D-Day Fast Facts

Story highlights

  • During World War II, Allied troops invaded Normandy on June 6, 1944
  • It was known as D-Day

Here is a look at what you need to know about D-Day. Allied troops invaded Normandy on June 6, 1944.

Facts:
June 6, 1944 -
D-Day, World War II, the Allied invasion of Normandy.

The largest seaborne invasion in history.

The invasion's code name was Operation Overlord.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower commanded the operation, and plans were made to land in Normandy, west of where the German troops and artillery are built up.

More: See historic photos from the landing

President Roosevelt's D-Day prayer

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    President Roosevelt's D-Day prayer

President Roosevelt's D-Day prayer 03:13
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Remembering D-Day

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    Remembering D-Day

Remembering D-Day 04:35
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The "D" stands for Day. D-Day and H-Hour stand for the secret time/day an operation is scheduled to begin.

Code names for the five beaches where the Allies landed: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword.

The date June 5, 1944 was originally chosen for the invasion, but bad weather forced the Allies to postpone one day.

Timeline:
August 19, 1942 -
A raid on the French port of Dieppe that resulted in heavy losses convinces D-Day planners to land on the beaches, so discussions and preparations for an Allied invasion across the English Channel begin.

May 1943 - The Trident Conference, a British and American strategy meeting on the war. In Washington, DC, Winston Churchill, President Roosevelt and their military advisers discuss, among other things, crossing the English Channel.

August 1943 - The Quadrant Conference, where the British and American military chiefs of staff outline Operation Overlord.

November and December 1943 - The Sextant and Eureka Conferences, where the British and American military chiefs discuss the specifics of the assault on France.

1944 - The Germans expect an invasion along the north coast of France, but they do not know where. They build up their troops and artillery near Calais, where the English Channel is the narrowest.

June 5, 1944 - Between 11 pm and 3 am, 13,000 allied paratroopers and gliders carrying heavy equipment leave England to begin the invasion of France by air.

In a broadcast message to the troops, delivered before they leave, Eisenhower says, "The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory.... We will accept nothing less than full victory!"

June 6, 1944 - Overnight, a military armada and more than 156,000 troops cross the English Channel. Minesweepers go ahead to clear the waters in preparation for the more than 2,300 landing crafts that will be carrying men, vehicles and supplies.

Between midnight and 8 am, Allied forces of more than 11,000 aircraft, fly 14,674 sorties.

6:30 am - Troops begin coming ashore on a 60-mile front.

More: Before and after D-Day: Color photos

In a broadcast to the people of occupied Europe, Eisenhower says, "Although the initial assault may not have been in your own country, the hour of your liberation is approaching."

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      Remembering D-Day

    • American troops help their injured comrades from a dinghy after their landing craft was fired upon.  There are no official casualty figures for the D-Day invasion.

      For the 70th anniversary of D-Day, it is an opportunity to look at the past in detail and ask how much of what we think we know is true.
    • World War II veteran of the U.S. 29th Infantry Division, Morley Piper, 90, Mass., salutes during a D-Day commemoration, on Omaha Beach in Vierville sur Mer, western France , Friday June 6, 2014.

      WWII veteran Jim "Pee Wee" Martin acted as if he'd been here before, as though jumping from a plane is as easy as falling off a log.
    • Stephen Colbert gets emotional about D-Day

      Stephen Colbert shed his comedic alter ego, stepping out of character to share the story of his uncle, 1st Lt. Andrew Edward Tuck III, and his service on D-Day.
    • Val Lauder

      Four days before the invasion, General Dwight D. Eisenhower was still undecided. If the landings went ahead, casualties would be high.