Beyond the Beach: The Allied War Against France

Beyond the Beach: The Allied War Against France

by Stephen Alan Bourque


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An important rethinking of the Normandy war narrative

Beyond the Beach examines the Allied air war against France in 1944. During this period, General Dwight David Eisenhower, as Supreme Allied Commander, took control of all American, British, and Canadian air units and employed them for tactical and operational purposes over France rather than as a strategic force to attack targets deep in Germany. Using bombers as his long-range artillery, he directed the destruction of bridges, rail centers, ports, military installations, and even French towns with the intent of preventing German reinforcements from interfering with Operation Neptune, the Allied landings on the Normandy beaches. Ultimately, this air offensive resulted in the death of over 60,000 French civilians and an immense amount of damage to towns, churches, buildings, and works of art. This intense bombing operation, conducted against a friendly occupied state, resulted in a swath of physical and human destruction across northwest France that is rarely discussed as part of the D-Day landings.

This book explores the relationship between ground and air operations and its effects on the French population. It examines the three broad groups that the air operations involved, the doctrine and equipment used by Allied air force leaders to implement Eisenhower's plans, and each of the eight major operations, called lines of effort, that coordinated the employment of the thousands of fighters, medium bombers, and heavy bombers that prowled the French skies that spring and summer of 1944. Each of these sections discusses the operation's purpose, conduct, and effects upon both the military and the civilian targets. Finally, the book explores the short and long-term effects of these operations and argues that this ignored narrative should be part of any history of the D-Day landings.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781612518732
Publisher: Naval Institute Press
Publication date: 04/15/2018
Series: History of Military Aviation Series
Pages: 376
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

After twenty years of enlisted and commissioned service in the US Army, Stephen A. Bourque obtained his PhD at Georgia State University and taught history at several military and civilian schools and universities, including the School of Advanced Military Studies, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, where he is professor emeritus.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Preface xi

List of Acronyms xvii

1 A Missing Narrative 1

2 The Operational Environment 19

3 Eisenhower's Command 45

4 Airfields and Ports 72

5 Industry 95

6 Crossbow 112

7 Fortitude 134

8 The Rail Centers 150

9 The Bridges 180

10 The Landings 205

11 The Towns 231

Conclusions and Observations 253

Appendices 265

Notes 273

Bibliography 321

Index 341

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