Every year on June 6 we remember Operation Overlord, code-named D-Day. Seventy-five years ago in 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower gave Allied forces the go-ahead to storm the coast of Normandy in Northern France. Up until that point, Hitler’s armies had taken over most of mainland Europe and everyone knew that control of the entire continent would mean victory in World War II. 18,000 British and American parachutists descended on the Normandy coast by the break of dawn, while 13,000 aircraft were already in position to provide support.
The five beaches that the Allied forces invaded were code-named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. The bloodiest battle took place at Omaha beach, where more than 2,000 American troops turned up dead, wounded, or missing. German forces were heavily fortified in this area, which was surrounded by steep cliffs. Only two of the 29 amphibious tanks launched at sea made it to Omaha, where thousands of soldiers were taken out by German machine-gun fire.
Nearby, soldiers who landed on Utah beach missed their designated drop zones and some even drowned by the weight of their heavy equipment. Regardless, Utah turned out to be less well-protected than the others and American forces managed to seize four major causeways that were the beach’s only exit points. Meanwhile, British and Canadian forces succeeded in capturing Gold, Juno, and Sword despite heavy German fire.
By nightfall, the Allied forces successfully took all five beaches and by the end of June, 850,000 men and 150,000 vehicles proceeded to march through Europe. Ultimately, more than 150,000 soldiers lost their lives in what is now considered the largest amphibious invasion in the history of warfare. Today, we remember all the brave young men from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom who sacrificed their lives for the free world.