Year
1944
Month Day
June 05

Allies prepare for D-Day

On June 5, 1944, more than 1,000 British bombers drop 5,000 tons of bombs on German gun batteries placed at the Normandy assault area, while 3,000 Allied ships cross the English Channel in preparation for the invasion of Normandy—D-Day.

READ MORE: How D-Day Changed the Course of WWII

The day of the invasion of occupied France had been postponed repeatedly since May, mostly because of bad weather and the enormous tactical obstacles involved. Finally, despite less than ideal weather conditions—or perhaps because of them—General Eisenhower decided on June 5 to set the next day as D-Day, the launch of the largest amphibious operation in history. Ike knew that the Germans would be expecting postponements beyond the sixth, precisely because weather conditions were still poor.

Among those Germans confident that an Allied invasion could not be pulled off on the sixth was Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, who was still debating tactics with Field Marshal Karl Rundstedt. Runstedt was convinced that the Allies would come in at the narrowest point of the Channel, between Calais and Dieppe; Rommel, following Hitler’s intuition, believed it would be Normandy. Rommel’s greatest fear was that German air inferiority would prevent an adequate defense on the ground; it was his plan to meet the Allies on the coast—before the Allies had a chance to come ashore. Rommel began constructing underwater obstacles and minefields, and set off for Germany to demand from Hitler personally more panzer divisions in the area.

READ MORE: D:Day: An Interactive

Bad weather and an order to conserve fuel grounded much of the German air force on June 5; consequently, its reconnaissance flights were spotty. That night, more than 1,000 British bombers unleashed a massive assault on German gun batteries on the coast. At the same time, an Allied armada headed for the Normandy beaches in Operation Neptune, an attempt to capture the port at Cherbourg. But that was not all. In order to deceive the Germans, phony operations were run; dummy parachutists and radar-jamming devices were dropped into strategically key areas so as to make German radar screens believe there was an Allied convoy already on the move. One dummy parachute drop succeeded in drawing an entire German infantry regiment away from its position just six miles from the actual Normandy landing beaches. All this effort was to scatter the German defenses and make way for Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy.

HISTORY Vault

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Six-Day War begins

Israel responds to an ominous build-up of Arab forces along its borders by launching simultaneous attacks against Egypt and Syria. Jordan subsequently entered the fray, but the Arab coalition was no match for Israel’s proficient armed forces. In six days of fighting, Israel ...read more

Former U.S. president Ronald Reagan dies

On June 5, 2004, Ronald Wilson Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, dies, after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Reagan, who was also a well-known actor and served as governor of California, was a popular president known for restoring American confidence ...read more

British Secretary of War John Profumo resigns amid sex scandal

On June 5, 1963, British Secretary of War John Profumo resigns his post following revelations that he had lied to the House of Commons about his sexual affair with Christine Keeler, an alleged prostitute. At the time of the affair, Keeler was also involved with Yevgeny “Eugene” ...read more

FDR takes United States off gold standard

On June 5, 1933, the United States went off the gold standard, a monetary system in which currency is backed by gold, when Congress enacted a joint resolution nullifying the right of creditors to demand payment in gold. The United States had been on a gold standard since 1879, ...read more

President Cleveland denies widow her husband’s military pension

On June 5, 1888, President Grover Cleveland vetoes a bill that would have given a pension to war widow Johanna Loewinger, whose husband died 14 years after being discharged from the army. Mr. Loewinger served in the Civil War, enlisting on June 28, 1861. He was discharged a ...read more

Elvis rocks the “The Milton Berle Show”

By the end of 1955, Elvis Presley had nearly 18 months of nonstop touring behind him and two dozen singles already under his belt, though his only hits were on the Country and Western charts. He was a hardworking and hard-to-categorize up-and-comer, but the next six months would ...read more

Jennifer Lopez marries Marc Anthony

On June 5, 2004, some 40 guests watch as the pop star and actress Jennifer Lopez weds her third husband, the singer Marc Anthony, in an intimate ceremony held in the backyard of Lopez’s home in Los Angeles. Lopez was born in 1970 in the Bronx, New York, and went on to earn ...read more

Constantinople burns, killing hundreds

A huge section of the city of Constantinople, Turkey, is set ablaze on June 5, 1870. When the smoke finally cleared, 3,000 homes were destroyed and 900 people were dead. A young girl was carrying a hot piece of charcoal to her family’s kitchen in an iron pan when she tripped, ...read more

This Day In History: RFK is Shot, Senator Robert Kennedy pictured at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California, on June 5, 1968 before he died

Robert F. Kennedy is fatally shot

Senator Robert Kennedy is shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after winning the California presidential primary. Immediately after he announced to his cheering supporters that the country was ready to end its fractious divisions, Kennedy was shot several times by ...read more

U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall calls for aid to Europe

In one of the most significant speeches of the Cold War, Secretary of State George C. Marshall calls on the United States to assist in the economic recovery of postwar Europe. His speech provided the impetus for the so-called Marshall Plan, under which the United States sent ...read more