In December 1943, Field-Marshal Erwin Rommel was ordered by Hitler to inspect the Atlantic Wall. In January 1944, he was placed in command of Army Group B, responsible for defending the northeastern coasts of Europe, from the Loire to the Netherlands, i.e. the sector most directly under threat from an Allied invasion.

In Rommel’s opinion, the decisive battle would take place on the beaches, so with his customary zeal, he made every effort to plug the gaps he had identified in the Atlantic Wall and gave a fresh impetus to its construction. He ordered the artillery batteries to be protected by casemates, increased the number of close coastal defences and spiked the beaches with obstacles designed to stop any advancing assault barges and blow them up. The dunes were crammed with mines, while defences were also established inland, to counter any attack from the rear by airborne troops.