THE BEGINNING OF THE END
D-Day, June 6, 1944, was a turning point in World War II. The Allies opened up a crucial new front against the Nazis by landing a large invasion force on five beaches in Normandy in Nazi-occupied France, located across the narrow English Channel from southern England and London. The invasion resulted in a fiercely fought but decisive victory on the Western European front for the Allies that paved the way for the liberation of France and eventually the rest of Europe.
Meticulously planned for over a year, D-Day, considered the largest amphibious invasion in world history, pitted tens of thousands of US, British and Canadian troops (buttressed by soldiers from other countries) against the heavily entrenched German forces. There was also significant air support.
Within a week, the beaches were fully secured and more than 300,000 troops, 50,000 vehicles and some 100,000 tons of equipment had landed.
Fighting in the area continued until August, when northern France was completely liberated. Both sides suffered thousands of casualties.
As a result of D-Day, the Nazi momentum was halted and German troop morale plummeted. They were relentlessly driven back toward their borders. Within a year, Hitler committed suicide and Germany surrendered.
Interesting fact: The “D” in D-Day actually did not stand for anything. The Allies so named it in order to mask the actual date and time – dubbed H-Hour – from Axis forces. Fake communications directed at the Nazis confused them into thinking the actual landing would be somewhere else, causing the Germans to be less prepared and slower to respond.
BRITISH FORCES during the D-Day invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944: Troops of the 3rd Infantry Division on Queen Red Beach.