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D-Day (1/2)

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The events of 6th June 1944 began shortly after midnight with the dropping of the first British airborne troops between the Rivers Orne and Dives. The American paratroopers were soon to follow in the Cotentin peninsula. At 6.30 a.m. the first American waves of assault struck Utah and Omaha



THE ORIGINS OF THE D-DAY LANDINGS

Following the turn of events at the Battle of Stalingrad which came to an end in February 1943, the Red Army reconquered its hitherto lost territory. However, the conflict remained bitter for the Soviet troops: Stalin urged the Allied powers to reunite to form a genuine second front in the West. Consequently, and for the very first time, the three political leaders of the Allied nations (Roosevelt for the United States, Churchill for Great Britain and Stalin for the Soviet Union) joined forces to take common military decisions against the Axis powers. The meeting took place in Teheran.
The encounter began on the 28th of November, to end on the 1st of December. Stalin's appeals were taken into account by his allies, who accepted the principle of a second front, hence accelerating the efforts of Allied troops from "Combined Operations". One thing was certain, for logistic reasons, the assault would need to be launched from England. The landing zone was yet to be determined. The Allies finally opted for the northern French coastline, in Normandy, in the immediate vicinity of England. This strategy was presented in August 1943 during the Quebec Conference: Normandy was designated as the starting point of the Allied invasion towards Western Europe. To successfully accomplish Operation Overlord, which was under preparation, the Allied generals agreed on the necessity to concentrate troops in Britain in view of a large-scale invasion of France. From late 1942, the first transport ships left the North-American continent to head for the British coast. In order to ensure the success of the Normandy landings, the Allies requested cooperation from the French Resistance networks during the preparatory phases of Operation Overlord.
On the 10th of April 1944, the Allied naval officers received confirmation of a landing operation in the north of France, and more precisely on the Normandy coastline. The operation was code-named Neptune.
Four beach sectors were initially chosen, located alongside the Rivers Dives and Orne in Calvados, each sector being assigned a specific code-name: Omaha for the American sector, Gold, Juno and Sword for the Anglo-Franco-British sectors. The fifth sector was determined to the west of Omaha, in the Cotentin peninsula: Utah beach, which was to be covered by the American troops.
On the 4th of June 1944, a violent storm raged in the English Channel when Eisenhower, Commander-in-Chief of the Allied forces, ordered for the first Allied ships to head for Normandy, late afternoon. Departure was consequently postponed 24 hours. The German officers were reassured by the continuing storm, convinced that the Allies would never land in such appalling conditions. However, a brighter spell was forecast in the Channel for the 5th of June. Hence, Tuesday the 6th of June 1944 entered everlastingly into History! The events of the 6th of June 1944 began shortly after midnight with the dropping of the first British airborne troops between the Rivers Orne and Dives. The American paratroopers were soon to follow in the Cotentin peninsula, at the opposite extremity of the landing zone. In the meantime, RAF heavy bombers attacked what were deemed to be the most threatening artillery batteries forming the Atlantic Wall.
At 5.45 a.m. the naval fleet opened fire on the German defences. At 6.30 a.m. the first American waves of assault struck the beaches of Utah and Omaha. In the British and Canadian sector, the attack was launched an hour later, due to tidal variations.
By the evening of the 6th of June, some 20,000 vehicles and 155,000 soldiers (including the paratroopers) had landed on French soil. Losses (killed, wounded or disappeared) totalled around 10,000 men, slightly less than Allied estimations.
With the exception of Omaha, where the outcome of the battle was for a long time unsure, the Atlantic Wall had been relentlessly broken through and the Allies had penetrated six miles inland.












  • Carte Espace Historique Bataille Normandie
  • CAMION DE TRANSPORT AMPHIBIE
  • Convoi de matériel omaha beach
  • Débarquement des troupes américaines UTAH BEACH
  • DEBARQUEMENT AMERICAIN EN NORMANDIE