The road to D-Day: the masterplan
Landing successfully in Normandy and conquering Europe would require more than brute force. If the Allies stood any chance of success on D-Day, it would also take the combined efforts of scientists, military tacticians and the French Resistance to plot the route to victory – long before any bullets could be fired | By Paul Reed
On the afternoon of 16 January 1944, the midget submarine X20 approached the shoreline of what would later become Omaha beach on D-Day. While it was still daylight, X20 sat at periscope depth as its two-man crew surveyed the beach area. Then, when darkness descended, the submarine moved within 400 yards of the shore, allowing its crew members to swim in.
The men bore no explosives and their task was not to destroy or kill. Instead they carried scientific equipment to gather sand samples, along with condoms to place them in so they would not be damaged when taking them back. Once analysed on dry land, the samples would then be used to ascertain which beaches would be best to land on.