On 6th June 1944 Operation Overlord commenced. This combined allied military operation, led by the famous American General, Dwight Eisenhower, is known as the D-Day Landings, or the Normandy Landings and was the largest amphibious assault in history.
On 6th June, airborne troops were dropped into Northern France – approximately 18,000 of them and ground troops were landed at five assault beaches in Normandy. The beaches were code named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. The supporting naval operation was called Neptune which involved over 700 large and small vessels. The supporting air operation involved 11,000 aircraft and over 156,00 ground troops were landed in France.
D Day established a second front in Europe which lead to the eventual liberation of Europe in 1945 however, this was the start of a long campaign which met with fierce resistance from the Germans.
On D day itself it was estimated that 4,000 troops lost their lives or were injured; the Americans suffering casualties of 2,000 at Omaha Beach.
There is a terrific amount of information on the internet about the D-Day landings and a good place to start is the Imperial War Museum site which also has lots of information and links about all the events taking place this year to commemorate this important event. https://www.iwm.org.uk/visits/d-day75
Here in Aberconwy, we have a strong connection with the D Day Landings not only through those who served but also with the engineering work that played such an important contribution. From 1942 onwards up to 1,000 men were involved at Conwy Morfa with the construction of “secret structures” that were part of a War Office project to make D day possible. Bangor born engineer, Hugh Iorys Hughes (1902-1977) was the project leader. These “secret structures” were the components of a “Mulberry Harbour” – a temporary floating harbour that made the capture of a port non-essential as it provided a platform on which to land vehicles, equipment and supplies.
General Eisenhower declared, “Mulberry exceeded our best hopes,” while General Bradley described the project as “one of the most inventive logistical undertakings of the war.”
Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder, Eisenhower’s trusted, pipe-smoking deputy, concluded, “The whole question of the invasion of Europe might well have turned on the practicability of these artificial harbours,” while the German war production minister, Albert Speer, admitted that the Allies made the Nazis’ Atlantic Wall irrelevant because they bypassed it “by means of a single, brilliant technical device.”
There is a commemorative stone at the Conwy Morfa jetty. There is lots more information about Mulberrry Harbours and their construction available on the internet.
In Aberconwy the Royal British Legion along with the Home Front Museum, Royal Welch Museum, Blind Veterans, Conwy Archive Service and the Welsh Guard will be holding an event to mark the D Day Landings in Llandudno. Veterans and Standard Bearers will form up at 10.30am for a service at the war memorial at 10.45. The names of the five Llandudno men who lost their lives during the Battle of Normand will be read out, wreaths laid and the Last Post sounded. For the rest of the day the Community Partners will be setting up displays telling the story of D Day from a local and national perspective. It will no doubt be a very moving service and an interesting day.