Almighty God: Our sons and the pride of our Nation this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Address to the Nation
June 6, 1944
At 10:00 pm on 5 June 1944, Allied troops would begin departing from British shores on the English Channel to launch a successful invasion of German-occupied western Europe. Five assault groups set sail under darkness in an armada of nearly 7,000 vessels with 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces landing at Normandy on June 6, 1944, along a 50-mile stretch of heavily fortified coast. Five beaches in northern France code-named Omaha, Utah, Juno, Sword and Gold were the main targets for the landing of this great magnitude of troops by sea.
After anchoring off the coast of France for a couple of hours, US troops landed on Omaha and Utah beaches at about 6:30 am. About an hour later, Canadian forces landed at Juno, and British troops at Gold and Sword.
U.S. troops faced stiff German resistance at Omaha beach in particular and were pinned down for several hours, suffering heavy losses.
Despite involving a large number of troops, keeping D-day secret was vital to the success of the operation. A disinformation campaign had led the Germans to believe that Operation Fortitude was the main plan for the allies to invade the continent, via a two-pronged attack involving Norway and Calais. Even once the D-Day landings began, German commanders were convinced they were just a diversionary tactic before the real invasion.
Just after midnight on 6 June, aerial bombardment of enemy positions on the Normandy coast had begun. That night, more than 5,300 tons of bombs were dropped. Special operations troops were parachuted into the country to attack bridges and secure vital infrastructure targets before the landings. Information was also transmitted about German positions via carrier pigeons.
The public had also been kept in the dark until the operation had begun. On D-Day, at 9:00 am, Gen Dwight Eisenhower issued a communique announcing the invasion had begun. Winston Churchill addressed the House of Commons in London at noon: “So far the commanders who are engaged report that everything is proceeding according to plan. And what a plan!”
At 9:00 pm, King George VI addressed the British public in a broadcast, describing the operation as a “fight to win the final victory for the good cause.” By midnight the allied forces had full control of the beaches, and the push into occupied France was under way.
13,100 American paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions made night parachute drops early on D-Day, June 6, followed by 3,937 glider troops flown in by day.
By the end of the day, the allies had disembarked more than 135,000 men and 10,000 vehicles on the beaches, and established bridgeheads of varying depths along the Normandy coastline. This came at a cost of 4,400 allied troops killed, with thousands more injured or missing.
For Those Recognized To All
And Those Only Known To One
“Lord, where did we get such men?”
In Eternal Reverence and Gratitude
For Your Sacrifice on Behalf of Freedom
“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty.”
John F. Kennedy