0415: The invasion is on

Paratroops of 22 Independent Parachute Company, British 6th Airborne Division, waiting to board the Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle Mk V that will drop them over Normandy, RAF Harwell, 5 June 1944.

Paratroops of 22 Independent Parachute Company, British 6th Airborne Division, waiting to board the Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle Mk V that will drop them over Normandy, RAF Harwell, 5 June 1944.

Men of 4 Commando, 1st Special Service Brigade, being briefed by Lt Col R Dawson just before embarking for Normandy, June 1944.

Men of 4 Commando, 1st Special Service Brigade, being briefed by Lt Col R Dawson just before embarking for Normandy, June 1944.

The Allied Commanders had had to postpone the invasion in the early hours of the 4th. It had proved to be a false start for some forces that had already departed for France. On the evening of the 4th the departure of the first wave of ships had got under way again, subject to a final review in the early hours of the 5th June.

Once again everything rested on what the weather was expected to be in 24 hours time. At the time they considered the weather forecast the rain was lashing the windows outside the conference room.

Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay recorded the final decision in his diary:

5 June

Held a final meeting at 0415. This time the prophets came in smiling, conditions having shown a considerable improvement! It was, therefore, decided to let things be and proceed. The wind was still fresh and it is clear that Forces will have an uncomfortable initial journey, improving as the day proceeds.

Thus has been made the vital and crucial decision to stage and start this great enterprise which will, I hope, be the immediate means of bringing about the downfall of Germany’s fighting power and Nazi oppression and an early cessation of hostilities.

I am under no delusions as to the risks involved in this most difficult of all operations and the critical period around H Hour when, if initial flights are held up, success will be in the balance.

We must trust in our invisible assets to tip the balance in our favour and to allow the landings to proceed without interruption. We shall require all the help that God can give us and I cannot believe that this will not be forthcoming.

See The Year of D-Day: The 1944 Diary of Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, RN

As it happened the bad weather now convinced the senior German commanders in Normandy that an invasion could not possibly come in the next few days. Rommel took the opportunity to drive to Germany to see his wife and later Hitler. Others went on a table-top exercise away from the coast.

The German Atlantic weather ships had all been sunk or captured by the Allies, and with them their long range forecast abilities had been lost.

DUKWs practise launching from and embarking onto LSTs at a south coast port during final preparations for the invasion of Normandy, 4 June 1944.

DUKWs practise launching from and embarking onto LSTs at a south coast port during final preparations for the invasion of Normandy, 4 June 1944.

A convoy of LCTs carrying troops and vehicles of 13th/18th Royal Hussars to Normandy, 5 June 1944. View from LCT 610.

A convoy of LCTs carrying troops and vehicles of 13th/18th Royal Hussars to Normandy, 5 June 1944. View from LCT 610.

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ccg June 6, 2014 at 10:59 pm

I can’t imagine the pressure of being the one to decide if the invasion would be on or not. Weather forecasting is not great today and back then! The fate of many rests on your decision!

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