June 6, 1944, the largest naval, land, and air invasion in history was carried out by allied troops in the Normandy region of France. Codenamed Operation Overlord, the invasion consisted of around 156,000 British, American, and Canadian troops and was designed to be the beginning of the end of World War II. It’s gone down as the largest amphibious invasion in the history of war.
Months before the invasion American General Dwight Eisenhower was appointed head of Operation Overlord. All documents related to D-day were marked “Bigot”, a step above classified, and millions of maps were drawn in preparation for the invasion. A major deception operation was carried out during the weeks before Operation Overlord to make Germany believe the target for invasion was Pas-de-Calais, the narrowest point between Britain and France, and Norway. Fake radio calls and double agents were used to deceive the Germans, as well as phantom armies and equipment. This included inflatable tanks and the naval Bodyguard plan that placed smaller ships around the Pas-de-Calais region and simulated an oncoming attack there.
The term D - day originally signified the first day of any major military operation, the D simply meaning “day”. D - day of Operation Overlord was scheduled for June 5, 1944, until being delayed 24 hours due to poor weather. On the morning of June 6, 1944, thousands of paratroopers and glider troops took position behind enemy lines, securing roads and bridges in an attempt to cut off German supplies. At 6:30 AM the naval, land, and air invasions began on beaches codenamed Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. 500 naval vessels, 20,000 land vehicles, and 13,000 aircraft invaded the Normandy region. By June 11th the beaches were fully secured, and more than 100,000 tons of equipment were landed. Over 4,000 allied troops lost their lives in the battle.
After securing the beaches of Normandy, allied troops continued their advance towards Paris. By the end of August, they secured the city and France was liberated from Nazi control, concluding the Battle of Normandy. After securing France allied troops were able to continue into Germany until they reached Soviet troops advancing from the East. Regaining France shifted more power into the hands of the allies and was a huge psychological blow to Germany. Without the ability to build up troops in France the German Eastern front was weakened and the war began to end.
The immense planning and strategy that went into the securing of the Normandy region was detrimental to the end of the War. The speed at which the Allies seized the region allowed them to take control of the fighting in France and start pushing harder into Germany. The effort put behind a deception operation and the sheer number of troops and weaponry behind the invasion made D-day a great success.
Interested in World War II history?
Learn all about the inspiration behind our Allied Brewing Company family of beers. Each label represents a historic event or icon from this period that we're proud to share with you.