Nubia Fokum and Collin Etherton
The US troop invasion had strategic planning behind the mission. On the morning of June 6, 1944, about 156,000 allied troops invaded beaches along Normandy, France. The beaches that American troops invaded were Utah and Omaha. Americans chose the beaches because they provide air cover, and the beaches are less fortified. The US also wanted to attack at a place that was not expected. The allied troops executed airborne drops to protect the beach flankers, and to open roadways to the interior. The allies had planned to land six divisions on the first day; three US, two Britain, and one Canadian. After the assault division cleared the beaches, two more British and one U.S. division were to follow them up. Having said the plan, it did not go well, the airborne landings were scattered, and the troops coming from the beach mis calculated the tide and were forced to run about 200 yards on the beach with no cover. Despite the disorganization, the troops achieved their objective.
The Normandy landings happened on June 6, 1944. The largest seaborne invasion in history, the operation began the invasion of German-occupied western-Europe, led to the liberation of France from Nazi control, and contributed to an Allied victory in the war.
Utah Beach was added to the initial invasion plan almost as an afterthought. The allies needed a major port as soon as possible, and Utah Beach would put VII Corps within 60 kilometers of Cherbourg at the outset. The major obstacles in this sector were not so much the beach defenses, but the flooded and rough terrain that blocked the way north.
Omaha Beach linked the U.S. and British beaches. It was a critical link between the Cotentin peninsula and the flat plain in front of Caen. Omaha was also the most restricted and heavily defended beach, and for this reason at least one veteran U.S. Division was tasked to land there.
Gold Beach was the objective of the 50th Division of the British 2nd Army. Its primary task was to seize Arromanches and drive inland to seize the road junction at Bayeux, as well as contact U.S. forces on their right and Canadians on their left.
Juno Beach was the landing area for 3rd Canadian Division. The Canadians were very concerned about their role in the invasion (as were most of the planning staff) as the memory of 2nd Canadian Division's destruction at Dieppe was still fresh. But many lessons had been learned, and the 3rd Canadian Division, in spite of heavy opposition at Courseulles-sur-Mer, broke through and advanced nearly to their objective, the airfield at Carpiquet, west of Caen. The Canadians made the deepest penetration of any land forces on June 6th, again with moderate casualties.
Sword Beach was the objective of 3rd Infantry Division. They were to advance inland as far as Caen, and line up with British Airborne forces east of the Orne River/Caen Canal. The Orne River bridges had been seized in late at night on the 5th of June by a glider-borne reinforced company commanded by Maj. John Howard.
101st Airborne Division
The 101st airborne division was accompanied by the 82nd on their decent to Cotentin Peninsula. They were to protect the invasion zones western extremity and to facilitate the “Utah” landing forces movement to the peninsula. The descended by parachute and glider in the early hours of D-Day. The parachuters were badly scattered throughout the land and many were injured or killed during the attack. These paratroopers were very brave and fought the german troops, even know a lot of their equipment was lost. During the descent, they fought through harsh weather, darkness, and disorganization. Their objective of assaulting Utah beach was eventually accomplished.
Of the Allied casualties, 83,045 were from 21st Army Group (British, Canadian and Polish ground forces), 125,847 from the US ground forces. The losses of the German forces during the Battle of Normandy can only be estimated. Roughly 200,000 German troops were killed or wounded.
Robert Edlin was a member of the 2nd Ranger Battalion that joined the first wave of the assault on Omaha Beach. Robert was on an assault boat, and because of the low tide, the boat hit a sandbar 75 yards from shore. He jumped in the water, it was up to his shoulders. It was very cold water, and it was a miserable night, even though it was June. He ran up to the beach and there were obstacles all up and down the beach. He was trying to get to the seaway, and on the way he was shot in the right leg by a sniper bullet, shattering his leg. The pain from the bullet nearly immobilized him, he blacked out for several minutes. He woke up and crawled, he had to make it up the cliff with a broken leg. The wave of troops that Robert was in had cleared the trenches, but he said that from his years of training, he knew there would be a counterattack. However; there was no counter attack, he had done his job and the battle was over.
Marie-Louise Osmont lived in a chateau overlooking the Normandy beaches with her husband, a physician. After invading in 1940, the german used the Osmonts home for their own use, letting the Osmonts keep a few rooms to live in. During the night of June 5-6, 1944, Marie-Louise's sleep is disrupted by the sound of cannon fire and aircraft overhead. Germans start packing equipment into trucks in preparation of leaving the area. Confused, Marie-Louise is unsure whether the aircraft and gunfire are German or Allied. She runs out of the house to see all of the german troops preparing for battle, she is deafened by the noise of the airplanes. There were shells being dropped everywhere around her. They hid in trenches until the attack was over, they had found that the house was damaged badly.
In the early morning hours of June 7, 1944, reporter George Hicks stood on the deck of a destroyer stationed off the shore of Omaha Beach as the Allied invasion of Europe, that had commenced the previous day, unfolded before him. The Germans knew the invasion was coming; they just didn't know where or when. The Americans faced a battle-hardened German division that pinned them down with a withering cross fire. Gradually they moved forward and off the beach. The price was high - 2,000 casualties at Omaha compared to 210 at Utah. By the end of the day the beaches were secured and a toehold established in Hitler's Europe.