June 6th D-Day , The Brief History of “Operation Overlord”

Local writer Susan Lucas looks back at Operation Overlord.

Susan Lucas

Golden

In November, 1943, a meeting was held with Joseph Stalin, the leader of the USSR, Winston Churchill, and Franklin D. Roosevelt,  they met in Teheran Iran to discuss war strategies.

It was Stalin who demanded the Allies open a second front. It was a legitimate demand, since the USSR, which was invaded by Germany in 1941 had been fighting Germany continuously, and was occupying much of Germany’s attention then, reducing daily German potential for invading the UK, that clearly had been Hitler’s plan.

Stalin knew without opening this second front, Russia would be overrun, and the USSR had already sustained heavy casualties.

The Allies agreed to a new major offensive, “Operation Overlord” in Normandy, France .The Canadians would take the code-named beachheads, “Juno Beach,” the British would take “Sword Beach” and “Gold Beach,” while the Americans would take “Omaha” and “Utah” Beaches. The offensive began in the early morning of June 6, 1944.

The allies flew thousands of sorties ahead of the D-day landings, attempting to take out German communications, pill boxes and bridges.

The channel crossing was made in rough weather; large waves crashed relentlessly over the bows of the ships that carried the troops.

Thousands of ships took part in this invasion armada: The largest in History. Many men by this time were seasick, but ready when they landed.

Allied paratroopers, including 450 Canadians, jumped from Aircraft and landed in gliders. Their job was to capture the German Headquarters, take out any key bridges, and cause general confusion in the German ranks. When the Canadians finally hit the beaches, they were met with mines hidden by the high tide, near impenetrable fortifications and German pill boxes pinning them down, while Allied warships pounded the coast overhead of these men as they began their advance from the beaches. The sounds must have been deafening.

If your buddy fell beside you, you kept moving. There was no time to stop; if you did, you would have made an easy target. The Canadians kept moving forward and by evening had advanced inland further than the other allies. They broke through German defenses.

It was an outstanding military achievement and a testament to the courage and bravery of our military. But the sand and water flowed red with blood, 340 Canadians died, 574 were wounded and 47 taken prisoner. By nightfall both the British and Americans held a continuous front, landing 155 thousand troops, 6000 vehicles and 4000 tons of supplies. That day turned the tide for Victory, and brought closer the war’s end. At this point, Germany was faced with ferocious enemies battling them on both the Eastern and Western Fronts. A year later, German and the Axis forces surrendered, unconditionally.

Lest we Forget.

Please join your Royal Canadian Legion in supporting not only our Troops, but the community in which we serve. Your membership is vital to us, remember you no longer have to have a family member that served to join, and our doors are open to all, just sign in.  To continue our work and charity within the community we need your support.

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