The Allies could not afford for D-Day to fail so the largest amphibious assault in history, Operation Neptune, had to deliver an overwhelming punch, as Phil Loder explores

Two LSTs loading up at Polgwidden Cove on the Helford River near Falmouth. LST-325 (right) delivered part of the US 5th Special Engineer Brigade to Omaha Beach on June 7

The English Channel has been described as Britain’s largest antitank ditch and for the invasion of North-West Europe in 1944, the Western Allies had to re-cross it, and in force. Discussions about returning to Europe to take on Germany began shortly after the fall of France, but Britain and her allies were in no position to attempt such an operation immediately.

After the United States joined the war, the Red Army began to push the Germans back on the Eastern Front, the Axis forces in North Africa had been defeated, and the Allies had gained the upper hand over the U-boats in the Battle of the Atlantic, a return to Europe became more realistic. By the end of 1943, the Americans had forced the British to agree to a cross-Channel invasion on May 1, 1944, and the date had been agreed with Stalin.

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