Amphibious operations are as old as military history
but tanks added a complex new dimension. Plans had
been hatched to land tanks on the Belgian coast in
1917 and small exercises held between the wars kept
the idea alive but it was not attempted for real before
the Dieppe landing of August 1942, which was a disaster.
Various schemes were considered for landings on
the North African shore but when it happened – Operation
Torch in November 1942 – it was largely unopposed..
Operation Husky, the landings on Sicily in July 1943
were much the same. The landings at Salerno, Italy
in September 1943 were more heavily opposed while
Anzio, in January 1944 involved some hard fighting.
This resulted in a steady build-up of experience,
which was also being gained by United States forces
in the Pacific, but none of these landings involved
defences like those awaiting the Allies on the Normandy