June 6, 1944, is known most commonly by the term D-Day. It refers to the landing of Allied forces on the beaches of Normandy, France staging one of the pivotal attacks against Germany during World War II.
- World War II museums, memorials, and ceremonies will be honoring the American, British and Canadian forces who landed along the 50 mile stretch of beaches that day 75 years ago.
- The landing of troops on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944, known around the world as D-Day, was given the name Operation Overlord. Leading up to the attack, plans of deception were carried out to mislead Germany.
- The attack included more than 5,000 ships, 11,000 aircraft and landed more than 156,000 troops in Normandy. There are estimates of approximately 4,000 Allied casualties that day alone.
- The Normandy landings—an event better known as “D-Day”—became a pivotal moment in the Second World War. Heavy losses were inflicted on both sides, but with planning, deception, and semiaquatic tanks, the Allied forces pulled off what is considered the biggest amphibious invasion in history.
- Normandy was chosen as the D-Day landing site because the allies were hoping to surprise German forces. Since the Germans would presumably expect an attack on the Pas de Calais—the closest point to the UK—the Allies decided to hit the beaches of Normandy instead. Normandy was also within flying distance of war planes stationed in England, and it had a conveniently located port.
- D-Day Action Centered Around Five Beaches That Were Code-Named “Utah,” “Omaha,” “Gold,” “Juno,” And “Sword.”
- To choose the right date for his invasion, General Eisenhower consulted with three different teams of meteorologists, who predicted that in early June, the weather would be best on June 5, 6, or 7; if not then, they’d have to wait for late June.
- The brainchild of British engineers, the Sherman Duplex Drive Tanks (a.k.a. “Donald Duck” tanks) came with foldable canvas screens that could be unfurled at will, turning the vehicle into a crude boat. Once afloat, the tanks were driven forward with a set of propellers.
- Eisenhower was fully prepared to accept blame if things went badly on D-Day.
- In 1942, British mathematician Arthur Thomas Doodson had begun working on existing models of tide-prediction machines – essentially mechanised calculators that could reveal tidal patterns. In 1944, using his specially modified machine, Doodson identified the exact time the landings should take place (H-Hour) and that D-Day should fall between 5 and 7 June.
- Horsa gliders were first produced in 1942 and made significant contributions to airborne assaults throughout the latter part of the Second World War. On D-Day, these gliders were used on an unprecedented scale to transport troops and supplies to Normandy.
- PLUTO – short for ‘pipeline under the ocean’ – supplied petrol from Britain to Europe via an underwater network of flexible pipes. It gave the Allied forces access to enough petrol to fuel aircraft and vehicles and to sustain the momentum of their advance.
- The first Allied cemetery in Europe was dedicated just two days after the D-Day invasion on June 8, 1944. And since that day, military officials and memorial organizations have attempted to come up with a definitive count of Allied D-Day deaths in order to properly honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the free world.
- The National D-Day Memorial Foundation is one of those organizations. At its memorial site in Bedford, Virginia, there are 4,414 names enshrined in bronze plaques representing every Allied soldier, sailor, airman and coast guardsman who died on D-Day. That figure was the result of years of exhaustive research by librarian and genealogist Carol Tuckwiller on behalf of the Foundation, and remains the most accurate count of Allied fatalities within the 24-hour period known as D-Day.
August 19, 1942 – A raid on the French port of Dieppe resulting in heavy losses convinces D-Day planners to land on the beaches. Preparations begin for an Allied invasion across the English Channel.May 1943 – The Trident Conference, a British and US strategy meeting on the war takes place in Washington, DC. Winston Churchill, President Theodore Roosevelt and their military advisers discuss crossing the English Channel.August 1943 – British and US military chiefs of staff outline Operation Overlord during the Quadrant Conference.November and December 1943 – British and US military chiefs discuss the specifics of the assault on France during the Sextant and Eureka Conferences.1944 – The Germans expect an invasion along the north coast of France, but they do not know where it will occur. They build up their troops and artillery near Calais, where the English Channel is the narrowest.June 5, 1944 – Allied paratroopers and gliders carrying heavy equipment leave England to begin the invasion of France by air.In a broadcast message to troops before they leave, Eisenhower tells them, “The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory…. We will accept nothing less than full victory!”June 6, 1944 – Overnight, a military armada and more than 160,000 troops cross the English Channel. Minesweepers go ahead to clear the waters in preparation for the thousands of landing crafts that will be carrying men, vehicles and supplies.Between midnight and 8 a.m., Allied forces fly 14,674 sorties.At 6:30 a.m. troops begin coming ashore on a 50-mile front.In a broadcast to the people of occupied Europe, Eisenhower says, “Although the initial assault may not have been made in your own country, the hour of your liberation is approaching.”