D-day is arguably the most important event in WWII. It was when the Allies took over Nazi France from the beaches of Normandy. It was the turning point of the war. D-Day is also referred to as Operation Neptune or Operation Overload. After D-Day, the Allies began to win the war. But this turning point wasn’t achieved easily. Actually it required several decoy operations, and over 100,000 soldiers of British, American, and Canadian origin.
The soldiers who executed this mission had to undergo basically a living nightmare. The troops attacked from four places on the coast of France, codenamed Juno, Utah, Omaha, and Caen. Soldiers got to the beach by two modes; air and sea. To get across, fresh Navy volunteers had to sail the hundreds of boats across the English Channel in the dark. Many boats ended up miles away from place, cutting away precious time. Sea borne soldiers then had to run straight into machine gun fire, and fight the Nazi army. Hundreds had already died once they touched the sand. Thousands died running across the beach to the fight. Nearly everyone got lost in the wrong place, away from the commanders and support. The beach was armed with German defenses that they’ve been working on for four years.
Earlier that morning around midnight, paratroopers had landed inland of Normandy to clear the way for the seaborne troops. But the pilots had never flown so low and fast in darkness. Many got lost, and others, unnerved by anti-aircraft fire, swerved and dropped the paratroopers too fast. Some crashed into lakes and rivers and drowned. Handfuls of paratroopers were scattered around.
The Germans had been expecting an attack though. They spent most of Europe’s concrete to build forts along the water, creating the Atlantic Wall. Hitler left orders not to move the tanks until direct orders were given from him because he wasn’t sure he would need them at the coast. But this backfired because tanks didn’t get to the beach in time. When the paratroopers were scattered, not according to plan, the Germans were receiving reports of paratroopers all over Normandy. The Germans thought that this was according to plan, and that they had sent at least 90,000. So much effort was wasted looking for paratroopers, and the reinforcements to push back sea troops were wasted inland where they were shot up by specially selected and trained paratroopers, despite the odds. After this amazing loss of life, a pathway into the interior of Europe was now open.