~ Churchill's Signal to Mountbatten -
A Nation's Gratitude ~
There were many small scale raids organised and undertaken by
the joint forces (including Commandos) of Combined Operations in the 4 years after the evacuation at
Dunkirk. There were also larger landings in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France
and Holland but the D-Day landings were of an entirely different magnitude
to anything that had gone before. They were the culmination of
4 years of meticulous planning and
Churchill flanked by the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Field Marshal Sir
Alan Brooke and General Sir Bernard Montgomery, commanding 21st Army Group at
Monty's mobile headquarters in Normandy, 12 June 1944. © IWM (TR 1838).]
The map shows the positions of destroyers,
battleships, cruisers etc and their designated targets on the coastal strip of
Normandy. It also shows the
position of the 5
HQ ships (one for each landing beach) and the two Flag Ships (one for each
sector). It does not show the thousands of landing craft and support vessels.
Churchill had maintained a
close interest and involvement in the preparations and appreciated the enormity
and complexity of the task. On June 12, 1944, just 6 days after D-Day, he visited
the beaches of Normandy. On return to London that evening, he and his military
chiefs sent a signal to
Mountbatten, by then in Burma, who had been in charge of Combined Operations
from October 1941 to October 1943.
"Today we visited the
British and American Armies on the soil of France. We sailed through vast fleets
of ships with landing-craft of many types pouring more men,
vehicles and stores
ashore. We saw clearly
the manoeuver in progress of rapid development. We have
shared our secrets in common and helped each other all we could. We wish to tell
you at this moment in your arduous campaign that we realise how much of this
remarkable technique and therefore the success of the venture has its origin in
developments effected by you and your staff of Combined Operations."
Arnold, King, Brooke,
Marshall, Churchill, Smuts.
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