23 April, 2011

23 April, 1944


438th AAA AW BN

APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
23 April, 1944
Dear Sweetheart –

It’s 2300 now and I’m just getting ready for bed. This has been the first opportunity I’ve had to write today. Yesterday – Saturday – we had the brawl we expected – and darling, temporarily at least – I consider I partly celebrated our Engagement. We started sipping beer at about 1500 and gradually worked into the Scotch, rum and gin. When that was gone, we went back to the beer and I really felt more gay than I have for a long time. If only you could have been here, dear, everything would have been perfect.

Today I slept late – and after lunch I had to leave and have been away most of the day – until a little while ago. There’s nothing else to write now, dear, except to say I love you and miss you terribly. I got a letter from my father yesterday in which he told me how happy he and my mother were – over our engagement. That makes it unanimous. I’ll write again tomorrow, dear. Love to the folks – and for now –
All my love


about Operation Overlord:
Primary Missions of the Air Plan

Operation Overlord, the code name for the allied invasion of France, had built into it the movement of a total of 3 million men in 47 divisions, moved by 6000 ships with aerial cover provided by 5000 fighter planes. On April 23, 1944 the primary mission was set forth in the over-all air plan for Overlord. According to HyperWar: Army Air Forces in World War II: Volume III, this mission was defined as:
The attainment and maintenance of an air situation in which the German Air Force would be incapable of interfering with the Allied landings. In the first or preliminary phase, extending from D minus 50 to D minus 30, the stress would be placed on counter-air force operations and on reconnaissance. Air priorities for a second or preparatory phase, running from D minus 30 to D minus 1, were named in the order of (1) the German Air Force, (2) Strategic Railway Centers, (3) Selected Coastal Batteries, and (4) Airfields within a radius of 130 miles of Caen.

Summarizing using extracts from HyperWar, the 4 priorities listed were well met:
(1) The German Air Force. The plans rested upon the assumption that the Allies would enjoy the advantage of overwhelming strength in the air. Beyond all expectations, by D-day British and American air strength amounted to 3,467 heavy bombers, 1,645 medium, light, and torpedo bombers, 5,409 fighters, and 2,316 transport and troop carrier aircraft against Germany's 3,222 fighters and bombers in condition for combat on the eve of the invasion.

(2) Strategic Railway Centers. The primary purpose of the transportation plan was to isolate the invasion area through extensive bombing of vital rail centers and repair facilities, since their destruction would likely cripple the entire system immediately. The battle against enemy transportation was a splendid success. On the eve of D-day, British-American aircraft had dropped a total of 76,200 tons (on rail centers 71,000, bridges 4,400, and open lines 800). Germany had been unable to move effective reinforcements into the Seine-Loire triangle at the time of the invasion, and its forces had been committed piecemeal rather than being deployed as units. Thus the Allies had won their premier objective in the transportation campaign: they were able to build up their forces in Normandy from across the Channel faster than the Germans could reinforce theirs from adjacent areas in France.

(3) Selected Coastal Batteries. By the spring of 1944 the Nazis had built a wall of intricate and ingenious shore defenses along exposed beaches in the Netherlands, Belgium, and northern France. This so-called Atlantic Wall was supposed to dominate the coast sufficiently to keep Allied landing craft from approaching the continent, thus rendering a seaborne assault impossible. The Allied planners were most concerned about coastal batteries along the Atlantic Wall, each of which held from two to six guns ranging in caliber from 105 mm. to 400 mm. Perhaps fifty of these batteries, it was estimated, would be functioning in Normandy by June 1944. The guns could command the sea approaches and inflict murderous damage on the assault craft. Camouflaged, cleverly located, and usually buttressed with steel and concrete, these coastal batteries would be exceedingly difficult to neutralize. The greatest pains had to be taken to conceal from the Germans the special interest which the Normandy batteries had for the Allies. Thus two targets outside the area were chosen for each one inside it. On the eve of D-day, 5,904 tons of bombs and 495 sixty-pound rocket projectiles had been directed at coastal batteries in the Normandy area, while 17,190 tons had been dropped on batteries outside the invasion sector. Most post-invasion surveys concluded that the bombings of coastal batteries before and on D-day destroyed comparatively few gun emplacements. But the unbalancing and dislocation of guns, the demoralization of their crews, and delays to the completion of the Normandy beach batteries were accomplishments of no small nature.

(4) Airfields around Caen. There were approximately 100 airfields within 350 miles of the Normandy shore from which the German Air Force could operate. The master plan for Allied air supremacy depended upon three main programs: continued policing to keep the Luftwaffe in its reduced state; heavy bomber missions deep into Germany just before and soon after the invasion to discourage the Germans from removing their fighters to France; and wholesale attacks on airfields in France during the three weeks before D-day. By waiting until the last three weeks before D-day to bomb airfields around Caen there would be less danger of giving away the invasion secret and less time for those airfields to be repaired. By D-day, airfields in a 130 mile arc around Caen had received 6,717 tons of bombs. The principal purpose of the program had been attained. Because of the ruined air bases, the transportation chaos, and the danger of great British-American fighter fleets ranging over France, the Germans could not possibly move substantial Luftwaffe units to contest the invasion. Indeed, one of the most remarkable facts of the entire war is that the Luftwaffe did not make a single daylight attack on D-day against Allied forces in the Channel or on the beaches.

Click Here to read the full text of what was extracted for this overview.

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