It was the most spectacular and daring military operation of the Second World War. Its aim was to open a front in Western Europe to relieve the Soviet troops engaged on the Eastern Front and thus hasten the end of the Nazi regime.
Code name: Overlord. On Tuesday 6 June 1944, some 150,000 Allied soldiers landed on five beaches in the Channel and Calvados, known as Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. The Americans are responsible for the western sector (Utah and Omaha) of this 80 km front, the Canadians are responsible for the central sector (Gold) and the British for the eastern sector (Juno and Sword). Among these 150,000 Allied soldiers were the 177 free French soldiers of Commando Kieffer, whose objective was to take the Ouistreham casino, transformed by the Germans into a powerful fortified bunker.
While landing is relatively easy at Utah Beach, it is not the same on the other beaches. And in particular in Omaha Beach, where the Americans were confronted with the heavy fire of German defences, which the preparatory bombardments had left almost intact. With 3000 GIs killed, wounded or missing out of 34,000 engaged, this beach will go down in history under the sad name of “Bloody Omaha” (bloody Omaha). But despite these very heavy losses, Omaha Beach will be taken in the evening of June 6, as will the other four beaches.
A true Allied poker move, Overlord is a success. But the Battle of Normandy has only just begun….