World Marks 77th Anniversary of D-Day Landings
Reported By SFC C.Brock
Image credit: US Coast Guard
Today the free world commemorates the 77th anniversary of the Allied Landings at Normandy. These combined airborne and amphibious assaults were codenamed Operation Overlord, the invasion of western Europe. D-Day was June 6, 1944.
Allied soldiers, sailors, and airmen from the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada conducted the assaults onto Fortress Europe.
The attack began shortly after midnight with airborne assaults by the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions and UK 6th Airborne Division. Parachuting across Normandy, these airborne troopers were to secure the flanks of the landing zone and clear roads from the coast inland. However, in the confusion of that drop, many soldiers were scattered, with some men landing miles from their objectives.
Several hours later, at daybreak, Allied Command launched the amphibious assault on five beaches: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword.
Image credit: HM Government, United Kingdom
The US Army deployed the 1st, 4th, and 29th Infantry Divisions, as well as numerous smaller units onto Utah and Omaha Beaches. Omaha was the most heavily fortified and defended, and GIs suffered immense casualties in the first waves of the attack. The UK also deployed its 3rd and 50th Infantry Divisions on Gold and Sword Beaches, with support from elements of 79th Armoured Division and 8th Armoured Brigade across the entire British zone. Canada’s 3rd Infantry Division landed on Juno Beach.
Having expected landings to be made further north near Calais, German forces were initially shocked and confused by the assaults. However, they organized their forces quickly across the front and defended against the Americans, British, and Canadians ferociously. Confusion among the Allies also slowed the initial push into the French interior.
The fighting was hard and the costs were high. On D-Day, some 4,414 US, British, and Canadian personnel were killed or missing in action. An almost equal number were wounded.
The Germans suffered similar losses, with an estimated 4,000-9,000 casualties that day.
From June 6 until the end of the operation on August 21, 1944, Allied Forces suffered a total of 72,911 killed or missing in action. Another 153,475 men were wounded in action.
The Germans continued to lose more and more under the weight of the invasion. In Normandy, the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe suffered some 240,000 casualties, with 200,000 more captured.
Through this chaos, the free world made its return to Western Europe, and in the process, freed untold millions of people from the murderous oppression of the Axis. Today, we remember the cost of freedom.