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Slide 1
World War Two
Poland to Normandy
Major Rascon
Slide 2
Learning Objectives
Know and explain the failure of the Western
Allies to respond militarily to the invasion of
Poland and the subsequent “Phony War”
 Know and explain the rapid victory by
Germany in Western Europe
 Know and discuss early U.S participation in
World War Two with emphasis on the Battle
of the Atlantic
Slide 3
Learning Objectives
Understand and compare American and
British motives in the decision making for the
North African and Italian campaigns
 Know and discuss the importance of the
battle of Normandy
Slide 4
Dupuy, The Evolution of Weapons and
Warfare, pp. 245 – 252
 Fuller, A Military History of the Western
World, Vol. 111, pp. 382 – 412
 Jones, The Art of War in the Western World,
pp 508 – 595
 Preston and Wise, Men in Arms, pp. 295 330
Slide 5
Essentially four wars;
- Germany vs. Europe
- Germany vs. Russia
- Japan vs. China
- Japan vs. US/UK
 Germany invades Poland on 1 September
1939, Britain and France declare war on 3
September 1939
Slide 6
After the fall of Poland Anglo-French forces
content to remain on the defensive
 French troops build up around the Maginot
Line opposite the German Siegfried Line (a
defensive strategy)
 Germans go around Maginot Line; invades
Denmark, Norway, Holland Belgium and
Slide 7
(Allied Defensive Posture)
“Phony War”
French Maginot Line opposite the German
Siegfried Line
 British Expeditionary Force along Belgian
 Allied air power limited to leaflet dropping
 British Navy rounds up German merchant
 Allies fear German retaliation
 Video 8min Maginot Line
Slide 8
Slide 9
Denmark and Norway
(9April 1940)
German troops hidden on a merchant ship in
Copenhagen - Denmark fell almost without
 Britain proposes to mine neutral Norwegian
ports to stop ore supplies to Germany
 Germans attacked Denmark and Norway to
break blockade
Slide 10
German invasion of Norway
Merchant ships carried hidden German
 Air attacks and airborne landings
 Allies (France and Britain) fought tenaciously
alongside the Norwegians but later withdrew
- Norway quickly fell
Slide 11
Germans take Belgium and
Germans attack weak allied left wing Maginot Line did not extend to sea
 Air and airborne attacks against airfields and
 Allies beaten by skill and surprise
 Badly damaged French morale and opened
up an avenue for the invasion of France
 Allies were disjointed and lacked centralized
Slide 12
Invasion of France
German’s 135 divisions, Allies 136 divisions;
Germans were better trained and
 Germans were superior in armor tactics and
motorized division organization
 Germans were far superior in air power, this
was the key to their invasion
Slide 13
German Plan
Attack France through the Ardennes
 Open up a crossing of the Meuse south of
 Three column advance:
- Eastern column, swing to rear of the
Maginot Line; it did not extend to the sea
- Central column, drive south toward Aisne
- Western column, swing toward channel to
strike at bulk of allied forces
Slide 14
Slide 15
The Invasion
May 10th 1940 - Germans began to bomb
headquarters, supply dumps and airfields
 By May 13th, the Meuse had been crossed;
Germans used combat troops, tanks, dive
bombers and motorized artillery
 By May 21st, German armored units reached
the channel cutting off the main allied armies
in Belgium
Slide 16
The Invasion
On 25 June 1940, France capitulated and
signed an armistice surrendering three fifths
of France
 The conquest of France left Germany in
control of the continental Western Europe
and at the doorstep of England
 Germans were faced with attacking east
(Russia) or northwest (England)
Slide 17
Slide 18
The Battle of Britain
After fall of France, Britain stands alone.
– Germany must control air in order to successfully
invade England.
Despite 3,000 to 1,200 advantage in aircraft,
Luftwaffe is unable to defeat the RAF.
 Hitler calls off plans for invasion in Sept 1940
and shifts to bombing campaign (“The Blitz”).
Slide 19
Battle of Britain
(Operation Sea lion)
Germany planned to defeat Britain through
air power and later invade
 Germany was not prepared for seaborne
 Had no amphibious doctrine and the local
sea power belonged to Britain
 Germany waged an air war of attrition
against the RAF
Slide 20
Battle of Britain Cont’d
The Germans lacked heavy bombers and
were hampered by the limited range of their
 The British advantage concerning fighter
direction because of radar and radio area
 This allowed British controllers to vector
superior formations against German
Slide 21
Four Phases of the War
Germans tried to control sea by attacking
 Shifted attack to main land RAF bases; this
was very effective
 Bomb London to break British morale; high
civilian casualties
 British countered by destroying 200 barges
gathered by Germans for attack on England
 This caused Germans to suspend Operation
Sea Lion
Slide 22
End Result
British won the Battle
- Britain's will to win
- British radar
- Britain's well organized ground control
 German abandon the attacks on Britain in
order to prepare for invasion of Russia
Slide 23
Operation Barbarossa: The
German Invasion of Russia
Hitler believed the Russian Army could be
destroyed in 3 months
 22 June 1941 - Hitler attacked (wanted to win
before U.S. involvement)
 Initial German aims were to capture Russian
oil fields and industrial areas in order to;
– Support Germany’s war in the west
– Break Russian economic power so she could not
attack at some later date
Slide 24
Three German Armies
Northern attack columns attacked north and
pinned Russian Army against the Baltic Sea
to seize Leningrad
 Central attack columns attacked along the
traditional invasion route and seized Moscow
 Southern attack columns attacked south to
seize Kiev
Slide 25
Slide 26
Russian strategy
Barter space for time; intended retreats
 Scorched earth policy; withdrew and forced
the Germans to overextend their lines of
communications and supply. Forced Hitler’s
exposed army to spend the winter in -40
degree weather
 Partisan organizations were to prey on
Germany’s lines of communications
Slide 27
“Blitzkrieg” Initially Very
Armored panzers of the Central Army closed
on Minsk; a great tactical victory was
 Tactical surprises gave the Germans
victories at Smolensk and Kiev
Slide 28
German- Offensive Halted
Supply lines were so long that they slowed
the advance
 Vast area which had been taken was hard to
control because of Partisan activity
 The massive size of Russia exhausted
German troops
 The Russian winter set in and the Germans
did not have adequate equipment to fight a
winter battle
Slide 29
German Failure
Hitler’s decision to delay the attack on
Russia from 15 May to 22 June 1941 in lieu
of the Balkan Campaign and his taking
control of the armies from his generals were
major mistakes which contributed to German
failure in Russia
Slide 30
Early US Involvement in Europe
Lend-Lease Act provides UK (and others) with
ships, planes, and other war material.
 Germany declares war on US on 11 Dec 1941.
 Germans attempt to stop supplies getting to
England, results in the Battle of the Pacific
 U.S enters the War, initially;
– Disagreement over location and timing for
“reclamation” of Europe.
– Churchill favors a peripheral attack of the Med ,
while Roosevelt favors Western Europe/France.
– Agree to begin with attack in North Africa
Slide 31
Battle of The Atlantic
Attempt to stop supplies reaching the Allies
Essentially conducted in five phases
Phase one (Sept. 1939 – June 1940)
- German U-boat operations led to the
sinking of numerous Allied ships
 Phase two (June 1940 – March 1941)
- Germans build special bombproof
submarine pens
- “Wolfpack” operations began against
Slide 32
Battle of Atlantic Cont’d
Phase three (April – December 1941)
- Growth of US participation
- 50 destroyers given to Britain, this allowed Russia
to hold out against Germany
- Germans initiate unrestricted submarine warfare
 Phase four (January 1942 – April 1943)
-Germans attack shipping routes near US Coast
- Air and surface-escorted interlocking Allied convoy
-Increased loss of German submarines, turning
point of the battle
Slide 33
Battle of Atlantic Cont’d
Phase five (May 1943- May 1945)
- Germans shift attacks to Mediterranean
 Eventually U-boats are defeated because of
close air cover escorts and advances in
 Allied victory shifted the balance of the war
 Video 5min Battle of Atlantic
Slide 34
North Africa (Operation Torch)
After initial success against the British, Rommel
overextends and is defeated by Montgomery at elAlamein.
 Montgomery chases Rommel across Africa until the
Germans are caught between British and Torch
– Operation Torch, November 1942
– Allies land in North Africa at Casablanca, Oran
and Algiers.
– Objective was more political than military:
occupy North Africa to protect access to the
Slide 35
Slide 36
Overall Success
Great loss to the German cause
U.S., England, France, & Spain drawn
 The stage was set for a cross-channel landing
at Normandy
 The Allied had established a foot hold in the
Mediterranean to provide follow on attacks to
 First large scale, joint operation under a
unified commander - Eisenhower
Slide 37
Operation Husky (Sicily Campaign)
During North Africa campaign Allied
commanders met at Casablanca Conference
 U.S wants to conduct a direct attack on
Germany, British want to continue peripheral
attack through the Mediterranean
 Agree to continue with peripheral attack with
operation Husky
Slide 38
Operation Husky, July 1943
Plan involved invading the southeastern tip
of Sicily
 General Patton’s 7th Army on the left and
General Montgomery’s British 8th Army on
the right
 During this time Germans were defeated
earlier in the year at Stalingrad
 Germans were on the defensive; strategic
bombing of Germany and Allied success in
the Battle of the Atlantic
Slide 39
Slide 40
Slide 41
The victory in Sicily helped secure the Allied lines of
It diverted some of the German forces from the
Russian front
It applied increased pressure on Italy
Led to collapse of Mussolini’s Fascist government
and Italian surrender September 3rd 1943
7th Army gained experience in joint amphibious
operations which used in Normandy
Slide 42
Results Cont’d
Again the British wanted to continue advance
through Mediterranean (believed Germans
were still to strong for a direct attack)
 U.S. agreed and the Allies conducted
operations Avalanche at Selerno and Shingle
at Anzio
 Success of these operations cumulated in
operation Overlord, Normandy
Slide 43
Normandy, Operation Overlord
Most massive and complex military endeavor
in history.
 Its objective was to destroy Germany and
end the war
 Numerous beaches were studied
 Two main beaches were Normandy or Pas
de Calais
Slide 44
Advantages/Disadvantages of Pas
de Calais
Best air cover
Shorter sea voyage
Best beaches and
Close to Dutch and
Belgium forts
 Germans considered it
the most likely avenue
of approach (heavily
 Beaches were too
narrow to support
follow on operations
Slide 45
Slide 46
Advantages/Disadvantages of
Normandy Beaches
Good beach conditions
Some what sheltered
Within air cover
German defense not
Cherbourg easily
 Exits from beach were
 Few numbers of ports
were readily available
Slide 47
Allied Plan
Eisenhower appointed Supreme Commander
 Land on Normandy coast, build up and break
out of beachhead
 Attack on a broad axis with two armies;
- one to attack east and north towards
- the other to link up with the southern
France invasion to the south
Slide 48
Allied Plan Cont’d
Maintain an unrelenting offense for complete
destruction of enemy west of the Rhine
 Launch a final attack – a double
envelopment of the Ruhr
 Emphasis on the northern, left flank toward
Ruhr and industrial Germany
Slide 49
Artificial Harbors
Gooseberry - 70 old ships were sunk
offshore to provide a breakwater at 5
different beaches. It took 5 days to emplace
 Mulberry - Huge cement harbors sunk in the
beach areas and established as a port. Two
mulberries were constructed for each army.
They took 14 days to erect and ranged in
size from 1,672 tons to 6,033 tons
Slide 50
Artificial Harbors
Slide 51
Mulberry; Artificial Harbor
Slide 52
A line of sunken ships
form a gooseberry
breakwater at Utah
Slide 53
German Defenses
German strategy was to react to the Allies
 Von Rundstet
- Commander of Western Front
- Believed in mobile defense
- Believed attack would be at Pas de Calais
 Rommel
- Assigned by Hitler to improve west coat defense
- Initially reported to Hitler rather than Rundstet;
created problems in the chain of command
- Believed attack would be at Normandy and the
enemy should be defeated on the beach
Slide 54
German Defenses Cont’d
Hitler held four Divisions under Supreme
Headquarters Central
 This weakened Von Rundstet and Rommel’s
ability to defend the beaches
 Rommel set out to improve beach defenses
but lacked mines, concrete, time and
 German Air Force had 400 aircraft, but fewer
trained pilots
Slide 55
Allied Invasion
Conducted with five amphibious and two airborne
divisions; Omaha, Utah, Gold, Sword and Juno
Patton feint at Pas de Calais to trick Germans
Amphibious assault was a tactical surprise
US 1st Army (Bradley) landed at night over Utah
and Omaha beaches
Utah Beach Operation was an isolated war; forces
landed one mile south of intended beach
Slide 56
Slide 57
Slide 58
Allied Invasion Cont’d
V Corps (Cerow) landed at Omaha beach,
consisting of bluffs rising 150 ft
Bluffs were heavily defended
- Even with NGFS initial landings met heavy
resistance; over 1,000 KIAs
British 2nd Army (Demsey) landed at Gold, Juno
and Sword beaches
Easy assault, beaches defended by Ukrainians
Assault covered the Allied left flank and stopped
German reinforcements
Slide 59
Normandy Beaches
Omaha Beach
Juno Beach
Slide 60
Airborne Assault
US forces;
- 101st Airborne Division, dropped 6,600
troops over 20 by 15 mile radius, only 1,100
could be mustered
- 82nd Airborne Division had the same result
- this confusion helped the mission; enemy
was completely disorganized
Slide 61
D-Day Results
12TH Panzer Division blocked by Hitler
(thought Normandy was a feint, expected
attack a Calais)
 82nd Airborne held St. Mer Eglise
 101st still in small pockets
 Utah beach secured, entire 4th Division
 Allies continue to push slowly at Omaha
Slide 62
End Result
Battle for Normandy proved to be the turning
point in the European Theater
 By 18 June, 1st US Army had seals off
Cherbourg Peninsula
 Caen fell to British on July 8th and St. Lo to
the US 1st Army on July 18th
 The tide had turned; Allies in control
Slide 63
After invasion of Poland Allies on the
defensive “Phony War”
 Germans cross Maginot Line; invades
Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Holland and
 Attempt to invade Britain, campaign failed,
Germans turn their attention to Russia
 Initial US participation in the War led to Battle
of the Atlantic
Slide 64
Summary Cont’d
US wants direct attack on Germany, British
wants peripheral attacks through the
Mediterranean( North Africa and Italian
 Normandy; Allied victory initiates end of war
Slide 65