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11-08-2015, 19:03

The Landings in Normandy and Provence

At the Teheran conference, the Allies agreed to launch a fullscale offensive against Germany from across the English Channel. It was called the Overlord Plan and placed under General Eisenhower's command. Seventy-five thousand ships transported 4 million men, mostly from America, but also from Canada, and 280 million tons of arms and material to Britain, where they joined forces with the British army. Normandy was chosen as the landing point. On 6 June 1944, despite a howling storm, 4,300 transport ships, preceded by 300 minesweepers and escorted by 500 warships discharged five divisions at five separate points. Three other divisions were dropped by parachute. The 'Atlantic Wall' could not withstand the assault. The Germans had been misinformed about where the landing would occur, and no longer had enough submarines to obstruct it. They lost time by concentrating their troops in order to contain the Allied forces, while the Allies won complete mastery of the air. The major German forces were pinned down by the British near Caen. The Americans meanwhile occupied the Cotentin peninsula and thrust southwards, reaching Avranches on 1 August. As reinforcements poured into an artificial harbour at Arromanches the Allied troops north of the Loire veered eastwards towards the Seine. On 15 August a second landing was made in Provence. Churchill tried unsuccessfully to cancel it and divert the force to Italy where a stalemate had been reached. A French army commanded by Delattre de Tassigny took part in the Provence landing and occupied Marseilles and Toulon. The Germans fled northwards from the pincer; and the Allies chased them as far as Lorraine. The French Forces of the Interior emerged from hiding. They scouted for the landing forces, harassed the German retreat, and liberated cities in the van of the Allied advance. At Paris tlie\ rallied a popular uprising which was then successfully carried through by the Second Armoured Division under General Leclerc. A provisional government under General de Gaulle was formed at Paris and assembled the leaders of the Resistance and set up a new administration, prosecuted collaborators and silenced revolutionary outbursts, mostly in the southwest. It carried out a certain number of plans which had been laid by in the resistance movement or in Algiers, most notably the fusion ofthe 140,000 French Forces of the Interior with the French First Army. The British and the Americans again failed to see eye to eye about stragety. Montgomery wanted to lead the main bulk of the Allied forces in a concerted thrust across the northern plain into the centre of Germany. Eisenhower preferred to advance the whole front uniformly, leaving the line of the final assault to be determined according to what conditions they encountered. The question was settled by the failure ofa huge parachute operation at Arnhem in September 1944. The Allies confined their operation to clearing the mouth of the River Scheldt and freeing the port of Antwerp. Troops were advanced as far as the banks of the Meuse and the Siegfried Line, while Lorraine was liberated. Leclerc took Strasbourg and Delattre reached the Rhine near Mulhouse, but the Germans retained control of the Colmar pocket in central Alsace.