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The Advancement of Technology and Allied Success during D-Day

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Introduction

Throughout history, it appears to see how the advancement in technology was the leading successor to sides winning battles, and even wars. Some may disagree and be convinced on winning factors to include tacticians, while some may believe that it be the pure courage of which men had so as to fight in the army. This investigation will focus on the question of “To what extent did the advancement of technology play a role into Allied success during D-Day?’ with a non-biased overview with research mainly based on the Allied powers. The summary of evidence given is to not have an attempt to alter a perspective, instead to give neutral information, as a report is intended to do so. I am interested in this because it is a circumstance researched upon rarely and I am interested in the Battle of D-Day. I will use many secondary sources, due to the scarcity of primary sources. I will make sure to use different resources in order to gain reliable and accurate information.

I will likely obtain my secondary sources from online encyclopedias such as Britannica, and possibly reliable articles. I believe that it will be difficult to find sources which extend on the timeline of advancement in technology; leading to an Allied victory.

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Summary of Evidence

D-Day, also named Operation Overlord, was a battle for the liberation of France from Nazi control. It was specifically an Allied invasion from Western Europe, launched on June 6th, 1944. The battle was a decisive victory for Allied forces, but there were mass casualties from both sides. There were mainly 3 types of technological advancements: weapons, medications, and vehicles.

It has been widely said that the radar won the war for the Allies in World War 2, while being specifically used during the battle of D-Day. It allowed for simple reconnaissance without risk. Early radar prototypes during WW2 operated at 200 MHz (standard is 24 GHz).

Nylon being a newly made material, allowed for the creation of parachutes, glider tow ropes, aircraft fuel tanks (improved), and flak jackets; all of which were used during the Normandy landings, and proved to be extremely useful. For example, the creation of parachutes allowed for paratroopers to be held behind enemy lines (and allowed for a new division); according to the Smithsonian Magazine, some people dubbed it “the fibre that won the war.”

Specifically used for the Battle of D-Day, a crucial bit of technology which helped the Allies launch the attack on Normandy, was the Higgins boat. The Higgins boat was an armored landing craft which provided a hull, which could be opened through a latch. It was used to carry troops right onto Normandy’s beaches. The boat was built by Andrew Higgins — the man who Dwight D. Eisenhower credited with winning World War II.

The weather conditions were crucial for winning battles. Air operations required clear skies and a full moon, for far and good visibility. Naval operations required seas which were calm, and troop landings required a full moon for low tides. With this taken into consideration, the allies consulted a number of meteorologists when planning the invasion. In 1942, Arthur Thomas Doodson (a mathematician) began creating prototypes of machines which predicted the tide, by understanding the patterns. In 1944, using his prototype, Doodson identified the best landing times, where the tide would be the lowest; and that Operation Overlord should be executed between the 5th-7th of June.

The invention of pipelines under the ocean (PLUTO for short), supplied petrol from Britain to europe through a network of underwater pipelines. It allowed easy access from the Allies to fuel up aircraft and vehicles with the petrol, and was important for the success of Allies during the landings of Normandy.

Morphine was important during Operation Overlord (as well as WW2), as it allowed for the wounded to stay conscious while a medic was performing surgery on the battlefield. Furthermore, the invention of penicillin during World War 2 was important for the wounded who returned to Britain, as it helped fight bacteria. It was mainly used to treat venereal diseases such as gonorrhea and syphilis, as that had been the scourge of armies for thousands of years.

In order to keep communications a secret, the Allies, and Axis created their own secret code. The Germans used a machine called the Enigma Machine in order to code, and decode messages given to each other. However, scientists from the Allies were able to crack the code, which allowed for the bypass of Nazi communications security.

Real tanks were replaced by inflatable dummy when they were transported from their main position. The decoys tricked the Nazi army into believing the Allies had more firepower than they really did, which helped mask the preparations being made for the invasion of Normandy. Furthermore, the Allies behind enemy lines (paratroopers) during D-Day had decoys placed which would attract German soldiers. This spread the German defenses for AA (anti-aircraft) flak guns, which were important to the Germans during D-Day, as it had prevented the heavy concentrations of aircraft (the Horsa Gliders which carried paratroopers). The decoys spread the Germans out, which allowed for a concentrated attack from the Allies to have a higher chance of success. Like Robert E. Lee, the Allies used a tactic improvised off of him. It was a plan which stated that a victory could be won while outnumbered, if the enemies were stretched and in smaller divisions.

Analysis of Source

James Carlopio created this piece of text due to his belief into wanting to teach other historians/students, as well as the public regarding the strategy and technology used during D-Day. He presented focuses mainly on allies, and the reasoning to why each strategy was brought up (with the correlation of technology) and how it turned out. James Carlopio presented the view of mainly the British and US. The objective of the entire company is to set out on teaching strategy and technology towards the public, and seems to be well-reputable source as it has a professional format, unlike a tabloid where its main goal is to earn money off of advertisements. The overall articles contain a deep-thought out analysis of cause and effect generally, as well as having some unique/rare information which isn’t talked about too much. The article seems to not focus on one certain strategy too much, but rather tries to spread towards generalization. Therefore, more resources may have to be used in order to go into depth regarding a topic.

Conclusion

Finding detailed information on the advancement on technology assisting with an Allied success during D-Day served to be difficult as the topic was extremely concise, as well as the paper requiring different perspectives towards the topic in order for a neutral perspective. It was also a challenge to maintain neutral, as the topic was regarding the Allies’ success during D-Day, rather than the Axis’. I had to dig up sources which took a long time to find (for decent ones), and with this, I found it to be extremely time-consuming and inefficient. It was also difficult to find a primary source because it would be difficult to find a historian who may be an expert on this specific topic, as well as it being difficult to find a veteran from World War 2, who is still alive today; let alone having him/her be knowledgeable on the topic which I am focusing on. What I have learned, what I would improve on next time.

Sources

  • https://www.britannica.com/event/Normandy-Invasion
  • https://ethw.org/Radar_during_World_War_II
  • https://www.usveteransmagazine.com/2018/06/technology-helped-win-normandy-invasion-world-war-ii/
  • https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/7-clever-innovations-used-on-d-day
  • https://whyy.org/articles/remembering-d-day-and-the-complex-medical-system-that-saved-the-boys/
  • https://www.ducksters.com/history/world_war_ii/technology_of_ww2.php
  • https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/d-days-parachuting-dummies-and-inflatable-tanks

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