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Wikipedia says

Minesweepers began clearing channels for the invasion fleet shortly after midnight and finished just after dawn without encountering the enemy.

It also shows this map: enter image description here

This seems like a lot of mines to clear. I'm wondering how the allies were able to do this all through the night without the Germans noticing.

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Seems like the wiki article you linked covers it fairly well:

Bombing of Normandy began around midnight with more than 2,200 British, Canadian, and American bombers attacking targets along the coast and further inland

and then:

Minesweepers began clearing channels for the invasion fleet shortly after midnight and finished just after dawn without encountering the enemy.

(all emphasis mine) It wasn't exactly a stealth mission. The bombardment began and provided cover fire to enable the minesweepers to approach.


An interesting discussion of the process from one of the individuals involved can be found here:

Our ship, which was on the port side dropping buoys, had the job of giving a sharp blast on the siren each time a buoy was dropped, so that the buoy layer on the right hand side would drop its buoy at the same moment. The awful noise of the siren made us wonder if the Germans wouldn’t hear us coming, but nothing happened. Our own light coastal forces were out in strength cruising around, waiting to give us cover if we were attacked.

So, not a quiet process, or secret by any means.


The minesweeping process of the time involved cutting loose the mines and then detonating them on the surface with gunfire.But again the bombing taking place might cover any detonations. enter image description here(Image from wikipedia)

So between detonating mines, siren blasts, and overhead bombers attacking the coast, I don't think they were expecting secrecy at this point.

  • Rifle fire could detonate naval mines? To me, it seems impossible that such a small caliber bullet could make a big naval mine explode. The site you linked to, in its exact words, says destroyed by gunfire, so maybe it means the bigger naval guns? Nevertheless, +1 as this pretty much answers my question. – DrZ214 Sep 28 '17 at 15:16
  • I'll look into that. I recall images of sailors shooting floating mines, but that may have been Hollywood and not reality. – justCal Sep 28 '17 at 15:20
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    I didn't find anything definitive concerning this era, so I'll edit the wording to that of the source. – justCal Sep 28 '17 at 15:47
  • @DrZ214 all the footage I've seen showed this being done with machine guns rather than rifles. Perhaps you need a few hits in the roughly the same spot to break through? – bigbadmouse Aug 13 '18 at 7:51

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