A landing craft loaded with soldiers heads for the Normandy coast. Many soldiers got seasick from the rough ride across the English Channel. (Reproduced by permission of Corbis/The Mariner's Museum)
IntroductionD-Day is the name given to the landing of 160,000 Allied troops in Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944. The success of the invasion of Normandy was really the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany. The invasion, also called “Operation Overlord,” involved five separate landings by American, British, and Canadian troops and was commanded by American General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Stiff German resistance resulted in nearly 10,000 Allied casualties, but the Germans were ultimately unable to repel the Allied forces. Although German resistance continued even after all five beachheads were taken, they had too few troops in the area to be effective. By August 1944, all of Northern France was under Allied control as Eisenhower began to prepare for the invasion of Germany.
- Many scholars have tried to explain the term “D-Day,” suggesting it stood for “decision day” or “disembarkation day,” but most likely it comes from the army’s use of the term to mean an “undefined day,” or the first day of any operation.
- D-Day was originally scheduled for June 5, but the weather did not cooperate. The operation was pushed back to June 6, 1944.
- The D-Day invasion involved 5,000 ships carrying men and vehicles across the English Channel as well as 800 planes dropping over 13,000 men in parachutes. A further 300 planes dropped bombs on German troops defending the beaches. Over 100,000 Allied troops made it to shore that day.
- The most difficult landing of D-Day was at Omaha beach. Navigation problems resulted in many men drowning before they reached land. Omaha Beach also had the largest amount of German troops, and the fighting was fierce. It is the Omaha Beach battle that is reenacted in the opening of the movie Saving Private Ryan.
- The success of D-Day was a death knell for the Germans. Hitler was forced to fight a two-front war against the Russians on the East and the Americans, British, Canadians, and French on the West. Within a year, Hitler committed suicide, and the war was over.
All Resources by Category
- America at War: The Final Push in Europe - 1940's Government and ...
- Normandy Invasion: Salem on History
- Operation Overlord: Salem on History
- The Defeat of Germany: World War II Almanac
- The Great Invasion: Operation Overlord: World War II Almanac
- Veterans Observe Fiftieth Anniversary of D-Day: Salem on History
- Veterans of D-Day: World War II Primary Sources
- What Is D Day? - History Fact Finder
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