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The D-Day Decision

From  the Army FM 22-100, Chapter 7

On 4 June 1944 the largest invasion armada ever assembled was poised to strike the Normandy region of France. Weather delays had already caused a 24-hour postponement and another front of bad weather was heading for the area. If the Allies didn't make the landings on 6 June, they would miss the combination of favorable tides, clear flying weather, and moonlight needed for the assault. In addition to his concerns about the weather, GA Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, worried about his soldiers. Every hour they spent jammed aboard crowded ships, tossed about and seasick, degraded their fighting ability.

The next possible invasion date was 19 June; however the optimal tide and visibility conditions would not recur until mid-July. GA Eisenhower was ever mindful that the longer he delayed, the greater chance German intelligence had to discover the Allied plan. The Germans would use any additional time to improve the already formidable coastal defenses.

On the evening of 4 June GA Eisenhower and his staff received word that there would be a window of clear weather on the next night, the night of 5-6 June. If the meteorologists were wrong, GA Eisenhower would be sending seasick men ashore with no air cover or accurate naval gunfire. GA Eisenhower was concerned for his soldiers.

"Don't forget," GA Eisenhower said in an interview 20 years later, "some hundreds of thousands of men were down here around Portsmouth, and many of them had already been loaded for some time, particularly those who were going to make the initial assault. Those people in the ships and ready to go were in cages, you might say. You couldn't call them anything else. They were fenced in. They were crowded up, and everybody was unhappy."

GA Eisenhower continued, "Goodness knows, those fellows meant a lot to me. But these are the decisions that have to be made when you're in a war. You say to yourself, I'm going to do something that will be to my country's advantage for the least cost. You can't say without any cost. You know you're going to lose some of them, and it's very difficult."

A failed invasion would delay the end of a war that had already dragged on for nearly five years. GA Eisenhower paced back and forth as a storm rattled the windows. There were no guarantees, but the time had come to act.

He stopped pacing and, facing his subordinates, said quietly but clearly, "OK, let's go."



Sacrifice for free is not duty but an honor.

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