Normandy Invasion, June 1944
Crossing the English Channel on "D-Day", 6 June 1944



The English Channel, nearly a hundred miles wide between Portsmouth, England, and the Normandy beaches, was a formidible military barrier. Early in the previous century it had thwarted Napoleon. In 1940 it stopped the conquering Germans. Now, in the spring of 1944, the Allies needed thousands of ships and craft to transport their armies across the Channel and begin the liberation of France. To compound the difficulties of a long water passage, the always problematical weather could fatally disrupt landing operations, and the Germans had liberally planted sea mines in the central Channel and off likely invasion beaches.

A storm delayed the operation, originally scheduled for 5 June, after much of the invasion force had left embarkation points, forcing landing vessels back into port, where their crews and passengers endured the wait amid often crowded and uncomfortable circumstances. Presented with a better forecast for the sixth, General Eisenhower made a tentative decision late in the evening of 4 June to get shipping moving, and gave the final "O.K. We'll go." shortly after 4AM on the fifth.

By then, minesweepers were clearing shipping lanes through a fifteen mile wide southward path. Invasion shipping, nearly sixty separate convoys in the initial assault, with more behind, headed for the target area via a wide-topped "T&quot-shaped route, gathering off the Isle of Wight from various ports along England's southern coast, then turning south to cross the Channel in the recently swept lanes. Many vessels towed barrage balloons, protection against German bombing attacks that didn't come, since the enemy's weak air reconnaissance kept him ignorant of what was happening.

The passage across was anything but smooth, especially for infantry and tank landing craft, many of whose passengers suffered hours of seasickness during the night of 5-6 June. As the convoys approached Normandy, their courses flared out somewhat, taking them to staging areas off the individual landing beaches. Most ships were in their places well before dawn. Further inshore, the busy minesweepers continued their work, opening safe (or at least relatively safe) channels and working areas for landing boats and gunfire support ships.

Overhead in the darkness, a steady procession of hundreds of transport planes and gliders moved over Normandy, dropping U.S. paratroopers inland of the westernmost ("Utah") beach. British parachutists descended in the southeastern part of the assault zone. Behind the initial waves of ships and planes came more, in a flow that would continue for months to come, reinforcing the initial landings and providing logistics support for the armies as they consolidated their beachhead, broke out, and fought their way across northwestern Europe.

 

This page features all the views we have of Allied shipping crossing the English Channel at the beginning of the Normandy Invasion.

Other pictures related to the invasion of Normandy:

Artworks related to the Normandy operation The Invasion of Normandy

Additional information resources on the Normandy Invasion D-Day, the Normandy Invasion, 6-25 June 1944



Click photograph for a larger image.

Photo #: 26-G-2333

Normandy Invasion, June 1944


A convoy of Landing Craft Infantry (Large) sails across the English Channel toward the Normandy Invasion beaches on "D-Day", 6 June 1944. Each of these landing craft is towing a barrage balloon for protection against low-flying German aircraft.
Among the LCI(L)s present are: LCI(L)-56, at far left; LCI(L)-325; and LCI(L)-4.

Photograph from the U.S. Coast Guard Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

Online Image: 116KB; 740 x 615

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: 80-G-231247

Normandy Invasion, June 1944


Convoy of LCI(L)s en route to the Normandy beaches, with barrage balloons overhead, 6 June 1944.
Photographed from USS Ancon (AGC-4).
Note 20mm guns, with Mark 14 lead computing sights, on board Ancon.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 104KB; 740 x 615

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: SC 190462

Normandy Invasion, June 1944


Landing ships (with USS LST-73 in the foreground), carrying troops of the 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, move toward the north coast of France on "D-Day", 6 June 1944. They are protected against low-flying enemy aircraft by gas-filled balloons.

Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

Online Image: 78KB; 740 x 605

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: 80-G-252499

Normandy Invasion, June 1944


A flotilla of LCI(L)s underway off the invasion beaches, with barrage balloons overhead, 6 June 1944.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 74KB; 740 x 610

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: 80-G-252368

Normandy Invasion, June 1944


USS LCI(L)-217, with a barrage balloon in tow, en route for the French coast on "D-Day", 6 June 1944.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 72KB; 590 x 765

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: 80-G-231962

Normandy Invasion, June 1944


Units of the invasion fleet, with an escort ship (DE) in left center, seen from USS Quincy (CA-71) on 6 June 1944.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 97KB; 740 x 630

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: 80-G-252508

Normandy Invasion, June 1944

LCI(L)s and a submarine chaser (PC, in right center) maneuver off the invasion beaches, under cover of barrage balloons, on 6 June 1944.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 75KB; 740 x 615

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: 80-G-252410

Normandy Invasion, June 1944


Invasion craft, mainly LCI(L) types, photographed from USS Nevada (BB-36) on "D-Day", 6 June 1944.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 93KB; 740 x 615

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: 80-G-252411

Normandy Invasion, June 1944

LCI(L) convoy off the invasion beaches on "D-Day", 6 June 1944.
Photographed from USS Nevada (BB-36).

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 77KB; 740 x 610

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: NH 44308

Normandy Invasion, June 1944


U.S. Navy PT boats crossing the English Channel on "D-Day", 6 June 1944, as twelve B-17 bombers pass overhead.
Note the twin .50 caliber machine guns on the boat from which the photograph was taken.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 70KB; 740 x 610

 
Photo #: 26-G-2407

Normandy Invasion, June 1944


Men on board a Coast Guard manned LCI(L) attend Mass while en route to the invasion beaches, June 1944.

Photograph from the U.S. Coast Guard Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

Online Image: 92KB; 740 x 590

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: 26-G-2358

Normandy Invasion, June 1944


A Coast Guard manned LST approaches the Normandy coast on "D-Day", 6 June 1944.
Note small radar antenna on the LST's bridge, signalman using a blinker lamp, U.S. star markings on some truck covers, and the folded bicycle stowed atop the vehicle in the lower right.

Photograph from the U.S. Coast Guard Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

Online Image: 133KB; 600 x 765

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 




For higher resolution images see: Obtaining Photographic Reproductions

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