World War II was by far the DEADLIEST conflict in the history of mankind with 50-85 million casualties with over 100 million people from around the world at war with each other. It took several feats of bravery and determination to end Nazi Germany and Hitler's reign of terror. However, one of the most instrumental days, which completely changed the course of the war in the favor of the Allies, was June 6th, 1944 dubbed D-Day.
On D-Day, the allied forces commenced operation overlord, which was a plan to liberate western Europe from Nazi Germany. The Allied force was made up of some 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces, which stormed five different beaches across the heavily fortified coast of Normandy. The D-Day attack is one of the largest amphibious assaults in history with over 4,000 allied troops lost that day. We thank them for their bravery. Without them we may not have won the war for freedom.
“Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely ... I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory! Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.” - General Dwight Eisenhower
In the early years of the war, Hitler had a lot of success. He had invaded most of western Europe and pushed the British forces out of France. Now, the Germans were gearing up for a full invasion of the British Mainland, and were carrying out regular bombing runs over the British coast. By this time, the Allies had a plan for an invasion across the English Channel, and in 1943, preparations for this invasion began. Hitler was also expecting an Allied invasion, and hence put one of his most experienced and decorated generals Erwin Rommel in charge of spearheading the defensive operations along the English channel. Rommel built what Germany called the Atlantic Wall, and a long stretch of fortifications, defensive artillery, landmines, and beach obstacles.
The Deception Campaign
On the other hand, the Allies, commanded by Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, continued their preparations and carried out a large and effective deception campaign to confuse the Germans and make them believe that the invasion would happen at Pas-de-Calais, which was the narrowest point between England and France along the English Channel.
The Allies used fake equipment and troop movements to deceive German scouts. They created fake radio transmissions and carried out multiple intelligence operations with double agents to trick the German Command.
Originally, the invasion was meant to happen on June 5th, however, because of bad weather, it was delayed by 24 hours. In the night, a few hours before the dawn of June 6th, thousands of paratroopers were air dropped behind enemy lines, and began to secure important bridges, and destroy German Heavy Artillery. The Invasion started at 6:30 AM on June 6th, and some 5000 ships and landing craft crossed the English channel, supported by over 11,000 aircraft.
The landings by the British and Canadian forces at beaches codenamed Juno, Gold, and Sword, were relatively smooth, with lighter resistance. The Americans also had an easier time at Utah beach, however, the American forces at the codename Omaha beach faced fierce German resistance. They had over 2000 casualties on that single front, with an estimated 4000 allied casualties by the end of the day. However, over 150,000 allied troops had made it across the initial defenses, and taken over the beaches, allowing for more supplies and reinforcements to land in the following days to fuel the invasion of France.
VICTORY IN EUROPE
By the end of August 1944, the Allies had liberated all of northern France, and they continued their assault on Germany. On May 8th, 1945 the Germans surrendered to the Allies many historians say that D-Day was the beginning of the end of Germany’s war in Europe.