What is D-Day?


D-Day refers to the day that the Allied forces invaded Normandy, France in an effort to liberate Western Europe from the grip of Nazi Germany. The goal of D-Day was to establish a beachhead from which the Allied forces could land troops and start to fight the German army.


When was D-Day?


D-Day took place on June 6th, 1944.


What Led Up to D-Day?


Nazi Germany, under the leadership of fascist dictator, Adolf Hitler, invaded France on May 10th, 1940. The Germans defeated the French army and took control of France. The Germans also defeated the British Expeditionary Force of several hundred thousand British soldiers that had been sent to France to support the French army.


Following Germany’s conquering of France, the Germans built up defenses on the Atlantic coast of France. These defenses consisted of land mines, obstacles, bunkers, and more. Collectively, these defenses were called “The Atlantic Wall” and they were overseen by the famous German General, Erwin Rommel.


As the war went on, the Allies realized that if they were going to win the war, they would have to invade France and break through the Atlantic Wall. So, they chose to invade Normandy, a coastal town in France in the spring of 1944.


Who Fought on D-Day?


The Allied forces who fought on D-Day were primarily made up of U.S., British, and Canadian armed forces. However, forces from other countries such as Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Holland, France, Greece, New Zealand, Norway, Rhodesia, and Poland all also fought for the Allies on D-Day. The Axis troops were primarily made up of German fighters.


What Happened on D-Day?


The Allied forces attacked five beaches in France that were heavily defended by the German army. These beaches were given codes names: Juno, Sword, Gold, Utah, and Omaha. Troops from the U.S. armed forces attacked Utah and Omaha beaches, Troops from the Canadian armed forces attacked Juno beach, and troops from the British armed forces attacked the Gold and Sword beaches.


Simultaneously, allied airborne divisions made up of paratroopers were dropped inland. These troopers had the goal of capturing key bridges and taking out various German guns. Before the invasion began, the Allies also bombed the beaches both with battleships and with planes. Many of the bombs missed their targets on Omaha beach due to cloudy weather.


However, despite the bombs missing, all five beaches were eventually taken by the Allied force despite fierce resistance from the Germans. The Allies had to send men in small ships to the beaches in order to invade and they were under fire the entire time from the Germans. Thousands of men died, but the assault proved to be a success.


How Many Casualties Were There on D-Day?


The exact number of casualties is unknown. However, it is estimated that the Allied forces suffered around 10,000-12,000 casualties on D-Day and that the Germans had around 5,000-7,000 casualties.


What Were the Consequences of D-Day?


The most important consequences of D-Day were that the Atlantic Wall was penetrated and the allies gained a foothold in mainland Europe that they could use to start pushing the Germans back to Germany. The Battle of Normandy lasted all the way until June 30th, 1944. It would be one of the biggest battles of World War II in addition to the Battle of the Bulge, Stalingrad, and several others. 

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