After the British landed, they pushed for the city of Caen where they met Rommel's troops. The Americans pushed ahead from Utah and Omaha beach. The overall attack was successful. Eighty miles of the beaches of Normandy where the Allies. The Allies had also gone twenty miles inland. The Allies now had sixteen divisions inside France. After twenty days, over a million Allied men were inside France heading for Paris. Hitler was in a critical situation and so were Field Marshals Rudstedt and Rommel. They were given full blame of the Allied invasion by Hitler.
The British and Allies needed a harbor now. But the beaches of Normandy wouldn't provide a good one. The Allies had to build one. The British, as ingenious as they get, built huge blocks of concrete, about 6 stories in height, which were used as artificial harbors. After D-Day, the British sent these harbors to their beach fronts in France, which allowed the ships to stop, and anchor, and unload troops. The American built harbors didn't work, because it was wrecked by weather, but the British artificial harbors worked terrifically. These structures were huge.
The Allies now needed the port city of Cherbourg, and the Germans knew this. They set up defenses for a sea invasion, but the Allies attacked by land. On June 22, 1944, Major General J. Lawton Collins lead his three infantry divisions into the city. The Allied air power softened up the port and the navy poured shells onto the city. The troops poured into the city and took it in 4 days. The city was in ruin, but the American engineers worked to fix it up and make it worthy of operation. It wouldn't be finished until August though.
D-Day was a complete success. Although it had it's drawbacks, it was the deciding point in the war. With the beach and the port, the Americans could now launch an offensive in France.
Next on the Allies agenda was the whole beach of Normandy. The land invasion was under General Sir Bernard Montgomery, who lead the U.S. First Army under Lieutenant General Omar Bradley and the British Second Army under Lieutenant General Sir Miles Dempsey. The Canadian First Army was made on July 23 under Lieutenant General Crerar and under Lieutenant General George Patton the U.S. Third Army. The Twelfth Army Group under General Bradley was also made. They would all be under General Montgomery also.
The first objective to taking Normandy was Caen. The British were the ones who attempted to take the city, but they met the Germans and their tanks. The Germans pounded them with tank shells, but the British troops held on. American and British Air Forces pounded the city and the roads around it halting German reinforcements. The British again attempted to take the city in early July of 1944, but took only half of the city. The bombings continued on Caen, and soon the British had the whole city on July 18th.
The Americans had their eyes on St. Lo, the industrial and road capital of Normandy. The Americans would have to fight for it unfortunately. Tanks were stopped with sand pits and bushes, and Allied men were halted under heavy resistance. The Americans finally succeeded in taking St. Lo, but the cost of the city was worse than D-Day. General Bradley then ordered his troops to take the St. Lo-Perier's Road. The area was softened up by bombing, and then American forces swept into the road on July 26. The attack was successful.
General Patton's Third Army set into open country past Avranches. The objective was to take Brittany. The Americans raced into Brittany and attacked Rennes, the capital. On August 7, 1944, the Americans also had taken St. Malo. Hitler had his own plans with all these American wins. He would counterattack sending his troops to form a line from Mortain to Avranches, and advance forward and throw the Allies back into the sea. The attack came on August 7.
The American lines were penetrated. They were thrown back a few miles as German troops pressed on. But the Allies had something cooking.
While the U.S. First Army was taking the heat of the German counterattack, the Third Army under Patton would hit the enemy on the left. The British Second Army would keep their positions on the west, and the Canadians First Army would hit the Germans from the right from Caen and Falaise. The Germans were in a trap, and as they tried to pull out, they were eventually surrounded.
Hit from all positions, the Germans surrendered. Fifty thousand Germans surrendered. The rest were killed and bombed heavily, or retreated for Seine. The Battle of Normandy was over with a bang.
On June 6, 1944, Allies forces attacked on the beaches of Normandy. On August 15, 1944, a similar operation called Operation Dragoon was launched at southern France. More than 1500 ships landed on the beaches, joined by paratroopers, and the already on land French Army. The French Army served more as guides than as fighting companions. This helped the Allies press on.
Once onshore, the Allies took the ports of Nice, Toulon, and Marseilles. Only 1,500 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded in the Operation.
The Allies then went through Duranco Valley, through Avignon and reached Rhone Valley. Whatever resistance they met was crushed. Soon Lyons and Dijon were attacked. The eastern Allied units in the south moved on Grenoble and took Besancon on September 7, 1944. Both armies met up at Dijon. At the Switzerland border, all the southern Allied armies were finally linked up at Epinal. The Allies had now conquered a line from their starting point in Southern France all the way to the Swiss border. The next stop was Paris.
While the Allied forces were pushing up from the south and down from the north, the Germans began to evacuate Paris. The evacuation began in August, but it wasn't very successful. Many were captured, or bombed. Some Germans remained in the city to guard it, but the F.F.I.(French Forces of the Interior) decided to rebel. Allied forces met up with the F.F.I. to help their cause. The American tanks raced towards the city. Under Brigadier General Jacques Philippe LeClerc, his French Second Armored Division marched into the city on orders of General Bradley. Ten thousand Germans eventually surrendered, which was announced on August 25, 1944 by LeClerc.
The atmosphere was great. They were celebrating the Allies arrival as they marched down Champs Elysees in a victory parade. The celebrating lasted three days, but the Allies left Paris for the borders of Germany. The war in Europe was still a long way from being won.
The Germans had suffered greatly. Over 500,000 German casualties had been suffered. The Germans now only had one last defense, which was the Siegfried Line. The Allies had 2,000,000 troops ashore by September 5, 1944. The allies suffered heavy casualties as well with 224,000 casualties suffered, but they had pushed the Germans back. Now the Allies had to push to Germany.
On August 22, 1944 the Canadian First Army trapped the Germans at Le Havre, Rouen, and Dieppe. This gave the Canadians a chance to cross the Belgium border. Montgomery's Second Army entered Amiens on August 31, 1944. The British took Arras and attempted to capture Lille near Belgium. The Americans, too, crossed the Belgium border. They took Laon and took Sedan on August 31, 1944, putting them in Belgium. The Americans took 22,000 prisoners. The Americans had also taken Liege, Brussels, and Antwerp on September 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Patton's Third Army reached Marne on August 27, 1944, and took Reims and Chalons. Patton then took his army through the Argonne Forest to Metz. The Allies were pressing on successfully, and hopes were beginning to rise.
The Canadians took Dieppe on September 1, Ostend on September 8, Boulogne on September 18, and Calais on September 30. The U.S. Ninth Army took Brest on September 18 along with 36,000 prisoners.
The Allies met disaster finally. The plan was to outflank the Siegfried line with paratroopers. Under Lieutenant General Lewis H. Brereton, the Operation Market-Garden was launched on September 17, 1944. Over 20,000 men landed in Holland from England. Eindhoven was taken along with the communications there, and joined up with the British Second Army. Nijmegan was taken by the Americans and British as tanks and paratroopers pounced into the city. They took Nijmegen before they Germans could blow up the bridge leading into it.
The British found trouble at Arnhem, as German troops unleashed nonstop shells and damage on the Second Army. All that was left, 2,000 men, were eventually sent back to the British lines. This brought the operation to a stop.
The Allies thought it would be easy getting to Berlin. They were wrong. They would have to fight for every inch of it. Rumor was that the Americans would be home by Christmas, but their hopes began to fade.