June 6, 1944: D-Day invasion

On June 6, 1944, nearly 160,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed along a 50-mile stretch of the French coastline.

They were there to liberate Western Europe of Nazi Germany’s control in a battle on the beaches of Normandy.

It would later be known as D-Day.

The Herald went to press that evening with this:

SUPREME HEADQUARTERS, ALLIED EXPEDITIONARY FORCES, June 6 –(AP) The allies landed in the Normandy section of Northwest France early today and by evening had smashed their way inland on a broad front, making good a gigantic air and sea invasion against unexpectedly slight German opposition.

Four thousand ships and thousands of smaller landing craft took the thousands of American, British and Canadian seaborne forces from England to France under protection of 11,000 allied bombers and fighters who wrought gigantic havoc with the whole elaborate coastal defense system that the Nazis had spent four years building. Naval gunfire completed the job, and the beachheads were secured quickly.

Thousands of highly-trained troops leaped down well behind Nazi lines from carrier sky trains boring through the rainy, stormy night and a headquarters officer declared this “very large scale” operation was “carried out with great precision. Our losses in aircraft were extremely small. It was a fine job – very fine indeed.”

The Germans were known to have probably 1,750 fighters and 500 bombers to meet the attack. Why they did not use them at the start was not apparent, but allied airmen warned that a violent reaction might be expected soon, noting that Herman (sic) Goering in an order of the day had told his air forces, “The invasion must be beaten off even if the Luftwaffe (German aerial warfare branch) perishes.”

The Herald covered the war from its start from when Germany invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939 to V-E Day (victory in Europe) to its end on V-J Day (victory in Japan).

See the June 6, 1944 edition of The Herald and others in our collection of historic front pages.

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