Skip to main content

Timeline of Events

D-Day

Loading ...

D-Day —— National Archives - Film

Transcript

The Atlantic Wall has been penetrated. There, after the first assault, the Allies clung precariously to a few beaches. But now they have a solid foothold on Fortress Europa. Men and materiel have poured on to the newly won beachheads with every favorable tide, and on some unfavorable ones. The Allied command has announced that the battle of the beaches is complete. The tremendous offensive was bitterly contested. The Nazis knew that each passing hour diminished their chances of throwing the Allies back in to the sea. But the American, British, and Canadian troops pressed forward firmly on to the soil of France. This was no pushover, driving the Germans back. Some of our troops dropped within yards of the water's edge. There were two enemies: the Germans, and the heavy seas. German prisoners were taken almost at once. With the beaches free of enemy fire, the Allies streamed heavy equipment ashore. Lumbering bulldozers set about clearing the way for vital air landing strips. The blast of Allied shells left shattered German defenses and many dead German defenders. Survivors were given prompt attention by medical-corps men. Some were grateful, many bewildered by the smashing Allied blow.

June 6, 1944

On June 6, 1944, under the code name Operation “Overlord,” US, British, and Canadian troops land on the beaches of Normandy, France, on the English Channel coast east of Cherbourg and west of Le Havre. 

After the German conquest of France in 1940, the opening of a second front in western Europe had been a major aim of Allied strategy during World War II. Under the overall command of US General Dwight D. Eisenhower and using the code name Operation “Overlord,” US, British, and Canadian troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, on the English Channel coast east of Cherbourg and west of Le Havre. A successful Allied deception plan led the Germans to believe the main attack would fall further north and east on the coast near Calais and the Belgian border. Fooled, the Germans moved only slowly to reinforce the Normandy defenses after the initial landing. Yet the Germans contained Allied troops in their slowly expanding beachhead for six weeks. Allied forces finally broke out of the Normandy beachhead near the town of St. Lo in late July and began the liberation of northern France. By mid-August, Allied troops had encircled and destroyed much of the German army in Normandy (Falaise pocket) and by late August, Free French forces liberated Paris.