D-Day typically refers to June 6, 1944 when the Allied forces launched the largest amphibious invasion of French coasts in Normandy. The Normandy landings marked the beginning of a costly and long campaign in order to liberate the north-west Europe from the occupation of Nazis. On D-day, the Allied ground troops landed on five main beaches – Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno and Sword.
The Utah beach was the western-most of the assault beaches and above 23,000 men of the infantry division landed here. On June 6, the airborne troops had dropped into the area behind Utah beach and after intense fighting the paratroopers succeeded in securing the causeways. This effectively provided the land troops a route to move further inland. The 4th infantry division had advanced almost four miles inland at the end of the day, suffering comparatively few causalities in this process.
This heavily defended beach was one of the bloodiest of the D-day beaches and was surrounded by steep cliffs. According to a rough idea, 2,400 U.S troops were found dead, wounded or missing during the assault on the Omaha Beach. The trouble actually began when the Americans underestimated the numbers of German soldiers. The condition was worsened when aerial bombardment failed to do much damage to the strongly fortified German positions. By the day’s end however, the Americans were able to get a small foothold on the beach.
The Gold beach was almost in the middle of the five D-day beaches. On the day of Normandy Landings, nearly 25,000 men landed on this beach. Before the troops had landed here, a strong aerial and naval bombardment successfully knocked out some of the strongest coastal defenses of Germans. By the day’s end, the British troops had proceeded six miles inland and joined the troops of Canadian 3rd division. The fishing village of Arromanches was also captured by the British troops which was later used by the Allies to unload supplies.
At the Juno Beach, the landing crafts of the Allied troops had to face rough seas, offshore shoals and enemy mines. The main objective of the Canadian 3rd Division was to secure this beach and link with British forces on Sword Beach to the east and Gold Beach to the west. Juno Beach was defended heavily and the causalities were quite high, particularly among the first wave of landing infantry. By midnight, the Canadians had cleared the beach and finally joined up with the British at Gold Beach.
On Sword Beach, strong German resistance and bad weather impeded the British 3rd Division assault. Rising tides created a narrow front, giving rise to delays and eventually making it difficult to land the armored support required for advancing into the inland. The 3rd division was able to repel the counter-attack of Germans, but failed to capture the strategically important city of Caen.