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*** OVERLORD ***
Anyone taking our Normandy sky tour finds it helpful to have an idea of the scale of Operation Overlord. Their Finest Hour, Map Table and The Special Relationship are worth a glance to understand some of the events before America's entry into the Second World War. Many visitors to our website probably know much of what is set out below. Please grant us your forbearance. We try to ensure that those less familiar with the background to D Day, particularly the young, start their tour with a sound conception of what was at stake thereby making their time with us all the more worthwhile and enjoyable.
GENERAL ALBERT COADY WEDEMEYER
General Wedemeyer's citation at Arlington National Cemetery
" A 1919 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, he was a temporary Lieutenant Colonel at the outbreak of World War II in December 1941. His first major assignment had come earlier in the year when President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the War Department to develop tactics to win the war that he believed the U.S. was destined to enter.
He was the only U.S. officer to graduate from the German Army General Staff College and used what he learned there to draw up what became known as the Victory Program, which advocated the defeat of the German armies on the European continent. After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and within hours Hitler declared war on the US, a modified version of his plan was adopted by President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill. This culminated with the invasion of France by Allied Forces in June 1944.
He remained with the War Department until 1943 when he was assigned to be Chief of Staff for Lord Mountbatten, the British Admiral who was Commander in Chief of the Allies' Southeast Asia Command. He later became Commander of all U.S. Forces in China, then racked by Civil War. In his report, which he later charged that President Harry Truman had suppressed, he called for U.S. military intervention in China. He was then assigned to the Pentagon for a period of time but after submitting his China Report he was named 6th Army Commanding General in San Francisco. Considering this a dead-end position, he submitted his retirement in 1951. He was promoted to Full General in 1954 by an Act of Congress. He published his memoirs, "Wedemeyer Reports," in 1958." He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Ronald Reagan.
He died on December 17, 1989 at the age of 92 at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. He is survived by his wife, the former Elizabeth Dade Embink (the daughter of Lieutenant General Stanley Dunbar Embick), whom he married in 1925; two sons, Albert Dunbar Wedemeyer of Boyds, Maryland, and Robert Dade Wedemeyer of Arivaca, Arizona; six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren." *
He is buried in Section 30 of Arlington National Cemetery.
* The hyperlinks to the Wedemeyer family are not active on our website.
When on the 7 December 1941 the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor the United States still based its war strategies on a collection of nearly two dozen colour coded plans for going to war against everywhere from Brazil to Britain, the latter mostly through Canada, which had been drafted as staff exercise during the previous two decades. In fairness, the Canadians had a plan to invade their southern neighbour whose author claimed that prohibition might grant the advancing Canadians a heroes' welcome.
Although by career and fate a China hand, because of his strong performance at the US Command and General Staff School at Leavenworth and his knowledge of the German language, Wedemeyer found himself sent to Germany in 1936 to attend the Kriegsacademie until 1938. There Wedemeyer learnt how the new German Army thought and trained. He became close with several high-ranking German officers including the Chief of the Army Staff, Ludwig von Beck, eventually sacked by Hitler in 1942 and a conspirator in the July 1944 bomb plot. Amazingly, Wedemeyer was allowed to take part in field exercises, and saw how the Germans had studied the British advocate of mobile tank warfare, General Fuller, and unlike Fuller's seniors, intended to fight a war of movement, combining all arms - tanks, guns, infantry, aircraft. All these lessons enriched Wedemeyer's fertile and original mind. On return to Washington he drew on his experiences in Germany and became the brain behind the original concept of cross-Channel Invasion.
Wedemeyer calculated with incredible accuracy that by 1943 the Germans would have 300 divisions on the battlefield or in reserve and that to defeat this host by the existing conventional means required no less than 900 divisions. Such an army was beyond the human and industrial resources of the United States. America must become the factory and arsenal of the surviving democracies and that meant keeping enough manpower at home to run the economy. He also predicted that the British Empire and its Commonwealth would be America's only Allies. Not even the combined might of the USA and the British Empire could produce the forces required. Another route to victory must be found, one that required much smaller forces though involved a cross-Channel assault on the European Continent and the invasion of Germany.
Wedemeyer drew up a plan - completed by September 1941 although not officially adopted until after Pearl Harbor - based on ships, tanks, aircraft and uniformed personnel which the United States did not possess, nor would for another two years. As an imaginative blue-print written by a visionary mind, it is a quite remarkable. Rather than précis the plan which simply cannot do it justice, may we suggest that you explore the many websites devoted to him, because many historians consider that his early and crucial place in history of D Day has never been recognised fully.
For much more about General Wedemeyer and the origins of the plan he wrote as a Lieutenant-Colonel a good place to start is the link given below - unfortunately you will have to cut and paste the link which refuses to pass browsers direct onto the site - but it's worth persisting because it opens straight onto the pages of Charles E Kirkpatrick's highly informative writings on the Victory Plan. Should that not work, just go to Google and ask for General Albert Coady Wedemeyer, then take your pick.
OUR VIRTUAL D DAY TOUR HAS LOTS OF PHOTOS OF THE LEGENDARY SITES TODAY