Today marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day, which is considered by many, the turning point of World War II in Europe.
Codenamed Operation Overlord, the Battle of Normandy began on June 6, 1944. Some 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily fortified coast of France’s Normandy region. The invasion was one of the largest amphibious assaults in military history and required extensive planning. Prior to D-Day, the Allied forces conducted a large-scale deception campaign designed to mislead the Germans about the intended invasion target. By late August 1944, all of northern France had been liberated, and by the following spring the Allies had defeated the Germans.
Today at Omaha Beach, parts of the Mulberry harbor are still visible, and a few of the beach obstacles remain. A memorial to the US National Guard sits at the location of a former German stronghold. Pointe du Hoc is little changed from 1944, with the terrain covered with bomb craters and most of the concrete bunkers still in place. The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is nearby, in Colleville-sur-Mer. A museum about the Utah landings is located at Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, and there is one dedicated to the activities of the US airmen at Sainte-Mère-Église.
The allies suffered over 10,000 casualties on D-Day with more than 4,000 soldiers giving the ultimate sacrifice. Despite the great cost, the surprise attack worked pushing German forces inland as the troops took more and more ground in Europe until Soviet troops surrounded Berlin leading to the surrender of the German army and the end of WWII in Europe. Victory in Europe (VE) Day on May 8 celebrates the formal acceptance by the Allies of WWII of Germany’s unconditional surrender on the May 8, 1945, less than a year after D-Day in France.