June 4, 2018
CACI Commemorates the 74th Anniversary of D-Day – the Allied Invasion of Normandy
In the predawn hours of June 6, 1944, 160,000 soldiers from nine different countries jumped off landing craft into the waters of the English Channel to begin the final campaign for an Allied victory in Europe. It was the culmination of Operation Overlord, the largest air, land, and sea battle the world has ever seen. We know it as D-Day: the Invasion of Normandy.
"The D-Day landings were a masterpiece of logistics, intelligence, and strategic execution,” says CACI Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board Dr. J.P. (Jack) London. “Its goal was nothing less than the liberation of Europe. At CACI, we remember the sacrifices made in this courageous endeavor."
Overlord and Bodyguard
Operation Overlord required two years of planning by the United States and Great Britain, and was one of the most heavily guarded secrets of the war. Early on, the Allies realized the Normandy beaches offered the best location for an invading force, but the German High Command stubbornly held to the belief that if an invasion occurred, it would be at Pas de Calais, the port that traditionally connected England with France.
The Allies worked hard to feed that perception through a massive campaign of deception and misinformation called Operation Bodyguard. Allied forces built fake tanks, planes, and landing craft – even creating a phantom army commanded by George Patton and supposedly based in England, just across from Pas de Calais.
The night before the invasion, the British Army deployed dummy paratroopers over other French locations, and dropped metal foil strips over Pas de Calais that mimicked naval maneuvers on radar. British codebreakers had also broken the German cypher machine, Enigma, and were able to learn the enemy fully believed the target would be Pas de Calais. As the Allies built that elaborate deception, their bombers also systematically destroyed Third Reich radar emplacements along the French coast, reducing Germany’s ability to see and respond to the actual invasion.
Intelligence matters – and Allied decision-makers knew that planning and information were the keys to success.
In the Air and On the Ground
On the morning of June 5, 1944, General Dwight Eisenhower, commander of Operation Overlord, led an armada of 3,000 landing craft, 2,500 ships, and 500 naval vessels across the English channel, steaming toward Normandy. Seaborne units – nicknamed “Taxis to Hell” – began landing on the beaches at 6:30 on the following morning, June 6 – D-Day.
Although caught by surprise, the Germans fought fiercely, particularly on a stretch of beach code-named Omaha by the Allies. Allied troops came under withering small arms and artillery fire as they charged over 200 yards of beach before they could reach any protection. At that same time, Allied air support took out key bridges that slowed German reinforcement, and Allied naval support hit German embankments to give cover to the advancing Allied troops.
When it was over, the Allied Forces had suffered nearly 10,000 casualties, with more than 4,000 dead. But Overlord succeeded, and Fortress Europe was breached.
"We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to those who braved hell to bring victory to our forces," says Dr. London, "The Allies ultimately landed over 850,000 men by the end of June, and they through the fields of France and Belgium until the final German surrender on May 7, 1945. We remember them all with honor and appreciation each year." Dr. London also has a personal connection to this landmark event, as his uncle, 2nd Lt. Gordon L. Phillips, USA, participated in the Normandy invasion with the 83rd Infantry Division, and was killed in action in the advance to stop the Germans.
Of the heroes of D-Day, he says, "Their legacy lives on in all the brave men and women of our Armed Forces who continue to fight for our freedoms today."
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