Against great odds — and at an enormous cost — the Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy 70 years ago and began the battle to reclaim Nazi-occupied Europe.
Once those beaches were secure, they became the front door to shipments of troops and the supplies they needed to advance inland and across the continent.
The post D-Day logistical challenges were staggering: Within weeks, supplies were being unloaded at Utah and Omaha beachheads at the rate of more than 20,000 tons daily.
This U.S. Coast Guard photograph was taken days after D-Day and captures some of that activity. A vast flotilla can be seen just off shore, landing vessels being unloaded, vehicles moving into position and barrage balloons bobbing overhead. (The balloons were simple but effective means of impeding enemy aircraft and decreasing bombing accuracy.)
This photo was said to be Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s favorite of the invasion.
425,000: Allied and German troops that were killed, wounded or went missing during the entire Battle of Normandy. Also, between 15,000 and 20,000 French civilians were killed, mainly as a result of Allied bombing.
156,000: Allied forces involved, from primarily the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, along with France, Poland, Belgium, Netherlands, Australia, Greece, Czechoslovakia, Norway and New Zealand.
50,000: The number of vehicles that were used in the invasion, including 11,500 planes and 6,900 ships and landing craft.
4,413: The total number of Allies who died on D-Day, including 2,499 Americans. No reliable estimates exist on the number of Germans killed.
27: The number of war cemeteries that hold the remains of more than 110,000 from both sides.
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MORE MEMORIAL DAY COVERAGE
Seventy years ago the Allied forces landed in Normandy — Nebraskan and Iowans among them. Even as the Greatest Generation passes into history, its greatest victory lives on.
This story was originally published in The World-Herald on Nov. 9, 2008.
Gen. Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower's message to the troops before D-Day.
Native Nebraskan’s ‘Higgins boats,’ with their unique design, carried troops ashore on D-Day and throughout the war