D-Day and Operation Overlord

Period: June 6 - August 30, 1944

Quote: Winston Churchill to his wife on the eve of D-Day: You know when you wake up tomorrow, 20,000 men could have lost their lives?

Order of General Dwight Eisenhower on D-Day:You will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Full speech Eisenhower

Involved: Paratroopers Lieutenant Colonel Robert Cole and Private Robert Watts land, in the early hours of D-Day, behind the German defenses.

Not long after D-day, Flight Nurse Wilma "Dolly" Vinsant makes her first evacuation flight to the beaches of Normandy to bring wounded soldiers to England.

On June 8, 1944 Brigadier General Maurice Rose,commander of 2nd Armored Division, lands on the beaches of Normandy. The weeks after he and his men fight in Operation Overlord.

A month after D-day, Red Cross 'girl' Major Dorothy Jane Burdge lands on Utah Beach and from then on would follow the advance of the front line troops.

On June 6, 1944 the largest amphibious landing operation in human history began: Operation Overlord. In just 48 hours thousands of ships and 11,000 aircraft transported almost 200,000 allied soldiers and an enormous amount of material from England to the French coast of Normandy. This day has since become known as D-Day. Although the war for the Allies had started really well, it can be stated without exaggeration that D-Day was the beginning of the end.

The German army was well prepared for an invasion and had placed a system of fortifications, the Atlantic wall, along the French coast. But there was a surprise for them: German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel thought that the attack would take place at Calais, where the English Channel was narrowest. (In the first days of June the weather was so bad that he left on June 4 to go home to celebrate his wife's 50th birthday.)

The start of operation Overlord had two parts: an amphibious landings on the beaches and an airborne landing just behind the German defenses. The overriding aim was to secure a beachhead along the Normandy Beaches area where troops could safely land and from where the Allies could advance.

The beaches where fighting took place on 6 June have all become legendary. From west to east these were Utah Beach, Omaha Beach, Gold Beach, Juno Beach en Sword Beach.

The invasion went smoothly at first but stalled after a few days. The Allied military command had overlooked that the typical Normandy landscape was of high hedges, separating the farmers' fields from one another.

Due to this huge tactical blunder, the Allied advance was slow, while the landscape lent itself perfectly to an effective defense by the German army. The predicted date for gaining territory was originally June 11, five days after D-Day, but this was only achieved on July 25. After this they advanced swiftly.

Color photo of M4 Sherman-tanks on landing craft on the eve of D-Day
Source: Public domain

Infantrymen are about to leave from their landing craft at Omaha Beach on D-Day
Source: Public domain

General view landing at Omaha Beach
Source: Public domain


The Normandy Campaign
Source: More information

More about...