33 D-Day Photos That Capture The Heroism And Triumph Of The Allied Invasion

On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 troops converged on a single stretch of coast to pull off the D-Day invasion, one of the boldest wartime operations in modern history.

Aerial Photo Of The Invasion

33 D-Day Photos That Capture The Heroism And Triumph Of The Allied Invasion

“You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months,” began Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower’s order of the day for June 6, 1944. “The eyes of the world are upon you. The hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.”

As Allied troops boarded their transports in southern England bound for France’s Normandy coast, they received a written copy of this order. And on any other day, such words might have sounded grandiose.

However, this was D-Day, the beginning of the Allied invasion of Western Europe. On this day, more than 160,000 American, British, and Canadian soldiers spearheaded a campaign that would ultimately take them through Nazi-occupied France and into Germany, where they helped seal Allied victory in the European theater of World War II. On this day, Eisenhower’s words certainly matched the gravity of the moment.

After receiving the order, Allied soldiers made their way across the English Channel, landed on the northern coast of France, and stormed the beaches while facing a well-entrenched German defensive line that had long been sitting there, waiting for this moment to arrive.

With a prepared German force ready to repel the Allies, the invading forces suffered enormous casualties over the course of just that one day. Most sources agree that more than 4,000 Allied soldiers died while another 6,000 or more lay injured or missing, but the true number of the Allies’ D-Day casualties will almost certainly never be known for sure.

“When we got to the beach, I said to one of my men, Cpl. Meyers, `If there’s a hell, this has got to be it,'” recalled American Army Sgt. Ray Lambert. “And it was about a minute later that he got a bullet in his head.”

But while the Allies paid a high price, they won the day and established a beachhead at Normandy that allowed them to soon bring more than 2 million additional troops into France. With extraordinary aid from the Soviet forces fighting the Germans on the war’s Eastern Front, Allied troops eventually stormed into Germany from the west and helped bring the Nazis to their defeat.

“It was unknowable then,” President Barack Obama said of D-Day on its 65th anniversary in 2009, “but so much of the progress that would define the 20th century, on both sides of the Atlantic, came down to the battle for a slice of beach only 6 miles long and 2 miles wide.”

Obama’s words, like Eisenhower’s 65 years before, may sound overly lofty at first blush. But when you consider the full weight of what D-Day has meant to modern world history, such words are right on the mark.

See for yourself in the gallery of D-Day photos above.

After this look at D-Day, the Normandy invasion, and Operation Overlord, discover some of the most fascinating facts about World War II. Then, experience the dramatic miracle of the Dunkirk evacuation and the brutal Nazi counteroffensive at the Battle of the Bulge.

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