Coastal Command maintains a close watch from a distance

To protect the vulnerable maritime flank from Kreigsmarine units along France’s western coast, particularly the large number of U-boats in hardened structures stretching down the Atlantic, the Allies devised a sophisticated operation to seal off the Channel.

A key element of this were the all hours ‘Cork’ patrols mounted by Coastal Command’s anti-submarine and coastal strike squadrons. The aircraft were mainly drawn from 19 Group, with units committed to covering the maritime flank including those flying Liberators, Wellingtons, Sunderlands and Mosquitos. Some concentrated on the Bay of Biscay and others the South-West Approaches, to ensure the invasion fleet remained unmolested by surface ships and U-boats.

The Kriegsmarine ordered all available U-boats to sea, with a large number sailing from bases at Brest, Lorient, St Nazaire and La Pallice to join those in the Atlantic – some 42 submarines in total. Allied patrols had been sweeping for them for some time prior to the invasion and after the landings encountered the enemy in increasing numbers.

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