Sunday marks the 77th anniversary of the decisive Normandy landing, which led to the liberation of France and Western Europe from the control of the Nazis, thanks to the sacrifices of American, British and Canadian soldiers.
On June 6, 1944, symbolized as “the longest day”, 156,000 soldiers landed on the beaches chosen to launch a historic offensive against Nazi forces.
Operation Normandy Landing remains the largest amphibious assault of its kind in history, in terms of the number of ships and forces involved.
The operation claimed the lives of about 4,400 soldiers in the first day alone.
By the end of the landing, 156,000 soldiers and 20,000 Allied vehicles arrived in northern France occupied by the Nazis, despite facing a barrage of bullets and artillery bombardment.
By dawn on June 6, thousands of paratroopers and paratroopers were on the ground behind enemy lines, securing the bridges and exit routes. The amphibious invasions began at 6:30 AM.
On that day, more than 150,000 Allied soldiers landed on these vast beaches and faced a barrage of shells that struck many of them, both dying and permanently maimed.
The British and Canadians overcame light resistance to seize the beaches code-named “Gold”, “Juno” and “Sword”, as did the Americans at Utah Beach before them.
American forces encountered stiff resistance at Omaha Beach, where more than 2,000 fighters were killed, however, by the end of the day, nearly 156,000 Allied troops had succeeded in storming the shores of Normandy.
According to some estimates, more than 4,000 Allied soldiers lost their lives, with thousands wounded or missing.
Less than a week later, on June 11, the beaches were fully secured and more than 326,000 soldiers, more than 50,000 vehicles, and nearly 100,000 tons of equipment landed in Normandy.
For their part, the Germans suffered from a confusion of ranks and the absence of the famous commander Rommel, who was away on vacation.
At first, Hitler thought the invasion was a ploy intended to distract the Germans from an attack coming from north of the Seine, and refused to split his army, reinforcements had to be called in from further afield, causing delays.
He also hesitated to call in armored divisions to assist in the defence, while the Germans were hampered by effective Allied air support, which uprooted several major bridges and forced the Germans to take long detours, as well as effective Allied naval support, which helped protect the advancing forces.
In the following weeks, the Allies made their way through the Normandy countryside in the face of determined German resistance, as well as a dense landscape of swamps and hedges.
By the end of June, the Allies had captured the vital port of Cherbourg, and nearly 850,000 men and 150,000 chariots disembarked at Normandy, ready to continue their march through France.
By the end of August 1944, the Allies had reached the Seine, Paris had been liberated and the Germans had been driven out of northwestern France, effectively concluding the Battle of Normandy.