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The 80th Anniversary of D-Day

3 Session Evening Course

3 sessions from May 7 to May 21, 2024
Code: 1K0463
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Men of the 16th Infantry Regiment, U.S. 1st Infantry Division, wading ashore on Omaha Beach on the morning of June 6, 1944 (The National Archives/Franklin D. Roosevelt Library)

June 6, 2024, will mark the 80th anniversary of the greatest amphibious operation in history. D-Day was the most complex, intricately planned, and competently executed military operation the world has ever seen, and it signaled the beginning of the end of Nazi Germany.

Kevin Weddle, professor emeritus of military theory and strategy at the U.S. Army War College, traces the development and deployment of the Allied military strategy for Europe and the cross-channel invasion known as Operation Overlord; the execution of the plan on D-Day; and the resulting stalemate and the Allied breakout from the narrow Normandy lodgment. 

May 7  Allied Strategy and Operation Overlord

The basic outlines of the D-Day landings are generally known. Not as familiar, however, is the Allied strategy and planning that led to Operation Overlord. Weddle describes how the bitter disagreements and reluctant compromises between U.S. and British senior military and political leaders put to the test the “special relationship” between the two allies—and how those leaders and their forces came together to put a daring operation into action.

May 14  D-Day: Breaching the Atlantic Wall

After four and a half years of war, 160,000 British, Canadian, and US soldiers under the command of American General Dwight D. Eisenhower landed in occupied France on June 6, 1944. In the face of determined German resistance, and after suffering heavy casualties, they soon established a firm lodgment on the continent. Weddle examines the landings on the five beaches, the British and American airborne operations, and the support from naval and air forces that made Allied success possible.

May 21  Breakout: From Stalemate to the Liberation of Paris

The June 6 landings were only a step in what would prove to be a bloody journey to win the war in Europe, with early successes followed by weeks of Allied frustration and horrific casualties. Weddle considers why the Allies fell behind their timetable and how the outnumbered German forces were able to stymie numerous attempts by the British to take Caen and by the Americans to advance through the nightmarish hedgerow landscape of Normandy. The story of the ultimate Allied breakout is one of innovation, imagination, determined leadership, and German mistakes—and, reminds Weddle, was as important and instrumental in the final Allied victory over Nazi Germany as any other D-Day battle.

3 sessions

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