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Beaches of the D-Day Landings

On Tuesday the 6th of June 1944, 130,000 of the Allied forces set off to land in Normandy, on the beaches of Utah, Gold, Sword, Omaha and Juno in what was called, Operation Overlord. It was the largest seaborne invasion in history and would become the base for the liberation of the German Occupied Northwest of Europe and the foundation of the Allied victory on the Western Front.

Field Marshall Erwin Rommel had been put in place to command the German forces and to create the fortifications along the Atlantic Wall as they anticipated the Allied invasion. The Allies conducted a substantial military deception, codenamed Operation Bodyguard, to mislead the Germans as to the date and location of the main Allied landings.

The amphibious landings were preceded by extensive aerial and naval bombardment and an airborne assault—the landing of 24,000 American, British, and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight. Allied infantry and armoured divisions began landing on the coast of France at 06:30. The target 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast was divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. Strong winds blew the landing craft east of their intended positions, particularly at Utah and Omaha. The men landed under heavy fire from gun emplacements overlooking the beaches, and the shore was mined and covered with obstacles such as wooden stakes, metal tripods, and barbed wire, making the work of the beach-clearing teams difficult and dangerous. Casualties were heaviest at Omaha, with its high cliffs. At Gold, Juno, and Sword, several fortified towns were cleared in house-to-house fighting, and two major gun emplacements at Gold were disabled, using specialised tanks.

The Allies failed to achieve any of their goals on the first day. Carentan, St. Lô, and Bayeux remained in German hands, and Caen, a major objective, was not captured until 21 July. Only two of the beaches (Juno and Gold) were linked on the first day, and all five beachheads were not connected until 12 June; however, the operation gained a foothold which the Allies gradually expanded over the coming months. German casualties on D-Day have been estimated at 4,000 to 9,000 men. Allied casualties were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead.

Museums, memorials, and war cemeteries in the area now host many visitors each year. Visit the different beaches and memorials and sit in the tranquil surroundings and remember the scenes of the brave that once fought along this now peaceful area

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The Great War

Throughout history, War Memorials were erected to commemorate victories in battle, but today’s memorials are not to glorify war, but to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and to stand as a reminder of the horror of war

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D-Day Beaches

Discover all about Utah Beach Here

Discover all about Sword Beach Here

Discover all about Juno Beach Here

Discover all about Omaha Beach Here

Discover all about Gold Beach Here

Discover all about Pointe du Hoc Here

Related Places Nearby

Discover all about Bayeux War Cemetery Here

Related Driving Tours

Read about our trip to Normandy during the 70 years anniversary celebrations

Read about our trip to Normandy to celebrate the 75 year anniversary of D-Day

Discover a number of different Battlefield Tours Here

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