Why the Allies Won on D-Day
D-Day could have been the disaster that lost the Allies the war. It was the biggest, most ambitious amphibious landing in history. And other Allied landings during World War ii had failed.
For two years, 2 million slave laborers had worked under the Nazis to fortify the French coast against exactly this type of assault. They had used 18 million tons of concrete to build bunkers and other fortifications. They had mined the beaches and coastal waters and filled the fields with pikes to thwart glider attacks.
The rehearsals for D-Day were less than promising. Operation Tiger, in April 1944, was a large-scale dress rehearsal held on the beaches of Dover. It was a disaster. German torpedo boats found their way in among the land craft and attacked. Around 800 American servicemen died. Authorities were so concerned about its effect on morale that they covered up the incident—and it remained secret for 40 years.
Operation Eagle was less of a debacle, but that’s not saying much. The dress rehearsal for the paratroopers who would land the night before D-Day ended with a lot of pilots getting lost. The transport planes ran into a German bombing raid. They scattered, and many couldn’t find the drop zone. Twenty-eight planes returned to base without having dropped off anyone. Five hundred of the paratroopers suffered broken bones, sprains and other injuries. In his book Band of Brothers, Steven Ambrose wrote, “The only consolation the airborne commanders could find in this mess was that by tradition a bad dress rehearsal leads to a great opening night.”
The stakes were huge. If D-Day failed, the Allies would be unable to launch another attack for at least a year. In that time, a lot could happen. Winston Churchill could have been pushed out of office. Joseph Stalin may have made peace with Adolf Hitler. Or Stalin could have beat the Nazis—and extended the Soviet Union’s Communist tyranny all the way to Western Europe, winning the Cold War before it even started. Meanwhile, Hitler’s new weapons—rockets, jet aircraft and advances in submarine warfare—would have made the Allies’ task even harder.
No wonder Allied commanders were worried. Chief of the Imperial General Staff Alan Brooke wrote in his diary, “I am very uneasy about the whole operation. At the best it will fall so very, very short of the expectations of the bulk of the people, namely all those who know nothing of its difficulties. At the worst it may well be the most ghastly disaster of the whole war. I wish to God it were safely over.” Supreme Allied commander Gen. Dwight Eisenhower told his staff, “I hope to God I know what I’m doing.”
It was a real possibility that we could have looked back on June 6, 1944, as the day that hope for a free world died.
Instead, we look back today on the sacrifice thousands of young men made to win the day—so that we can be free.
Why did the Allies win? We certainly owe a lot to the bravery and heroism of those British, Canadian and American soldiers, as well as others, who stormed the beaches. But there’s another vital cause that our nations no longer pay much attention to: God.
Knowing what was at stake, leaders of all the nations made earnest appeals to God for help.
“I desire solemnly to call my people to prayer and dedication,” said England’s King George vi. “We are not unmindful of our own shortcomings, past and present. We shall ask not that God may do our will, but that we may be enabled to do the will of God; and we dare to believe that God has used our nation and empire as an instrument for fulfilling His high purpose.
“At this historic moment surely not one of us is too busy, too young or too old to play a part in a nationwide, perchance a worldwide, vigil of prayer as the great crusade sets forth.”
United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave a public prayer before the nation on June 6: “Help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice. Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.”
How different from our leaders today. When U.S. President Donald Trump recited this prayer in Normandy today, he left out the part quoted above. We don’t even acknowledge that part of history. It’s almost unthinkable for a modern leader to pray for our nation to act as an expression of God’s will—or to call on the people to pray twice daily to God.
This reliance on God was shared by many of those involved in the operation. “We shall require all the help that God can give,” wrote Adm. Sir Bertram Ramsay, commander of all the naval forces involved in D-Day. “I cannot believe that this will not be forthcoming.”
And the result? Again, I’ll let those in command of D-Day do the talking.
“If there were nothing else in my life to prove the existence of an almighty and merciful God, the events of the next 24 hours did it,” said General Eisenhower.
“Such a historic march of events can seldom have taken place in such a short space of time,” wrote Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery. “Let us say to each other, This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”
Lt. Gen. Sir Frederick Morgan did most of the planning for D-Day in his role as chief of staff to the supreme Allied commander. History Net called him “one of World War ii’s forgotten heroes.” On April 7, 1947, he published an article in Britain’s Telegraph newspaper titled “The Miracle of D-Day.” He wrote (emphasis added):
As the old adage had it, “Man proposes, but God disposes.” There comes a point in so many of our affairs at which we hope so often for a miracle.
And miracles happen still. How many of them have we not seen enacted before our eyes in these past few years. … There was Dunkirk and its flat, calm sea. Who planned that? During those fateful hours I was riding up to battle, south of the Somme … our main army was hemmed in on those northern beaches. There were many others who, like us, saw no way out barring a miracle. There came a miracle.
Then, two years later, a U-boat caught sight of the tail ship of one convoy [carrying troops from America and Britain to invade North Africa]. The German observer, apparently, thought what he saw merely worthy of routine report.
Then, but a day before General Patton was due to land on the Casablanca beaches, open to the full Atlantic swell, just as it seemed inevitable that his whole affair must be called off, the wind changed from onshore to offshore and let the small craft in.
The history of our other theaters of war will inevitably tell of many similar happenings, but I doubt if any will be such as to compare with the miracle of D-Day in 1944. … There had already been one short delay, caused by bad weather, which meant that any further postponement must have been of weeks to await the right conjunction of light and tide. … There was something more than ordinary, surely, in that decision to attack and in that spirit of success that permeated the ranks.
The most immediate and obvious miracle on D-Day, which Morgan drew attention to, was the weather. The different branches of the service all desired different types of weather in order to conduct their operations on D-Day. Chief meteorological officer James Stagg complained that he put all these requirements together: “I found that they might have to sit around for 120 to 150 years before they got the operation launched.”
They didn’t get exactly the weather they wanted—but they got the weather they needed.
June 6 came during a break in tempestuous weather. The rougher seas and stronger winds had some downsides. The American soldiers transferred into their landing vessels much farther out at sea than their British and Canadian allies—and suffered in the rougher waters as a result. However, as the Times wrote in 1944, “The German commanders were advised by their meteorological service that there could be no invasion in the period including June 6 because of continuous stormy weather. That is why D-Day forces landing during a brief break in the windiest month in Normandy for at least 20 years found so many German troops without officers, and why other enemy coastal units were having exercises at the time of the landing.”
The weather also kept the German Navy away. “The crews of the minesweepers and Admiral Ramsay could not believe their luck when, having accomplished their task”—preparing the way for the invasion fleet—“they turned back without a shot fired,” writes Antony Beevor in his history of the Second World War. “The rough seas which had persuaded the Kriegesmarine to remain in port had proved their greatest blessing.”
The Allies also got “lucky” in that they managed to catch the Germans by surprise. War planners did all they could to deceive the Germans. D-Day was preceded by operations Fortitude North and Fortitude South. The aim was to confuse the Germans about when and where the attack would take place. Andrew Roberts writes in The Storm of War, “The two Fortitude operations constitute the most successful deception plan in the history of warfare.”
The Allies acted as if they were going to land in the Pas de Calais. They had a fake U.S. Army group, fake tanks, fake landing craft and even a fake General Montgomery to deceive the Germans. But all the same, keeping the largest amphibious attack in the history of the world a surprise was a huge challenge.
Yet the Allies came close to losing the surprise. They had arranged a signal with the French Resistance—to let them know the invasion was about to take place. When the landings were imminent, the bbc would broadcast a line from a poem: “Wound my heart with monotonous languor” (it was a French poem). However, the Germans had captured and tortured a resistance leader and forced him to divulge the signal. The signal was broadcast at 11:15 p.m. on June 5. The invasion was about to start.
The leader of the German 15th Army in the Pas de Calais put this troops on alert. But crucially, the message did not get passed along to the German 7th Army at Normandy. And that is where the invasion force was bound.
Even some of the Allies’ mistakes ended up “luckily” helping them. Planes carrying U.S. airborne troops got lost, with many paratroopers coming down far outside the drop zones. But instead of being a disaster, the dispersion of forces confused the Germans about the target of the operation. They also ended up believing that 100,000 paratroopers were landing, when the real figure was only a quarter of that.
But there’s one massive miracle that made D-Day possible that is not related to the events of the day itself. D-Day was a triumph of the British, Canadian and American soldiers. It was also a triumph of the Royal Navy, the U.S. Army Air Force (usaaf) and the Royal Air Force (raf). But it was also a victory for American manufacturing.
There were 7,000 ships involved in the landings, including 1,200 warships and 4,000 landing craft, eventually landing 2 million men on the beaches of France. The skies above were guarded by 11,500 aircraft.
All this required a massive logistical operation. The United Kingdom had 57 million square feet of storage area filled with supplies—including half a million tons of ammunition. German intelligence believed that any landing would have to take place at a major port in order to facilitate the flow of this massive amount of supplies. This was another reason they were surprised by the attacks in Normandy.
To get around the problem, the Allies built two artificial harbors. These would be towed across the English Channel and sunk at the beaches. It took 600,000 tons of concrete—enough to build more than 2,000 houses—1.5 million yards of steel and 20,000 men working in eight dry docks. To fuel the invasion, the Allies specially constructed an undersea pipeline that ultimately carried 172 million gallons of fuel to France.
Then there’s the air battle and bombing campaign that made D-Day possible. Allied air supremacy was crucial. Allied pilots flew 13,688 air sorties, the Germans flew 309. Lt. Cmdr. Cromwell Lloyd-Davis describe the scene out at sea. “It was almost like Piccadilly Circus—there were so many ships there, and it was incredible to us that all this could be going on without the Germans knowing anything about it. But we never saw a German aircraft the whole time.” Only around a dozen German fighter bombers made it to the beaches, and they could only stay long enough for one attack each. If German planes had made it through, it could have been a disaster. The huge concentration of men landing on the beach could have been bombed into oblivion.
Instead, the Axis suffered without air cover. German Gen. Erwin Rommel later described the experience:
Even the movement of the most minor formation on the battlefield—artillery going into position, tanks forming up, etc—is instantly attacked from the air with devastating effect. During the day fighting, troops and headquarters alike are forced to seek cover in wooded and close country in order to escape the constant pounding of the air.
Earlier in the war, the Germans had been known for their rapid blitzkrieg warfare. Now their tanks could only creep and crawl toward Normandy. Any open movements drew destruction from the air—or attacks from the French Resistance on the ground. Roberts writes:
D-Day once again saw a determined German counterattack on the ground being staved off by Allied airpower. The capacity and willingness of the Wehrmacht to try and push the Allies back into the sea were still there, but were overwhelmed by the ability of the raf and usaaf to attack the unprotected armor from above, where it was weakest. The bombing campaign against Luftwaffe factories and the attritional war against German fighters once they had been built had paid off spectacularly.
Then there was the battle of the Atlantic. German submarines had to be kept away from the Royal Navy that was supporting the invasion. If they weren’t, it would be a massacre. This required victory in submarine warfare. Then there’s the massive logistical operation to get supplies over from the UK—and the massive construction of merchant shipping was necessary.
This is where American industry was crucial for D-Day. Once the giant industrial machine was cranked up, America made the same number of planes that it lost at Pearl Harbor every two days. In 1944, Germany built 40,000 airplanes; America built 98,000.
The statistics on the total U.S. war effort are overwhelming: Nearly 300,000 aircraft built, 351 million metric tons of aircraft bombs, 88,000 landing ships, 5,200 merchant ships, nearly 150 aircraft carriers, nearly 1,000 warships, 12.5 million rifles and over 86,000 tanks. Roberts wrote, “Grossly to oversimplify the contributions made by the three leading members of the Grand Alliance in the Second World War, if Britain had provided the time and Russia the blood necessary to defeat the Axis, it was America that produced the weapons.”
The raw materials and massive industrial capacity necessary for D-Day were a blessing from God, just as surely as the weather. This is what it took to make D-Day a success: the waning British Empire working with the rising superpower of the U.S.
God promised these material blessings to Britain and America thousands of years ago. “And of Joseph he said, Blessed of the Lord be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath … And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills” (Deuteronomy 33:13, 15). Thousands of years later, the descendants of Joseph received those blessings—and used them to fuel the massive war machine necessary to defeat Adolf Hitler.
In Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26, God lists the blessings that would be poured out on our nations. These include the material blessings mentioned earlier, but also blessings in industry and manufacturing. “Blessed shalt thou be in the city,” says God (Deuteronomy 28:3). He promises to “bless all the work of thine hand” (verse 12). Verse 8 says, “The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto ….”
Those blessings were on display on D-Day. In The United States and Britain Prophecy, Herbert W. Armstrong lists statistic after statistic showing the massive dominance the U.S. and UK had in raw materials and industrial capacity.
But in the same book, he also shows how, and why, those blessings are being taken away today.
We didn’t receive those blessings, turn to God, and show the world an example of righteousness. Instead, we have drifted so far from Him that it would be unthinkable for one of our leaders to call on our people to pray daily, the way our leaders did during World War ii.
And so God is sending curses. There are dark forces rising again in the world. This time, we won’t be able to stop them. There won’t be any more Normandy successes; we’ve lost that asset that was so vital the first time—God’s help.
But the biblical passages that list the curses for disobeying God give us hope. God says of the modern descendants of Israel, “I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly …” (Leviticus 26:44). He will punish, but “if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity: Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob …” (verses 41-42).
This is the great lesson from D-Day. As Winston Churchill himself said, “There is a purpose being worked out here below.” God has a plan for mankind—and as part of that plan, the Allies won on D-Day.
Understanding this plan will help you make sense of world events. Much more than that, it will help make your life a success as you seek God’s help in your battles.
To learn about God’s plan for our nations—and for you—read our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy, by Herbert W. Armstrong.