D – Day

On Tuesday, June 6th 1944, just 67 years ago, more than 160,000 troops landed on Normandy (France) in the middle of World War II as the main part of Operation Neptune, which has been the largest amphibious invasion in world history.

 

 

Operation Overlord and Operation Neptune are often confused.  While Operation Overlord was the codename for the Allied invasion of north-west Europe, the assault phase of Operation Overlord was known as Operation Neptune. This operation involved landing the troops on the beaches, and all other associated supporting operations required to establish a beachhead in France.

 

Troops from the Allied nations like the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Blegium, Czechoslovakia, and France (among others) took part in this operation.

 

According to Wikipedia, The landings took place along a 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors: Utah, Gold, Juno, Sword and Omaha; this last one is particularly representative for Americans whose casualties at Omaha on D-Day numbered around 5,000 out of 50,000 men, most in the first few hours, while the Germans suffered 1,200 killed, wounded or missing. The tenuous beachhead was expanded over the following days, and the original D-Day objectives were accomplished by D+3.

Map by Gordon Smith

 

How many died on D – day?

 

There are no official figures of dead and wounded during the execution of Operation Neptune and the D – Day landings, however, D – Day Museum (Portsmouth) has an estimated of 10,000:

 

The Allied casualties figures for D-Day have generally been estimated at 10,000, including 2500 dead. Broken down by nationality, the usual D-Day casualty figures are approximately 2700 British, 946 Canadians, and 6603 Americans. However recent painstaking research by the US National D-Day Memorial Foundation has achieved a more accurate – and much higher – figure for the Allied personnel who were killed on D-Day. They have recorded the names of individual Allied personnel killed on 6 June 1944 in Operation Overlord, and so far they have verified 2499 American D-Day fatalities and 1915 from the other Allied nations, a total of 4414 dead (much higher than the traditional figure of 2500 dead). Further research may mean that these numbers will increase slightly in future. D- Day museum.

 

Tom Hanks and Tom Sizemore
Image of a D-Day scene from the 1998 film Saving Private Ryan starring Tom Hanks and Tom Sizemore

 

After 67 years of the Normandy landings we can only hope this kind of violent events to occur never again in world history.

June 6th, 2011.

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