The Eyes of the World Are Upon You: The History of D-Day

The Eyes of the World Are Upon You: The History of D-Day

June 6, 1944, better known as D-Day, is the date when allied troops stormed the beaches at Normandy, France, during World War II.  The allies attempted to regain control of lost territories, allowing the allied forces to regain control of Eastern Europe. 

Regardless of the countless hours of pre-planning that went into the mission, from its onset, Allie troops appeared to struggle to regain the control they so desperately sought.  

However, showing resilience, courage, and willpower, they ended up turning the tide and defeating the Nazi regime, weakening Nazi forces as a whole, setting the stage for an Allied victory.

Many decades later, D-Day remains the largest amphibious military invasion in history and a turning point in WWII. 

Devil Is in the Details

Prior to storming the beaches, Allied forces spent countless hours planning out their attack on Normandy down to the most minute detail.  Also known as “Operation Overlord,” the D-Day invasion was a make-or-break moment for both sides of the war effort.

America entered the war and joined the Allied forces in 1941.  They lost control of France the year prior, and they were beginning to lose their grip on Europe and possibly the war effort itself.

Hitler was aware of France’s importance for both sides of the conflict, and he intended to retain control of the important country.

He placed Erwin Rommel in charge of the Nazi regime’s defense, knowing it was only a matter of time until the Allied forces came to take back what was theirs.

One of the main tactics used by the Allied forces to change the tide in their direction was to create an elaborate plot full of subterfuge designed to make the Nazis believe that they had an eye on a different prize in France. Allied forces would be poised to strike at a different date and time, led by other troops.  They even went so far as to move decoy equipment in the area they wanted the Nazis to believe they were going, and they released fake radio reports.

Dazed and Confused

On June 5th, following a 24-hour delay due to bad weather, Dwight D. Eisenhower, commander of the Allied forces, ordered the attack on Normandy a go.  By 6:30 am, five naval assault divisions were on their way to Normandy to lay siege to Nazi positions.

While their main target was Normandy, Allies attacked five other beaches on the coast of France simultaneously.  Heavy casualties were sustained by the Allies at Utah and Omaha beaches.  

Normandy saw its fair share of Allied loss that day, as well.

In total, the casualties suffered by the Allied forces were estimated at over 10,300, and thousands more have remained missing decades later.

Even though they lost thousands of lives, Allied troops from America, England, and Canada had infiltrated enemy lines by the day’s end. They reported an approximate 156,000 soldiers to occupy that all-important area in France.

About a week later, the beaches were secure.  Allied troops numbering in the hundreds of thousands occupied the area, bringing with them around 50,000 military vehicles and 100,000 tons of equipment.

When the D-Day invasion began, Rommel was on leave, and the Nazi forces were caught unaware.  As confusion set in, Hitler actually believed that the Normandy invasion was the “decoy attack” he had anticipated.  

In a mistake that would prove fatal for Germany, thinking the Allies’ true target was the Seine, just north of the attack point in Normandy, Hitler refused to call in reinforcements from that area.  This caused a delay in much-needed assistance for Nazi forces and eventually tipped the first domino that began their ultimate demise.

In the following weeks, Allied troops continued to arrive in the Normandy area by way of land, air, and sea.  They soon decimated the German forces, taking over key strongholds necessary for Allied domination of the region.  Their numbers grew to include almost a million troops, and the Allies declared victory of Normandy in August of 1944.

We Are the Champions

Once the Allies regained command of Paris, Hitler had no choice but to retreat, granting a win to Allied troops, giving a boost in both power and morale the Allies needed. This turned the tide in favor of those determined to keep Hitler and the Nazis from dominating the world.

Less than a year later, Hitler, feeling the noose tighten around his neck, committed suicide, and the Allies were declared victorious, officially ending World War II on May 8, 1945.

D-Day Goes Down in History

Forever remaining one of the most critical battles in the annals of military history, the D-Day invasion of the beaches of Normandy, France, was the strategic victory needed by the Allied forces in World War II.  It was also the blow to Hitler’s ego necessary to rocket him back into the reality that he could never take over the world.

Though countless movies have been made and books have been written over the events that took place during the D-Day landings, nothing will ever be able to capture the horror troops on both sides faced as they fought to win the war.

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