D-Day - The Allied Invasion of Europe

The Germans had been expecting an Allied invasion of Northern France for long time. However, they were not sure where the invasion would take place . The Germans concentrated their troops near Calais because it was nearest to the British Isles.

Early on June 6,1944 Operation Overlord, the code name of the invasion, began. Commanded by Dwight D. Eisenhower about 3,000 ships and 176,000 soldiers crossed the English Channel and landed, to the surprise of the Germans, on the beaches of Normandy, much farther to the west than Hitler’s generals had expected. Paratroopers dropped behind the German defence lines and captured bridges and railroad tracks.

Although Germany was surprised by the attack, they fought back fiercely . At one landing site, named Omaha Beach, Allied troops came under heavy fire and had difficulty staying on the shore. At the end of the day, Allied forces had managed to secure the coastline and create a harbour where more troops could land. By the end of June, 1944 about a million Allied troops had reached France.

After heavy fighting, American and British armies were able to move inland . They captured Paris on August 25, 1944. After advancing to eastern France and Belgium the Allied offensive moved on but as winter came was halted west of the Rhine River.

Allied troops land on Normandy coast