On June 6, 1944, Allied troops landed at Normandy in northern France, in a massive assault that became known as D-Day. Here are 5 shocking facts you didn’t know about this turning point in World War II…
Where The Code Names Of The Beaches Came From Is a Mystery
Much of the action of D-Day was focused on 50 miles of coastlines. More specifically, 5 beaches were the center of D-Day action which had code names of Juno, Gold, Sword, Omaha, and Utah. The Americans were sent to Utah and Omaha; British forces landed on Gold and Sword, and the Canadian 3rd Division landed on Juno. How these code names were established remains a mystery to this day. However, it's speculated that "Omaha" and "Utah" were named by US general Omar Bradley after two of his staff carpenters. (One of the men was from Omaha, Nebraska, while the other was from Provo, Utah.)
The Allies Fooled the Nazis on Their D-Day Landings
Hitler was confident that his troops would destroy the Allies if they landed in France. However, the German military would have to know precisely where the Allies would start their invasion. The Allies engaged in an in-depth misinformation crusade to trick the Nazis about where they would make landfall. All sorts of trickery were employed to convince the Nazis that the American and British troops would land at the Pas de Calais. including inflatable tanks and fake radio transmissions. A ghost army of rubber airplanes, inflatable tanks and vehicles were built to throw the Germans off. The plan worked, as the Germans had a large portion of their military stationed there. This left the Germans under-defended on D-Day.
D-Day Was Planned With The Help Of Meteorologists General Eisenhower — who would eventually become the President of the United States — led the operation of landings at Normandy and the invasion of France, which were code-named "Operation Overlord." He used the assistance of meteorologists to help him choose the date to ensure optimal weather for the invasion. Eisenhower consulted with three different teams of meteorologists, who predicted that in early June, the weather would be best on June 5, 6, or 7; if not then, they'd have to wait for late June. Eisenhower had intended to begin the operation on June 5th however there were extremely strong winds that day. Eisenhower chose to wait 24 hours. Ike eventually launched the attack on June 6, despite the less-than-ideal weather conditions. It’s worth noting that if he’d waited for a clearer day, the Germans might have been better prepared for his advance.
Eisenhower Wrote a Letter of Resignation in the Event The Invasion Failed General Eisenhower had his doubts and prepared a letter of resignation and apology. Here's what it says: "Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone."
A Pigeon Named Gustav Brought the First Report of the Landing News of the Normandy invasion came by an unlikely source, a pigeon named Gustav, that carried the message strapped to its leg. The message read that troops were 20 miles away from the beaches, and the first of the assault troops had landed at 7:30 a.m. with no interference. It took Gustav five hours and 16 minutes to reach Thorney Island along the Thames River and deliver the message. For their service, that day, Gustav and three other pigeons, as well as Brian the dog, received the Dickin Medal, an animal version of the Victoria Cross.