On June 6, 1944, Allied troops landed at Normandy in northern France, in a massive assault that became known as D-Day. Following are a few of the things that most people don’t know about this invasion that was the beginning of the end of World War II.
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 but misdated the letter as July 5 instead of June 5. It is understandable since the invasion was being carried out by 175,000 troops from 12 nations, including the United States, Norway, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and Belgium, against resistance from the Germans. However, the beaches were secured in less than seven days at the cost of about 10,000 Allied lives.
Operation Fortitude Convinced the Germans that the Landing Would Be Elsewhere. In an elaborate ruse, massive amounts of fake information were fed to the Germans, including chatter on the radios about tank engines needing to operate in temperatures below zero and the need for ski bindings. A deceased homeless man named Glyndwr Michael was transformed into a fake soldier named Major William Martin who had a briefcase handcuffed on his wrist. The briefcase contained fake documents about a planned Allied invasion of Greece. When he was found floating in the water, the information about the fake invasion was picked up by Nazi spies.
The British Constructed a Fake Army to Fool the Germans. Because the Germans didn’t know where the Allies would strike, an imaginary army was placed in Essex and Kent in England to make the Germans think the invasion would be in France at Calais. It included fake planes, destroyers, vehicles, airstrips and camps. Juan Pujol Garcia, a British double agent known as Garbo, fed the news to the Germans, and it eventually reached Hitler.
Gustav the Pigeon Brought the First Word About the Invasion. Gustav was a gutsy carrier pigeon that brought the first news about the Normandy invasion. The note carried by the pigeon said that Allied troops were within 20 miles of the beaches, and the first troops had landed with no interference or enemy planes in sight. It took Gustav five hours and 16 minutes to reach Thorney Island along the Thames River and deliver the message.
A Louisiana Lumber Company Owner Was A Major Reason the War Was Won. An unlikely hero named Andrew Jackson Higgins designed a boat that could go into shallow swamps to retrieve lumber without getting grounded. When he was given a contract with the government, he produced 20,000 of the vehicles to use to transport troops. They were in use at the landings at Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno and Sword Beach during the Normandy landing.