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During World War II, Normandy was chosen as the northern France invasion site over the Pas de Calais.

This was in spite of the fact that "weather" made a landing at Normandy a very iffy proposition in 1944. The weather was "barely" good enough for a landing on D-Day, meaning that it was a 50-50 proposition. The weather was horrible at the next full moon in July, and at no later time in 1944 was the weather more suitable for a landing at Normandy

The chances of a successful landing might be described as 1) the chances of getting troops ashore times 2) the chances of maintaining a beachhead once landed. I assume that Normandy was chosen as the landing site because Allied estimates of 2), maintaining a beachhead, were much higher for Normandy. But my question relates to the role of the weather (at Pas de Calais) on the first part of the equation, the ability to get troops ashore.

Were weather conditions at Pas de Calais better, worse, or about the same as at Normandy for most of 1944?

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    Well, everyone was committted to fooling Hitler into thinking the invasion would be at the Pas de Calais by that point, so actually moving it there would have been counterproductive. – Spencer Aug 16 at 17:24
  • Normandy was primarily chosen as supposedly fortifications and defensive preparations there were at much lower level then at Calais. Unfortunately, this was proven to be wrong. – rs.29 Aug 16 at 23:17
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I found an article in Weather, the Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, that discusses the forecasting for D-Day. The various maps in the article make it clear that the Pas de Calais is not far enough from Normandy to have significantly different summer weather on average.

The decision for Normandy had been made by the start of 1944, well before it was known what the summer weather of 1944 would be like. Important reasons for the choice included:

  • Close enough to England for fighter cover to be available from English airfields.
  • Not entirely on a peninsula, whose base could be defended by the Germans.
  • Not where the Germans expected it, which was the Pas de Calais.

The German seem to have regarded the sea voyage as the most difficult part, and thus that shortening it would be very desirable. The Allies had experience of large landing operations by this time, and had different priorities. The Pas de Calais was heavily fortified and garrisoned, and if it was taken, rivers and canals offered the Germans defence lines to restrict expansion out of the area. The main drawback of Normandy was the lack of ports, and this could be tackled by taking along prefabricated harbours.

Once Normandy had been decided on, an extensive deception operation was staged to convince the Germans that the invasion would be at the Pas de Calais. Even after the Normandy landings had happened, deception continued to the effect that this was a feint to draw troops away from the main landing site. This helped keep the German rate of reinforcements low enough during the build-up of Allied forces that the Germans never made any progress with pushing the Allies back towards the sea.

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  • Well, Normandy is a peninsula (at least part of it) and Germans did try to defend base of it. Also, there is no proof to claim that Germans expected attack at Pas de Calais. In fact, they didn't know, so they had solid defenses at both places. – rs.29 Aug 16 at 23:20
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    @rs.29: "...no proof..." -- That is just plain and simply wrong. There is a whealth of proof that this was the expectation, and that defense was very lopsided in favor of Pas de Calais. For one, when German signal intelligence intercepted "Blessent mon coeur / D'une langueur / Monotone", 15. Armee (Calais) was alerted, while 7. Armee (Normandy) was not. (ctd.) – DevSolar Aug 17 at 12:15
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    Rommel stated three days after the landing that he was not expecting further air landings on the Cotenin peninsula "because the OKW is expecting major landings along the channel coast in the next couple of days" (phone diary of 7. Armee, 9th of June, 17:30). There is lots of more where those two came from. – DevSolar Aug 17 at 12:17
  • @DevSolar Nope, it is not wrong. Actually, whole narrative about Germans being duped into thinking that Pas de Calais was certain landing site is wrong. German panzer reserves were sent to Normandy 48-72 h after initial landings (check for example history of 2nd SS Panzer Division "Das Reich", or Panzer Lehr Division) . Some units like 21st Panzer Division were already in Normandy on 5th of June. What really happened is that Germans were not sure were would landing happen. Therefore, they kept their panzer reserve somewhat inland to cover both likely places. – rs.29 Aug 17 at 22:20
  • @DevSolar After the war there were lot of stories trying to proof superior Allied intelligence, but also to hide the losses and grueling nature of Normandy battles. There were also usual "Hitler madman" stories to repair reputation of certain German generals and to cover mistakes on their side . This topic actually deserves its own question. – rs.29 Aug 17 at 22:24

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