|Question: D-Day has gone down as the largest invasion in history. Based on your own knowledge and these documents, explain the events of that day and analyze how those events impacted the outcome of the war.
Document 1: Voices of D-Day: Ralph Jenkins
I was a twenty-four-year-old pilot, and I thought the German navy scarcely existed and would offer no resistance to the invasion. I was the squadron operations officer of the 510th based at Christchurch, which was west of Southhampton.
We had been confined to the base. For the past several weeks, tremendous quantities of military gear had been heading to the southern ports of England. There was little doubt that the invasion was at hand.
In the early morning hours of June 6, we were summoned by our intelligence officers to the ready rooms and were briefed on our missions for the day. We were disappointed to learn that we had not been assigned to do close air support or fighter bombing on the ground in advance of the invasion forces. Instead, we were to go out over the English Channel, out toward the tip of the Brest Peninsula, and look for units of the German navy that could menace the invasion troops. We were very disappointed. It was very boring. We saw no submarines or traces of submarines.
We did finally see a large ship heading for the Cotentin Peninsula. I descended from twenty thousand feet to ten thousand to have a better look, and suddenly the sky was filled with antiaircraft fire coming from this ship. I reported this to headquarters. I suspect it was a German ship heading for the invasion area. This was most likely the only capability left in the German navy to resist the invasion.
Document 2: Voices of D-Day: German Soldier Franz Gockel
The heavy naval guns fired salvo after salvo into our positions. In the beginnings, the ships lay at twenty kilometers, but the range slowly decreased. With unbelieving eyes we could recognize individual landing craft. The hail of shells falling upon us grew heavier, sending fountains of sand and debris into the air. The mined obstacles in the water were partly destroyed.
The morning dawn over the approaching landing fleet exhibited for us approaching doom. Bombs and heavy-caliber shells continued to slam into the earth, tossing tangles of barbed wire, obstacles, and dirt into the air. The fight for survival began. The explosions of naval gunfire became mixed with rapid-fire weapons. I attempted to seek shelter under my machine-gun position.
Our weapons were preset on defensive fire zones, thus we could only wait. It appeared that the enemy would land in the approximate center of the beach. We had planned that he should land at high tide to drive the boats over the open beach, but this was low tide. The waterline was three hundred meters distant.
Surprisingly, we had not suffered heavy casualties. We used every available minute to contact one another throughout the rain of shells, and although we saw no possibility to escape from this chaos, we clung desperately to every minute won.
Suddenly the rain of shells ceased, but only for a very short time. Again it came. Slowly the wall of explosions approached, meter by meter, worse than before -- a deafening torrent -- cracking, screaming, whistling, and sizzling, destroying everything in its path. There was no escape, and I crouched helplessly behind my weapon. I prayed for survival and my fear passed. Suddenly it was silent again.
There were six of us in the position, and still no one was wounded. A comrade stumbled out of the smoke and dust into my position and screamed, "Franz, watch out! They're coming."
Document 3: Paratroopers existing planes in northern France behind enemy lines on D-Day
Document 4: Detroit News
Hitler's Wall Broken as Allies Move Inland
SUPREME HEADQUARTERS, (AP) -- Allied Expeditionary Force, June 6
Allied troops landed on the Normandy coast of France in tremendous strength by cloudy daylight today and stormed several miles inland with tanks and infantry in the grand assault which Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called a crusade in which "we will accept nothing less than full victory."
German broadcasts said the Allies penetrated several kilometers in between Caen and Isigny, which are 35 miles apart and respectively nine and two miles from the sea.
German opposition apparently was less effective than expected, although fierce in many respects, and the Germans said they were bringing reinforcements continuously up to the coast, where "a battle for life or death is in progress."
The seaborne troops, led by Gen. Sir Bernard Montgomery, surged across the channel from England in 4,000 regular ships and additional thousands of smaller craft.
They were preceded by massed flights of parachute and glider forces who landed inland during the darkness.
Eleven thousand planes supported the attack.
The Germans radio said the landings were made from Cherbourg to Le Harve, a strip of coast roughly 100 miles, and later said additional landings were being made "west of Cherbourg," indicating that the Allies intended to seize the Normandy peninsula with its ports and airdomes as the first base of their campaign to destroy the power of Nazi Germany.
One German broadcast said the Allied landing barges penetrated the Orne and Vire estuaries under artificial fog and "tried to carry out landing operations on a major scale in the rear of the Atlantic wall."
The initial landings were made from 6:00 to 8:25 a.m., British time (midnight to 2:25 a.m., Detroit time). The Germans said subsequent landings were made on the English Channel isles of Jersey and Guernsey and that invasion at new points on the continent was expected hourly.
Aside from confirming that Normandy was the general area of the assault, supreme headquarters of the Allied expeditionary force was silent concerning the location.
Document 5: General Eisenhower gives the order of the day "Full victory - Nothing else" to paratroopers in England just before they board airplanes in the first D-Day assault.
Document 6: American soldiers wading through water into Nazi machine-gun fire on the coast of France
Document 7: American assault troops of the 16th Infantry Regiment, injured while storming Omaha Beach, wait by the Chalk Cliffs for evacuation to a field hospital for further medical treatment. Collville-sur-Mer, Normandy.