May 28, 2023

Churchill and the Normandy Landings

Winston Churchill finally landed in Normandy on 12 June 1944, seventy-nine years ago this month. He had hoped to make the trip one week sooner. The initial landings were originally scheduled for 5 June but postponed twenty-four hours due to bad weather. Either way, Churchill intended to visit the scene on the first day of the invasion. The story of why he did not is included in a short video produced by the Imperial War Museum for the seventy-fifth anniversary of Operation Overlord. To view the four-and-a-half-minute clip, please CLICK HERE.

Churchill first ordered planning for an invasion of France in 1941—three years before the massive operation ultimately took place. The complexity of the task only grew once the United States entered the war. The coordination of air, land and sea forces; the logistics necessary to transport and supply them; and the elaborate deception plan designed to purchase an advantage, required organizational skills and cooperation of the highest level. We know now that invasion was a success. We also know that the Supreme Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, had written out his letter of resignation in advance should the operation fail.

Churchill said of the invasion afterwards: “The speed with which the mighty British and American armies in France were built up is almost incredible. In the first twenty-four hours a quarter of a million men were landed, in the teeth of fortified and violent opposition.”

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