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Why didn't the Allies bomb the Atlantic Wall?

Originally published under Ask Mr. History. Published Online: July 05, 2012 
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I have a question that I can't seem to find an answer to, so I thought I would ask Mr. History. My question is, if we knew the Atlantic Wall was being built, then why did we bomb the wall? Where did we send our bomber and have the Navy shell so far in land?

Thank you,
Doug Cohen

? ? ?

Dear Mr. Cohen:
I'm not sure what you're trying to say, but on the assumption that it is "why didn't the Allies bomb the Atlantic Wall," the answer is that they did! Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's efforts to accelerate the completion of France's coastal defenses were never quite finished by D-Day, and it had received its share of attacks along with other targets throughout France as well as Germany by RAF Bomber Command, the Eighth Air Force and the Ninth Air Force. There was no outsized effort to bombard the defenses at Normandy prior to June 6, 1944, of course, lest it alert Adolf Hitler to the possibility of an Allied landing there, rather than at Calais as he remained convinced would occur. On D-Day, though, the ships were pounding away at the defenses while aircraft—after warning the French populace—bombed towns that were important road junctions and attacking every means of transporting German reinforcements to the beachhead. The scattered airborne troopers, taking the initiative wherever they landed, also played a major pre-invasion role in disrupting the response in the German rear. Notwithstanding the tough obstacle that Omaha Beach proved to pose, for the most part D-Day proceeded as well as, if not better than, expected.




Jon Guttman
Research Director
Weider History Group
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