Americans capture the Normandy town of Coutances, July 29, 1944 (National Archives)
After four and a half years of war, 160,000 British, Canadian, and American soldiers under the command of 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.
But the landings and initial lodgment constituted only the first phases of Operation Overlord. The early successes were followed by weeks of Allied frustration and horrific casualties as German forces stubbornly defended the key city of Caen and the Normandy hedgerow country.
Kevin Weddle, a professor of military theory and strategy at the U.S. Army War College, recounts what happened after the landings on D-Day. He discusses why the Allies fell behind their timetable and how the outnumbered Germans were able to stymie numerous attempts by the British to take Caen and by the Americans to advance through the nightmarish hedgerow landscape.
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.
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