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The Incredible Numbers Behind D-Day

Normandy veterans are gathering in France for the 69th anniversary of D-Day (Getty Images)

Officially it was known as Operation Overlord – we know it as D-Day. It’s the largest military assault from the sea in history. It’s the day 176,000 American, British and Canadian troops began storming the beaches of Normandy, France to begin the liberation of Western Europe from the control of Nazi Germany.

We knew a successful invasion was the key to defeating Germany and Hitler knew it too. He was expecting it, but he didn’t know exactly where or when. And he didn’t expect the size of the invasion. The numbers are staggering. Nearly 7,000 landing craft, ships and other support boats. 13,000 aircraft provided air cover. Before the invasion began 18,000 soldiers had parachuted in behind the German defenses to provide support.

The invasion began at 6:30 a.m. The Canadians and British invaded Juno, Gold and Sword beaches. The Americans invaded Utah and Omaha beaches. There have never been any official casualty numbers for D-Day. Casualties include wounded, killed and missing in action and the number of Allied troops lost on that day are around 10,000 including 2,500 killed. Omaha beach had the highest number of casualties with more than 2,000 Americans lost in a matter of hours. But they didn’t quit and they kept coming.

If you’ve ever seen Saving Private Ryan the first half hour of that film gives you an idea of how brutal that battle was. Probably one of the most realistic and violent depictions of war ever seen.

There were mistakes on both sides. Things didn’t go exactly as planned, but it was a success and by the end of June the Allies had brought in 850,000 men and 150,000 vehicles thru Normany to begin their march across Europe.

The beginning of the invasion of Europe known as D-Day was on this date in 1944.

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