Aerial view of American troops and tanks ashore as landing crafts continue to unload on first day of the invasion of France during D-Day. (Credit: US Army Air Force/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
The attack plans on each of the five beaches had to be altered on the fly as landing craft were pushed off course and amphibious tanks were swamped in the high waves. Even worse, some of the early morning bombing campaigns had failed to take out German artillery positions, leaving beaches like Juno and Omaha heavily defended. U.S. troops at Omaha suffered heavy casualties as they stormed from their landing craft directly into heavy machine gun fire. At Juno, the first waves of Canadian troops suffered a similar fate, cut down en masse by Nazi artillery.
The amphibious landings at Utah, Gold and Sword beaches were also plagued by high seas and fierce German resistance, but there the Allied bombing runs and paratrooper missions were more successful, resulting in fewer casualties and a faster occupation of the beach and surrounding areas.