Theatres of War - WWII - D-Day
Below is some information on the D-Day. Were your ancestors part of the battle? It also includes the regiments involved in the D-Day with some suggested websites that may be of interest in researching your ancestors or genealogy in general.
Description: The Normandy landings, popularly known as D-Day, were part of Operation Overlord, the allied invasion of occupied Europe. The landings began on 6 June 1944 and were a combination of airborne and amphibious troop landings (specifically known as Operation Neptune) on the coast of Northern France, totalling 160,000 on the 6th alone. Over 5,000 ships were used to land these troops in five different areas code-named: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. The attack was a combined allied offensive comprising British, American, Canadian, Free French, Polish and Norwegian forces. The attacked area was heavily fortified, making great use of the natural defences on the coast, and combining that with extensive bunker complexes, barbed wire, heavy use of mines, not to mention the near 400,000 German troops defending the area. Total allied casualties are thought to be about 10,000, with 2,700 of these British. The Germans lost between 4,000 and 9,000. The result was a victory for the allies but more importantly, a foothold in Europe which was to allow them to drive the Germans back in subsequent months.
Following aerial and naval bombardment in the early hours of the morning, the first British troops to reach the beach were the 13th Hussars and the 18th Hussars. The British suffered light casualties and managed to advance at least 5 miles inland before being stopped. They did not achieve all of their objectives, in particular the taking of Caen.
Accidental landings onto the wrong sections of the beach proved advantageous to the allies on Utah who encountered only light resistance from the Germans as a result. Only 197 casualties out of 23,000 landed were incurred. The allies were able to make quick in-roads into German territory almost taking all objectives.
Mostly Canadian forces made up this attack and suffered heavy casualties as they landed on the beach. Some 50% of the first wave were killed as they faced some of the most heavily fortified sections of the Normandy coastline. Despite this, the Canadians managed to break-through the enemy lines and advance far inland. They almost achieved all objectives set before them but were driven back when they became over-stretched.
Under heavy defensive fire the allies managed to gain a foothold with the Northumbrian regiment pushing through the German line and to the outskirts of Bayeux. Other than the Canadians on Juno, they came closest to achieving their objectives.
Mostly American forces made up this attack on possibly the most heavily defended section of the coastline that contained crack German troops. Despite aerial and naval bombardment preceding the invasion, defenses were almost intact when the troops landed, in addition to the fact that they landed eastwards of their target areas. Initial landings suffered heavy casualties resulting in the beach closing to all but infantry. Despite a loss of many officers, soldier managed to gain two separate footholds were established. These were exploited over the coming days by the 9th June all Omaha objectives had been achieved. Total allied losses were about 5,000.
British airborne attack
Also known as Operation Tonga, British and other allied troops landed near the Orne and Dives rivers. The 6th Airborne Divion managed to succeed in all of its objectives despite heavy German counter-offensives. The objectives were to capture the Benouville-Ranville bridges, defend against counter-attack, destroy artillery which might be used against Sword beach and to disable or destroy 5 bridges over the Dives river.
- Wikipedia: Normandy Landings
- D-Day: The whole battle of Normandy: history, pictures, testimonies.
- The Times
- Omaha Beach Memorial
- 29th Infantry Division Historical Society
- American D-Day: Omaha Beach, Utah Beach and Pointe du Hoc
- Neptune Operations Plan
- US report on Operation Neptune
- Etat des Lieux: D-Day photos and detail
- Naval details for Overlord
- HMS Tanatside
- Encyclopaedia Britannica
- Australians and D-Day
- Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library documents on D-Day
- D-Day with historical video footage
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