D-Day

Jackie Foster and Haley Dyer

US troops landing

June 6th, 1944 Allied troops sent 16,000 troops to invade the beaches of Normandy. More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion. This was the largest seaborne invasion in history. The invasion started at 6:30 in the morning and took place over a 50 mile stretch of coastline. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which, “we will accept nothing less than full victory.”

Beaches

On D-Day 5 beaches were stormed by allied forces. They faced choppy seas and heavy Nazi resistance but in the end by storming all 5 beaches the allies were able to gain a foothold in western Europe.

Utah Beach

The furthest western beach that was added last minute so that the troops would be close to a major French port. Paratroopers dropped to the beach but many missed their targets. Although many things didn't go as planned the troops had advanced four miles by the end of the day and suffered relatively few causalities.

Omaha Beach

The bloodiest of the D-Day beaches because it was surrounded by steep cliffs and was heavily guarded. Again American troops faced a lot of difficulties. The aerial attack did little to weaken the Germans and the rough tide made it so only 2 of the 29 tanks arrived at the beach. Causalities were so severe that the General in charge thought of abandoning the entire operation. But assistance later came and the soldiers were able to advance 1.5 miles by the end of the day.

Gold Beach

Aerial attacks destroys much of the German defenses. Within an hour British forces had secured a few beach exits and were able to push rapidly inward.

Juno Beach

Again Allies struggled with rough seas and German resistance. In the first hour the casualty rate had reached over 50%. German resistance finally slowed and the troops were able to advance further inward than any of the other groups at the beaches.

Sword Beach

Beach was secured quickly and troops were able to move inland. Soldiers faced the most resistance at villages and farmlands. Allies were not able to unite all five beaches until June 12th, 1944.

101st Airborne

The 101st was given the mission of landing behind enemy lines in the area designated at Utah beach on the Cherbourg Peninsula. Once on the ground they were to clear the exit points from Utah for the 4th Infantry Division's breakout. In addition they were to block any reinforcements from reaching Utah.

Casualties

To this day there does not exist an official and finite quantity for D-Day casualties. It was estimated that there were 9,000 casualties, 3,000 being dead for the American Armed Forces forces. The most casualties were from the United States, being 6,600. Recently, the US National D-Day Memorial Foundation estimated almost double the amount of dead people, with an estimate of 4,400. The German casualties are estimated to be about 6,500. During the Battle of Normandy over 425,000 Allied and German troops were killed, wounded or went missing. This includes around 210,000 Allied casualties, with 37,000 killed amongst the ground forces and a further 16,000 deaths amongst the Allied air forces.


Experiences and Personal Stories

Allen W. Stephens recalls waking up at 2:00 in the morning and the weather was just lightly raining. Because of this, by the time the planes got to the end of the runway and started going into the air, they could barely see. His job was to target coastal guns and blockhouses along the beach. When Stephens saw what was happening, he knew that he was participating in an event that would be important in history. He remembers seeing a B-26 explode in midair because of the action. Explosions were so big and made such a mess in the air that it seemed impossible to get through without being hit. He says they finished their mission at the time suggested, so everything went as planned.


A.L. Corry, a bombardier on a B-26 remembers being woken up at 2:00 am on that morning. They were confused with what they were being told to do, but they did so anyway. When the colonel of their area came in and told the men what they were about to do, they got excited. He said something along the lines of “this is the day you have been waiting for” because he knew that this was going to be one of the most interesting days of the war for them. They got excited and mapped out the plan that was in store for them in the next few hours; they started at 6:00.


Thomas Valence was a rifle sergeant on the morning of June 9, 1944. He was in a boat, but the water was rough so men were getting sick. He recalls the Germans firing at them, but they had no idea where they were. They could not see because of the weather. The tide was low and they were about knee high in water so they moved forward. He said it was hard to keep his balance while being shot at. He was shot through one of his hands which caused a broken knuckle. He then picked up a carbine, but he knew he couldn’t beat a German concrete emplacement with that. He was shot at more which got him more injuries, but kept working his way up the beach. Once he got to shore, he collapsed and laid there with other bodies - most of which were dead.