Americans Receive Word About D-Day

In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, Americans received word that three years of concerted war efforts had finally culminated in D-day--military jargon for the undisclosed time of a planned British, American, and Canadian action.

During the night, over 5,300 ships and 11,000 planes had crossed the English Channel and landed on the beaches of Normandy. The goal of every soldier and civilian involved in that effort was to drive the German military back to Berlin by opening a western front in Europe.

General Dwight David Eisenhower was in command of the invasion, which was code-named Operation Overlord. Just months prior, the 1915 West Point graduate had led the invasion of French North Africa.

The Normandy Landings were the first operations of the Allied invasion of Normandy, also known as Operation Neptune and Operation Overlord, during World War II. The landings commenced on Tuesday, June 6, 1944 (D-Day), beginning at 6:30 British Double Summer Time (UTC+2). In planning, D-Day was the term used for the day of actual landing, which was dependent on final approval.

The assault was conducted in two phases: an air assault landing of American, British and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight, and an amphibious landing of Allied infantry and armoured divisions on the coast of France commencing at 6:30. There were also subsidiary 'attacks' mounted under the codenames Operation Glimmer and Operation Taxable to distract the German forces from the real landing areas.[3]

The operation was the largest single-day amphibious invasion of all time, with 160,000[4] troops landing on June 6, 1944. 195,700[5] Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000[4] ships were involved. The invasion required the transport of soldiers and materiel from the United Kingdom by troop-laden aircraft and ships, the assault landings, air support, naval interdiction of the English Channel and naval fire-support. The landings took place along a 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.