Historical story

Normandy Landings:How the Weather Fooled the Germans - An Untold Story

June 6, 1944, better known as D-Day has been characterized as the greatest day of World War B , as on this day the landing of the Allies in Normandy took place , which after eleven months led to the end of the Third Reich and the nightmare that had spread throughout the world.

The date for the Normandy landings, codenamed Operation verload, was made with weather factors in mind.

The paratrooper operation could only be done when the moon was full. Also, the attack would have to take place when the tide was at mid tide because of the traps the Germans had set.

This combination of weather conditions coincided with June 5, which was designated as "D-Day", i.e. the day of the start of operations.

On the Allied side, six meteorologists were working in three different groups responsible for D-Day forecasts.

The Teams of Meteorologists were:

a) in Widewing with the Americans Krick and Holzman,

b) at the Admiralty with Wolfe and Hogben and

c) in Dunstable with meteorologists Douglas and Petterssen.

The American team used an analog method based on statistical weather data (comparing current weather conditions with similar ones in the past).

Their predictions were overly optimistic and if carried out would have resulted in disaster on 5 June 1944. The British Admiralty and the British Met Office called on headquarters to delay the operation.

They were assisted by the brilliant Norwegian Sverre Petterssen, who was a giant in the field of weather analysis and forecasting and a world leader in meteorology during the mid-twentieth century.

In the early morning hours of June 5th, under storm-drenched British skies, Allied forecasters informed Eisenhower that a very short break in the weather would permit the invasion to proceed.

On Tuesday, June 6, 1944 with barely tolerable weather conditions, the largest amphibious force landed on the beaches of Normandy.

(This map had been analyzed by German Meteorologists...)

Ironically, German forecasters, aware of new storms moving in from the North Atlantic, had decided that the weather would be too bad to permit an invasion attempt.

Two accounts of D-Day have dominated the literature:

1) The heroic story, in which the American team of Irving Krick and Ben Holzman found the "strong" weather conditions that allowed them to achieve the great landing in Europe.

2) A typical bureaucratic report by James Stagg published in 1971 which infuriated Sverre Petterssen, who later composed his own historical memoir. There is Petterssen's manuscript, written in English which was published in Norwegian translation in 1974 and has already been published in 2001 in an English version.

Petterssen's personality and his contribution to D-Day

A few years ago when I was writing my book "The story of a butterfly" I had interviewed Mr. Dionysis Metaxas, Professor of Meteorology in Ioannina, who from 1950 to 1970 worked at EMY. In his first long months of training in England he had Petterssen himself as his teacher and much of what you will read below is "first hand" information

Petterssen in 1939 was appointed head of the meteorology department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he wrote two books, Weather Analysis and Forecasting in 1940 and "Introduction to Meteorology" in 1941.

With the war in Europe, the Nazis occupy Norway.

Petterssen decided to leave MIT to serve in the Met Office of the British Ministry, as an adviser on behalf of the Norwegian forces. Sir Nelson Johnson was head of the British Met Office, where Petterssen was appointed head, with primary responsibility for preparing bombing forecasts over Germany.

During this time, Petterssen identified the strong winds in the upper atmosphere which later became known as the Jet Stream .

He investigated the links between upper-level winds and surface conditions. In addition to many other duties, he prepared the long-range forecasts and was the only Norwegian-trained meteorologist involved in the D-Day forecasts.

The Meteorological teams were at Widewing, Admiralty and Dunstable. According to Petterssen, especially his team at Dunstable but also the Admiralty were opposed to the choice of June 5 as the landing day and so the team at Widewing with the Americans finally "capitulated" with the majority, as it appeared in the briefing that the analogous predictions of the Americans were not well documented.

In History, different opinions about who was right came from each side. The great gain for the Meteorological Community was its recognition among the general public, while the idea of ​​informing the weather - before the forecast was issued - was established by almost all Meteorological Services. This fruitful discussion and evaluation of the weather conditions before the official forecast is issued is also applied to EMY every day in an undeniably fruitful and constructive dialogue.

An "unknown story" from D Day

As a conclusion, I will tell you something that may be "unknown" to most about D Day. Little Greece was not absent from this day of the war either. Two Greek warships took part in the historic Normandy landings, the corvettes "Tombazis" and "Kriezis", which had just completed convoy escort missions in the Atlantic. In an article on the GR Reporter website, there is the testimony of the then 16-year-old Dimitris Andriotis, who was a crew member on the Tombazis.

He himself said in his book "Thanato thanaton patisas" "Chaos prevailed everywhere... It becomes pandemonium. The amphibious waves towards the shores repeat every half hour. The Germans, entrenched behind the Atlantic Wall, welcome the allied troops with machine guns, with mortars, with grenades. Landing craft set ablaze by enemy fire and others sunk by it. Marines swimming, marines drowning without any help from the passing amphibians, after they had received strict orders to reach the shores and be indifferent to what was happening around them". in danger. "Our ship had no orders to intervene in military operations. Plus, the Germans ignored it because it was small," he says.

A little earlier, at the end of 1943, he had left his parental home in Oinuses as he could no longer tolerate the German invaders and enrolled in the Greek navy in Alexandria. From there he found himself in Topazis and after the war he retired to Berlin where he continues to write books under the pseudonym Fanis Fandemis. "Me and the men of "Tombazi" were never invited to an anniversary," he says. "If they invited me, I would of course go, but not for the award but to remind them that we were there too."

Andriotis spent many years on ships, partly as a cook. This was also reflected in the strange posture he took in the kitchen of various Greek restaurants in Berlin, where since 1975 he had made gastronomy a profession:legs spread, body in constant search of balance. "That's what I got from ships, where you had to balance while cooking without using your hands, especially when there was a storm," he says. Andriotis always knew how to make fun of himself and sneer. He did the same until his death on May 15, 2016 at the age of 89, with the ceremony taking place on the shores of Normandy on such days, in the presence of the leaders of the allied forces and the last very old veterans of the landing. Not shouting "shut up the oohs", as he did on June 6, 1944 with "Crisis", but with an equally mocking "bur in the stomach" to those who, invoking the "Normandy message" are planning new war fronts.






"The story of a butterfly" Kolidas Th. 2014

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