Normandy and Aftermath

John Keegan illustrates how the D-day landings marked the beginning of the end of Germany's grip over Europe.

 French Resistance members and Allied paratroopers discuss the situation during the Battle of Normandy in 1944Until June 10th, 1944, the German defenders of Normandy still retained the chance of throwing the Allied invaders back into the sea. On that evening the British and Americans succeeded in consolidating their separate footholds into a continuous bridgehead. Thereafter they were safe from defeat in detail and vulnerable only to a major counter-attack. The Germans lacked the capacity to launch such a counter-attack until they rallied their forces from the rest of France - and that the Allies were determined to prevent them from doing.

The Allied planners had always foreseen that OVERLORD would fall into two stages - the 'fight for the foothold', as the war correspondent Chester Wilmot was to call it, and 'the battle of the build-up'. They had imagined that the 'fight' would be more critical than the ‘battle’. As things had turned out, the landing had been blessedly inexpensive in Allied lives. What they had not anticipated was that the 'build-up' would be bitterly contested, and the 'battle' fought as close to the beaches as it could be.

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