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D-Day: the day
and its preparation

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D-day, the day of the Normandy landings was on the 6th of June 1944. A great deal of equipment and troops were involved and they all had to be in the right place at the right time.

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The parking of the equipment in readiness for D-Day

The realisation of the amount of equipment involved and the logistics of getting it to the right place at the right time was brought home to me during the Easter holidays in 1944: Some village lads and I went for a cycle ride near the wartime RAF base at St. Athan or Llandow. There we saw a truly amazing sight - in every field for miles around, aircraft and gliders were parked, many with their wings removed, so crowded together that it seemed impossible ever to be able to move them.

Furthermore, a partially completed dual carriageway near Newport (Forge Lane), which had been intended to form part of the Newport by-pass, was closed and used as a military vehicle park with every imaginable type of tank, armoured car, road tanker, field gun and ambulance stretching eight wide, nose to tail for over three miles, all waiting for D-Day. This scene was repeated hundreds of times all across southern Britain.

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The movement of the equipment towards the coast

As D-Day drew nearer, all these vehicles moved in orderly waves towards the south coast ports. It was a parade to end all parades, hour after hour, day after day. Our young arms grew tired of waving to them.

How the Germans were misled in spite of the massive movement of troops and equipment

With such a massive move­ment of troops and equip­ment, how could it possibly have been that the location of the Normandy landings was kept from German espionage? The answer is in elaborate deception. This is described well in Wikipedia.

On D-Day itself, the air was thick with thous­ands of aircraft and the roar of their engines was incessant; it was almost impossible to believe that there were that many aeroplanes in the world. There was never a sight like it before, nor will there be ever again. Nor can I ever remember such excitement in the papers and on the wireless. After the invasion, there was a large map of Europe pinned on the school wall and we would follow the Allied progress through France and Germany with keen interest, shading 'our' part and marking liberated cities with little flags.

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Page contributed by Malcolm Head

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