges on the boats of the Allies served as shields. The machine guns fired on them and hit the front of the loading ramp. When the Allies lowered them, the first 10 men of each boat were mowed down as if they were unruly.
5. Among the allies was a heroic black medic.
Waverly B. Woodsen, Jr. was a medic on the side of the Allies. He managed to set up a small medical aid post and took care of the victims of the invasion for 30 hours. He removed bullets, cleaned wounds, splinted broken bones and amputated a foot. He also saved 4 men from drowning.
After the war, he never received a medal for this.
6. Historians are still trying to figure out the death toll
Expectations were that the death toll on D-Day would be enormous. Both on the allied side and on the side of the Nazis. But how high this number exactly is, is still unclear.
When a commemoration was held for the first time in the 90’s, the death toll was estimated between 5000 and 12,000. It was clear that thousands of people had died, but there is still uncertainty about when exactly this happened.
Historians estimate that 4414 people died on 6 June. However, this list is still incomplete and the death toll is still rising.
7. The Allies won more than a military invasion
The allied troops not only won the Battle of Normandy that day, but they also gained prestige. Until then, many people had a negative opinion about soldiers. Logically, they destroyed the country and caused death and destruction.
But this changed on D-Day. Because of these soldiers, Europe regained its freedom. So the allies became the heroes of the Second World War.