The largest amphibious operation in history, D-Day marked the beginning of the liberation of France and Western Europe and was years in the planning.
It drew on the knowledge of meteorologists, scientists, inventors, the combined might of militaries of 13 nations and assistance of tens of thousands of members of the French Resistance. It involved vast deceptions and secret operations to ensure success.
It's no surprise that D-Day has earned its place as one of the most significant battles in history.
77th Anniversary of D-Day (D-Day 77)
As the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic continue, the Royal British Legion remains in close contact with the French authorities regarding events in Bayeux to commemorate the 77th anniversary of D-Day.
We will provide an update with further information about how we intend to mark D-Day 77 through RBL channels in due course.
On the 6 June 1944 Operation Overlord, was finally launched as the first step to freeing Western Europe from Axis domination.
The D-Day landings, codenamed Operation Neptune, would include an armada of over 5,000 vessels and ships, nearly 11,000 aeroplanes and over 130,000 ground troops. These vast forces were coordinated from Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force with US General Dwight D Eisenhower appointed supreme commander of this huge conglomerate of troops and resources from different nations.
The landings had been shrouded in secrecy as part of a large coordinated deception effort the Allied secret services launched Operation Fortitude. Split into two parts Fortitude North and Fortitude South the aim was to convince Hitler that the planned invasion would be aimed at Norway (Fortitude North) or the Pas de Calais (Fortitude South).
As a result of these operations Hitler mistakenly moved troops from France to Norway and the German High Command moved divisions away from Normandy and towards Pas-de-Calais. BBC radio messages were broadcast on the eve of D-Day alerting Special Operation Executive Agents and French Resistance forces, encouraging them to make ‘maximum effort’ in carrying out acts of sabotage.
Shortly after midnight on 6 June 23,400 Allied paratroopers were dropped into Normandy to provide tactical support to the troops landing on the beaches. Allied air forces would go on to conduct over 14,000 sorties in support of the landings.
Just after 05:20 the Allied fleet opened up their guns all along the Normandy beaches. Between 06:30 and 07:30 across five beaches which encompassed 50 miles of coastline the Allied armies were landed. By the end of D-Day Allied forces had suffered nearly 10,000 casualties, of which 4,000 were fatalities.
The sacrifice and courage of the men and women who played their part in D-Day whether as service personnel, nurses, engineers, meteorologists, SOE agents or logistical support would secure for the Allies a foothold in mainland Europe for the first time since 1941.