The road to D-Day: getting ready for action
As their plans to liberate Europe gathered pace, the Allies knew that every stage of the invasion would have to be carried out with razor-like precision. Soon, thousands of troops were being put through rigorous training exercises – some of which turned out to be as deadly as the real thing | By Peter Caddick-Adams
Land: Before the troops could leave Britain’s shores, they would have to conquer Devon first
On the eve of the invasion, the build-up of troops in the British Isles was so large, servicemen joked that Britain was only being kept afloat by the number of barrage balloons attached to her. Indeed, a total of 2,876,600 soldiers, sailors and airmen were awaiting the call in southern England, and key to their success on D-Day would be the fact that each and every one of them had experienced far longer and more meaningful combat preparation than their opponents across the Channel.
However, as US infantry divisions underwent extensive training along the coast of Devon, accidents were not uncommon. Many of the exercises were necessarily dangerous, involving live artillery, mines and machine gun fire.