June 6, 1944: D-Day
Although they didn’t go as Allied command had initially intended, the Operation Overlord and the Normandy landings that took place on June 6, 1944, went down in history as one of the most defining events of World War II. Initially, the plan had been for Allied forces to storm the beaches of Normandy at high tide, guided by the light of the full moon. Inclement weather led Allied command to call off the original June 4 landing date. Instead of waiting weeks for the next ideal opening, D-Day plans proceeded under less-than-ideal conditions on June 6.
For the Normandy invasion to succeed, the attention of German forces needed to be diverted from the landing site. Operation Overlord came paired with Operation Bodyguard, which was a series of decoy operations designed to throw the German Army off course. Operation Fortitude North used decoy radio transmissions to make it seem like there were Allied troops stationed in Norway. Operation Fortitude South took things a step further. Fortitude South not only pretended there were American troops stationed in Kent and Sussex, but General George S. Patton invented the First United States Army Group (FUSAG) to lay the groundwork for a deception that would lead the Germans to believe that the D-Day invasion would take place in Calais.
Storming the beaches
With the aid of FUSAG and other red herrings, D-Day arrived, and Allied forces began their assault on the shores of Normandy. Around midnight on June 6, some 2,200 bombers began their aerial attack, sweeping inland from the beach. Shortly after the wave of aircraft, minesweepers began clearing a path for the naval assault. Shortly after seven AM, by the light of dawn, amphibious forces made landfall, deploying troops onto the beaches of Normandy. The attack was the largest seaborne invasion in history, and its success turned the tides of the war, dividing and weakening German forces and ceding airborne supremacy to the Allies.