The Liberation of Europe: A Bridgehead Too Late?

John Grigg questions whether D-Day could have taken place earlier and, instead, did it drag out the course of the war?

Into the Jaws of Death by Robert F. Sargent. Assault craft land one of the first waves at Omaha Beach. The U.S. Coast Guard caption identifies the unit as Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.On June 6th, 1944, British, American and Canadian forces landed in Normandy. By the end of the day they had broken through the German defences and secured a substantial, if still precarious, bridgehead. Only on one of the beaches, the American 'Omaha', was there really serious resistance, and even that was overcome by early afternoon.

The achievement of June 6th cost the Allies about 10,000 casualties, of whom about 2,500 were killed. On the face of it, therefore, D-Day was not only a great and glorious triumph, but relatively economical as well.

Yet on closer inspection there has to be considerable doubt about both the extent of the triumph and the genuineness of the economy. Even if the war in Europe had not dragged on for nearly a year after D-Day, as a result of errors that might have been avoided, it still could be argued that the long delay in carrying out the invasion cost the western Allies half of their victory, and the subject nations an incalculable number of lives.

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