(D-Day – June 6, 1944)
Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy, France was launched the evening of June 5, 1944. Ground forces landed on Omaha, Utah, Sword, Juno, and Gold beachheads on June 6, 1944 – D-Day. An amphibious assault was conducted with an armada of 3,000 landing craft, 2,500 ships, and 500 naval escort and bombardment vessels, while 822 aircraft carrying paratroopers and towing gliders dropped soldiers behind German beach fortifications. The US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, and the British 6th Airborne Division were deployed to block German approaches to the beachheads, secure causeway exits off the beachheads, and to capture Cherbourg to provide Allied forces with a port of supply. As the Allies moved inland, hedge groves in the region (called “bocage country") provided German forces with cover for their anti-tank and machine gun nests. The hedges also exposed the Allies’ Sherman tanks and mechanized units to German Panzer and Tiger units. However, due to the size of the German tanks, Panzer and Tiger units fought mainly in open fields, where they were vulnerable to Allied airpower. Fighting in Normandy was fierce and bloody; German defeat in Normandy would mean the loss of France before Allied forces turned on Nazi Germany itself. By mid-July, Allied forces controlled the Normandy region, and Hitler gave permission for withdrawal from Normandy on August 16. Only eight days later, Paris was surrendered to the French resistance. Operation Overlord was the largest air, land, and sea operation undertaken before or since June 6, 1944. The landing included over 5,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes, and over 150,000 service men.
America – 200,000+ dead/wounded/missing
Germany – 300,000+ dead/wounded/missing
French civilians – 12,000+ lost
Battles - Normandy