The D-Day Landings
On Tuesday 6th June 1944, the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overload began. Codenamed Operation Neptune, more commonly known now as D-Day and the largest seaborne invasion in history. The D-Day landings marked the start of the campaign to free North-West Europe from the Nazis.
Planning the Operation
Planning for the operation began in 1943. However, talks about completing such an offensive had been ongoing between Winston Churchill and U.S President Franklin D. Roosevelt since early 1942. You can read a full account of their fluctuating support for such an assault on History.com. The North Africa and Italian campaigns took precedent, they proved to be lengthier and costlier than expected. Operation Overlord finally came into planning at the end of 1943. Leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted a military deception, called Operation Bodyguard. Bodyguard succeeded in its mission. It misled the Nazis over the date and location of the mass landings. As a result, the Nazis were surprised by the D-day landings and Hitler delayed sending reinforcements.
Poor weather delayed the D-Day landings for 24 hours. Any further delay would have resulted in plans being put back by at least two weeks. Why? The plans had been carefully devised around the phase of the moon, tides, and the time of day. As a result, only a handful of days a month proved suitable.
The attack began with a bombardment of German defences along the coastline. This allowed the troops to get ashore easier. At the same time, planes and gliders dropped allied soldiers behind the German defences, taking control of key roads and bridges. Over 6,000 vessels landed allied troops, their objective, to link the Normandy coastline. This involved landing at five key beaches: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. The men faced heavy gunfire, barbed wire, mines, and wooden stakes. Casualties were extremely high, particularly at Omaha with its large cliffs. The five beaches were not connected until 11th June.
More than 150,000 brave, young soldiers from America, Britain and Canada stormed the beaches of Normandy. Poor weather and German resistance made the landings bloody and chaotic. Casualties in this first wave were horrendous. Nevertheless, by the end of the day, each of the beaches had been claimed. The Allied fatalities for D-Day alone amounted to an estimated between 5,000 and 12,000. German casualties (killed, wounded, or missing) it is estimated numbered between 4,000 – 9,000. Just 2 days after the D-Day landings, the first Allied cemetery was dedicated. There are now 27 war cemeteries in Normandy. Some have fewer than 30 graves in them, the largest has over 20,000.
D-Day gave the Allies the foothold it needed to turn the tide against the Nazis, though it had not entirely gone to plan. Capturing Caen, for example, a major objective, did not occur until July 21st. The Battle of Normandy, in fact, dragged on until August. Allied casualties amplified to over 226,000! There is no doubt though, that the D-Day landings were instrumental in winning World War II. The attack set on that day lasted for 11 months. It led the Allies to Berlin and Adolf Hitler’s Bunker Headquarters. On 8th May 1945, the World celebrated Victory in Europe. 3 Months later, in August, World War II ended with Victory against Japan too.
Here at Sweet and Nostalgic we have a wide range of World War II memorabilia available, including the D-Day landings. Come and have a look! Our products span the whole of the 20th Century, a remarkable period in our history.