66 years ago, Operation Overlord otherwise known as “D-Day”, took place when allied troops stormed the beaches at Normandy, France.
The assault was conducted in two phases: an air assault landing of 24,000 American, British, Canadian and Free French airborne troops shortly after midnight, and an amphibious landing of Allied infantry and armoured divisions on the coast of France commencing at 6:30 AM. There were also subsidiary ‘attacks’ mounted under the codenames Operation Glimmer and Operation Taxable to distract the German forces from the real landing areas.
The United States Army at Normandy:
……U.S. First Army
- Omaha Beach
- V Corps, 1st Infantry Division and 29th Infantry Division making up 34,250 troops from Sainte-Honorine-des-Pertes to Vierville-sur-Mer.
- 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions at Pointe du Hoc (The 5th BN and A, B, C Co 2nd BN diverted to Omaha).
- Utah Beach
- VII Corps, 4th Infantry Division and the 359th RCT of the 90th Infantry Division comprising 23,250 men landing, around Pouppeville and La Madeleine.
- 101st Airborne Division by parachute around Vierville to support Utah Beach landings.
- 82nd Airborne Division by parachute around Sainte-Mère-Église, protecting the right flank. They had originally been tasked with dropping further west, in the middle part of the Cotentin, allowing the sea-landing forces to their east easier access across the peninsula, and preventing the Germans from reinforcing the north part of the peninsula. The plans were later changed to move them much closer to the beachhead, as at the last minute the German 91st Air Landing Division was determined to be in the area.
In total, the First Army contingent totalled approximately 73,000 men, including 15,600 from the airborne divisions.
On D-Day — 2 1/2 years after Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor brought the United States into World War II —allied forces charged the shores of five beaches on France’s northern coast. They faced entrenched German forces, land mines, machine guns and heavy artillery.
About 215,000 allied soldiers, and roughly as many Germans, were killed or wounded on D-Day and in the ensuing three months before the allies took control at Normandy, opening a path toward Paris that eventually took them to Germany and victory over the Nazis.
D-Day: It is hard to conceive the epic scope of this decisive battle that foreshadowed the end of Hitlers dream of Nazi domination. Overlord was the largest air, land, and sea operation undertaken before or since June 6, 1944. The landing included over 5,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes, and over 150,000 service men.
After years of meticulous planning and seemingly endless training, for the Allied Forces, it all came down to this: The boat ramp goes down, then jump, swim, run, and crawl to the cliffs. Many of the first young men (most not yet 20 years old) entered the surf carrying eighty pounds of equipment. They faced over 200 yards of beach before reaching the first natural feature offering any protection. Blanketed by small-arms fire and bracketed by artillery, they found themselves in hell.
When it was over, the Allied Forces had suffered nearly 10,000 casualties; more than 4,000 were dead. Yet somehow, due to planning and preparation, and due to the valor, fidelity, and sacrifice of the Allied Forces, Fortress Europe had been breached.
America leads the way with men and women like them. Remember that when you read about their bravery at places like Normandy.