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SHAEF: The Commanders of Operation Overlord

“When pressure mounts and strain increases everyone begins to show the weaknesses in his makeup. It is up to the Commander to conceal his: above all to conceal doubt, fear and distrust.”

--General Dwight D. Eisenhower

The seven men (three Americans and four British) selected to lead the invasion of Normandy (Operation Overlord) sat down together for the first time in January 1944. Each had at least thirty years of military experience, and was regarded by peers as exceptional in their fields. Many had served together in previous campaigns, and almost all had participated in the amphibious assaults in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. They knew that Overlord would require Allied collaboration on an unprecedented scale.

In the months leading up to D-Day the commanders worked around the clock, planning strategic and tactical operations, conducting training exercises, and coordinating the resources and efforts of the ground, air, and naval forces. There were numerous setbacks, many stemming from personality clashes and conflicting beliefs about the best course of action. When tempers flared, Eisenhower, as Supreme Commander, intervened to ease tensions among his colleagues so that Overlord would not be jeopardized. It was essential that they cooperate in what Winston Churchill called “much the greatest the thing we have ever attempted.”

The organization formed to direct Overlord was known as Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF). All of the commanders in SHAEF reported to Eisenhower. Though the leaders of the ground forces, General Montgomery and General Bradley, were not technically part of SHAEF, they took their orders directly from the Supreme Commander and worked closely with SHAEF staff.

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Student Travel – WWII Educational Tours
High school and college students, learn the leadership principles that helped win WWII on a trip to France or during a weeklong residential program in New Orleans. College credit is available, and space is limited.

See You Next Year! HS Yearbooks from WWII
Collected from across the United States, the words and pictures of these yearbooks present a new opportunity to experience the many challenges, setbacks and triumphs of the war through the eyes of America’s youth.

The Victory Gardens of WWII
Visit the Classroom Victory Garden Project website to learn about food production during WWII, find lesson plans and activities for elementary students, get tips for starting your own garden and try out simple Victory Garden recipes!

The Science and Technology of WWII
Visit our new interactive website to learn about wartime technical and scientific advances that forever changed our world. Incorporates STEM principles to use in the classroom.

Kids Corner: Fun and Games!
Make your own propaganda posters, test your memory, solve puzzles and more! Learn about World War II and have fun at the same time.

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