What was the situation in 1944? The Russians have defeated the Germans and are advancing in the East The Allies are victorious in Africa and launch an assault on mainland Italy through Sicily
Italy From July 10th to August 17th – the Allies including the Canadians fought and took Sicily from the German Army – Codenamed “Operation Husky” The Campaign of Italy was designed to take the pressure off their Russian Allies and pull German troops out of north-western Europe readying the area for Operation “Overlord” 9th September, 1943 the attack began on Italy The Canadians were forced to fight for every metre of the mountainous terrain as the Germans refused to give it up Italian Campaign Animated Map
The Italians Surrender On the 8th of September, 1943, the Italian Government surrenders The Allied planners thought the Italian Campaign would be over in a matter of weeks. They were wrong. Italy would represent frustration and death for thousands of Allied soldiers in a bitter stagnated fight. It would be a year before Allied troops entered Rome, and the Invasion of France would overshadow that victory.
The Battle for Italy When Italy formally surrendered on September 8th, the Italians separated into two camps, pro-Allied and pro-German factions. On September 9, the Allies landed Americans at Salerno and the British landed at Taranto By September 26 the Allies had built a force of 189,000 men and 30,000 vehicles. Following the Italian surrender, the German Army took control of the defence of Germany
The Move on to France Having the Germans occupied in Italy allowed the allies to move forward with their plan to open up the long awaited western front in Europe
The Plan Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt agreed it was time to open up a new front in the West through the beaches of France The obvious choice for a landing area was the Pas de Calais so the Allies decided to attack in Normandy instead but believed they had to deceive the Germans they intended to attack elsewhere
Normandy It Is! Normandy is a peninsula on the French Coast It was chosen because the Germans expected the attack to be on the Pas de Calais
The Criteria The enemy must remain ignorant of the proposed landing site The enemy must be prevented from bringing up reinforcements quickly once the allies landed Complete Allied air and naval superiority in the English Channel Local defences must largely be destroyed by air and sea bombardment
Operation “Overlord” There would be five sectors that would be attacked: Utah – American Omaha – American Gold – British Juno – Canadian Sword - British
The Attack – June 6th, 1944 Operation Overlord Simulation
The Atlantic Wall The Atlantic Wall was an extensive system of coastal fortifications built by the Germans between 1942 and 1944 Built along the western coast of Europe to defend against an anticipated Anglo-American led Allied invasion of the continent from Great Britain. Fritz Todt, the designer of the Siegfried Line along the Franco-German border, was the chief engineer Thousands of forced laborers were forced to construct these permanent fortifications along the Dutch, Belgian and French coasts
The Atlantic Wall Early in 1944, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was assigned to improve the defenses of the Wall. Rommel believed the existing coastal fortifications were entirely inadequate. A string of reinforced concrete pillboxes were built along the beaches to house machine guns, antitank guns, and light artillery. Minefields and antitank obstacles were planted on the beaches and underwater obstacles and mines were planted in the waters just off shore to destroy incoming craft By the time of the invasion, the Germans had laid almost 6 million mines in northern France.
The Atlantic Wall!
The Time Has Come On the evening of June 5th paratroopers dropped in to secure bridges for the allied advance Heavy bombers dropped their payloads on what was supposed to be the beach defences In the early morning the largest armada of ships left Britain for the French coast
The Battle for Normandy For the first month following the D-Day landings, a stalemate developed during which the Allies built up their forces In July Canadian troops helped capture Caen and then turned towards Falaise where they aimed at joining an American advance from the south to encircle the German forces in Normandy. By August 21, the Germans had either retreated or been destroyed between the Canadian-British and American pincers The ten-week Normandy Campaign cost the Canadians alone more than 18,000 casualties, 5000 of them fatal.
The Liberation of Northwest Europe September 1944 the British captured the Belgian port of Antwerp It was a key victory for the allies because they desperately required its docking facilities to bring in supplies. The problem was that the Germans occupied both banks of the 70-kilometre long Scheldt River estuary linking Antwerp to the sea.
Realizing the value of Antwerp to the Allied supply line, the 2nd Canadian Army under the command of Lieutenant-General Guy Simonds was assigned to the task of securing the Scheldt Estuary
The Final Days In April 1945, the battle is coming to a close. On the 30th April, Hitler commits suicide together with his mistress Eva Braun hours after they were married. Hitler gave strict orders for his body to be burned, so that his enemies wouldn't do what they had done to Mussolini, who was publicly displayed hanging upside down.
The Soviets Arrive – Berlin Falls By 2 May, the Reichstag, the old German parliament falls and Berlin surrenders to Marshall Zukhov, who receives the honour of being the conqueror of Berlin. The battle for Berlin cost the Soviets over 70,000 dead. Many of them died because of the haste with which the campaign was conducted.
VE-Day The major Allied ground offensive from the west against German territory began on 8 February 1945 In April, Canadian troops liberated most of the Netherlands The Germans formally surrendered on 8 May 1945, known as Victory-in-Europe, or ‘V-E’ Day