The Greatest Day

On June 6, 1944, the allied forces in England launched the greatest amphibious military invasion in the history of warfare. More than 5,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes and 150,000 soldiers from the United States, Britain and Canada stormed the Nazi-occupied French beaches of Normandy in a surprise attack on a 50-mile front.

In such a massive operation, there was ample opportunity for things to go wrong, and they did. Paratroopers the night before were dropped in the wrong locations. Scheduled landings were delayed by rough weather, misguided landing craft and stiff German resistance. Despite the mischances, the troops carried on, improvised and accomplished their mission. More than 135,000 men and 10,000 vehicles landed on the beaches, and established positions along the Normandy coastline. The cost was high: 4,400 allied troops were killed, with thousands more injured or missing.

But at the end of the day, the tide of war in Europe began to turn. The invasion of Europe had begun, and the allies would push across France and into Germany. Ten months later, Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his bunker, surrounded by allied forces. On May 8, 1945, Germany officially surrendered. But all of that depended on the events we celebrate today, the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

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