Friday, 6 June 2014

D-Day

Today marks 70 years since D-Day, the Normandy landings, codenamed Operation Neptune on 6 June 1944. The landings were part of the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II and were largest seaborne invasion in history. The operation began the Allied invasion of German-occupied western Europe, led to the restoration of the French Republic, and contributed to an Allied victory in the war.


The  landings were preceded by extensive aerial and naval bombardment and an airborne assault—the landing of 24,000 British, US, and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight. Strong winds blew the landing craft east of their intended positions, particularly at Utah and Omaha. The men landed under heavy fire from gun emplacements overlooking the beaches, and the shore was mined and covered with obstacles such as wooden stakes, metal tripods, and barbed wire, making the work of the beach clearing teams difficult and dangerous.

The landings were the first stage of Operation Overlord - the invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe - and were intended to end World War Two. However, the operation gained a foothold that the Allies gradually expanded over the coming months. German casualties on D-Day were around 1,000 men. Allied casualties were at least 12,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead. By the end of D-Day, the Allies had established a foothold in France. Within 11 months Nazi Germany was defeated, as Soviet armies swept in from the east and captured Hitler's stronghold in Berlin.