Of Normans and Normandy

I didn’t comment on the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion yesterday. I’m kind of over my head with work right now (for which I thank the Lord), and I wanted to get the book review out of the way. But I don’t want to leave the day unmarked.

I wonder how much the planners of the invasion were influenced by historical symmetry. It must have appealed to Churchill, especially, to send troops back to the very beaches where ships had been launched by William the Conqueror in 1066. By all accounts it was a near-run thing, the conclusion by no means foregone. But there was certainly strategic sense in it. (There was also, as I’ve mentioned before, an alternate plan to invade by way of Norway. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Norway seems a poor platform for launching the liberation of continental Europe. Maybe cutting off Hitler’s iron ore supplies would have made it worth it, though.)

In any case, I couldn’t resist sharing the illustration above, which was on the cover of The New Yorker on July 15, 1944. The artist was Rea S. Irvin, and I love it to death. More information from the Norman Rockwell Museum here.

FYI, there is also an “Overlord Tapestry,” housed in a museum in Portsmouth, England. It was completed in 1974. You can read about it at the web page of Sandra Lawrence, the designer, here.

One thought on “Of Normans and Normandy”

  1. There was also, as I’ve mentioned before, an alternate plan to invade by way of Norway. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

    It’s one of the peculiarities of war that sensible choices are often bad ones, because they are what the enemy expects. This made Calais a bad choice for D-Day despite being closer to Britain, for example. Of course, they spent a lot of resources making it appear like Calais was the chosen location.

    In addition to an iron ore blockade, a successful attack on Norway would have provided more options for an attack on mainland Europe. This would have required the Germans to split their forces further, preparing to defend in Denmark in addition to Normandy and Calais. This is similar to how the Italian Campaign forced the Nazis to occupy Northern Italy, using troops that couldn’t then be used elsewhere.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.