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For months beforehand the Armies of the United States, accompanied by masses of war material, had been moving into England to take station alongside their British comrades. Of the huge force thus assembled and husbanded for this day, First US Army and Second British Army were placed under command 2lst (British) Army Group, Commander, General Sir B.L. Montgomery, who was with this force entrusted with the task of securing the "lodgement on the Continent”.

The general intention was four-fold.

1. To carry out airborne landings during the night* D minus 1/D

2. To assault on a five-divisional front with three British and two United States divisions in landing ships and craft, be- tween Varreville and Ouistrehem in the Bay of the Seine, early on D-day.

3. To land two follow-up divisions, one British and one United States, later on D-day and on D plus 1.

4. Thereafter to build up our force at the average rate of one and one third divisions per day.

The object of the airborne landings was to protect the flanks of the area in which the first assault divisions were to land. The seaborne assault was carried out by two US divisions on the right (1st US Army),and by the 50th, 3rd Canadian and 3rd British on the left (2nd British Army).

In addition to the landing ships and craft, the naval forces disposed in the Channel for D-day included battleships, cruisers, destroyers, support craft and escort vessels.

The airplan was evolved on the same massive scale. For months before the invasion the RAF and US air fleets had ranged the Continent on strategic bombing missions. As the event approached, their tasks were multiplied; they had to provide air defence of the bases in the United Kingdom and protection of coastal convoys, and of shipping and troop concentrations in the assembly area; they had to protect and support the actual assault, and it was regarded as an essential pro-requisite of the operation that the British and American fighter squadrons should attain and maintain an air situation which would ensure that the German Air Force could not interfere with the freedom of action of our sea and land forces. @

That, in outline, was the plan for the assault. How were the armies to be maintained once they got there? This, in many ways, presented more difficulties than the operation itself. The plan involved the capture of Cherbourg at an early stage, but this important port was to be used solely for the maintenance of the US Forces.

* The day of the invasion was known as D-day, the hour at which craft touched down on the Normandy beaches as H hour.

@ The following table gives approximate figures of the air forces available :-

Heavy Day Bombers1400
Heavy Night Bombers1150
Medium Bombers )830
Light Bombers )
Day Fighters2230
Fighter Bombers560
Night Fighters170= 6340

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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Archive: 50 (NORTHUMBRIAN) DIVISION, An extract from the divisional history

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