On June 6, 1944, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, gave the green light to the largest amphibious military operation in history: Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of northern France, commonly known as D-Day

By dawn, 18,000 British and American paratroopers were already on the ground. An additional 13,000 aircraft were mobilized to provide air cover and support for the invasion. At 6:30 a.m., American troops landed on the beaches of Utah and Omaha.

The British and Canadians overcame slight opposition to capture the beaches of Gold, Juno and Sword; so are the Americans in Utah. However, the task was much more difficult at Omaha Beach, where the US First Division fought the high seas, fog, mines, burning vehicles and German coastal batteries, including an elite infantry division , who spat out heavy fire. Many injured Americans eventually drowned at high tide. The British divisions, which land on the beaches of Gold, Juno and Sword, and the Canadian troops also face heavy German fire.

But by the end of the day, 155,000 Allied soldiers – American, British and Canadian – had successfully stormed the beaches of Normandy and were then able to push inland. Within three months, northern France would be liberated and the invading force would prepare to enter Germany, where it would meet Soviet forces from the east.

READ MORE: What Hitler was wrong about D-Day

Before the Allied assault, Hitler’s armies controlled most of continental Europe and the Allies knew that a successful invasion of the continent was essential to winning the war. Hitler also knew this and expected an assault on northwest Europe in the spring of 1944. He hoped to push the Allies off the coast with a strong counterattack that would delay future invasion attempts, giving him the time to throw the majority of its forces into defeating the Soviet Union in the east. Once this was accomplished, he believed that a total victory would soon be his.


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