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The Atlantic Wall

07-05-2018

Early in 1944, with an Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe becoming ever more likely, Field Marschal Erwin Rommel was assigned to improve the wall’s defences.   Believing the existing coastal fortifications to be entirely inadequate, he immediately began strengthening them. Rommel’s main concern was Allied air power. He had seen it first-hand when fighting the British and Americans in North Africa, and it had left a profound impression on him. He feared that any German counterattack would be broken up by Allied aircraft long before it could make a difference. Under his direction, hundreds of reinforced concrete pillboxes were built on the beaches, or sometimes slightly inland, to house machine guns, anti tank guns, and light and heavy artillery. Land mines and antitank obstacles were planted on the beaches,  and underwater obstacles and naval mines were placed in waters just offshore. The intent was to destroy the Allied landing craft before they could unload on the beaches.

D-Day June 6th 1944.

By the time of the Allied invasion, the Germans had laid almost six million mines in Northern France. More gun emplacements and minefields extended inland along roads leading away from the beaches. In likely landing spots for gliders and parachutists, the Germans implanted slanted poles with sharpened tops, which the troops called Rommelspargel (“Rommel’s Asparagus”).  Low-lying river and Earnestine areas were intentionally flooded. Rommel believed that Germany would inevitably be defeated unless the invasion could be stopped on the beach, declaring, “It is absolutely necessary that we push the British and Americans back from the beaches. Afterwards it will be too late; the first 24 hours of the invasion will be decisive.”

The Channel Islands were heavily fortified, particularly the island of Alderney, which is closest to Britain. Hitler had decreed that one-twelfth of the steel and concrete used in the Atlantic Wall should go to the Channel Islands, because of the propaganda value of controlling British territory. The islands were some of the most densely fortified areas in Europe, with a host of Hohlgangsanlage, “cave hollows”, case-mates, and coastal artillery positions Walcheren Island is considered to be the “strongest concentration of defenses the Nazis had ever constructed.”

However, as the Channel Islands lacked strategic significance, the Allies bypassed them when they invaded Normandy. As a result, the German garrisons stationed on the islands did not surrender until 9 May 1945—one day after Victory in Europe Day. The garrison on Alderney did not surrender until 16 May. Because most of their garrisons surrendered peacefully, the Channel Islands are host to some of the best-preserved Atlantic Wall sites.

Although the defensive wall was never fully completed, many bunkers still exist near Ostend Belgium, in Scheveningen, Den Haag, Katwijk in Holland and in Scandinavia.

UNITS LANDED ON JUNE 6, 1944:

132.715 soldiers landed on June 6, 1944 on the beaches of Normandy:
75.215 British, Canadian and French troops, 
57.500 American troops

PARA DIVISION DROP ON JUNE 6, 1944:

23.490 paratroopers landed on Juni 6, 1944 in Normandy:
7.900 British paratroopers (6th  Airborne Division), 
15.500 American paratroopers (82nd  & 101st  Airborne Divisions)

ALLIED LOSSES ON JUNE 6, 1944:

10.800 killed, wounded or missing (1/14)

BROUGHT ASHORE VEHICLES:

438.491 vehicles were brought ashore (untill 31 august, 1944) 
202.789 British and Canadian
235.682 Americans

 It has been confirmed that 2.499 Americans were killed on D-Day and 1915 of the other Allied nations, a total of 4.414 dead (and the number will increase when the still missing are counted into it).

The losses on the British beaches on 6 June were for GOLD Beach around a 1.000 men, and for SWORD Beach the same. The 6th Airborne had 600 killed and the same number for the missing. Under the gliderpilots a 100 were casulties.

The losses on 6 June for the 3rd Canadian Division  on JUNO Beach were 340 killed, 574 wounded and 47 were made prisoner.

The German figures range from 4.000 to even 9.000. A report from Erwein Rommel end of June, speaks of the losses in that month of ’28 Generals, 345 commanding officers and about 250.000 men’.

 

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