A day to remember
6 June marks 70 years since D-Day, when the Battle of Normandy commenced and marked the beginning of the end of World War Two. On this day, Allied troops from Britain, Canada and America landed on the beaches of Normandy in France, eventually resulting in the liberation of Western Europe from Germany’s control. Here’s a brief round-up of facts and stats about this momentous historical event.
A timeline of events
In May 1940, Germany invaded occupied northwestern France and by 1942 the Americans and British were considering the possibility of an Allied invasion along France’s northern coast to restore the French Republic and halt the expansion of the Third Reich.
General Dwight Eisenhower, who had been appointed commander of the Battle of Normandy, originally selected 5 June 1944 as the date for the invasion, but bad weather caused a delay of 24 hours.
At 6.30am 6 June 1944 troops started the invasion of Normandy via amphibious craft. By 11 June, the beaches were fully secured, and by the end of June, they had seized the port of Cherbourg.
By the end of August 1944, all of northern France had been liberated and the Allied forces prepared to enter Germany.
Allied troops landed on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of coast, which was divided into five sectors – Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword Beach. The plan was to capture and join up all the sectors to create a united front to advance into occupied France.
Around 156,000 troops from America, Britain and Canada landed in France to take part in D-Day. However, many more men were involved in the ensuing battle. A total of 6,000 ships and landing craft were used for delivering troops to Normandy and over 11,000 aircraft were involved. About 4,400 Allied troops died on D-Day alone and around 9,000 more were reported wounded or missing. While the number of German casualties is not known, it is estimated over 1,000 men died with thousands more injured. Sadly many thousands more died in the following battles before Allied victory in September 1945.