6 June 1944
D-Day: The Invasion of Normandy
The weather in early June was overcast and rainy, causing Eisenhower to postpone the planned invasion of Normandy until June 6, when the weather was expected to improve somewhat. The operation had been preceded by an intensive bombing campaign of northern France, aimed at disrupting the railway network and therefore slowing German movement in the area. It was also preceded by a number of airborne operations, in which paratroopers were dropped behind enemy lines to destroy bridges and generally cause confusion among the Germans.

On the evening of June 5 the invasion fleetóconsisting of some 700 warships, 2,500 landing craft (carrying more than 150,000 combat troops from the United States, Great Britain, and Canada), and 2,700 support shipsóset sail across the English Channel. In the first light of day landings took places on five separate beaches, designated Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. Because of the weather the Germans had not expected an invasion to occur anytime soon, and even after the initial landings took place Hitler refused at first to send reinforcements to the area, since he remained convinced that the real invasion was to take place at Pas-de-Calais. Moreover, the Allies enjoyed complete control of the skies over Normandy, and additionally had the support of the warships offshore, which subjected German defenses to a withering bombardment. Thanks to all this, the Allies encountered serious difficulties only on Omaha Beach, where entrenched Germans were able to fire down on the invading Americans from high cliffs. There the casualties exceeded 4,600, but on the other four beaches the loss of life was comparatively small. By the end of the day 155,000 Allied troops were on French soil; the liberation of Western Europe had begun.

Histories:
D-Day to the Breakout
Normandy
D-Day: The Normandy Landings
D-Day: The Normandy Invasion, 6-25 June 1944

Campaign Maps:
Allied Invasion Force and German Dispositions, 6 June 1944
Normandy Invasion and Operations, 6-12 June 1944

Personal Accounts:
Rutgers Oral History Archive: Interview with Richard Wagner
Rutgers Oral History Archive: Interview with John T. Waters
Rutgers Oral History Archive: Interview with Charles W. McDougall
Rutgers Oral History Archive: Interview with Joseph V. Demasi
Pharmacist Mate Frank R. Feduik recollects the landing at Omaha Beach
Lieutenant Commander Joseph H. Gibbons
Lieutenant James West Thompson recollects his experiences on Omaha Beach during the Normandy Invasion

Photographs:
Landing on the coast of France under heavy Nazi machine gun fire are these American soldiers, shown just as they left the ramp of a Coast Guard landing boat
Crossed rifles in the sand are a comrade's tribute to this American soldier who sprang ashore from a landing barge and died at the barricades of Western Europe
Photographs of the Normandy Invasion