D-Day: the successes and failures in focus

Antony Beevor talks to Rob Attar about the successes and failures of one of the greatest ever military operations

An older couple is watching a Canadian soldier with a bulldozer working in the ruins of a house in the rue de Bayeux.10th July 1944. The church towers in the background have survived the Allied bombing intact. Caen, Normandy, France. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

Q: Was 6 June 1944 a good choice for the Normandy landings?

A: In a way it was a miraculous choice. Eisenhower [the supreme commander] had a very difficult decision to make but in fact it worked very well.

When he took the decision the weather was appalling, with wind and rain battering on the windows. However, the Allies had weather stations in the western and northern Atlantic, and so were able to see a gap in the weather which the Germans couldn’t see. This is why Rommel [commander of the German defences] was away from his headquarters on 6 June, thinking that the Allies wouldn’t invade on that day, and why many of the German divisional commanders were at Rennes actually looking at a possibility of doing a command exercise against a landing in Normandy.

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