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D-Day: Facts on the Epic 1944 Invasion That Changed the Course of WWII

March 12, 2019 in History

By Dave Roos

The Allied invasion of Normandy was among the largest military operations ever staged. Learn how many fighting forces took part, why it was called D-Day, stats on its planning, execution and more.


On June 6, 1944, more than 156,000 American, British and Canadian troops stormed 50 miles of Normandy’s fiercely defended beaches in northern France in an operation that proved to be a critical turning point in World War II.

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Without the brilliant planning and heroic sacrifices of the D-Day invasion, the Allies may have never defeated the Nazi forces in Europe. On June 6, 1944, more than 156,000 American, British and Canadian troops stormed 50 miles of Normandy’s fiercely defended beaches in northern France in an operation that proved to be a critical turning point in World War II. Below are key facts on the planning and execution of the epic Allied invasion.

1. The ‘D’ in D-Day doesn’t actually stand for anything.
Unlike V-E Day (“Victory in Europe”) or V-J Day (“Victory over Japan”), the “D” in D-Day isn’t short for “departure” or “decision.” As early as World War I, the U.S. military used the term D-Day to designate the launch date of a mission. One reason was to keep the actual date out of the hands of spies; another was to serve as a placeholder until an actual date was chosen. They also used H-Hour for the specific time of the launch.


President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill orchestrated the D-Day plans.

2. The D-Day invasion took years of planning.
Allied leaders Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill knew from the start of the war that a massive invasion of mainland Europe would be critical to relieve pressure from the Soviet army fighting the Nazis in the east. Initially, a plan called “Operation Sledgehammer” called for an Allied invasion of ports in northwest France as early as 1943, but Roosevelt and Churchill decided to invade Northern Africa first and attack Europe’s “soft underbelly” through Italy.

3. D-Day was the largest amphibious invasion in military history.
According to the D-Day Center, the invasion, officially called “Operation Overlord,” combined the forces of 156,115 U.S., British and Canadian troops, 6,939 ships and landing vessels, and 2,395 aircraft and 867 gliders that …read more

Source: HISTORY

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