OVERLORD: The Invasion of Normandy and the Liberation of France

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Europe and the beginning of the final stage of the Second World War in Europe.  The invasion of France was the most complex military operation of all time. It required putting hundreds of thousands of men and their equipment across beaches defended by a formidable and resolute enemy.  To succeed it required unprecedented preparation and planning, exquisite coordination of land, sea, and air forces, and unrivaled intelligence achievements.  The political and strategic outcome of the war hung on its success or failure.  It is a story worth examining again.

  • Conception and Planning, 1942-44: How to Get at the Germans – SLEDGEHAMMER, BOLERO, and ROUNDUP.  Comparison of Allied and German Sea, Air, and Land Forces.  Lessons from the Dieppe Raid.  Experience in the Mediterranean – Morocco, Tunisia, Sicily, Italy and Anzio. 

  • OVERLORD, Final Planning and Preparations: The Importance of Winning the Battle of the Atlantic.  Pressure from Stalin.  Convincing the British.  Air Supremacy Achieved. Operation FORTITUDE.  German Strengthening of the West Wall.  Rommel’s Impact, Winter-Spring 1943-44.  

  • The Longest Day, June 6, 1944: The Night Drop.  The Battles for the Beaches -- Omaha, Utah, Sword, Juno, and Gold.  The Failure of the German Response.  Allied Issues:  The Failure to Take Caen and the Problem of the Bocage.  The Great Storm of June 19-22.  The Threat of Stalemate.

  • June-July, 1944: The British Effort to Breakout in the East, EPSOM and GOODWOOD.  British Manpower Issues.  The Americans take Cherbourg and Build Strength on the Right Flank.  Divisions Between the Airmen and the Generals. Montgomery’s Actions Sow Distrust. 

  • August –September 1944: Breakout and Pursuit.  Unleashing Patton’s Third Army. The Falaise Pocket and the Destruction of the German Seventh Army.  The Controversies:  GOODWOOD, the Falaise Gap, Montgomery vs. Practically Everyone.

  • The End: DRAGOON – The Invasion of Southern France and the Capture of Marseilles.  The Liberation of France and Belgium.   OVERLORD’s Legacy.

Mondays, 10:30 am — noon
January 21 — February 25
Holy Trinity Episcopal Church

Cost: $100

Ron Cassell (Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Associate Professor Emeritus of History, and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, has long had an interest in 20th century British political history and the two world wars.  He is a recipient of the Alumni Teaching Excellence Award.


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