On the night of June 5, 1944, 1,000 ships, the greatest armada ever to set sail, left the British isles, bound for the Coast of Normandy--its mission to liberate Europe. Operation Overlord had begun. On June 6, almost 200,000 Allied soldiers landed on rugged French beaches, code-named Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno, and Sword. Rocky cliffs fortified by the German loomed over the beaches. This was the formidable threshold of the second front, the long-awaited campaign that spelled the end of the Third Reich. Stubborn German resistance and gale-force channel storms caused a devastating loss of men and equipment in the period immediately following the landing. Some American units suffered casualties to half their numbers. The invasion of Europe often seemed on the brink of foundering.
But it did not fail. The door to
Europe was opened. American, British, and Canadian forces poured
in, accompanied by contingents representing the governments-in-exile
of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Luxembourg, The Netherlands,
Norway, and Poland. In little more than two months Paris was
liberated. Within a year Hitler was dead and the German Army
defeated. Today, above Omaha Beach, the American Cemetery bears
silent, but perpetual witness to the cost of the mightiest sea-to-shore
operation ever launched.
Note: for all the the art in the collection related to the Invasion of Normandy click here.