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  • Writer's pictureTina Smith

D-Day, Our Journey...

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

“The American citizen soldiers knew the difference between right and wrong, and they didn't want to live in a world in which wrong prevailed. So they fought, and won, and all of us, living and yet to be born, must be profoundly grateful.”

79 years ago today, my dear Uncle Canio (Ken) fought along with many others for what our flag stands for on D.Day. My Uncle made it home but a part of him will always remain there in France.

He was 18 years old when he hit the beach that day. We were fortunate to go on this special journey back in history which literally took our breath away being there and walking on the same beach where so many of our military lives were lost.

My Uncle Canio and those other men were my HERO's . I will never forget the years of service my Uncle Canio served not only in WWIl but also the Korean War as well.

(The weather on this day we visited, was same weather they had 79 years ago when our soldiers landed on the beaches we were told.)

June 5 — 10 p.m.

Approximately 7,000 ships leave Britain under cover of darkness. The ships are loaded with Allied troops primarily from Britain, the United States and Canada. The soldiers are split up to invade five landing points along the coast of northern France, each with its own code name. The U.S. Army is assigned to Utah and Omaha beaches, the British are tasked with taking Gold and Sword beaches and the Canadians draw Juno Beach.

June 6 — 12 a.m.

Allied aircraft arrive in Normandy. Bombers start bombarding the coastline while personnel carriers fly inland to drop off squads of paratroopers. The paratroopers attack bridges and seize several key points to cut off the Nazi supply lines. Several paratrooper groups land on the beaches and begin chipping away at the heavily fortified coastal defenses. Many others are scattered across the countryside, making them slow to get into position.

1 a.m.

The German navy detects Allied ships off Pas-de-Calais. The ships are part of the feint to distract from the Allies’ true target in Normandy. Allied warships drop anchor off the coast of Normandy to wait for dawn and provide cover for the landing ships.

2 a.m.-4 a.m.

The Allies continue to drop paratroopers into France, with more than 13,000 deployed by morning. An additional 4,000 troops fly in on gliders. Approximately 450 members of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion are among the paratrooper force. Some of the paratroopers die in crash-landings or drown in flooded fields. The Germans notice the paratrooper invasion and begin to scramble a response, although they don’t yet fully grasp the scope of the invasion.

5 a.m.

Allied battleships start firing on the Nazi defences while the first landing ships head ashore. German and Allied ships clash in the first skirmishes at sea.

6 a.m.

The sun rises, and the landing operation is fully underway. The Allied battleships stop firing as their landing boats approach the shore at 6:30 a.m., dubbed “H-Hour” for the designated moment of the invasion. German forces pepper the landing boats with gunfire, killing scores of Allied troops before they can reach the beach. The landing ships are tightly packed together, and they suffer heavy casualties under the German assault. Nevertheless, the Allies manage to land their troops, and the fight for the beaches begins.

7 a.m.

The Allies deploy amphibious tanks on the beaches of Normandy to support the ground troops and sweep for defensive mines.

8 a.m.

American troops face heavy machine-gun fire on Omaha Beach, the most heavily fortified landing point of the invasion. Approximately 2,500 U.S. soldiers are killed on the beach in the bloodiest fight of the day.

9 a.m.

Eisenhower announces the invasion has begun in a communique to soldiers. “You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months,” Eisenhower writes. “The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.”. The Allied forces send a separate communique announcing the invasion to the media.

“Under the command of General Eisenhower, Allied naval forces, supported by strong air forces, began landing Allied armies this morning on the northern coast of France,” the brief communique says.

11 a.m.

American troops turn the tide of battle at the Omaha landing point, with warships backing them up at sea.

12 p.m.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill informs U.K. Parliament that the invasion is underway and it’s going well. “So far, the commanders who are engaged report that everything is proceeding according to plan. And what a plan!” Churchill says. “This vast operation is undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that has ever taken place.”

After sleeping through the morning, Adolf Hitler wakes up and learns of the attack. He remains convinced the landings are a decoy and that the real invasion will come at Calais. He refuses to reassign his army to defend Normandy.

2 p.m.-6 p.m.

Canada’s force of 14,000 troops takes Juno Beach and presses inland. British and American forces, including those at Omaha, take control of their beaches as well. The Allies bring in tanks, tend to the wounded and clear away mines on the beaches. They also start pressuring German forces at Caen, a key city in the area. Hitler finally agrees to send reinforcements to Normandy rather than waiting for an assault at Calais.

9 p.m.

Allied reinforcements from Britain arrive in Normandy. Ground troops link up with the paratroopers further inland and press on toward Caen. However, the city does not fall until July 10.

12 a.m.

At least 4,000 Allied soldiers are killed in the initial attack, including 359 Canadians. However, the invasion ultimately prevails, and the German forces are either killed, captured or forced to withdraw to Caen. The Allies have won the day and taken their first step toward liberating Europe. They continue to ferry troops and equipment across the Channel, and by the end of June, the Allies have more than 850,000 men, 148,000 vehicles and 570,000 tonnes of supplies in France. These forces allow them to march across western Europe, freeing Allied nations and driving the Germans back to Berlin, while the Soviets do the same from the east.

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