One of the most iconic moments from the Second World War came on Tuesday the 6th of June, in 1944. After months of planning and preparation, Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy in Northern France, beginning a steady march to victory that would culminate in the fall of the Nazi regime.
The event – often referred to as D-Day – is to this day the largest seaborne invasion in recorded history. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers were deployed on both sides, and more than 400,000 troops were killed, wounded or went missing during the engagement. For the Allies, the price of their victory in Normandy was a heavy one – for their forces alone, 209,000 casualties have been counted.
Before the landings began, the coast underwent a heavy bombardment by Allied planes and ships, weakening the German defenses. Still, even after this, it was no easy task to take the beaches. Allied troops came under heavy fire as soon as they landed, suffering particularly high losses at the beach codenamed Omaha.
Even after the landings had been successful, combat continued inland as the Allies found themselves locked in house-to-house fighting in several fortified towns.
However, the sacrifice of those who died during the invasion was not in vain. With a foothold in northern France, the Allied troops were able push the Germans back mile by mile. The operation heralded the start of the liberation of France and Western Europe, and eventually the end of the Second World War.
The events of D-Day have been the subject of numerous books and films in subsequent years, as its historical importance cannot be underestimated. This video, taken from the vintage documentary Beachhead To Berlin, contains striking footage of these dramatic events, and covers both the invasion and its aftermath.