What if D-Day had failed?

7/24/2012 • Ask Mr. History, Dwight Eisenhower


If D-day had failed and the troops were pulled off the beaches, what was plan "B"? Where there backup invasion plans of Europe? If so, what were they? Where can I learn more?




Dear Mr. Stewart,

Given the size, scope, location, and timing of D-Day, there was little room for alternate scenarios if Operation Overlord had failed. Calais was closer, but Adolf Hitler expected that to be the landing zone and had the most powerful defenses there (Operation Fortitude had been designed to keep him expecting the landing to be there even as the Allied force was heading to Normandy). The weather was a critical factor—it delayed the invasion for days and failure on June 6 would have held up any further action for two weeks—at which point the Channel would have been experiencing its worst storms in years (June 19-22). Failure was really not an option and nobody, least of all General Dwight D. Eisenhower, was able or willing to consider anything short of success. Everyone involved conducted themselves accordingly, which (combined with virtually complete Allied air superiority) assured that there would not have to be a "Plan B."

Where can you learn more? D-Day is one of the most written about campaigns in history!  Check your library or the military section in any book store or e-catalog. Osprey Publishing put out entire books in its "Campaigns" series devoted to each beach and additional separate ones for the subsequent breakout operations. Samuel Eliot Morrison covers the naval aspect in his history of U.S. Naval Operations. The U.S. Army put out a treatment on the landings and subsequent expansion of the beachheads in its series. The list is endless and still growing. 



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
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