06 June 2016

“Soldiers, sailors, and airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!"

Photo: National Archives.

“Soldiers, sailors, and airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you."
- Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force Dwight D. Eisenhower on the Eve of D-Day

On June 6, 1944 the D-Day invasion, Operation Overlord, began with a dangerous attack by American paratroopers who were dropped behind enemy lines. With their parachutes, men weighed in at 90 to 120 pounds over their body weight.

By dawn 18,000 parachutists were already on the ground; the land invasions began at 6:30 a.m.

Due to heavy fog and German guns, the pilots were unable to drop the paratroopers precisely as planned, causing great loss of life and supplies. Still, the 101st and 82nd Divisions managed to form smaller improvised squads and began to fight.

By day’s end, 155,000 Allied troops–Americans, British and Canadians–had successfully stormed Normandy’s beaches.

The Allied casualties (killed, wounded, missing in action) figures for D-Day have generally been estimated at 10,000 (2700 British, 946 Canadians, and 6603 Americans), including 2500 dead. However, ongoing research suggests a that as many as 4400 Allied personnel were killed on D-Day, including 2499 Americans.

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