D-Day: Troops attack German forces on French coast in 1944
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On June 6, 1944, Operation Neptune, also known as D-Day, was launched. British, US and Canadian troops bravely fought alongside one another in the D-Day landings, an attack from sea, land and air which signalled the first day of the Battle of Normandy.
The whole invasion was code-named Operation Overlord and required huge amounts of planning.
The lasted from June to August 1944, which resulted in the Allied liberation of Western Europe from the control of Nazi Germany.
Some 156,000 Allied forces landed on five beaches that day.
The invasion was one of the largest seaborne military assaults in history, troops were launched along a 50 mile stretch of France’s Normandy coast.
Tens of thousands of Allied troops stormed five beach sites in Northern France aided by an air assault from above.
To outwit the Nazi administration, a huge deception campaign was put into action to mislead the Germans about the intended target of the invasion.
The storming of the five French beaches was a massive logistical challenge.
The troops were transported across the channel in almost 7,000 ships.
Landing craft formed the landings across a 50 mile stretch of coastline so the allies could storm the beaches.
Before leaving for their respective carefully chosen beaches the vessels gathered in a stretch of the Channel dubbed “Piccadilly” Circus.
Each of the five beaches was given a code name to ensure the enemy remained unaware of the launch targets, as shown in the map below.
Brits, Canadians and Americans were allocated different beaches.
The US divisions, Utah and Omaha, were first to launch their attack at 6.30am on the far western side of the 50-mile stretch.
They were tasked with capturing Sainte-Mere-Elise and its control ways.
The Brits were next with their invasion of Gold Beach an hour later at 7.30am.
This covered the stretch between Port-En-Bessin and La Riviere.
On their right were the Canadian led forces which attacked Juno beach
Further east still Sword a five-mile area of coastline from Ouistreham to Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer, this was attacked by mainly British troops but much needed seaborne support was given by the Polish, Norwegian and other Allied navies.
Whilst the Germans knew an attack was imminent they had not foreseen the colossal scale of the invasion and the Allied navies were boosted by airborne troops who were parachuted in overnight in advance.
Despite heavy losses initially, the allies had secured all the beachheads by midnight.
The battle came at a cost, heavy losses were felt on both sides with at least 10,000 troops presumed killed and thousands of French civilians died in aerial bombings.
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