D-Day: The Longest Delivery

6 June 1944. On that day, the biggest logistics operation of modern times reached its decisive climax: D-Day. Operation Neptune, an amphibious landing of 130,000 soldiers, required 6,900 vessels, 4,100 of which were landing craft. Although 6 June was the longest day of truth for the Allies in Western Europe, planning for the operation started back in early 1942 when the USA’s President Roosevelt and the British prime minister Churchill agreed to relieve some of the pressure on the overburdened Russians. The first reconnaissance invasion by the British at Dieppe on 19 August 1942 ended in catastrophe: 3,500 of the 6,100 predominantly Canadian troops were killed, wounded or taken prisoner. But that defeat proved to be a valuable practical lesson in what was necessary for a successful invasion.

The actual invasion was delayed somewhat because of the Allied landings in Morocco and Algeria in November 1942, which were aimed at driving Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s African Corps out of North Africa. The Americans and the British did not have enough boats and landing craft to invade France at the same time. Military exercises with landing craft and live ammunition in preparation for the invasion eventually got underway in July 1943.

Operation Overlord, the code name for the Normandy Landings until the liberation of Paris, was headed up by General Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was an intelligent man who later succeeded in becoming president of the USA. It is General Eisenhower who coined the expression, ‘What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important’. He devised the planning matrix which later found fame thanks to Stephen Covey in his bestseller, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Important but non-urgent tasks should be scheduled well in advance. You should spend as little time as possible on urgent yet unimportant matters, or delegate them. Unimportant and non-urgent issues should be ignored.

We must continue to remember the American, British, Canadian and other Allied soldiers who gave their lives during Operation Overlord on an annual basis. But in addition, everyone can benefit from Eisenhower’s useful planning matrix each day.

Martijn Lofvers
Publishing Director & Editor-in-Chief Supply Chain Movement

Read an extensive article about the Supply Chain Operation Overlord 1944 here