On June 6, 1944, the Allied Forces of World War II put on a display of bravery, cooperation, and good will that will be remembered for ages.
These men had two goals: free the country of France and turn the tide of the war. All of these countries knew they had to help. Hitler was tearing his way through Europe and had almost the entire continent in his Nazi clutches. The US had just entered the war and were determined to help their fellow countries and citizens.
On June 6, these men were prepared to lose their lives to complete their job, to take the Normandy Beaches and win France back from the Nazis. As one man said as he was sailing towards Normandy, “Dear God don’t let me drown, so I can do what I’m supposed to do.”
The attack was divided throughout five beaches: Utah, Omaha, Juno, Gold, Sword. The attack started at midnight.
Craters from bombs
More than 2,200 bombers bombed the coastline, hoping to destroy many of the German guns and defenses. This worked well everywhere but Omaha, where low floating clouds obscured the pilots’ vision.
After the bombs were dropped, paratroopers dropped in behind enemy lines. They seized roads and bridges that would allow their fellow troops to access the cities and towns beyond the beach. Without these paratroopers’ successes, the troops on the Normandy beaches wouldn’t have left those same beaches. These men were just as important as the men on the beaches. Sadly, several were blown away from their drop points, many drowned in the marsh surrounding the beaches, and others were shot out of the air by German fire.
After the paratroopers completed their mission, the main attack started.
Allied troops surged the beaches, running head on into German fire with determination. These men were sitting ducks for the German guns, and many died in their assault. But their bravery won the day. The Allied forces won, and the beaches were taken.
Over the next few weeks, troops would move through France, fighting through many more battles. But they would prevail, and D-Day would always be remembered as the turning of the tide for the Allies in World War II. D-Day was the largest seaborne invasion in all of history. 160,000 men crossed the English Channel on June 6, but there was 10,000 casualties, and 4,414 were confirmed dead. June 6 in Normandy was both a loss and a win for the Allies.
D-Day will always be remembered as the turning point in World War II. Without these men’s good will and amazing bravery, the War would probably had a much different outcome. This day was a terribly bloody and sad day for thousands of families, but it was also a powerful representation of courage and cooperation between countries.
The most stirring part of learning about the War and D-Day for me was that many of the American men in this war volunteered, 6 million men. Boys not much older than me, 19-22 year olds, were volunteering to serve their country. But not just serve their country, they were serving others that they didn’t even know. These men probably had never even seen a French person before the War, and they were willing to join forces with them to free a country. I don’t think I would be able to do something as brave as that. – Walden
Below are several other interesting facts we learned in the museums
Allied Propaganda dropped into enemy lines to try and convince Axis soldiers to give up.
We also traveled to Oradour-sur-Glane, note it’s description below by our Rick Steves Guidebook.
“Located two hours north of Sarlat and 15 miles west of Limoges, this is one of the most powerful sights in France. French schoolchildren know this town well — most make a pilgrimage here. Village des Martyrs, as it is known, was machine-gunned and burned on June 10, 1944, by Nazi troops. The Nazis were either seeking revenge for the killing of one of their officers (by French Resistance fighters in a neighboring village) or simply terrorizing the populace in preparation for the upcoming Allied invasion (this was four days after D-Day).
“With cool attention to detail, the Nazis methodically rounded up the entire population of 642 townspeople. The women and children were herded into the town church, where they were tear-gassed and machine-gunned. Plaques mark the place where the town’s men were grouped and executed. The town was then set on fire, its victims left under a blanket of ashes. Today, the ghost town, left untouched for more than 60 years, greets every pilgrim who enters with only one English word: Remember.”