For some, it’s the day they lost their life. For others, it’s a day they still remember, whether they were there or heard about it later through a family member or a friend. For some, it’s a day depicted in war movies like Saving Private Ryan, in which a movie can’t begin to capture the reality.
Prior to D-Day, the Allies led a campaign to deceive the Germans as to where exactly the intended invasion on Europe would take place at.
Because of these deceptions, German leader Adolf Hitler knew there was a threat of an invasion along France’s northern coastline, although it was unclear exactly where the Allies would strike. The Allied forces worked hard to convince the Germans they would be attacking at Pas-de-Calais (the narrowest point between Britain and France) rather than Normandy, according to http://www.history.com.
Hitler put Erwin Rommel in charge to defend the region, specifically finishing a 2,400-mile fortification of bunkers, landmines, and beach and water obstacles.
Originally, June 5 was selected for the invasion, but bad weather delayed the operation for 24 hours.
On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops (U.S., Britain, and Canada) landed along a 50-mile stretch of the French coast to fight the Nazis. Additionally, Australian, Belgian, Czech, Dutch, French, Greek, New Zealand, Norwegian, Rhodesian, and Polish troops all helped provided air or ground support.
There were more than 5,00 ships and 13,000 aircraft who supported the D-Day invasion, according to http://www.army.mil. It was one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history.
The attack was a naval, air, and land assault on Nazi-occupied France. Ground troops landed on five assault beaches: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword, according to the Imperial War Museum.
The purpose of D-Day was to allow the allies to establish a presence in northern Europe for the first time since 1940, weakening Germany’s overall position in western Europe.
Unfortunately, that one day cost the lives of more than 9,000 Allied soldiers.
D-Day helped turn the tide of World War II against the Nazis, preventing Hitler from sending troops from France to build up his Eastern front against the Soviets.
That next year, the Allies accepted the unconditional surrender of Germany on May 8, 1945.
2018 will mark the 74th anniversary of the invasion into Europe. Many places will hold commemorative events both in the U.S. and Europe to recognize this day in history.
Is your unit doing anything to remember this historic day? Let us know!