Operation Overlord
Great Plans and Big Egos

A Talk by Lord Richards of Herstmonceux

The main hall of Emsworth Community Hall was packed to capacity on Wednesday evening, January15th 2020 for the illustrated talk by Lord Richards on the planning of the D Day Landings. In 1944 People from Emsworth had participated in the landings, an event considered the most complicated military plan of the 20thcentury. Lord Richards had spent time in Normandy to enhance his understanding of this major military offensive.  

Concerns were expressed about landings the days before D Day. The British wanted to avoid the bloodshed of the WWI, an important factor was getting the Americans on board and there was empathy between Roosevelt and Churchill. After the attack on Pearl Harbour America entered the war. The Americans wanted to attack the Japanese first before going after Hitler but the final decision was to attack Europe, then Japan.

In 1943 the Trident Conference considered a bombing campaign was appealing but a land invasion was decided upon.  Suitable beaches were chosen that were within the range of air cover and capable of being defended. Bolero was the codename for the build up of the American personnel and by May 1944 1.5million Americans crossed the Atlantic. There was friction between the Allies but as the war progressed morale among servicemen and commanders improved with the Battle of Britain and the Battle for Kursk, won by our Russian allies. The actual invasion of Normandy took place on June 6th 1944 with the majority of troops who landed on D Day being from the UK. America and Canada.

The statistics given by Lord Richards for D Day are staggering: 155,000 troops landed on the beaches on D Day, I Million troops landed in the first month, 6,939 amphibious vessels took part and 13,000 crew by air missions. Lord Richards concluded his excellent presentation by answering questions from the audience,

Sue Young