Seventy years ago today, Allied troops charged onto the beaches of Normandy, France, in an historic assault that came to be known as D-Day. It marked the beginning of the Battle of Normandy, which lasted from June to August of 1944 and eventually ended with the Allied liberation of Europe.
“You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months,” General Dwight D. Eisenhower told his troops. “The eyes of the world are upon you.”
American, British and Canadian troops stormed a total of five beaches. The one that posed the biggest struggle — and perhaps the one most people associate with D-Day — was Omaha beach, where 2,000 Allied troops lost their lives and many more were wounded.
Some of the only photos from the Omaha beach landing were taken by war photographer Robert Capa, who was working for LIFE magazine at the time. The darkroom technician handling Capa’s film worked in haste and accidentally ruined all but 11 of the photos. You can read about Capa’s assignment and see the photos here.
The front page of The Herald on June 6, 1944, is mostly war coverage. A local story told of the D-Day services planned by Everett churches:
“The majority of the residents of the city went to bed last evening with the knowledge that the German radio had said that the invasion had started. There was no official confirmation from allied headquarters in England. Those who remained up naturally were thrilled at the historic news.
Dean Thomas E. Jessett, rector of Trinity Episcopal church, was awakened by one of his parishoners (sic) shortly after 1 a.m. and requested to toll the church bell. Trinity has no bell.
This morning those walking to work and those riding to their places of employment were for the most part somber, revealing full recognition of the enormity of the task ahead of General Eisenhower’s combined armies in France. The solemnity of recognition will continue throughout the day. Everett’s churches will be open at 8 o’clock tonight for special prayers for the fighting forces of the allied nations now invading Europe and for those forces fighting the valiant fight in other theaters around the world.”
- See the June 6, 1944, Herald in our collection of historical front pages.
- See more photos from D-Day in our gallery.
- Read the original Associated Press report from the scene of the invasion.
- President Barack Obama is the fourth sitting president to attend D-Day observances in Normandy. Read how other presidents have marked the anniversary.