77th anniversary of D-Day: the somewhat under-appreciated Juno Beach landings

Today, 77 years ago, an Allied armada carried out the largest-scale amphibious operation in history in Normandy.

Elaborate deception maneuvers (I will blog about “Operation Mincemeat” another time) had led the Germans to expect the invasion elsewhere, at the Calais Narrows.

The major landings were divided into five “beaches”: from west to east:

The one name nearly everybody remembers is Omaha Beach, by far the bloodiest of them all (2,000-5,000), as featured in the movie “Saving Private Ryan”. Utah Beach has the lowest casualty figures of all (under 200), unless those of the Airborne landings inland are added to the count. The two British landing sectors, Gold Beach and Sword Beach, cost 1,000-1,100 casualties (of which 350 dead) and 700 casualties, respectively.

What about the Canadian Juno Beach? Wikipedia (caveat lector) lists 340 dead, 574 wounded, and 47 captured. Here is a 5-part YouTube video about it:

I am keenly aware that I likely would not have been here without the landings. So many of us owe our very existence to the brave warriors putting their lives on the line on that day.


4 thoughts on “77th anniversary of D-Day: the somewhat under-appreciated Juno Beach landings

  1. Operation Mincemeat was a deception operation intended to assist the landings in Sicily in 1943.

    The D Day deception operations were called Operation Fortitude (Fortitude North was a fictitious invasion of Norway, and Fortitude South was a fictitious invasion of the Pas de Calais) – under the umbrella of Operation Bodyguard, which was the overall deception plan for the invasion.

    Importantly the deception operations were intended not merely to conceal the time and place of the actual invasion, but to convince the Germans that, once they had happened, the Normandy landings were just a feint to pull German reserves to Normandy, so that the Allies could then mount their “real” invasion at the Pas de Calais. This was successful – the Germans kept a lot of troops out of the Normandy battle for several weeks after the invasion, to cover the wholly imaginary Pas de Calais invasion.

    The Germans only realised that the Pas de Calais invasion wasn’t going to happen when General Patton turned up in Normandy more than a month after D Day. Until then, he had stayed in England commanding the fictitious army that was going to invade the Pas de Calais.

    One of the most important keys to success was that Bletchley Park had broken the Abwehr’s codes, so that they could read Abwehr messages confirming that the Abwehr believed wholly in its network of agents in Britain, which were in fact controlled by British Inteliigence. British intelligence, having turned all the Abwehr agents (or arrested all the ones who didn’t want to turn) had sensibly never previously used the controlled network of German spies in Britain to deceive the Germans. They had sensibly banked “capital” for several years, so that when the time came for the Big Sting – D-Day – the Abwehr totally trusted what their agents were telling them.

    But probably the essential ingredient of success in the D-day deception operations was the thing you need to remember should you ever be planning an important military operation. It is much easier to deceive an enemy into believing even more firmly what he already believes; than to deceive him into changing his mind. The Germans expected the invasion in the Pas de Calais – their minds were already prepared for what the Allied intelligence services were selling them.

  2. In wartime the truth is valuable it must constantly be shielded by a bodyguard of lies….Anthony Cave Browns “Bodyguard of Lies” is an interesting history of the deception efforts surrounding D Day

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