What happened during the Normandy invasion

WWII - D-Day: What happened 75 years ago on June 6, 1944 in Normandy?

With several large commemorative events in England and France, heads of state and government are commemorating the Allied landings in Normandy in World War II 75 years ago. US President Donald Trump, British Queen Elizabeth II and Chancellor Angela Merkel will be there. French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May are also expected to attend the military celebration. The British government had announced the "greatest British military spectacle in recent history".

What happened on the historic day in 1944, how many armed forces were involved, and why is D-Day celebrated? Read the background, figures and further information here.

Landing in Normandy: what happened on June 6, 1944?

On the morning of June 5, 1944, the US General Dwight D. Eisenhower the "Ok, let's go" and heralded the beginning of the decisive one "Operation Overlord" a. The landing in Normandy was called "Operation Neptune". In the evening the first planes took off in Great Britain, in which British and American paratroopers were sitting ready. Shortly after midnight scouts jumped over Normandy a little later the first aircraft landed in the hinterland. Less than an hour later, British soldiers took over important strategic points on several bridges.

After numerous paratroopers had already reached the mainland, hit around 5 a.m. on the morning of June 6th the ships of the Allied Forces a. The German bases were shot at from the air and from the water. At 9:30 a.m. the Allied landing was made by Eisenhower officially announced on the BBC. By evening 156,000 soldiers had landed in Normandy, more than 11,000 of them died, were injured or missing.

Historical background

Since 1939, Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler had conquered large parts of the European continent in the course of the Second World War. While Russia was able to hold back the National Socialists on the Eastern Front, the Germans managed to take over numerous Western European areas. Here the Allied forces were pushed more and more on the defensive, also because Hitler had numerous fortifications built in the occupied north of France.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt feared massive losses in the event of an invasion. Nevertheless, they agreed on military action as early as 1943, which a year later would usher in the turning point in the fight against Hitler. Hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers advanced further inland from Normandy. After the important Battle of Avranches on August 1, 1944, the Allies finally liberated Paris on August 25.

Why is D-Day so important and why is it celebrated?

D-Day marks the decisive one Turning point in the course of the Second World War and the The liberation of Western Europe begins by the National Socialists under Adolf Hitler. The Allied countries commemorate the fallen soldiers with many events every year. Veterans and contemporary witnesses from all over the world visit the historically important stretches of beach in northern France on this day. There are also celebrations on the British side.

What does D-Day mean?

"D-Day" is a military term and marks the beginning of an important military action that can, for example, decide the outcome of a war. It can be compared to the German term "Tag X". The abbreviation is also associated with the terms Doomsday (“Judgment Day”), Decision Day (“Decision Day”), Delivery Day (“Delivery Day”), Deliverance Day (“Liberation Day”). The origin is not clearly established.

D-Day: How many soldiers were there?

According to British historian Andrew Roberts, there were more than 5000 watercraft, 20,000 vehicles and around 11,500 aircraft in action. Overall, the air force flew about 13,000 missions. More than 156,000 soldiers, including most of the Americans, British, Canadians, Poles and French, landed on the beaches of northern France on June 6th. More than 1.5 million soldiers had reached Normandy by the end of July. 14 countries participated in the operation on the side of the Allies.

Where did the soldiers land on D-Day?

The soldiers left southern Great Britain on June 5th and crossed the English Channel towards France. Here they came mainly on five stretches of beach. The US soldiers landed on the code-named sections Utah and Omahawho have favourited British on the beaches Gold and sword and the Canadians on the section Juno. More than 20,000 other soldiers reached Normandy as paratroopers from the air.

Normandy is an important historical region - this is where the Allies landed 75 years ago to liberate Europe from the Nazis. Source: dpa topic service

75th anniversary in Normandy: how is D-Day celebrated?

For the 75th anniversary of D-Day, Great Britain announced in advance one of the “greatest British military spectacles of recent years”. 24 planes are scheduled to take off on the south coast in Portsmouth. The event kicks off two days of commemoration for the soldiers who made history during the dangerous mission.

Next Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel also takes US President Donald Trump take part in the celebrations. The presidents, prime ministers and other representatives of states that fought alongside Great Britain in Normandy at the time are also invited.

Veterans Peter Kent, Albert Holmshaw, Roy Maxwell, Richard Forrester and Doug Baldwin stand in front of the war cemetery in Bayeux, France. Source: imago images / ZUMA Press

In France, too, traditional commemorative events take place near the beaches where the Allies landed. Veterans gather in the cemeteries where their fallen comrades were buried. On the beaches, historical actors re-enact the Allied landing. Historic vehicles and uniforms from the Second World War are always on display.