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Bitter Experience

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 beaches…

Dieppe 1942

Salerno 1943

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