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Tuesday, June 6, 1944
Allies land in France in greatest amphibious assault of all time
By VIRGIL PINKLEY, United Press War Correspondent
SUPREME HEADQUARTERS, Allied Expeditionary Force, London, June 6, 1944 (UP) - American, British and Canadian invasion forces landed in Northwestern France today, established beachheads in Normandy, and by evening had "gotten over the first five or six hurdles" in the greatest amphibious assault of all time.
Prime Minister Churchill revealed that allied troops were fighting inside Caen, 9 1/2 miles inside Northwest France, that the invasion penetrations had reached several miles in depth in some cases, and that footholds had been established on a broad front as the operation proceeded "in a thoroughly satisfactory manner."
General Dwight D. Eisenhower's supreme headquarters revealed that the Allied armies, carried and supported by 4000 ships and 11,000 planes, encountered considerably less resistance than had been expected in the storming of Adolf Hitler's vaunted west wall.
Nazi broadcasts reported Allied troops pouring ashore most of the day along a broad reach of the Norman coast and to the east, and admitted that invasion landing barges had penetrated two estuaries behind the Atlantic wall.
Apparent key to the lightness of the Nazi opposition to invasion forces opening the battle of Europe was contained in a disclosure that thousands of Allied planes dropped more than 11,200 tons of bombs on German coastal fortifications in 8 1/2 hours last night and early today.
As massive Allied air fleets took over complete command of the skies over the invasion zone, Reichsmarshal Hermann Goering issued an order of the day to his air force declaring that the invasion "must be fought off, even if it means the death of the luftwaffe."
Late in the day, Churchill, making his second statement of the day to commons, said the invasion was proceeding "in a thoroughly satisfactory manner." Earlier, he told commons it was going "according to plan - and what a plan!"
Simultaneously, the German DNB news agency reported that the invasion front" has been further widened." Nazi broadcasts throughout the day told of the amphibious assault developing on a grand scale, with fighting as deep as 10 miles inland - a figure apparently extended by the last enemy report.
Supreme headquarters revealed late in the day that bad weather had forced a 24-hour postponement of the invasion. The Allied command gave the go-ahead order last night despite strong northwest winds and rain squalls when weather experts forecast improving conditions today. The weather still was somewhat unfavorable, however, impeding the support given the land armies by the air force.
Although detailed official reports were lacking as the tense first day wore toward a close, it was summed up by one source at headquarters in the words: "We have gotten over the first five or six hurdles."
The surmounted hurdles were described as:
The German air force did little or no bombing of ports from which the invasion was mounted in the last critical days.
Attacks on invasion convoys failed to reach the expected scale.
Minesweepers succeeded in sweeping channels to the beaches without much opposition from shore batteries or from the air.
The troops got ashore with less opposition from shore guns than was believed possible.
Opposition generally was well below expectations; for instance, up to a certain time this morning, the German air force had flown only 50 battle area sorties.
Allied overall casualties appeared to have been relatively light. Headquarters announced that they were light among air-borne troops and "surprisingly small - very small at sea."
The disembarkation went according to plan. Warships succeeded in silencing shore batteries and laying smoke screens on schedule. A United States battleship moved in much closer to shore than scheduled in order to silence a troublesome group of fortifications.
The minesweeping was described as the biggest and probably most difficult operation of its kind ever attempted. Hundreds of sweepers headed the invasion fleets, clearing the water and marking channels.
The German DNB news agency said this afternoon that Allied landing barges had pushed into the estuaries of the Orne and Vire rivers in the coastal stretch between Cherbourg and Le Havre "in the rear of the Atlantic wall" - the vaunted defense line that Hitler hoped would keep invaders off the soil of Germany.
Nazi broadcasters also acknowledged that Allied tanks had cut several kilometers inland between the towns of Caen and Isigny, and admitted Allied penetrations ranging up to 10 miles.
The Germans reported heavy fighting in the area of Caen, 9 1/2 miles inland and 115 miles from Paris on a direct railroad line.
Copyright 2007 by United Press International.