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This day that year: Recalling Allied invasion of Normandy – D-Day anniversary

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New Delhi, June 06: The Invasion of Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944, by the Allied Forces is considered as one of the most successful large-scale invasions in military history. Around 1,50,000 Allied soldiers supported by seven thousand ships and boats landed on the coast of Normandy with the mission to free Europe from Nazi control. It was the largest seaborne invasion in history.

This day that year: Recalling Allied invasion of Normandy – D-Day anniversary

The Allied troops comprised of Americans, British, Canadians and Australians, and soldiers from France, Czechoslovakia, Norway and Poland were also part of the invading contingent.

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More than 11,000 aircraft and 5,000 ships landed across the five Normandy beaches. There were an estimated 10,000 Allied casualties, with 4,414 confirmed dead.

The amphibious landings were preceded by extensive aerial and naval bombardment and an airborne assault-the landing of 24,000 US, British, and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight. Allied infantry and armoured divisions began landing on the coast of France during the wee hours. The target 80 kms stretch of the Normandy coast was divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword.

The logistics of planning for moving hundreds of thousands of men and almost half a million vehicles were enormous.

The first wave of the attack began with the paratroopers. These were men who jumped out of planes using parachutes. They jumped at night in the pitch dark and landed behind enemy lines. Their job was to destroy key targets and capture bridges in order for the main invasion force to land on the beach. Thousands of dummies were also dropped in order to draw fire and confuse the enemy.

By the end of D-Day over 1,50,000 troops had landed in Normandy. They pushed their way inland allowing more troops to land over the next several days. By June 17th over half a million Allied troops had arrived and they began to push the Germans out of France.

In a way, the Normandy attack was turning point in the second World War. The invasion allowed the Allies to gain total control of Normandy 77 days later and move on toward Paris, which they liberated in August 1944.

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