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D-Day: James Holland answers your questions

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, the largest seaborne invasion in history. Earlier this week one of Britain's leading military historians, James Holland, took to Twitter to answer your questions about the Normandy landings. Here, we have pulled together some of the highlights of the Q&A session

Historian James Holland
Published: June 6, 2014 at 5:00 am
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This article was first published in the June 2014 issue of BBC History Magazine 


And we're off! James Holland is with us until 3pm today answering *your* D-Day questions! Tweet us your Qs and include #DDayJames @James1940

— BBC History Magazine (@HistoryExtra) June 3, 2014

How close did inclement weather conditions come to scuppering D-Day?

It’s a v big deal sending a huge invasion off in bad weather but actually Ike rightly held his nerve. So not that close.

How long do you reckon the soldiers were awake for on D-Day? When did they get to rest?

I reckon most were awake the best part of 24hrs. A few snatched moments of sleep is the best they could hope for.

Did the Allies get help on the ground from the Resistance?

Definitely! 950 of 1050 planned interruptions of railways were made on 5/6 June + sabotage & intelligence before D-Day...

... And de Gaulle had organised all resistance (save Commies) in Forces Francais de l'Interieur (FFI) back in March.

How critical was deception (Operation Fortitude) to the success of D-Day?

Massive. Germans knew invasion was coming but not when or where. FORTITUDE ensured they were still guessing on 6th June.

How much of a role did paratroops play in success of D-Day? Without them would it still have succeeded?

Good question. The first troops to land were from the air: men of the Ox & Bucks at Pegasus Bridge at 00:15...

... inc Lt Brotheridge & Maj John Howard.

Which nation, U.S., U.K. or Canada, best achieved its objectives on D-Day?

In terms of the ground gained, the Canadians.

How many people were killed on D-Day? Who suffered the most casualties?

This is a really thorny one and no-one quite knows for sure. Brit & US casualties were roughly same: US 2,616-3,144...

... & Brit 2,515-3,380. But dead is impossible to know, as German figs are vague. Possibly as many as 4,000 though.

Where were the dead of #DDay buried and by whom?

Dead are buried in temporary graves by burial parties, then disinterred + reburied in allocated cemeteries...

... That’s the point of dog tags!

Were there any inequalities between Americans, Canadians and British units in terms of equipments?

Not really. Allied kit was pretty good on the whole. Shermans cd have had bigger guns, but tank destroyers did...

... ...(Shermans chassis). And main thing was Allies had lots of kit - few units were ever short of MGs or tanks. Unlike the Germans…

Was #DDay deemed a success overall – did it go to plan?

D-Day was pretty successful. Flanks secured, bridgehead secured, and build-up of troops and materiel quick enough.

How much of a role did paratroops play in success of dday? Without them would it still have succeeded?

Airborne troops secured the flanks which was vitally important - keeping the bridgehead intact...

... wd have been very difficult if they'd failed.


How much do you know about D-Day? Test your knowledge with this quiz written by Holland.


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