D-Day - 6th June 1944

The landing of the Allied troops the assault phase of operation Overlord, was launched on 6th June 1944. The objective was to create an Allied bridgehead in Normandy. From there the expeditionary corps would liberate Western Europe.

 

The Allied staff officers decided to attack the west coast of France in May-June 1944. Because the great majority of soldiers and equipment came from the Unites States, it was decided that the head of operations would be American: Eisenhower.

Operation Overlord

Initially planned for 5th June 1944, but postponed due to bad weather conditions, Operation Overlord was actually launched on 6th June 1944. It began with an airborne assault followed by an amphibious assault. The first phase consisted in several airborne operations in Normandy.  

 

Un planeur après son atterrissage

A glider after landing

 

British paratroopers set foot in the eastern part of the assault area around Ranville. Here they took the bridge of Bénouville,  Pegasus Bridge. The Americans landed in the region of Carentan and seized Sainte Mère Eglise.

These operations were intended to support the amphibious assault itself (operation Neptune), by seizing key objectives such as bridges, road crossings, roads and artillery batteries ...

The landing beaches

At 6 am, landing crafts launched the assault on the beaches of Normandy. Five landing sectors, from Saint-Martin-de-Varreville [Cotentin] and Ouistreham [Calvados] were assigned to the Allies :

  • Utah Beach : American zone
  • Omaha Beach : American zone
  • Gold Beach : British zone
  • Juno Beach : British and Canadian zone
  • Sword Beach : British and French zone.

On the evening of 6th June 1944, progress inland was not as successful as initially planned. Bridgeheads had been taken but the different beaches were not linked together.

 

The landings

However, the landings of 6th June 1944 ( Jour-J in French) was a complete success ; the Allies had managed to enter Norman territory and the losses were not as heavy as feared. Nonetheless, a lot had still to be achieved as German reinforcements were headed to Normandy. To avoid being pushed back to the sea, the Allies had to advance rapidly further inland.

This was the real challenge of the Battle of Normandy which fully began on 7th June 1944.

 

 

American soldiers ready to land on 6th June 1944

 

With the contribution of  Rémy Desquesnes
Historian