D-Day – WWII
6 June 1944
Codenamed Operation Neptune, D-Day, was the first day of Operation Overlord—the Allied invasion of Nazi occupied Normandy, France. The Normandy landings were the largest seaborne invasion in history, with nearly 5,000 landing and assault craft, 289 escort vessels, and 277 minesweepers supporting 156,000 Allied troops. Nazi defensive positions consisted of more than 50,350 troops, 170 artillery weapons that included 100mm, 210mm, and 320mm rocket launchers in heavily fortified bunkers.
Soviet leader Joseph Stalin urged the Allies to create a second front after the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. That plan was delayed as the Allies staged offensive operations in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. After the Soviet victory at Stalingrad and the Allied invasion of Italy in September 1943, the decision was made to create the second front at the Trident Conference and the Tehran Conference. The beaches of Normandy were chosen for being a broad front that would permit simultaneous threats against the port of Cherbourg, coastal ports further west in Brittany, and an overland attack towards Paris and eventually into Germany.
1st Infantry Division
29th Infantry Division
4th Infantry Division
50th Infantry Division
3rd Canadian Infantry Division
3rd British Infantry Division
6th British Airborne
General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery
Lieutenant General Omar Bradley
General Sir Miles Dempsey
Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory
Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay
Air Chief Marshal Arthur Tedder
(5 Battleships, 20 Cruisers, 65 Destroyers, and 2 Monitors)
4,126 Landing Craft
736 Ancillary Craft
864 Merchant Vessels
South of Caen
7. ARMEE OBERKOMMANDO
91 .Luftlande Infanteriedivision
92. Statische Infanteriedivision
Gold, Juno, and Sword Beach
716. Statische Infanteriedivision
Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt
Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel
General der Panzertruppe Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg
Generaloberst Friedrich Dollmann
Generaloberst Hans von Salmuth
Generalleutnant Wilhelm Falley (killed-in-action)
3 Torpedo Boats
29 Fast Attack Craft
36 R Boats
36 Minesweepers and Patrol Boats
A decisive Allied victory
Allied figures for D-Day casualties are contradictory. One estimate cites 4,900 Allied troops killed, missing, and wounded. The First U.S. Army, accounting for the first twenty-four hours in Normandy, tabulated 1,465 killed, 1,928 missing, and 6,603 wounded. The after-action report of U.S. VII Corps (ending 1 July) showed 22,119 casualties including 2,811 killed, 5,665 missing, 79 prisoners, and 13,564 wounded, including paratroopers.
Canadian forces at Juno Beach sustained 946 casualties, of whom 335 were listed as killed.
No British figures were published, but some estimates of 2,500 to 3,000 killed, wounded, and missing, including 650 from the Sixth Airborne Division.
German torpedo boats sank the Norwegian destroyer HNoMS Svenner; while the destroyer USS Corry and submarine chaser USS PC-1261 were sunk by mines.
11,590 Allied aircraft flew 14,674 sorties on D-Day. Of those, 127 planes were lost. Some 2,395 aircraft and 867 gliders delivered the airborne assault.
German sources vary between 4,000 and 9,000 D-Day casualties on 6 June. Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s report for all of June cited killed, wounded, and missing of some 250,000 men, including 28 generals.
The Allies failed to achieve any of their goals on the first day. Carentan, St. Lô, and Bayeux remained in German hands, and Caen, a major objective, was not captured until 21 July. Only 2 of the beaches (Juno and Gold) were linked on the first day, and all 5 beachheads were not connected until 12 June; however, the operation gained a foothold which the Allies gradually expanded over the coming months.
Color combat footage of the Invasion of Normandy
USS Texas (BB-35) firing at Omaha beach