dwight-eisenhower-gives the orderThe term D-Day is often used as military jargon for the day an event will happen, for many it is when we think of June 6, 1944. On that day the World War II Allied powers crossed the English Channel to land on the beaches of Normandy, France. This started the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi control.

Within three months, the northern part of France was freed and the invasion force prepared to enter Germany, where they would meet up with Soviet forces arriving from the east.

Since Hitler’s armies controlled most of mainland Europe, the Allies know that a successful invasion of Germany was critical to winning the war.

Hitler also knew this and was anticipating an attack on northwestern Europe in the spring of 1944. He  had hopes of repelling the Allies from the coast with a strong counterattack that would delay future invasion attempts. This would have given him time to throw the majority of his forces into defeating the Soviet Union in the east and achieve an overall victory.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower gave the go-ahead for Operation Overlord, the largest amphibious military operation in history, on the morning of June 5th, 1944. Following his orders, 6,000 landing craft, ships and other vessels carrying 176,000 troops began to leave England to cross to France. That night, 822 aircraft willed with parachutists headed for drop zones in Normandy with an additional 13,000 aircraft mobilized to proved air cover and support for the invasion.

By dawn on June 6, 18,000 parachutists were already on the ground; the land invasions began at 6:30 a.m. with the British and Canadians overcoming light opposition to capture, Gold, Juno and Sword beaches as did the Americans at Utah. The task, however, was much tougher at Omaha beach, where 2,000 troops were lost. It was only through the tenacity and quick-thinking of the troops on the ground that the objective was achieved. By the end of the day, 155,000 American, British and Canadians had successfully stormed Normandy’s beaches.

The Germans suffered confusion among the ranks and the absence of commander Field Marshall Erwin Rommel who was on leave. At first Hitler believed that the invasion was a feint designed to distract the Germans from a coming attack to the north of the Seine River and refused to release nearby divisions to join the counterattack so reinforcements had to be called from further afield, causing delays.

Hitler also hesitated in calling for armored division to help with the their defense. Additionally, an effective Allied air support took out many key bridges and forced the Germans to take long detours. In addition, the Germans were hampered by effective Allied air support, which took out many key bridges and forced the Germans to take long detours. Also, the efficient naval support helped to protect advancing Allied troops.

“The heroism and bravery displayed by troops from the Allied countries on D-Day has served as inspiration for several films, most famously The Longest Day (1962) and Saving Private Ryan (1998). It was also depicted in the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers (2001).”

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