06.06.

1944: D-Day – Mass Landings in Normandy

1944: D-Day – Mass Landings in Normandy
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/ Assault troops in an LCVP landing craft approach Omaha Beach

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 6 June 1944
  • It is no coincidence that precisely today’s date was selected - 6 June. Namely, that date in 1944 was a full moon, which allowed night-time navigation for the aircraft. In addition, there was a strong tide, which enabled the landing boats to move through any German obstacles placed in the sea.

On this day the largest military landing operation in the history of warfare began.

Around 160,000 Allied soldiers landed on the coast of Normandy in northern France in an attempt to open a new front against the army of the Third Reich.

The Supreme Commander of the Allied forces was the American General Dwight D. Eisenhower (it is ironic that he was of German origin and that his name was originally Eisenheuer, which in German means “iron miner”). The commander of allied land forces was the famous British General (later field marshal) Bernard Montgomery, nicknamed “Monty”.

The Allies used about 5,000 ships for the invasion and landed on the 80 kilometers-long stretch of the shore. The operation had the code name “Overlord”. Namely, that date in 1944 was a full moon, which allowed night-time navigation for the aircraft. In addition, there was a strong tide, which enabled the landing boats to move through any German obstacles placed in the sea.

The Commander-in-Chief of the German defense was Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, the most famous German commander, known as the “Desert Fox”, who won several famous battles in North Africa. Weather conditions on the eve of this day were so bad that the Germans did not believe that an invasion is possible.

Field Marshal Rommel took a few days leave and went to Germany to celebrate his wife’s birthday. At the time the invasion began, he was not present at headquarters, so the German defense was in a way beheaded.

However, it was not easy for the Allied soldiers. Many were left dead on the beaches, killed by the German coastal defences. Among the hardest battles were the ones on the beach codenamed Omaha, shown in the initial scenes of the movie “Saving Private Ryan”.

The Allied operation resulted in a complete success and, already within the first 24 hours, all 160,000 troops were unloaded, and established a beachhead for the fight against the Germans in Western Europe.

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