6 June 1944, the day of the Allied invasion of Normandy under the command of General Eisenhower to commence Operation Overlord, the liberation of Western Europe from German occupation. The Anglo-US invasion fleet landed on the Normandy beaches on the stretch of coast between the Orne River and St Marcouf. Artificial harbours known as ‘Mulberries’ were constructed and towed across the Channel so that equipment and armaments could be unloaded on to the beaches. After overcoming fierce resistance the allies broke through the German defences; Paris was liberated on 25 August, and Brussels on 3 September. D-day is also military jargon for any day on which a crucial operation is planned. D+1 indicates the day after the start of the operation.
Five beaches – Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword – were selected as the landing points for the Allied forces. The operation was preceded by airborne landings to secure the flanks and destroy vital bridges and gun positions. The landings commenced at 0630 hrs, and by midnight 73,000 US and 83,000 British and Canadian troops and their equipment were ashore and the beachheads were being linked into a continuous front. The German response to the landings was hampered by the damage done to their communications, by a rigid command structure which required a personal directive from Hitler before any of the reserve elements could move, and by the belief that the landing was a feint and that the major Allied attack would come in the Pas de Calais region, a belief fostered by Allied deception operations.
Although the operation was a success, casualties were heavy: Allied losses during the day amounted to 2,500 killed and about 8,500 wounded. Allied air forces flew 14,000 sorties in support of the operation and lost 127 aircraft.
Eisenhower, Dwight: The Order of the Day
Government Code and Cipher School: Normandy landing decrypt
Reagan, Ronald: Let Us Make a Vow to the Dead
Radio Broadcast of the D-Day Landing at Normandy
American cemetery, Omaha Beach
Museum of the Battle of Normandy
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