D-Day

Today is the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings on the Normandy beaches of northern France.

The Normandy landings, were the landing operations on 6 June 1944 (termed D-Day) of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. The largest seaborne invasion in history, the operation began the invasion of German-occupied western Europe, led to the restoration of the French Republic, and contributed to an Allied victory in the war.

Operation Overlord was the name assigned to the establishment of a large-scale lodgement on the Continent. The first phase, the amphibious invasion and establishment of a secure foothold, was codenamed Operation Neptune. To gain the air superiority needed to ensure a successful invasion, the Allies undertook a bombing campaign (codenamed Operation Pointblank) that targeted German aircraft production, fuel supplies, and airfields. Elaborate deceptions, codenamed Operation Bodyguard, were undertaken in the months leading up to the invasion to prevent the Germans from learning the timing and location of the invasion.

The landings were to be preceded by airborne landings near Caen on the eastern flank to secure the Orne River bridges and north of Carentan on the western flank. The Americans, assigned to land at Utah Beach and Omaha Beach, were to attempt to capture Bayeux and Caen the first day, then cut off the Cotentin Peninsula and eventually capture the port facilities at Cherbourg. The British at Sword Beach and Gold Beach and Canadians at Juno Beach would protect the American flank and attempt to establish airfields near Caen. A secure lodgement would be established and an attempt made to hold all territory north of the Avranches-Falaise line within the first three weeks. (Wikipedia)

We remember all too well our visit to this region in France in November 2010;
St Lo, Omaha Beach, Utah beach, Sword, Gold and Juno Beaches, Arromanches, Bayeux, Caen, Benouville, Ranville Pegasus and the many cemeteries. I can vividly recall the eerie silence and the overwhelming emotions, and the tears, that came as we stood in the places where too many young men were killed and tried to imagine a little of what it must have been like. Of course we cannot begin to imagine the experiences those young men (and women) must have encountered as the noise, the sights, the sounds and the feelings must have been terrifying to say the least. You would hope that lessons would have been learnt, yet still we fight.

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