Mapping for D-Day: The Allied Landings in Normandy, 6 June 1944
Author: Chasseaud, Peter
Source: Cartographic Journal, The, Volume 38, Number 2, December 2001 , pp. 177-189(13)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:Operation Overlord, with Neptune, its naval counterpart, was the largest amphibious assault in history. On 6 June 1944, after years of planning and benefiting from the topographical preparations for, and experience of, the landings in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, over 150 000 men landed from more than 4000 ships along 80 km of Normandy coastline. Careful examination of existing maps revealed that because of its relatively flat terrain and lack of obvious physical obstacles, the area was the most suitable for and Allied invasion. Vast quantities of new maps — many drawn up from existing maps, postcards and photographs, and updated using aerial photos and intelligence from various sources — had to be prepared. Montgomery subsequently commended the D-Day survey effort, stating that map supply never failed or prejudiced operations. In turn, the planning and experience of the Normandy landings informed the preparations for operation Anvil, the landings in the south of France on 15 August 1944. This paper examines the development of Allied mapping and geographic support programmes during the two-year period of preparations for D-Day, and during the landings, establishment of the bridgehead and breakout.
Document Type: Regular Paper
Publication date: 2001-12-01