Battle of Normandy

The Battle of Normandy was a military campaign conducted by the allies of the Second World War from June 6. It was a pivotal moment in the war, as it gave the allies momentum to go on and liberate France from German control.

Normandy Landings

The Normandy Landings occurred on 6 June 1944, and is the largest seaborne invasion in history; the Allies had an estimated 156, 000 soldiers for this landing, whereas it is estimated that 50,000 German troops were defending the coast. Five beaches were stormed along the coast of Normandy, which were codenamed Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. The landings were originally scheduled for May, however there was a shortage of equipment and men for the operation, owing to the scale of the invasion, and so it was postponed. Then the invasion was scheduled for 4 June, but was postponed again due to bad weather.

Utah beach was the westernmost beach, used as a tactical place from which to attack the city of Cherbourg. The landings were shaky for this beach, as US troops missed their drop zone by a mile, and many drowned at the landings due to their heavy equipment. In a stroke of luck, the area was not very well guarded and the US troops took control by closing the exit points.

The fighting at Omaha beach produced the most casualties of all the beaches. Cliffs, giving territorial advantage to the Germans, surrounded it and to compound matters further, intelligence had underestimated the troops guarding this landing. These reasons led to 2400 US troops dead, injured or missing. At one point, the operation was close to being abandoned due to the heavy bombardment and losses but the troops made it to the relative safety of the seawall and recovered from thereon.

Gold beach was was stormed by British forces. Before the storming, intense arial attacks on German positions had left the German resistance severely damaged, and unable to mount a decent defense. In a few hours many exit point were captured and the British pushed inwards.

The Juno beach landing got off to a shaky start, as the rough seas did not help the allies’ plans. Germans firing from seaside houses and bunkers led to a significant loss of soldiers during the first hour, however after fighting their way off the beach, the Canadian contingent’s march inland went relatively unscathed.

British and Canadian troops dropped off behind enemy lines to quickly secure many exit points at Sword beach. Arial strikes destroyed bridges to stifle reinforcements. They then secure all exit points and moved inwards. All the five D-day beaches were not united until 12 June.