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Normandy D-Day landings

Few moments in history leave such a lasting and important legacy on a global scale as the Normandy landings of June 6, 1944. In what proved to be one of the major turning points of the Second World War, thousands of Allied troops bravely landed on the beaches and set in motion events that would ultimately lead to the liberation of the French from the stranglehold of the Nazis. Of course, such heroics would come at significant cost, and it’s the poignancy of the memorials to the fallen troops that stirs the emotions on a visit here.

Normandy beach with barbed wire
Normandy beach with barbed wire

Normandy beaches

For those with even a basic knowledge of the Second World War, the D-Day landings on the beaches of Normandy are synonymous with Allied success. But, with thousands of young troops giving their lives, a visit to the beaches of Omaha, Juno, Utah, and more has become a pilgrimage rather than simple tourism.

A number of tributes can be found on the beaches of the region, whether in the form of contemporary statues or untouched relics left behind that day. At Arromanches, meanwhile, the remains of Mullberry Harbour can be seen out to sea, a reminder of the necessary lengths taken to ensure that troops could descend onto the shore and face the artillery of the Nazi occupiers.

American War Cemetery, Normandy
American War Cemetery, Normandy

Poignant reminders

Many visitors to Normandy are often taken aback by the scale of the operation and the lasting effect it would have on future generations. Families from across the globe were – and still are – affected by the events that transpired on the beaches, with loved ones lost to the ages. Nowhere is this scale so apparent than among the cemeteries that offer an evocative reminder of the number of lives lost.

Thousands upon thousands of white crosses can be found overlooking the beaches below; a simple and sombre tribute to the many men that took on the Nazis at Normandy and bravely gave up their lives in the name of freedom. 

Supply landings at Omaha Beach, mid-June 1944
Supply landings at Omaha Beach, mid-June 1944

Museums

For more detailed insights into the events of the D-Day landings in Normandy, a number of museums provide valuable sources of information. The Memorial Museum for the Battles of Normandy, located beside the British military cemetery in Bayeux, has a collection of military equipment on display, and details how, in the ten weeks following the landings, the Allied troops fought the German army back until withdrawal beyond the River Seine.

The D-Day Museum at Arromanches, meanwhile, provides guided tours and films that offer a glimpse into how the military operation was undertaken. Discover also information on the many nations involved in the landings, and how the events of June 6, 1944 touched millions around the globe. 

In numbers

The Landings were originally planned for May 1st and then June 5th but it was repeatedly pushed back due to bad weather.

Troops

156,400

the number of Allied troops that landed on the first day

62,000

of them were British troops

73,000 

were American troops

21,400

were Canadian troops


Transport

11,950

aircraft were involved

5,000

naval vessels

13,000

paratroopers and

50,000

vehicles


Casualties & fatalities

209,000+

total Allied casualties

53,000

total Allied fatalities

200,000+

Germans killed or wounded

20,000

French civilians killed in fighting

17,769

British soldiers killed

27

war cemeteries

Read our D-Day 75 blog for a more detailed insight.

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