Normandy Invasion, June 1944
Overview and Special Image Selection



On 6 June 1944 the Western Allies landed in northern France, opening the long-awaited "Second Front" against Adolf Hitler's Germany. Though they had been fighting in mainland Italy for some nine months, the Normandy invasion was in a strategically more important region, setting the stage to drive the Germans from France and ultimately destroy the National Socialist regime.

It had been four long years since France had been overrun and the British compelled to leave continental Europe, three since Hitler had attacked the Soviet Union and two and a half since the United States had formally entered the struggle. After an often seemingly hopeless fight, beginning in late 1942 the Germans had been stopped and forced into slow retreat in eastern Europe, defeated in North Africa and confronted in Italy. U.S. and British bombers had visited ruin on the enemy's industrial cities. Allied navies had contained the German submarine threat, making possible an immense buildup of ground, sea and air power in the British Isles.

Schemes for a return to France, long in preparation, were now feasible. Detailed operation plans were in hand. Troops were well-trained, vast numbers of ships accumulated, and local German forces battered from the air. Clever deceptions had confused the enemy about just when, and especially where, the blow would fall.

Commanded by U.S. Army General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Normandy assault phase, code-named "Neptune" (the entire operation was "Overlord"), was launched when weather reports predicted satisfactory conditions on 6 June. Hundreds of amphibious ships and craft, supported by combatant warships, crossed the English Channel behind dozens of minesweepers. They arrived off the beaches before dawn. Three divisions of paratroopers (two American, one British) had already been dropped inland. Following a brief bombardment by ships' guns, Soldiers of six divisions (three American, two British and one Canadian) stormed ashore in five main landing areas, named "Utah", "Omaha", "Gold", "Juno" and "Sword". After hard fighting, especially on "Omaha" Beach, by day's end a foothold was well established.

As German counterattacks were thwarted, the Allies poured men and materiel into France. By late July these reinforcements, and constant combat, made possible a break out from the Normandy perimeter. Another landing, in southern France in August, facilitated that nation's liberation. With the Soviets advancing from the east, Hitler's armies were shoved, sometimes haltingly and always bloodily, back toward their homeland. The Second World War had entered its climactic phase.

This page features a historical overview and special image selection on the June 1944 invasion of Normandy, chosen from the more comprehensive coverage featured in the following pages, and those linked from them:

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 #: 80-G-59422

Normandy Invasion, June 1944


Army troops on board a LCT, ready to ride across the English Channel to France. Some of these men wear 101st Airborne Division insignia.
Photograph released 12 June 1944.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 186KB; 740 x 605

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
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 #: 26-G-2337

Normandy Invasion, June 1944


LCVP landing craft put troops ashore on "Omaha" Beach on "D-Day", 6 June 1944.
The LCVP at far left is from USS Samuel Chase (APA-26).

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

Online Image: 132KB; 740 x 630

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: 26-G-2343

Normandy Invasion, June 1944


Army troops wade ashore on "Omaha" Beach during the "D-Day" landings, 6 June 1944.
They were brought to the beach by a Coast Guard manned LCVP.

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

Online Image: 86KB; 740 x 610

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: KN-17825 (Color)

"The Tough Beach"

Watercolor by Navy Combat Artist Dwight Shepler, 1944, showing German artillery fire hitting U.S. forces on "Omaha" Beach, on "D-Day" of the Normandy invasion, 6 June 1944. In the foreground is USS LCI(L)-93, aground and holed. She was lost on this occasion.

Courtesy of the U.S. Navy Art Collection, Washington, D.C.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph.

Online Image: 109KB; 740 x 555

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: SC 189910

Normandy Invasion, June 1944


Wounded men of the 3rd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, receive cigarettes and food after they had stormed "Omaha" beach on "D-Day", 6 June 1944.

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

Online Image: 128KB; 740 x 605

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: 80-G-252412

Normandy Invasion, June 1944


Forward 14"/45 guns of USS Nevada (BB-36) fire on positions ashore, during the landings on "Utah" Beach, 6 June 1944.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 90KB; 740 x 605

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: 80-G-651677

USS Tide
(AM-125)

Sinking off "Utah" Beach after striking a mine during the Normandy invasion, 7 June 1944.
USS PT-509 and USS Pheasant (AM-61) are standing by.
Photographed from USS Threat (AM-124).

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 78KB; 740 x 610

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: 26-G-2370

Normandy Invasion, June 1944


Coast Guard manned USS LST-21 unloads British Army tanks and trucks onto a "Rhino" barge during the early hours of the invasion, 6 June 1944.
Note the nickname "Virgin" on the "Sherman" tank at left.

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

Online Image: 94KB; 740 x 615

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: 26-G-2517

Normandy Invasion, June 1944


Landing ships putting cargo ashore on one of the invasion beaches, at low tide during the first days of the operation, June 1944.
Among identifiable ships present are USS LST-532 (in the center of the view); USS LST-262 (3rd LST from right); USS LST-310 (2nd LST from right); USS LST-533 (partially visible at far right); and USS LST-524.
Note barrage balloons overhead and Army "half-track" convoy forming up on the beach.

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

Online Image: 142KB; 740 x 615

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: 80-G-252797

Normandy Invasion, June 1944


USS LST-325 (left) and USS LST-388 unloading while stranded at low tide during resupply operations, 12 June 1944.
Note: propellers, rudders and other underwater details of these LSTs; 40mm single guns; barrage balloon; "Danforth" style kedge anchor at LST-325's stern.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 81KB; 740 x 610

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 
Photo #: 80-G-252940

Normandy Invasion, June 1944


Senior U.S. officers watching operations from the bridge of USS Augusta (CA-31), off Normandy, 8 June 1944.
They are (from left to right):
Rear Admiral Alan G. Kirk, USN, Commander Western Naval Task Force;
Lieutenant General Omar N. Bradley, U.S. Army, Commanding General, U.S. First Army;
Rear Admiral Arthur D. Struble, USN, (with binoculars) Chief of Staff for RAdm. Kirk; and
Major General Hugh Keen, U.S. Army.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 96KB; 740 x 530

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives

 




For higher resolution images see: Obtaining Photographic Reproductions

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