Why was D-Day such an important historic event?
The D-Day assault on the French beaches of Normandy was "the largest amphibious invasion of all time," and the successful attacks against the undermanned German forces eventually led to the Axis surrender a year later. Known as "Operation Overlord," more than 160,000 infantrymen landed on five designated beaches--Omaha, Utah, Juno, Gold and Sword--on June 6, 1944. Nearly 200,000 naval troops manning more than 5000 ships also participated. Additionally, nearly 25,000 paratroopers landed behind enemy lines hours prior to the attack. Most of the troops were from the American, British and Canadian armed forces, though many other Allied personnel participated. Only about 10,000 German troops were available for the defense of the beaches on June 6, though many of them were protected by heavily fortified bunkers. The Allied forces' casualties were light on Sword and Utah, but German resistance was strong on the other beaches. American forces on Omaha Beach lost about 5000 men--one-half of the Allied casualties sustained on June 6. The successful invasion gave the Allies a foothold on the western part of the European continent, allowing armies to strike toward Paris and eventually recapture France and the Benelux countries before heading toward the Rhine River--and German soil. The D-Day invasion proved to be the beginning of the end for Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany.