Invasion of Normandy

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Invasion of Normandy
Part of Operation Overlord (World War II)
Into the Jaws of Death 23-0455M edit.jpg
Into the Jaws of Death by Robert F. Sargent. Assault craft land one of the first waves at Omaha Beach. The U.S. Coast Guard caption identifies the unit as Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.
Date6 June 1944 – mid-July 1944
Normandy, France

Coordinates: 49°20′N0°34′W / 49.333°N 0.567°W / 49.333; -0.567
Result Allied victory
German army retreats eastwards to Paris.
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg  United States
Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Canada
Allied contributions
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Nazi Germany
Commanders and leaders
Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg Dwight D. Eisenhower
(Supreme Allied Commander)
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Arthur Tedder
(Deputy Supreme Allied Commander)
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Bernard Montgomery
(21st Army Group, Ground Forces Commander in Chief)
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Trafford Leigh-Mallory
(Air Commander in Chief)
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Bertram Ramsay
(Naval Commander in Chief)
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Miles Dempsey
(British 2nd Army)
Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg Omar Bradley
(U.S. 1st Army)
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Gerd von Rundstedt (Oberbefehlshaber West)
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Erwin Rommel (Heeresgruppe B)
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Friedrich Dollmann (7 Armeeoberkommando)
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg (Panzergruppe West)
1,332,000 (by 24 July) [1] 380,000 (by 23 July) [2]
Casualties and losses
by 24 July:
≈120,000 casualties [1]
by 24 July:
113,059 casualties [1]

The Western Allies of World War II launched the largest amphibious invasion in history when they attacked German positions at Normandy, located on the northern coast of France, on 6 June 1944. The invaders were able to establish a beachhead as part of Operation Overlord after a successful "D-Day", the first day of the invasion.


Allied land forces came from the United States, Britain, Canada, and Free French forces. In the weeks following the invasion, Polish forces and contingents from Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece and the Netherlands participated in the ground campaign; most also provided air and naval support alongside elements of the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and the Royal Norwegian Navy. [3] [4]

The Normandy invasion began with overnight parachute and glider landings, massive air attacks and naval bombardments. In the early morning, amphibious landings commenced on five beaches codenamed Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha and Utah, with troops from the United States landing on Omaha and Utah, Britain landing on Gold and Sword, and Canada landing on Juno. During the evening the remaining elements of the airborne divisions landed. Land forces used on D-Day sailed from bases along the south coast of England, the most important of these being Portsmouth. [5]


U.S. soldiers march through Weymouth, Dorset, en route to board landing ships for the invasion of France. Soldiers-english-coast.jpg
U.S. soldiers march through Weymouth, Dorset, en route to board landing ships for the invasion of France.

Allied forces rehearsed their D-Day roles for months before the invasion. On 28 April 1944, in south Devon on the English coast, 749 U.S. soldiers and sailors were killed when German torpedo boats surprised one of these landing exercises, Exercise Tiger. [6] [ page needed ]

In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allied forces conducted a deception operation, Operation Fortitude, aimed at misleading the Germans with respect to the date and place of the invasion.

There were several leaks prior to or on D-Day. Through the Cicero affair, the Germans obtained documents containing references to Overlord, but these documents lacked all detail. [7] Double Cross agents, such as the Spaniard Juan Pujol (code-named Garbo), played an important role in convincing the German High Command that Normandy was at best a diversionary attack. U.S. Major General Henry Miller, chief supply officer of the US 9th Air Force, during a party at Claridge's Hotel in London complained to guests of the supply problems he was having but that after the invasion, which he told them would be before 15 June, supply would be easier. After being told, Allied Expeditionary Force Supreme Commander Dwight Eisenhower reduced Miller to lieutenant colonel [Associated Press, June 10, 1944] and sent him back to the U.S. where he retired. [8] Another such leak was General Charles de Gaulle's radio message after D-Day. He, unlike all the other leaders, stated that this invasion was the real invasion. This had the potential to ruin the Allied deceptions Fortitude North and Fortitude South. In contrast, Eisenhower referred to the landings as the initial invasion.

Only ten days each month were suitable for launching the operation: a day near the full moon was needed both for illumination during the hours of darkness and for the spring tide, the former to illuminate navigational landmarks for the crews of aircraft, gliders and landing craft, and the latter to expose defensive obstacles placed by the German forces in the surf on the seaward approaches to the beaches. A full moon occurred on 6 June. Eisenhower had tentatively selected 5 June as the date for the assault. The weather was fine during most of May, but deteriorated in early June. On 4 June, conditions were clearly unsuitable for a landing; wind and high seas would make it impossible to launch landing craft from larger ships at sea, low clouds would prevent aircraft finding their targets. The Allied troop convoys already at sea were forced to take shelter in bays and inlets on the south coast of Britain for the night.

It seemed possible that everything would have to be cancelled and the troops returned to their embarkation camps (which would be almost impossible, as the enormous movement of follow-up formations into them was already proceeding). [9] The next full moon period would be nearly a month away. At a vital meeting on 5 June, Eisenhower's chief meteorologist (Group Captain J.M. Stagg) forecast a brief improvement for 6 June. [10] Commander of all land forces for the invasion General Bernard Montgomery and Eisenhower's Chief of Staff General Walter Bedell Smith wished to proceed with the invasion. Commander of the Allied Air Forces Air Chief Marshal Leigh Mallory was doubtful, but Allied Naval Commander-in-Chief Admiral Bertram Ramsay believed that conditions would be marginally favorable. [9] On the strength of Stagg's forecast, Eisenhower ordered the invasion to proceed. [11] As a result, prevailing overcast skies limited Allied air support, and no serious damage would be done to the beach defences on Omaha and Juno. [12]

The Germans meanwhile took comfort from the existing poor conditions, which were worse over Northern France than over the English Channel itself, and believed no invasion would be possible for several days. Some troops stood down and many senior officers were away for the weekend. Field Marshal Erwin Rommel took a few days' leave to celebrate his wife's birthday, [13] while dozens of division, regimental and battalion commanders were away from their posts conducting war games just prior to the invasion. [14]


The Allies assigned codenames to the various operations involved in the invasion. Overlord was the name assigned to the establishment of a large-scale lodgement on the northern portion of the Continent. The first phase, the establishment of a secure foothold, was codenamed Neptune. According to the D-Day Museum:

The armed forces use codenames to refer to the planning and execution of specific military operations. Operation Overlord was the codename for the Allied invasion of northwest Europe. The assault phase of Operation Overlord was known as Operation Neptune. (…) Operation Neptune began on D-Day (6 June 1944) and ended on 30 June 1944. By this time, the Allies had established a firm foothold in Normandy. Operation Overlord also began on D-Day, and continued until Allied forces crossed the River Seine on 19 August 1944. [15]

Officers with knowledge of D-Day were not to be sent where there was the slightest danger of being captured. These officers were given the codename of "Bigot", derived from the words "To Gib" (To Gibraltar) that was stamped on the papers of officers who took part in the North African invasion in 1942. [16] On the night of 27 April, during Exercise Tiger, a pre-invasion exercise off the coast of Slapton Sands beach, several American LSTs were attacked by German E boats and among the 638 Americans killed in the attack and a further 308 killed by friendly fire, ten "Bigots" were listed as missing. As the invasion would be cancelled if any were captured or unaccounted for, [17] their fate was given the highest priority and eventually all ten bodies were recovered.

Allied order of battle


D-day assault routes into Normandy Allied Invasion Force.jpg
D-day assault routes into Normandy

The following major units were landed on D-Day (6 June 1944). A more detailed order of battle for D-Day itself can be found at Normandy landings and List of Allied forces in the Normandy Campaign.

The total number of troops landed on D-Day was around 130,000 [23] –156,000 [24] roughly half American and the other half from the Commonwealth Realms.

Subsequent days

Off Omaha Beach, American Liberty ships - 'Corn Cobs' - were scuttled to provide a makeshift breakwater during the early days of the invasion. Mulberry-harbor.jpg
Off Omaha Beach, American Liberty ships – 'Corn Cobs' – were scuttled to provide a makeshift breakwater during the early days of the invasion.

The total troops, vehicles and supplies landed over the period of the invasion were:

Large landing craft convoy crosses the English Channel on 6 June 1944. Lci-convoy.jpg
Large landing craft convoy crosses the English Channel on 6 June 1944.

The invasion fleet was drawn from eight different navies, comprising 6,939 vessels: 1,213 warships, 4,126 transport vessels (landing ships and landing craft), and 736 ancillary craft and 864 merchant vessels. There was a total number of 195,700 naval personnel. [18]

The overall commander of the Allied Naval Expeditionary Force, providing close protection and bombardment at the beaches, was Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay. The Allied Naval Expeditionary Force was divided into two Naval Task Forces: Western (Rear-Admiral Alan G Kirk) and Eastern (Rear-Admiral Sir Philip Vian).

The warships provided cover for the transports against the enemy—whether in the form of surface warships, submarines, or as an aerial attack—and gave support to the landings through shore bombardment. These ships included the Allied Task Force "O".

Allied contributions

Defence against a mass U-boat attack relied on "19 Group of [RAF] Coastal Command … [it] included one Czech, one Polish, one New Zealander, two Australian and three Canadian squadrons. Even the RAF's own 224 Squadron was a mixed bag of nationalities with 137 Britons, forty-four Canadians, thirty-three Anzacs, two Americans, a Swiss, a Chilean, a South African and a Brazilian" [26] "The D-Day air offensive was another [RAF] multinational operation. It included five New Zealander, seven Australian, twenty-eight Canadian, one Rhodesian, six French, fourteen Polish, three Czech, two Belgian, two Dutch and two Norwegian squadrons" [27] At 05:37 the Norwegian destroyer Sevenner, one of 37 destroyers in the Eastern Task Force, was sunk by a torpedo launched from a German E-boat. [28] "In addition to the Cruiser ORP Dragon, the Polish destroyers ORP Krakowiak and Slazak took part in beach support operations, while the destroyers OKP Blyskewica and Piorun were employed as part of the covering force" [29]

German order of battle

The number of military forces at the disposal of Nazi Germany reached its peak during 1944. Tanks on the east front peaked at 5,202 in November 1944, while total aircraft in the Luftwaffe inventory peaked at 5,041 in December 1944. By D-Day 157 German divisions were stationed in the Soviet Union, 6 in Finland, 12 in Norway, 6 in Denmark, 9 in Germany, 21 in the Balkans, 26 in Italy and 59 in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. [30] However, these statistics are somewhat misleading since a significant number of the divisions in the east were depleted; German records indicate that the average personnel complement was at about 50% in the spring of 1944. [31]

A more detailed order of battle for D-Day itself can be found at Normandy landings.

Atlantic Wall

A map of the Atlantic Wall Atlantikwall.gif
A map of the Atlantic Wall
German Cross-Channel gun of the Atlantic Wall. One of three 40.6cm guns at Batterie "Lindemann" Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-364-2314-16A, Atlantikwall, Batterie "Lindemann".jpg
German Cross-Channel gun of the Atlantic Wall. One of three 40.6cm guns at Batterie "Lindemann"

Standing in the way of the Allies was the English Channel, an obstacle that had frustrated the ambitions of the Spanish Armada and Napoleon Bonaparte's Navy. Compounding the difficulty of invasion was the extensive Atlantic Wall, ordered by Hitler in his Directive 51. Believing that any forthcoming landings would be timed for high tide (this caused the landings to be timed for low tide), Hitler had the entire wall fortified with tank top turrets and extensive barbed wire, and laid a million mines to deter landing craft.[ citation needed ] The sector that was attacked was guarded by four divisions.

Divisional areas

German infantrymen scan the skies for Allied aircraft in Normandy, 1944 Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-731-0388-20, Frankreich, nach der Invasion, Infanteristen.jpg
German infantrymen scan the skies for Allied aircraft in Normandy, 1944

The following units were deployed in a static defensive mode in the areas of the actual landings:

Adjacent divisional areas

Other divisions occupied the areas around the landing zones, including:

Armoured reserves

Rommel's defensive measures were frustrated by a dispute over armoured doctrine. In addition to his two army groups, Rundstedt also commanded the headquarters of Panzer Group West under General Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg (usually referred to as "von Geyr"). This formation was nominally an administrative HQ for Rundstedt's armoured and mobile formations, but it was later to be brought into the line in Normandy and renamed Fifth Panzer Army. Geyr and Rommel disagreed over the deployment and use of the vital Panzer divisions.

Rommel recognised that the Allies would possess air superiority and would be able to harass his movements from the air. He therefore proposed that the armoured formations be deployed close to the invasion beaches. In his words, it was better to have one Panzer division facing the invaders on the first day, than three Panzer divisions three days later when the Allies would already have established a firm beachhead. Geyr argued for the standard doctrine that the Panzer formations should be concentrated in a central position around Paris and Rouen, and deployed en masse against the main Allied beachhead when this had been identified.

The argument was eventually brought before Hitler for arbitration. He characteristically imposed an unworkable compromise solution. Only three Panzer divisions were given to Rommel, too few to cover all the threatened sectors. The remainder, nominally under Geyr's control, were actually designated as being in "OKW Reserve". Only three of these were deployed close enough to intervene immediately against any invasion of Northern France; the other four were dispersed in southern France and the Netherlands. Hitler reserved to himself the authority to move the divisions in OKW Reserve, or commit them to action. On 6 June many Panzer division commanders were unable to move because Hitler had not given the necessary authorisation, and his staff refused to wake him upon news of the invasion.

Army Group B reserve

  • 21st Panzer Division (Generalmajor Edgar Feuchtinger), was deployed near Caen as a mobile striking force as part of the Army Group B reserve. However, Rommel placed it so close to the coastal defenses that, under standing orders in case of invasion, several of its infantry and anti-aircraft units would come under the orders of the fortress divisions on the coast, reducing the effective strength of the division.

The other two armoured divisions over which Rommel had operational control, the 2nd Panzer Division and 116th Panzer Division, were deployed near the Pas de Calais in accordance with German views about the likely Allied landing sites. Neither was moved from the Pas de Calais for at least fourteen days after the invasion.

OKW reserve

The other mechanized divisions capable of intervening in Normandy were retained under the direct control of the German Armed Forces HQ (OKW) and were initially denied to Rommel:

Four divisions were deployed to Normandy within seven days of the invasion:

  • 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend (Brigadeführer Fritz Witt) was stationed to the southeast. Its officers and NCOs (this division had a very weak core of NCOs in Normandy with only slightly more than 50% of its authorised strength [32] ) were long-serving veterans, but the junior soldiers had all been recruited directly from the Hitler Youth movement at the age of seventeen in 1943. It was to acquire a reputation for ferocity and war crimes in the coming battle.
  • Panzer-Lehr-Division (Generalmajor Fritz Bayerlein). Further to the southwest was an elite unit, originally formed by amalgamating the instructing staff at various training establishments. Not only were its personnel of high quality, but the division also had unusually high numbers of the latest and most capable armoured vehicles.
  • 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler was refitting in Belgium on the Netherlands border after being decimated on the Eastern Front.
  • 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division Götz von Berlichingen (Oberführer Werner Ostendorff) was based on Thouars, south of the Loire River, and although equipped with Assault guns instead of tanks and lacking in other transport (such that one battalion each from the 37th and 38th Panzergrenadier Regiments moved by bicycle), it provided the first major counterattack against the American advance at Carentan on 13 June.
Landing supplies on Omaha Beach NormandySupply edit.jpg
Landing supplies on Omaha Beach

Three other divisions (the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich, which had been refitting at Montauban in Southern France, and the 9th SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen and 10th SS Panzer Division Frundsberg which had been in transit from the Eastern Front on 6 June), were committed to battle in Normandy around twenty-one days after the first landings.

One more armoured division (the 9th Panzer Division) saw action only after the American breakout from the beachhead. Two other armoured divisions which had been in the west on 6 June (the 11th Panzer Division and 19th Panzer Division) did not see action in Normandy.


The following is a list of leaders in the Battle of Normandy.

Battle of Normandy leaders
area Allied Powers Germany
GHQ Dwight D. Eisenhower – SAC
Sir Arthur Tedder – Deputy SAC
Walter Bedell Smith – COSSAC
Bernard Montgomery (ground forces)
Trafford Leigh-Mallory (air forces)
Bertram Ramsay (naval forces)
Alfred Jodl
Gerd von Rundstedt
Günther Blumentritt
Erwin Rommel
Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg
Günther von Kluge
Hans Speidel
Max Pemsel
Erich Marcks
Wolfgang Hager
Hans von Salmuth
Naval forces Alan G. Kirk (US)
Utah Beach Omar Bradley Theodore Roosevelt Jr.
Raymond O. Barton
Robert Haines
James M. Gavin (airborne landings)
Omaha Beach Norman Cota
Gold Beach
Juno Beach Harry Crerar
Guy Simonds
Charles Foulkes
Sword Beach Simon Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat


Allied establishment in France

The build-up of Omaha Beach: 2nd Infantry Division troops and equipment moving inland from Omaha Beach to Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer on D+1, 7 June 1944. 2nd Infantry Division, E-1 draw, Easy Red sector, Omaha Beach, D+1, June 7, 1944.jpg
The build-up of Omaha Beach: 2nd Infantry Division troops and equipment moving inland from Omaha Beach to Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer on D+1, 7 June 1944.

The Allied invasion plans had called for the capture of Saint-Lô, Caen, and Bayeux on the first day, with all the beaches linked except Utah, and Sword (the last linked with paratroopers) and a front line 10 to 16 kilometres (6–10 mi) from the beaches. However, practically none of these objectives were achieved. Instead it took six weeks for British and Canadian troops to capture Caen. Caen and the area inland was flat and open, suitable for tank warfare, and in defending it over the course of the six weeks the Germans employed up to seven Panzer divisions. The American forces had been tasked with fighting inland through the bocage country, where the numerous thick hedgerows with high earthen embankments and dense vegetation presented almost impassable obstacles for tanks, [33] and the Germans defended this sector of the front with only two Panzer divisions. Overall the casualties had not been as heavy as some had feared (around 10,000 compared to the 20,000 Churchill had estimated) and the bridgeheads had withstood the expected counterattacks.

Once the beachhead was established, two artificial Mulberry harbours were towed across the English Channel in segments and made operational around D+3 (9 June). One was constructed at Arromanches by British forces, the other at Omaha Beach by American forces. By 19 June, when severe storms interrupted the landing of supplies for several days and destroyed the Omaha harbour, the British had landed 314,547 men, 54,000 vehicles, and 102,000 tons of supplies, while the Americans put ashore 314,504 men, 41,000 vehicles, and 116,000 tons of supplies. [34] Around 9,000 tons of materiel were landed daily at the Arromanches harbour until the end of August 1944, by which time the port of Cherbourg had been secured by the Allies and had begun to return to service. [35] [36]

In addition, with the installation of PLUTO in August 1944 the Allies had fuel piped over directly from England without having to rely on vulnerable tankers.

Assessment of the battle

La Cambe German war cemetery German military cemetery Normandy 1.jpg
La Cambe German war cemetery

The Normandy landings were the first successful opposed landings across the English Channel in over eight centuries. They were costly in terms of men, but the defeat inflicted on the Germans was one of the largest of the war. Strategically, the campaign led to the loss of the German position in most of France and the secure establishment of a new major front. In larger context the Normandy landings helped the Soviets on the Eastern Front, who were facing the bulk of the German forces and, to a certain extent, contributed to the shortening of the conflict there.

Although there was a shortage of artillery ammunition, at no time were the Allies critically short of any necessity. This was a remarkable achievement considering they did not hold a port until Cherbourg fell. By the time of the breakout the Allies also enjoyed a considerable superiority in numbers of troops (approximately 7:2) and armoured vehicles (approximately 4:1) which helped overcome the natural advantages the terrain gave to the German defenders.

Allied intelligence and counterintelligence efforts were successful beyond expectations. The Operation Fortitude deception before the invasion kept German attention focused on the Pas de Calais, and indeed high-quality German forces were kept in this area, away from Normandy, until July. Prior to the invasion, few German reconnaissance flights took place over Britain, and those that did saw only the dummy staging areas. Ultra decrypts of German communications had been helpful as well, exposing German dispositions and revealing their plans such as the Mortain counterattack.

General Bernard Montgomery with British troops in Normandy, July 1944 The British Army in Normandy 1944 B6934.jpg
General Bernard Montgomery with British troops in Normandy, July 1944

Allied air operations also contributed significantly to the invasion, via close tactical support, interdiction of German lines of communication (preventing timely movement of supplies and reinforcements—particularly the critical Panzer units), and rendering the Luftwaffe ineffective in Normandy. Although the impact upon armoured vehicles was less than expected, air activity intimidated these units and cut their supplies.

Despite initial heavy losses in the assault phase, Allied morale remained high. Casualty rates among all the armies were tremendous, and the Commonwealth forces had to use a recently created category—Double Intense—to be able to describe them.

German leadership

German commanders at all levels failed to react to the assault phase in a timely manner. Communications problems exacerbated the difficulties caused by Allied air and naval firepower. Local commanders also seemed incapable of the task of fighting an aggressive defense on the beach, as Rommel had envisioned.

The German High Command remained fixated on the Calais area, and von Rundstedt was not permitted to commit the armoured reserve. When it was finally released late in the day, its chance of success was greatly reduced. Overall, despite considerable Allied material superiority, the Germans kept the Allies bottled up in a small beachhead for nearly two months, aided immeasurably by terrain factors.

Although there were several known disputes among the Allied commanders, their tactics and strategy were essentially determined by agreement among the main commanders. By contrast, the German leaders were bullied and their decisions interfered with by OKW. Field Marshals von Rundstedt and Rommel repeatedly asked Hitler for more discretion but were refused. Rundstedt was removed from his command on 29 June after he bluntly told the Chief of Staff at Hitler's Armed Forces HQ (Field Marshal Keitel) to "Make peace, you idiots!" Rommel was severely injured by Allied aircraft on 17 July.

Sixty thousand of the 850,000 in Rundstedt's command were raised from the many prisoners of war taken on the Eastern Front. [37] Many surrendered or deserted at the first available opportunity.

War memorials and tourism

Paratroop memorial in Sainte-Mere-Eglise Stmereeglise.jpg
Paratroop memorial in Sainte-Mère-Église

The beaches at Normandy are still referred to on maps and signposts by their invasion codenames. There are several vast cemeteries in the area. The American cemetery, in Colleville-sur-Mer, contains row upon row of identical white crosses and Stars of David, immaculately kept, commemorating the American dead. Commonwealth graves, maintained in many locations by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, uses white headstones engraved with the person's religious or medal (Victoria Cross or George Cross only) symbol and their unit insignia. The Bayeux War Cemetery, with 4,648 burials, is the largest British cemetery of the war. [38] The largest cemetery in Normandy is the La Cambe German war cemetery, with 21,222 burials, which features granite stones almost flush with the ground and groups of low-set crosses. There is also a Polish cemetery.

At the Bayeux Memorial, a monument erected by Britain has a Latin inscription on the memorial reads "Nos a gulielmo victi victoris patriam liberavimus" – freely translated, this reads "We, once conquered by William, have now set free the Conqueror's native land". [38]

Streets near the beaches are still named after the units that fought there, and occasional markers commemorate notable incidents. At significant points, such as Pointe du Hoc and Pegasus Bridge, there are plaques, memorials or small museums. The Mulberry harbour still sits in the sea at Arromanches. In Sainte-Mère-Église, a dummy paratrooper hangs from the church spire. On Juno Beach, the Canadian government has built the Juno Beach Information Centre, commemorating one of the most significant events in Canadian military history.

In England the most significant memorial is the D-Day Story in Southsea, Hampshire. The museum was opened in 1984 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of D-Day. Its centrepiece is the Overlord Embroidery commissioned by Lord Dulverton of Batsford (1915–92) as a tribute to the sacrifice and heroism of those men and women who took part in Operation Overlord.

On 5 June 1994 a drumhead service was held on Southsea Common adjacent to the D-Day Museum. This service was attended by US President Bill Clinton, Queen Elizabeth II and over 100,000 members of the public.


The Battle of Normandy has been the topic of many films, television shows, songs, computer games and books. Many dramatisations focus on the initial landings, and these are covered at Normandy Landings. Some examples that cover the wider battle include:


See also


      1. 1 2 3 Tamelander, M, Zetterling, N (2004), Avgörandes Ögonblick: Invasionen i Normandie. Norstedts Förlag, p. 295
      2. Zetterling 2000, p. 32.
      3. Williams, Jeffery (1988). The long left flank: the hard fought way to the Reich, 1944–1945. London: Cooper. p. [ page needed ]. ISBN   0-85052-880-1.
      4. "Title: The Norwegian Navy in the Second World War". Resdal. Retrieved 24 May 2008.
      5. Keegan 1989.
      6. Small, Ken; Rogerson, Mark (1988). The Forgotten Dead – Why 946 American Servicemen Died Off the Coast of Devon in 1944 – And the Man Who Discovered Their True Story. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN   0-7475-0309-5.
      7. Keegan 1989, p. 279.
      8. F Pogue, The Supreme Command, Department of the Army, 1954, pp. 163–64
      9. 1 2 Wilmot 1997 , p. 225
      10. Wilmot 1997 , p. 224
      11. Wilmot 1997 , p. 226
      12. Juno Beach from The Canadian Encyclopedia.
      13. "D-Day, People & Events: Erwin Rommel (1891–1944)". American Experience, PBS. Retrieved 5 June 2009.
      14. David White; Daniel P. Murphy. "The Normandy Invasion". netplaces. The New York Times Company. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
      15. "D-Day and the Battle of Normandy: Your Questions Answered". D-Day Museum. Archived from the original on 21 June 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2008.
      16. Untold Stories of D-Day, National Geographic, June 2002.
      17. Small, Ken; Rogerson, Mark (1988). The Forgotten Dead – Why 946 American Servicemen Died Off The Coast Of Devon In 1944 – And The Man Who Discovered Their True Story. London: Bloomsbury. ISBN   0-7475-0309-5.
      18. 1 2 3 Keegan, John. "Britannica guide to D-Day 1944". Encyclopædia Britannica . Retrieved 30 October 2007.
      19. Keegan, John. "Britannica guide to D-Day 1944". Encyclopædia Britannica . Retrieved 30 October 2007.
      20. 1 2 3 4 Map 81, M.R.D. Foot; I.C.B. Dear, eds. (2005). The Oxford Companion to World War II. Oxford University Press. p. 663. ISBN   978-0-19-280666-6.Missing or empty |title= (help)
      21. Bradley, John H. (2002). The Second World War: Europe and the Mediterranean. Square One Publishers. p. 290. ISBN   0-7570-0162-9 . Retrieved 16 November 2007.
      22. Patrick Elie – Normandie – France. "D-Day : Normandy 1944 – UTAH BEACH : U.S. Troops". Retrieved 25 August 2012.
      23. 1 2 "D-Day 6 June 1944". Archived from the original on 9 May 2008.
      24. 1 2 "Frequently Asked Questions for D-Day and the Battle of Normandy". Archived from the original on 21 June 2013. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
      25. "HyperWar: The War in Western Europe: Part 1 (June to December, 1944) [Chapter 3]". Retrieved 25 August 2012.
      26. Beevor 2009, p. 76.
      27. Beevor 2009, p. 77.
      28. Beevor 2009, p. 82.
      29. Beevor 2009, p. 82 footnotes.
      30. Wilmot 1997.
      31. Tippelskirch, Kurt von, Gechichte der Zweiten Weltkrieg. 1956
      32. Zetterling 2000, p. 350.
      33. Busting the bocage : American combined arms operations in France, 6 June-31 July 1944; by Captain Michael D. Doubler; Fort Leavenworth, KS : Combat Studies Institute, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College; 1988; pg 28-29, at
      34. Pogue, Forrest C. (1954). "The Supreme Command". United States Army in World War II: European Theater of Operations. Washington D.C.: CMH Publication 7–1, Office of the chief of military history, Department of the Army.
      35. Atkinson, p. 116.
      36. Wilmot, p. 387.
      37. Keegan 1994, p. 61.
      38. 1 2 Reed, Paul. "Normandy War Cemeteries: Bayeux Memorial". Battlefields of WW2 website. Retrieved 10 October 2008.

      Related Research Articles

      Sword Beach Code name for one of the zones for amphibious landings in Northern France on D-Day, 6 June 1944

      Sword, commonly known as Sword Beach, was the code name given to one of the five main landing areas along the Normandy coast during the initial assault phase, Operation Neptune, of Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of German-occupied France that commenced on 6 June 1944. Stretching 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from Ouistreham to Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer, the beach was the easternmost landing site of the invasion. Taking Sword was to be the responsibility of the British Army with sea transport, mine sweeping, and a naval bombardment force provided by the British Royal Navy as well as elements from the Polish, Norwegian and other Allied navies.

      Operation Goodwood

      Operation Goodwood was a British offensive in the Second World War, that took place between 18 and 20 July 1944 as part of the battle for Caen in Normandy, France. The objective of the operation was a limited attack to the south, to capture the rest of Caen and the Bourguébus Ridge beyond. At least one historian has called the operation the largest tank battle that the British Army has ever fought.

      Operation Epsom Allies military operation in France in 1944

      Operation Epsom, also known as the First Battle of the Odon, was a British offensive in the Second World War between 26 and 30 June 1944, during the Battle of Normandy. The offensive was intended to outflank and seize the German-occupied city of Caen, an important Allied objective, in the early stages of Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of north-west Europe.

      Operation Totalize military operation

      Operation Totalize was an offensive launched by Allied troops in the First Canadian Army during the later stages of Operation Overlord, from 8 to 9 August 1944. The intention was to break through the German defences south of Caen on the eastern flank of the Allied positions in Normandy and exploit success by driving south, to capture the high ground north of the city of Falaise. The goal was to collapse the German front and cut off the retreat of German forces fighting the Allied armies further west. The battle is considered the inaugural operation of the First Canadian Army, which had been activated on 23 July.

      Operation Tonga airborne operation during World War II

      Operation Tonga was the codename given to the airborne operation undertaken by the British 6th Airborne Division between 5 June and 7 June 1944 as a part of Operation Overlord and the D-Day landings during World War II.

      Normandy landings First day of the Allied invasion of France in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II

      The Normandy landings were the landing operations on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. Codenamed Operation Neptune and often referred to as D-Day, it was the largest seaborne invasion in history. The operation began the liberation of German-occupied France and laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front.

      Battle of Kasserine Pass Battle of the Tunisia Campaign of World War II

      The Battle of Kasserine Pass was a battle of the Tunisia Campaign of World War II that took place in February 1943. Kasserine Pass is a 2-mile-wide (3.2 km) gap in the Grand Dorsal chain of the Atlas Mountains in west central Tunisia.

      Operation Avalanche battle

      Operation Avalanche was the codename for the Allied landings near the port of Salerno, executed on 9 September 1943, part of the Allied invasion of Italy. The Italians withdrew from the war the day before the invasion, but the Allies landed in an area defended by German troops. Planned under the name Top Hat, it was supported by the deception plan Operation Boardman.

      Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force

      Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force was the headquarters of the Commander of Allied forces in north west Europe, from late 1943 until the end of World War II. U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was the commander in SHAEF throughout its existence. The position itself shares a common lineage with Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Atlantic, but they are different titles.

      XXX Corps (United Kingdom) corps of the British Army during the Second World War

      XXX Corps was a corps of the British Army during the Second World War. The Corps provided extensive service in the North African Campaign at the Second Battle of El Alamein in late 1942, and in the Tunisia Campaign and the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943, after which it returned briefly to the United Kingdom; the Corps served in the reclamation of France from June 1944 in the Allied Invasion of Normandy, and then served in Operation Market Garden, in the Netherlands, and finally in Operation Veritable in Germany until May 1945.

      Falaise Pocket engagement of the Battle of Normandy in the Second World War

      The Falaise Pocket or Battle of the Falaise Pocket was the decisive engagement of the Battle of Normandy in the Second World War. A pocket was formed around Falaise, Calvados, in which the German Army Group B, with the 7th Army and the Fifth Panzer Army were encircled by the Western Allies. The battle is also referred to as the Battle of the Falaise Gap, the Chambois Pocket, the Falaise-Chambois Pocket, the Argentan–Falaise Pocket or the Trun–Chambois Gap. The battle resulted in the destruction of most of Army Group B west of the Seine, which opened the way to Paris and the Franco-German border for the Allied armies on the Western Front.

      Gold Beach Code name for one of the zones for amphibious landings in Northern France on D-Day, 6 June 1944

      Gold, commonly known as Gold Beach, was the code name for one of the five areas of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, during the Second World War. Gold, the central of the five areas, was located between Port-en-Bessin on the west and La Rivière on the east. High cliffs at the western end of the zone meant that the landings took place on the flat section between Le Hamel and La Rivière, in the sectors code-named Jig and King. Taking Gold was to be the responsibility of the British Army, with sea transport, mine sweeping, and a naval bombardment force provided by the Royal Navy as well as elements from the Dutch, Polish and other Allied navies.

      The 21st Panzer Division was a German armoured division best known for its role in the battles of the North African Campaign from 1941–1943 during World War II when it was one of the two armoured divisions making up the Deutsches Afrikakorps (DAK).

      The 5th Panzer Army was a German armoured formation that operated on the Western Front and North Africa. The remnants of the army surrendered in the Ruhr pocket in 1945.

      Battle for Caen part of the Battle of Normandy in WWII

      The Battle for Caen is the name given to fighting between the British Second Army and the German Panzergruppe West in the Second World War for control of the city of Caen and vicinity, during the larger Battle of Normandy. The battles followed Operation Neptune, the Allied landings on the French coast on 6 June 1944 (D-Day). Caen is about 9 mi (14 km) inland from the Calvados coast astride the Orne River and Caen Canal, at the junction of several roads and railways. The communication links made it an important operational objective for both sides. Caen and the area to the south is flatter and more open than the bocage country in western Normandy; Allied air force commanders wanted the area captured quickly to base more aircraft in France.

      Operation Overlord Successful invasion of Nazi-held northern Europe in World War II

      Operation Overlord was the codename for the Battle of Normandy, the Allied operation that launched the successful invasion of German-occupied Western Europe during World War II. The operation was launched on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings. A 1,200-plane airborne assault preceded an amphibious assault involving more than 5,000 vessels. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on 6 June, and more than two million Allied troops were in France by the end of August.

      Operation Perch British offensive of the Second World War

      Operation Perch was a British offensive of the Second World War which took place from 7 to 14 June 1944, during the early stages of the Battle of Normandy. The operation was intended to encircle and seize the German occupied city of Caen, which was a D-Day objective for the British 3rd Infantry Division in the early phases of Operation Overlord. Operation Perch was to begin immediately after the British beach landings with an advance to the south-east of Caen by XXX Corps. Three days after the invasion the city was still in German hands and the operation was amended. The operation was expanded to include I Corps for a pincer attack on Caen.

      185th Infantry Brigade (United Kingdom)

      The 185th Infantry Brigade was an infantry brigade formation of the British Army raised during the Second World War that participated in the Normandy landings of 6 June 1944, fighting in the Normandy Campaign and the subsequent campaign in North-West Europe with the 3rd British Infantry Division.

      Operation Mallard

      Operation Mallard was the codename for an airborne forces operation, which was conducted by the British Army on 6 June 1944, as part of the Normandy landings during the Second World War.

      Rommels asparagus

      Rommel's asparagus were 13-to-16-foot logs which the Axis placed in the fields and meadows of Normandy to cause damage to the expected invasion of Allied military gliders and paratroopers. Also known in German as Holzpfähle, the wooden defenses were placed in early 1944 in coastal areas of France and the Netherlands against airlanding infantry. Rommelspargel took their name from Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, who ordered their design and usage; Rommel himself called the defensive concept Luftlandehindernis.


      Further reading

      1. Robert W. Coakley and Richard M. Leighton, Global Logistics and Strategy (1968);
      2. Martin Blumenson, Breakout and Pursuit (1961);
      3. Forrest C. Pogue, The Supreme Command (1954);
      4. Roland G. Ruppenthal, Logistical Support of the Armies (1953); and
      5. Graham A. Cosmas and Albert E. Cowdrey, The Medical Department: Medical Service in the European Theater of Operations (1992).
      1. OMAHA Beachhead (1989);
      2. UTAH Beach to Cherbourg (1990); and
      3. St. Lo (1984).
      1. Major L. F. Ellis, Victory in the West: The Battle of Normandy, Official Campaign History v. I (History of the Second World War: United Kingdom Military), Naval & Military Press Ltd; New Ed edition (2004), ISBN   1-84574-058-0
      2. Michael Howard, British Intelligence in the Second World War: Volume 5, Strategic Deception, Cambridge University Press (1990). ISBN   0-521-40145-3 (Series edited by F. H. Hinsley)
      3. Grand Strategy, Volume 5: August 1943 – September 1944, 1956
      1. Charles MacDonald, The Mighty Endeavor: American Armed Forces in the European Theater in World War II (1969); and
      2. Charles MacDonald and Martin Blumenson, "Recovery of France", in Vincent J. Esposito, ed., A Concise History of World War II (1965).
      1. Omar N. Bradley, A Soldier's Story (1951);
      2. Omar N. Bradley and Clay Blair, A General's Life (1983);
      3. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe (1948);
      4. Sir Bernard Law Montgomery of Alamein, Normandy to the Baltic (1948);
      5. Sir Bernard Law Montgomery of Alamein, The Memoirs of Field Marshal the Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, K.G., Collins (1958). and
      6. Sir Frederick Edgeworth Morgan, Overture to Overlord (1950).
      1. Kurt Meyer, Grenadiers, Stackpole Books, U.S., New Ed edition (2005)., ISBN   0-8117-3197-9
      2. Stuart Hills, By Tank Into Normandy, Cassell military; New Ed edition (2003). ISBN   0-30436-640-4
      3. Hans von Luck, Panzer Commander: The Memoirs of Colonel Hans von Luck, Cassell military; New Ed edition (2006). ISBN   0-304-36401-0
      1. Stephen E. Ambrose, The Supreme Commander: The War Years of General Dwight D. Eisenhower (1970), and Eisenhower, Soldier, General of the Army, President-Elect, 1890–1952 (1983);
      2. Nigel Hamilton, Master of the Battlefield: Monty's War Years, 1942–1944 (1983);
      3. Richard Lamb, Montgomery in Europe, 1943–1945: Success or Failure (1984);
      4. Nigel Hamilton, "Montgomery, Bernard Law" in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography . Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN   0-19-861411-X, 0-19-861351-2.
      5. Ronald Lewin, Rommel as Military Commander (1968).
      6. B. H. Liddell Hart, The Rommel Papers (section on Normandy written by Lt.Gen Fritz Bayerlein)
      7. Hans Speidel, Invasion 1944: Rommel and the Normandy Campaign. Chicago: Henry Regnery (1950) (Speidel was Rommel's chief of staff).
      1. John Colby, War From the Ground Up: The 90th Division in World War II (1989);
      2. Carlo D'Este, Decision in Normandy: The Unwritten Story of Montgomery and the Allied Campaign (1983);
      3. Max Hastings, Overlord, D-Day, June 6, 1944 (1984);
      4. John Keegan, Six Armies in Normandy: From D-Day to the Liberation of Paris (1982);
      5. Robin Neillands, The Battle of Normandy 1944 (2002);
      6. Stephen T. Powers, "Battle of Normandy: The Lingering Controversy", Journal of Military History 56 (1992):455–71.
      7. Russell F. Weigley, Eisenhower's Lieutenants: The Campaign of France and Germany, 1944–45 (1981);
      8. Cornelius Ryan, The Longest Day', (1959);
      9. Stephen Ambrose, D-Day: June 6, 1944, The Battle for the Normandy Beaches, (1994);
      10. Milton Shulman, Defeat in the West, (New Ed edition 2003)
      11. Richard Holmes, The D-Day Experience: From the Invasion to the Liberation of Paris with Other and Map and CD, (2004);
      12. Chester Wilmot, The Struggle for Europe, (New Ed edition 1997), and
      13. Stephen Ashley Hart, Colossal Cracks: Montgomery's 21st Army Group in Northwest Europe, 1944–45, (2007)
      1. Barney Oldfield, Never a Shot in Anger (1956); and
      2. Richard Collier, Fighting Words: The Correspondents of World War II (1989). CMH Pub 72–18