D-Day

Page 5 – The Normandy landings

The Allied landings on Normandy beaches began early in the morning of 6 June 1944. Thousands of ships carrying troops left the United Kingdom the night before. The men had been crammed into their landing craft for a day and a night awaiting the order to depart. The journey across the English Channel was very rough, and many troops were seasick.

Above the English Channel more than 3500 gliders and 1300 transport planes flew ahead of the fleet and carried their cargo of paratroops.

The crossing was supported by 7500 planes from the Royal Air Force (RAF) and United States Air Force. The night before, Bomber Command had flown more than 1200 sorties, its greatest total yet in one night. As well as continuing their attacks on rail and road, crews had concentrated on enemy troop and gun positions and had also bombed French ports where E-boats lay in wait for Allied ships.

The Allied air force was very strong. In the 24 hours of D-Day it flew 14,000 sorties while the Luftwaffe managed less than 100.

Fighter planes covered the landing beaches and fought off the odd German fighter that appeared. For many of the landing craft, getting troops onto the beaches was dangerous and difficult.