D-Day Landings in Normandy
Second World War 1939-45
On the 6th June 1944 Allied Troops stormed the beaches of Normandy to establish a foothold in France, this was the turning point of the Second World War in the West. D-Day was a remarkable achievement, involving nearly 7,000 naval vessels and over 150,000 Allied troops, it was the start of the destruction of the German war machine and the liberation of Europe.
We will bring the story of Operation Overlord to life; the complex plans of the largest amphibious assault in military history, landing on five beaches on an enemy occupied coastline. Hear about the heroism of the airborne troops who landed at night, hours before the amphibious landings. The D-Day landings and the subsequent Battle for Normandy saw some of the fiercest fighting of the Second World War, as the Allies fought their way inland.
Pegasus Bridge played an important role in the overall planning, it had to be captured intact and then held to allow seaborne reinforcements to cross. Pegasus Bridge (renamed in honour of the operation), spanned the Caen Canal and it was the mission of the British 6th Airborne Division to take the bridge. The majority of the gliders landed with extreme accuracy and the brave men led by Major John Howard poured out of the battered gliders, surprising the German defenders and taking the bridge within ten minutes.
Gold was the code name given to the central beach of the invasion area, landing on this beach was the task of the British 50th Infantry Division and supporting units. It was during this advance that CSM Stanley Hollis would win the only Victoria Cross to be awarded on D-Day. By the evening of the 6th June 1944, out of the 25,000 soldiers who landed, over 400 had been killed or wounded.
The North American Cemetery and Memorial is located on a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach, giving a panoramic view of the beach and the English Channel. Covering an area of over 172 acres, the remains of 9,387 Americans have been laid to rest here. Inscribed on the walls in the Garden of the Missing, are the names of a further 1,557 Americans who lost their lives.
Hitler's defences on the Atlantic Wall are among the best preserved and even though the beaches are now peaceful wherever you go you will find museums, cemeteries and memorials offering poignant reminders of this epic period in history, each with its own tale to tell.