By - Adedoyin Shittu
Today, the 6th of June, 2019, marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day; the largest joint military operation ever undertaken. The epic invasion of allies nations on the Normandy front was the starting point for the liberation of Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II.
World leaders, royalty and veterans gathered at the Portsmouth Naval Memorial to mark the Normandy landings and to honour the Allied soldiers who risked and lost their lives during the operation.
This commemoration will also mark the end of Mr Trump’s state visit to the UK.
Events leading towards the D-Day
In a bid to engineer a master “Germanic race”, German troops under German Chancellor, Hitler overran most of Europe and North Africa and much of the western Soviet Union. They set up murderous police states everywhere they went, hunted down and imprisoned millions. Gas chambers and firing squads were used to kill over 6 million Jewish people and millions more Poles, Russians, gays, disabled people and others undesirable to the Nazi regime.
Germany had also invaded France and was trying to take over all of Europe including Britain. However, Britain and the United States had managed to slow down the expanding German forces.
The USSR army was engaged with the German troops on the eastern frontline and Joseph Stalin, President of the Soviet Union, had pressed the allies to open another war front in Western Europe to push back the German invasion but Winston Churchill, the British prime minister was against that argument.
When it was seen that the USSR was winning the war in the Eastern front line without the help of the allies on the battlefield and gaining new grounds by pushing the Nazi army, it was finally agreed that a new frontline opened in the West of Europe to close the Nazi soldiers in.
The leaders of the strongest allies nations (Winston Churchill of Britain, Joseph Stalin of USSR and Franklin Roosevelt of the U.S.) met in Tehran, Iran in 1943 to draw out a plan and the frontline to open up.
This made the allies nation hatch a plan to confuse the Germans on the possible invasion site. This operation was called “Operation Fortitude”. Army groups were built in different front in the continent to fool the Germans but these group have no single army. To get the Germans to fall for this deception, the film industry was invited to create a delusion. An entire dummy of armies was created, wooden aircraft and deflatable armour tanks, 250 fake landing crafts, and 2 fake headquarters were invented. The Allies tried to make it look like they were going to attack north of Normandy at Pas de Calais, the English Channel. They were successful in this deception.
The Germans knew that an invasion was coming. They could tell by all the forces that were gathering in Britain as well as by the additional air strikes. What they did not know was where the Allies would strike.
The invasion was initially planned for May in 1944 but was shifted to June 5th in order to plan the largest air, sea, and land invasion in history.
The Britain Airforce (Royal Airforce) and the U.S. Airforce carried out day and night bombing raid over Germany to distract them from their planned invasion.
On the day of the invasion, after tens of thousands of men board the ship for the invasion, torment of rain began, soon it became a storm. This caused a delay of invasion but finally an invasion took place in the early hours of the 6th June 1944.
The D-Day events
After months of planning and strategizing and a slight delay due to bad weather, the allied forces invaded Normandy to begin the liberation of Europe from Nazi and fascist occupation.
In blustery winds in the early hours of June 6, 1944, thousands of Allied paratroopers jumped behind Germany’s coastal defences. Then, as day broke, warships pounded German positions before hundreds of landing craft disgorged the infantry troops.
156,177 troops were deployed throughout the day and 133,000 of those men were sent to five beaches chosen by the military high command, the Germans were wildly outnumbered as most of their troops are in the Russian frontline.
Survivors recall the sea being red with blood. Thousands were killed on both sides on the beaches,
Almost 12,000 tonnes of atomic bombs were dropped on that day and civilians paid heavily. By the morning of June 7, there were 3,000 dead french civilians in Normandy and by September 1944, the death toll of civilians had risen to 20,000 and 150,000 were forced to flee their homes.
How the D-Day forged the Special Relationship between Allies nations
World leaders gathered today to mark the 75th anniversary of the event that established a Second Front in the war against Nazi Germany, but the leader of the country that bore the brunt of the fighting on the first front was not invited again. Vladimir Putin of Russia was not invited.
In Europe, Britain and France had declared war against Germany but it took the insistence of USSR, the present day Russia to open a second war frontline. Also the invasion on the D-Day would have been impossible without the Russians. The Russians tied up 228 Nazi divisions on the Eastern front, whereas only 11 divisions were defending the Normandy beaches on D-Day.
Germany, “the villain country” in the war has become an ally country to the Allies nations and relationship between the allies nation and Russia have gone sour.
In this year celebration, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, praised the sacrifice of tens of thousands of soldiers in a military operation that brought freedom from National Socialism to Germany.
“That I, as German chancellor, can be here today, that today we stand together for peace and freedom, is a gift from history that must be cared for and protected,” she said.
Amid the D-Day ceremonies, Russia told the West that the Allied war effort should not be exaggerated.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman of Russia, Maria Zakharova, speaking at a weekly news conference in Moscow on Wednesday, 5th June,2019, offered a tribute to those who died on World War Two’s western front and said Moscow appreciated the Allied war effort.
She also mentioned that “It should of course not be exaggerated. And especially not at the same time as diminishing the Soviet Union’s titanic efforts, without which this victory simply would not have happened,”.
The second frontline was opened only when Russia was gaining grounds on the Eastern side of Europe.
There was questions of post war settlement especially if the war was won without the assistance of allies on the frontline. This might lead to the USSR claiming new grounds in the continent and also dominating the whole of Europe politically.
The exclusion of Russia in the celebration do not do justice to the great wartime cooperation of the country. Also the ever dwindling numbers of veterans present at the anniversary of D-Day only means that this year celebration might probably be the last big official celebration in the history of D-day.
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