This week marks 75 years since the successful invasion of Normandy during World War 2, which turned the tables in favour of the Allies. General Eisenhower, who would later go on to be the 35th President of the United States, was in charge of the operation, codenamed Operation Overlord. However, it seems he was unsure whether they would be successful, as he wrote a heart-wrenching note taking responsibility for the potential failure.
He wrote: “Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops.
“My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available.
“The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do.
“If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”
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Curiously, the letter is signed July 5 instead of June 5 – he must have been quite distracted at the time of writing.
General Eisenhower was appointed Supreme Allied Commander in Europe in December 1943 and was in charge on the Western Front until the end of the war.
He battled with other Allied leaders about how to progress with the Normandy invasion.
He argued with US President Franklin D Roosevelt over an agreement with Charles de Gaulle, a French army officer and statesman who led the French resistance against the Nazis and would later be President of France.
He fought with Admiral Ernest J King, US Chief of Naval operations over the Admiral’s refusal to provide additional landing craft form the Pacific.
General Eisenhower also insisted the British give him exclusive command over all strategic air forces for the Normandy landings.
He even threatened to resign unless Churchill gave in to his demands.
The British bulldog and the US General were at odds again over the bombing plan in France, for which Churchill had grave concerns over civilian casualties.
However, General de Gaulle backed his American ally and the plan was settled.
In this way, General Eisenhower took over Operation Overlord, which is likely why he felt such responsibility for its success.
The heartbreaking letter shows the future President was willing to take any blame for its failure.
The invasion of Normandy was costly, but successful.