United States Army in World War II: European Theater of Operations

Cross-Channel Attack

By Gordon A. Harrison

. . . to Those Who Served

Table of Contents


Introductory Note


Chapter 1: The Roots of Strategy

The Common Ground—General Marshall’s Project—“Action in 1942—Not 1943”—The Period of Indecision (July–December 1942)—The Casablanca Conference

Chapter 2: Outline Overlord (January–July 1943)

Organization for Planning—Size and Shape of the Attack—Landing Craft Requirements—Allotment of Resources, May 1943—The COSSAC Plans

Chapter 3: Overlord in Balance (August–December 1943)

Strategy Reviewed: The Quebec Conference—Landing Craft Again—Questions of Command—The Cairo-Tehran Conferences

Chapter 4: The German Army in France, 1940–1943

Organization of the West—Impact of the Russian and Mediterranean Fronts—Rebuilding the Western Defenses

Chapter 5: Overlord Revised

U.S. Organization and Training for the Assault, January 1944—The ANVIL-OVERLORD Debate—The NEPTUNE Plans

Chapter 6: Preliminary Operations

The French Resistance—The Combined Bomber Offensive—The Bombing of French Railroads

Chapter 7: German Defense Measures, 1944

OKW Policy in 1944—Organization for Combat—Command and Tactics—The Defense on the Eve of Invasion

Chapter 8: The Sixth of June

The Invasion is Launched—The Airborne Assault—Hitting the Beaches—The D-Day Beachhead

Chapter 9: The V Corps Lodgment (7–18 June)

Securing the Beachheads—Junction Between V and VII Corps—The Caumont Gap—Towards St. Lô

Chapter 10: The Capture of Cherbourg (8 June–1 July)

Securing the North Flank—Attack to Cut the Peninsula—Hitler Intervenes—Advance to the Cherbourg Landfront—The Fall of Cherbourg—End of a Phase

Appendix A: Digest Of Operation Overlord

Appendix B: Directive to Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force

Appendix C: Hitler Directive No. 40

Appendix D: Hitler Directive No. 51

Appendix E: Chronology of Main Planning Papers from 1 January 1944

Appendix F: Comparative Fire Power of the U.S. and German 1944-type Infantry Divisions

Appendix G: Divisions Available to Germany on 6 June 1944

Appendix H: Table of Equivalent Ranks

Appendix I: Recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross

Appendix J: Basic Military Map Symbols


Code Names

Bibliographical Note



I: Cosmopolitan World Map (Rand McNally and Company)


III: The Final OVERLORD Plan

IV: Development and Lodgment

V: Sealing Off the Battlefield

VI: Order of Battle OB WEST, 6 June 1944

VII: Allied Assault Routes, 6 June 1944

VIII: The Airborne Assault, 6 June 1944

IX: 101st Airborne Division Drop Pattern, 6 June 1944

X: 82nd Airborne Division Drop Pattern, 6 June 1944

XI: V Corps D-Day Objectives

XII: OMAHA Beach Assault

XIII: The Second British Army on D-Day

XIV: German Countermeasures, 6 June 1944

XV: V Corps, 7–8 June 1944

XVI: VII Corps on D+1

XVII: Battle for Carentan and Junction of the Beachheads, 8–12 June 1944

XVIII: V Corps Advance, 9–13 June 1944

XIX: Kampfgruppe Heintz, 6–11 June 1944

XX: Toward St. Lô, 14–18 June 1944

XXI: Securing the North Flank, 8–14 June 1944

XXII: Attack to Cut the Peninsula, 10–18 June 1944

XXIII: The Advance North, 19–21 June 1944

XXIV: The Attack on Cherbourg, 22–26 June 1944

XXV: The Advance Inland, 6 June–1 July 1944

Inline Maps

1: Situation in Europe, 6 June 1944

2: German Counterattack in the Cotentin

3: 4th Infantry Division, 6 June 1944

4: German Counterattack on Carentan, 13 June 1944

5: Coumont Gap, Morning 10 June 1944

6: The la Fière Bridgehead, 9 June 1944


1: Simplified Command and Planning Organization for European Operations as of May 1942

2: German Chain of Command in the West, May 1944

3: Luftwaffe Command in the West

4: German Naval Command in the West


President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill—General Marshall—U.S. Soldiers in Ireland—Casablanca Conference—General Morgan—British Landing Craft on Beach at Dieppe—German Submarine Under Aerial Attack—Quebec Conference—General Montgomery—Tehran Conference—Field Marshal von Rundstedt and General Jodl—German High Command—Enemy Coast Artillery—Field Marshal Rommel—General Eisenhower—Invasion Training in England—Assault Training—Vauville Beach, Spring 1944—Pre-invasion Bombing—Hitler Leaving Railway Carriage at Compiègne—V-Bomb Over London, June 1944—Bombardment of Marshaling Yards—Results of Air Attacks—Anti-landing Obstacles—German Mobile Infantry—Captured German Armor—Pre-invasion Scenes—Allied Invasion Chiefs—German Field Commanders—Parachute Troops—Hedgerow Country—Merderet River Crossing—Crossing the Channel—Troops on Utah Beach—Aerial View of Utah Beach on D-Day Morning—Aerial View of Omaha Beach on D plus 1—Terrain on Omaha Beach—Assault Landings, Omaha Beach—First Aid on the Beach—Rangers Scaling the Cliffs at Pointe du Hoc—Ninth Air Force B-26 Over British Beachhead—Troops on Utah Beach Under Artillery Fire—Planes and Gliders Circling Les Forges—U.S. Commanders—St. Côme-du-Mont Area—Carentan Causeway—Carentan and Hill 30 Area—Tank Equipped with Hedgerow Cutter—Crisbecq Fortification—Azeville Forts—Quinéville—La Fière Causeway—Tank Entering St. Sauveur-le Vicomte—Ste. Colombe–Néhou Area—Seine River Bridge at Mantes-Cassicourt Under Bombardment—Utah Beach During the Build-up—Omaha Beach During the Build-up—Artificial Port at Omaha Beach—American Artillery in Action Against Cherbourg—Fort du Roule—House-to-House Search in Cherbourg—American Infantry Captain with Cherbourg Prisoners