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D-Day: How Allied Forces Overcame Disastrous Landings to Rout the Nazis

The epic D-Day offensive ended in hard-fought Allied victory, but it was a shocking, agonizing mission that did not always go to plan. Follow the drama and heroism of the Normandy invasion in this multimedia journey.

Facts

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D-Day

During World War II (1939-1945), the Battle of Normandy, which lasted from June 1944 to August 1944, resulted in the Allied liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany’s control. Codenamed Operation Overlord, the battle began on June 6, 1944, also known as D-Day, when some ...read more

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D-Day: Facts on the Epic 1944 Invasion That Changed the Course of WWII

Without the brilliant planning and heroic sacrifices of the D-Day invasion, the Allies may have never defeated the Nazi forces in Europe. On June 6, 1944, more than 156,000 American, British and Canadian troops stormed 50 miles of Normandy's fiercely defended ...read more

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Why Is It Called D-Day?

On the morning of June 6, 1944, Allied forces staged an enormous assault on German positions on the beaches of Normandy, France. The invasion is often known by the famous nickname “D-Day,” yet few people know the origin of the term or what, if anything, the “D” stood for. Most ...read more

How Many Were Killed on D-Day?

How Many Were Killed on D-Day?

It was the largest amphibious invasion in the history of warfare. On June 6, 1944, more than 150,000 brave young soldiers from the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada stormed the beaches of Normandy, France in a bold strategy to push the Nazis out of Western Europe and ...read more

The Planning

General Dwight D. Eisenhower

Why Gen. Eisenhower Threatened to Quit Just Before D-Day

As the Supreme Commander of Allied forces in Europe and leader of the D-Day invasion, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower became legendary for his ability to get officers and armies from different nations to work together to defeat Nazi Germany. But if needed, he was also willing to take ...read more

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Churchill and Roosevelt Spent Years Planning D-Day

The Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 is considered one of the most consequential developments of World War II and instrumental in defeating the Axis powers. 156,000 troops landed on the beach as part of Operation Overlord, but before they would carry out the liberation ...read more

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D-Day’s Deadly Dress Rehearsal

In the early morning hours of April 28, 1944, an Allied fleet slinked toward the coast of southern England. Along with a lone British corvette, the flotilla included eight American tank landing ships, or LSTs, each one of them filled to the brim with soldiers from the U.S. ...read more

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Landing at Normandy: The 5 Beaches of D-Day

Utah Beach The westernmost of the D-Day beaches, Utah was added to the invasion plans at the eleventh hour so that the Allies would be within striking distance of the port city of Cherbourg. In the predawn darkness of June 6, thousands of U.S. paratroopers dropped inland behind ...read more

Fooling Hitler

Erwin Rommel

What Hitler Got Wrong About D-Day

As early as 1942, Adolf Hitler knew that a large-scale Allied invasion of France could turn the tide of the war in Europe. But thanks in large part to a brilliant Allied deception campaign and Hitler’s fanatical grip on Nazi military decisions, the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944 ...read more

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Fooling Hitler: The Elaborate Ruse Behind D-Day

As Nazi Germany tightened its grip on much of Europe in the summer of 1943, Allied military leaders decided to make the sandy beaches of Normandy the epicenter of a massive invasion that would liberate the continent and turn the tide of World War II. The Allies needed nearly a ...read more

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The Weather Forecast That Saved D-Day

In contrast to the bright morning about to dawn over Portsmouth, England, on June 4, 1944, gloom settled over the Allied commanders gathered inside Southwick House at 4:15 a.m. Years of preparation had been invested in the invasion of Normandy, but now, just hours before the ...read more

More Stories

Waverly Woodson Jr.

A Black Medic Saved Hundreds on D-Day. Was He Deprived of a Medal of Honor?

Heavy machine-gun fire greeted a nauseous and bloody Waverly B. Woodson, Jr. as he disembarked onto Omaha Beach the morning of June 6, 1944. A German shell had just blasted apart his landing craft, killing the man next to him and peppering him with so much shrapnel that he ...read more

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How a Spy’s Marital Troubles Nearly Derailed D-Day

After fighting briefly in the Spanish Civil War, Juan Pujol García emerged with a disdain for fascist leaders such as Germany’s Adolf Hitler and a desire to make a contribution “to the good of humanity.” So when World War II broke out, the Barcelona native tried to volunteer as a ...read more

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Saving Private Ryan: The Real-Life D-Day Back Story

Steven Spielberg’s 1998 film Saving Private Ryan may include some of the most horrific fighting scenes ever produced on film. But that isn’t its only element of realism. The film draws on the story of an actual soldier named Fritz Niland and a U.S. War Department directive ...read more

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How D-Day Changed the Course of WWII

The D-Day military invasion that helped to end World War II was one the most ambitious and consequential military campaigns in human history. In its strategy and scope—and its enormous stakes for the future of the free world—historians regard it among the greatest military ...read more

The Lasting Impact of War

The Lasting Impact of War

Survivors share how D-Day changed their lives forever.

Waverly Woodson, Jr., the Wounded Medic

Waverly Woodson, Jr., the Wounded Medic

Waverly Woodson Jr., was a medic on D-Day in the only all-black battalion to storm the beach. He worked for over 30 hours straight saving lives while he himself was wounded.

Bernard Marie on Freedom

Bernard Marie on Freedom

When the Nazis occupied France, five-year-old Bernard Marie believed every man in uniform was a bad guy. The D-Day invasion changed all that.

Charles Norman Shay, Combat Medic

Charles Norman Shay, Combat Medic

Native elder Charles Norman Shay was a combat medic with 1st Infantry or “The Big Red One” – one of the first units to land ashore on Omaha Beach on D-Day. It was his very first day of combat in his life.

Frank DeVita Describes Landing on the Beach

Frank DeVita Describes Landing on the Beach

Frank DeVita was in charge of lowering the ramp on the USS Samuel Chase on D-Day. The role would haunt him for the rest of his life.

Guy Whidden, Paratrooper

Guy Whidden, Paratrooper

Guy Whidden was one of the first to parachute into Normandy on D-Day. A moment of divine intervention would save his life.