Did you know the real hidden power behind D-Day? The Normandy invasion by the allied troops is truly considered the one of the most historic and game changing event of the 2nd World War history and although a much has been told and researched about the D Day strikes there was still a hidden power behind the scene who actually made this vital event possible.
An important personality
Admiral William D. Leahy has not been given importance enough. He was the top navy commander in the American Army and the closest advisor to the president during the war. Their friendship goes back to the time when they were both young navy officers. In fact, it won’t be wrong to state this rather grumpy looking man in most of the group photographs with the President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his entourage was the most powerful and influential man in the world.
He was called back from retirement after Pearl Harbor
When William retired from his post in 1939, he was called back to run the navy by the President himself. This was after the devastation of the “Pearl Harbour” when Leahy was appointed as the “the Chief of staff to the commander in Chief.” As the hidden power, he helped the president grapple with enormous, crucial decisions to be made throughout the war.
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The hidden power behind D-Day
By the end of the year, this 4 starred Navy General would outrank and out star all his famous compatriots like Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas Mc Arthur and George Marshall, with 5 stars. Because he was not ready to pay the ultimate price which many agreed, to maintain peace because it included dishonour of the women, destruction of abodes and denial of faith. He knew what he was talking about as within 24 hrs 2,500 Americans were going to perish in France.
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He was the only hidden power who knew the outcome
He was the one who knew what was to come. Operation Overlord which is today better known to the world as D-day was a matter of heated debates. Since Hitler was considered a bigger thereat rather than Japanese emperor Hirohito, it was even planned by General Marshall that American troops must strike the coast of Brittany by 1943 with a full-frontal attack. But Leahy was of different opinion.
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He was in complete control
Leahy, a navy man believed in getting complete domination of the seas and battering the enemy with sea and air power together. He was all for a balanced war in the continent who believed that fate of China against Japan was equally important as that of France against Germany. Therefore, he insisted that the attack should be delayed till 1944 when U.S forces would be in the position with unprecedented advantages on seas and air and remain ashore to defeat the enemy with least number of casualties.
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A good relationship with president Franklin Delano Roosevelt
As the true hidden power behind D-day, his friendly relation with FDR further cemented his position and point of view with the President as well. George Marshall was a stiff and unfriendly personality for which he hardly met the President alone, whereas Leahy briefed FDR every morning. The President discussed all issues be it arms relocations or prioritizing of production. Leahy was instrumental in relaxing the President who was ill at the time.
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The President always supported his views
It was because of the wise council of Leahy the hidden power that FDR never out rightly rejected Marshals’ idea for French attack but effectively delayed it till 1944. Morover Marshall was having troubles of his own as he met with yet another headstrong leader who didn’t always agree with his ideas and that was Winston Churchill who had also not supported his 1943 plan in the Casablanca Conference in fear of higher British casualties.
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Preparations for the Normandy landing and D-Day
FDR and Leahy started preparing for the Normandy landing as they knew now the Americans well as British soldiers would be ready for the onslaught. Marshall joined the idea and the White house got busy to create and execute a massive action plan in the next 3 conferences named Trident, Quadrant and Sextant from May to December 1943, the American and British top heads chalked out a course of action. In spite of his opposition, Churchill buckled under pressure from Marshall, Roosevelt and Leahy he gave up and signed in for all the military plans for 1944.
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The meeting of the big 3
In 1943, “The Big 3” finally met at Yalta where Leahy accompanied the President. Stalin, by this time had no patience for beating about the bush in the Mediterranean and wanted a direct attack on France to divert the German attentions as soon as possible. He was blunt and direct about his wishes to take the pressure off his soviet troops who were bleeding dry on the eastern front and was not interested in any delays by Churchill which made D-Day not the centre of Anglo –American offensive. This stand impressed Leahy and Roosevelt both. Their promise to the Russians became a shield of any further opposition by Churchill.
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He was against Churchill’s ideas
In fact, Leahy was supposed to have verbally attacked Churchill when he again wanted a delay and further weakening of the Germans before the attack so that the allied casualties can be reduced, Leahy countered him by asking whether that situation will ever arrive unless the Germans are stopped. Churchill was said to have suffered a massive mental breakdown after facing this much oppositions.
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Launching of Operation Overlord
Finally, on the morning of June 6th, 1944 “Operation Overlord” was launched while Leahy was diverting media attention by giving a speech in the Liberal Arts College, Iowa. Later he reunited with his oldest friend the President in Washington and watched and hoped for the success of their mission D-Day together. Little did they know they were about to make history and not many was to know the hidden power behind D-Day.
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