Planning for D-Day required a certain set of conditions to be a success. The weather conditions, the tide and even the position of the moon were all crucial factors. The operations in the air required clear skies and naval activities needed calm seas. Ground troops had to have a low tide. Leaving nothing to chance, here are some of the clever innovations that were designed to get all these factors to work in our favour:
- Tide Predictions
The Allies consulted many meteorologists when planning the operations. A British mathematician named Arthur Thomas Doodson started work on a tide prediction machine in 1942. These were essentially mechanised calculating tools that could display tidal patterns. By 1944, Doodson was able to predict the exact time that the D-Day landings should take place between the 5th and 7th of June 1944.
- Landing Craft
The British needed thousands of landing craft to move men and equipment across the English Channel. Many different types were used, some fitted with rockets and guns. Some were small assault craft, while others were massive landing ships. Using such craft meant that the Allies could transport heavy equipment like tanks, getting them onto defended beaches not intended for receiving supplies.
- ‘Hobart’s Funnies’
These strange vehicles played a crucial role during D-Day and in the Battle of Normandy. It was known how hard it was to land armoured vehicles during amphibious invasions, so these armoured vehicles had to be adapted to carry out specialist tasks. The vehicles were given the name of ‘Hobart’s Funnies’ after Sir Percy Hobart.
Some were called ‘Duplex Drive’ which were swimming tanks. Others were designed to be flame-throwers like the ‘Crocodile’ and the ‘Crab’, a mine-clearing flail tank. These vehicles had been tested but never used in a real-life situation until D-Day. Other modified vehicles were made by adding special devices onto tanks. One example was the ‘bobbin’ carpet-laying tank that laid matting onto the sand for other vehicles to drive safely across the sand. Fancy your own tank experience? Try the Tank Driving Days on offer from Armourgeddon Tank Driving.
PLUTO was an abbreviation for ‘pipeline under the ocean’. This was an ingenious pipe that was built to connect Britain and Europe and supply petrol to fuel aircraft and vehicles. The network of flexible pipelines enabled the Allies to maintain their momentum and advance. The pipelines were wound around large floating spools to be unrolled across the Channel.
- Mulberry Harbours
Once D-Day was over, the Allies needed to keep up the momentum of the invasion. They had learned the hard way about the importance of securing ports and harbours. Harbours provided shelter from poor weather and rough seas and ports for the transportation of men and equipment. Therefore, two artificial harbours were built, known as ‘Mulberries’. They were made by sinking old ships and concrete structures and adding floating roads and piers to use as temporary ports.