D-Day: What you need to know about the historic operation

  • Tuesday, June 6, 2023 marks the 79th anniversary of D-Day
  • D-Day commemorates the biggest land, air and sea invasion in history
  • 4,414 Allied troops were killed on D-Day itself; 2,501 were American

(NewsNation) — On Tuesday, people around the world are paying tribute to the young soldiers who died in Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944, as part of the D-Day invasion.

This year marks the 79th anniversary of the assault that led to the liberation of France and Western Europe from Nazi control during World War II.

Around 160,000 Allied forces landed in Nazi-occupied France

Given the code name Operation Overlord, the invasion force included 7,000 ships and landing craft manned by over 195,000 naval personnel from eight allied countries, according to the Eisenhower Library.

More than 850,000 men, 148,000 vehicles and 570,000 tons of supplies landed in Normandy by June 30.

Ultimately, more than 2 million Allied soldiers, sailors, pilots, medics and others from one dozen countries were involved in the complete operation.

There were five naval assault divisions assigned to the beaches of Normandy. Each beach was given a code name: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.

U.S. troops went to Omaha and Utah Beach and Canadians took Juno, while Great Britan and smaller forces stormed Gold and Sword beaches, according to the Defense Department.

More than 9,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded in the first 24 hours

A lot went wrong for Americans on D-Day itself, according to Defense Department reports, as they were the first to launch the invasion.

Thousands of U.S. paratroopers died during their drop at Utah Beach. Many were shot out of the sky by enemy fire, and some missed their landing spots, while others were weighed down and drowned in marshlands, according to the DOD.

A total of 4,414 Allied troops were killed on D-Day itself. Of these casualties, 2,501 were American. More than 5,000 were wounded.

The ensuing Battle of Normandy killed 73,000 Allied forces and wounded 153,000. Around 20,000 French civilians were killed.

Still, in the end, the U.S. and its allies were successful.

It is unknown exactly how many German casualties there were. Historians estimate between 4,000 and 9,000 men were killed, wounded or missing during the D-Day invasion. About 22,000 German soldiers are among the many buried around Normandy.

D-Day was initially set for 1 day earlier

In 1944, only nine days in May and June had weather that would accommodate Operation Overlord.

To meet weather requirements, the days needed to be long for maximum air power usage; there needed to be a near-full moon so guide ships and airborne troops could see their way; and strong tides were necessary to expose beach obstacles and float supply-filled landing vehicles onto the beach, according to DOD documents.

Even though commanders initially were going to launch the invasion on June 5, forecasts showed a short window of good weather that day, according to the DOD. Because of this, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower decided to switch D-Day to early on June 6.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending on NewsNation