On June 6, 1944, Allied troops from Canada, the United States and Great Britain, landed on the Normandy coast of France. Adolph Hitler and the German army had captured much of Europe. The purpose of the invasion of the Allies was to drive the Germans back and free the occupied countries from the Germans. France was the largest of the occupied countries. The attack was a win for the Allies. The start of any military campaign is called D-Day, but in history, it has come to refer to the invasion of Normandy in June 1944.
Winston Churchill was the leader of Great Britain, Charles de Gaulle was the leader of France, Franklin Roosevelt was the leader of the United States and MacKenzie King was the leader of Canada at the time of the invasion. The entire operation was called Operation Overload.
This operation required months of planning. Thousands of troops set up bases throughout the southern part of Great Britain and trained for the operation. Boats of all kinds, big and small, were offered by the people of Britain to help. The Germans knew that the forces were being gathered in Great Britain, but they did not know where the Allies would land. The Allies tried to trick the Germans by having them believe that they would attack north of Normandy at Pas de Calais in France.
United States General Dwight Eisenhower was the commander of the attack. The weather was very bad so he almost canceled the mission. Although they decided to go ahead, the Germans thought they wouldn't come due to the weather so were not well prepared.
First, paratroopers jumped out of Allied planes behind enemy lines to try to destroy important sites of the Germans. Dummies were also landed to deceive the Germans. Next thousands of bombs were dropped on German airfields, factories, and bridges. At the same time, the French Underground (French people who worked secretly to conquer or harm the Germans in any way possible) cut telephone lines and blew up bridges.
The Allies wanted a full moon for the landing. Because of that, General Eisenhower decided to go ahead with the attack despite bad weather because there were so few days in the month which would work. The Allies knew that the Germans had hidden large objects in the harbors so they wanted to arrive at high tide to try to avoid these objects which would damage the boats. The landings at Normandy were called 'Operation Neptune.' Neptune was the Roman god of the sea. It was the largest amphibious attack in military history. 'Amphibious' means 'from sea to land.'
Finally, 6000 ships carrying men, machinery, weapons and equipment, crossed the English Channel from the southern part of Great Britain to the northern coast of France and landed on the coast of Normandy. The Germans attacked the landing troops with much machine gun fire. American troops landed on Utah and Omaha beaches. The attack on Utah beach was successful, but many men died at Omaha Beach. The Americans, however, could conquer the beach. By the end of the day, 150,000 troops had landed, with the first going on ahead to make room for those following. They started to push the Germans out of France.
4,144 Allied soldiers died on D-Day, with thousands more wounded. When the battle was over, by the end of August 1944, 425,000 members of the Allied and German forces were dead. The victory at Normandy was the turning point of World War II. That means that the victory turned toward the Allied troops. 2 million Allied troops were too much for the half a million Germans.
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