US Soldiers do Laundry in German Bunker
Entitled “Allied Soldiers Do Laundry in Captured German Pillbox”, this photograph shows US Army soldiers (unit unidentified) in a captured German gun emplacement on the Atlantic Wall, with one of them hanging up his washing to dry.
With nearly 5,000 landing and assault craft, 289 escort vessels, and 277 minesweepers participating, the Normandy landings were the largest seaborne invasion in history. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on D-Day, with 875,000 men disembarking by the end of June. Allied casualties on the first day were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead. The Germans lost 1,000 men. The Allied invasion plans had called for the capture of Carentan, St Lô, Caen, and Bayeux on the first day, with all the beaches (other than Utah) linked with a front line 10 to 16 kilometres (6 to 10 miles) from the beaches; none of these objectives were achieved. The five beachheads – Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword – were not connected until 12 June, by which time the Allies held a front around 97 kilometres (60 mile) long and 24 kilometres (15 miles) deep. Caen, a major objective, was still in German hands at the end of D-Day and would not be completely captured until 21 July. The Germans had ordered French civilians other than those deemed essential to the war effort to leave potential combat zones in Normandy. Civilian casualties on D-Day and D+1 are estimated at 3,000.
Victory in Normandy stemmed from several factors, including incomplete German defensive preparations, effective Allied deception operations and Allied air supremacy. German preparations along the Atlantic Wall were only partially finished. Field Marshal Rommel had reported shortly before D-Day that construction was only 18 per cent complete in some areas because resources had been diverted elsewhere. The deceptions undertaken in Operation Fortitude successfully confused the Germans as to the location of the real assault, requiring them to stretch their forces across a huge length of coastline. The Allies achieved and maintained air supremacy, preventing the Germans from observing or bombing invasion preparations underway in Britain. Infrastructure for transport in France was severely disrupted by Allied bombers and the French Resistance, making it difficult for the Germans to bring up reinforcements and supplies. Some of the Allied opening bombardment was off-target or not concentrated enough to have any impact, but the specialised armour worked well (except at Omaha Beach), providing close artillery support for the troops as they disembarked onto the beaches. Allied success was also aided by indecisiveness and an overly complicated command structure on the part of the German high command.
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