On June 6, 1944, more than 156,000 Allied forces – representing the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, New Zealand, Norway, and Poland – landed on the beaches of Normandy to launch the liberation of France and begin their push to Berlin. They were supported by nearly 7,000 vessels, including 1,213 combat ships, 4,126 landing craft, and 1,600 other boats. In the air, they were aided by more than 10,000 aircraft, providing the Allies with a 30-to-1 ratio over the German air forces stationed in the vicinity at the time of the invasion.
“Under the command of General Eisenhower, Allied naval forces, supported by strong air forces, began landing Allied armies on the northern coast of France.”– First Overlord communiqué, 6 June 1944
The invasion launched from the south England coast and was centered around securing beachheads on five key beaches in Normandy code named Gold, Sword, Juno, Utah, and Omaha. Beginning at 3am, 1,900 Allied bombers attacked German lines.
A staggering seven million pounds of bombs were dropped that day. The assault was spearheaded by more than 24,000 troops who were either dropped behind enemy lines in France by parachute or landed by glider in the hours before dawn on June 6.
Ground troops followed; the British took Gold and Sword; the Canadian 3rd Division landed on Juno; and the Americans waded ashore on Utah and Omaha.
Within five days, 326,547 troops and 104,428 tons of supplies had landed in Normandy.
According to the D-Day Center, “the airborne troops at the eastern and western flanks of the invasion coast were delivered by a combination of 2,395 aircraft and 867 gliders. However, only around 15% of paratroopers landed in the right place. Other aircraft took part in massive bombing raids designed to destroy beach defenses and German positions. They dropped around 3,200 tons of bombs on D-Day. Of the approximate 15,000 sorties of Allied aircraft on D-Day, 113 planes were lost. None of these, however, fell victim to Luftwaffe aircraft which only managed to fly 319 sorties on June 6.”
In the 75 years since that famous day, the stories of D-Day have been told in myriad ways. Here at TheAvGeeks.com, our D-Day 75 (#DDay75) package focuses on the airborne elements of the invasion, the planes that carried the Allied fighting forces, and the men who flew and travelled in them.
Scott shares the story of his experience flying in That’s All Brother, the C-47 that led the airborne armada. JP offers insights on the airdrops that delivered the American and British airborne divisions to Normandy in the hours before the the beach assaults began. He also examines the failure of the Luftwaffe in the hours and days following the invasion. We’ve also collected lots of video from and about D-Day, including newsreel footage, interviews with veterans, and even a first-hand account from General Dwight D. Eisenhower on the twentieth anniversary of the invasion.