Today, June 6, marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the most significant victory for the Allied forces during World War II. As the first phase in Operation Overlord, more than 160,000 American, British, and Canadian forces landed on and gained control of the beaches of Normandy, France, thus giving the Allies a foothold on continental Europe. Securing the beaches at Normandy was essential to defeating Nazi Germany as it made it necessary for Germany to fight the war on two fronts. In an attempt to motivate his troops prior to debarkation, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, told them “the free men of the world are marching together to victory. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory” (Eisenhower).
Britain’s Daily Telegraph indicates that, despite the victory, “the Allied casualties figures for D-Day have generally been estimated at 10,000, including 2,500 dead.” These numbers are for casualties occurring only on June 6, 1944. The total number of casualties during Operation Overlord, from June 6 (the date of D-Day) to August 30 (when German forces retreated across the Seine) was over 425,000 Allied and German troops. This includes 125,847 US ground forces (Barrett Tillman).
Take a moment today to reflect on the sacrifices of so many from the Greatest Generation. Also, come check out Reese Library’s first floor display of books, e-books, historical pictures, and Government Documents pertaining to D-Day. As President Barack Obama stated in 2009, “It was unknowable then, 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.”