Jun 6, 2010

June 6~D-Day

June 6 marks the anniversary of a critical World War II invasion which occurred on June 6, 1944. It was the Battle of Normandy, code-name Operation Overlord, now referred  to as D-Day.

No one has a definitive answer as to why it has been called D-Day.  People have asked, "does the D stand for "Decision", or could it stand for "Disembarkation" or "Departed?" pbs.org gives us an answer as to the most widely accepted explanation of why it is called D-Day which comes from the U.S. Army's published manuals. "The army began using the codes "H-hour" and "D-day" during World War I to indicate the time or date of an operation's start. Military planners would write of events planned to occur on "H-hour" or "D-day"- - long before the actual dates and times of the operations would be known, or in order to keep plans secret. And so the "D" may simply refer to the day of invasion."

The Players
In 1940, Nazi German forces, under the rule of Adolf Hitler, invaded and occupied France. Over the next couple of years Allied forces consisting of the big four (England, the United States of America, the Soviet Union, and France) along with 15 other countries, built up their manpower and their firepower until they felt confident in launching an all-out attack on the German army positioned in France. Plans and preparations were made by key military figures including, as Supreme Commander, Dwight D. Eisenhower from America, Winston Churchill from England, Charles de Gaulle from France, and many others, to strike the beaches of Normandy, France.

The Invasion
In the wee hours of the morning on June 6, 1944, while most Americans slept, unaware of what was happening so many miles away, Allied forces crossed the dangerous English Channel to initiate "Operation Overlord" by launching their attack on the beaches of Normandy. Within hours, an armada of 3,000 landing craft, 2,500 other ships, and 500 other naval vessels -- escorts and bombardment ships -- began to leave English ports. That night 822 aircraft, carrying parachutists or towing gliders, roared overhead in the Normandy landing zones. They were a fraction of the air armada of 13,000 aircraft that would support D-Day.

There are no official casualty figures for D-Day. It is estimated that more than 209,000 Allied troops were killed, wounded, or went missing. In addition to roughly 200,000 German troops killed or wounded, the Allies also captured 200,000 German soldiers. Between 15,000 and 20,000 French civilians were killed during battle.

In the end, the Allied forces were successful in overpowering the German army occupying France. By the end of August 1944, all of northern France was liberated, and the invading forces reorganized for the drive into Germany, where they would eventually meet with Soviet Union Forces advancing from the east to bring an end to the Nazi Reich.


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