D-Day - June 6, 1944
The Battle of Normandy was fought in 1944 between Nazi Germany in Western Europe and the invading Allied forces as part of the larger conflict of World War II. Operation Overlord was the codename for the Allied invasion of northwest Europe, which began on June 6, 1944, and ended on August 19, 1944, when the Allies crossed the River Seine. Over sixty years later, the Normandy Invasion still remains the largest seaborne invasion in history, involving almost three million troops crossing the English Channel from England to Normandy. Operation Neptune was the codename given to the initial assault phase of Operation Overlord; its mission, to gain a foothold on the continent, started on June 6, 1944 (most commonly known by the name D-Day) and ended on June 30, 1944.
The primary Allied formations that saw combat in Normandy came from the United States of America, United Kingdom and Canada. Substantial Free French and Polish forces also participated in the battle after the assault phase, and there were also contingents from Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, the Netherlands, and Norway.
The Normandy invasion began with overnight parachute and glider landings, massive air attacks, naval bombardments, and an early morning amphibious phase began on June 6, 1944. The “D-Day” forces deployed from bases along the south coast of England, the most important of these being Portsmouth. The battle for Normandy continued for more than two months, with campaigns to establish, expand, and eventually break out of the Allied beachheads, and concluded with the liberation of Paris and the fall of the Falaise pocket in late August 1944.
The Battle of Normandy was described thus by Adolf Hitler: “In the East, the vastness of space will... permit a loss of territory... without suffering a mortal blow to Germany’s chance for survival. Not so in the West! If the enemy here succeeds… consequences of staggering proportions will follow within a short time.”
Be sure to visit the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana for some exciting events going on today!
If you are interested in accurate D-Day and WWII history, I highly recommend the following books by Stephen Ambrose. He has written other WWII books, but those four are by far the most notable and my favorites:
- Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest
- D Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II
- Citizen Soldiers: The U. S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany
- Pegasus Bridge
The HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, inspired by Stephen Ambrose's book by the same title, is a must-see for any WWII history buff. I have found the series to be one of the most historically accurate movies made on the topic... I highly recommend checking it out!