80th Anniversary of D-Day: Historical Photos from the 1944 Normandy Beach Invasion

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Normandy invasion, also known as D-Day. Renowned as the largest amphibious invasion in military history, it involved 150,000 land, air, and sea troops from the Allied armies.

Although D-Day is not a federal holiday, it is commemorated annually to honor the thousands of Allied soldiers who were injured or killed during this pivotal operation against formidable odds.

Here’s what you need to know about D-Day as its 80th anniversary approaches.

More: Photos from D-Day offer a glimpse into the historic World War II invasion 79 years ago

What day is D-Day?

D-Day is observed on June 6 each year, marking the date of the invasion in 1944.

What happened on D-Day?

The Normandy invasion took place more than four years into World War II. Planning for the operation, executed on June 6, 1944, began years before its implementation.

History.com details the invasion across five beaches codenamed “Utah,” “Omaha,” “Gold,” “Juno,” and “Sword.” The plan included heavy bombing by planes to destroy Nazi guns and critical roads and bridges, cutting off their retreat and reinforcements. Paratroopers were to secure inland positions before 150,000 amphibious troops from Britain, Canada, and the U.S. attacked Nazi defenses.

However, the plan faced challenges as bombers failed to destroy many Nazi artillery bunkers. Foul weather scattered many paratroopers, leading to drownings in lagoons or deaths by snipers as they descended.

The Allied victory, achieved despite these odds, and the significant blow dealt to Nazi forces, is why D-Day is so renowned today. Less than a year later, on May 7, 1945, Germany surrendered unconditionally.

What does D-Day stand for?

The “D” in D-Day stands for “Day.” It is a coded designation used for the day of any significant military operation or invasion. For instance, a date four days before the operation would be referred to as D-4, while four days after would be D+4.

How many people died on D-Day?

According to History.com, 4,414 Allied soldiers died during D-Day, including 2,501 Americans and 1,913 soldiers from other Allied nations. John Long, director of education at the National D-Day Memorial Foundation, notes that these numbers are not complete but represent the best available figures.

When was D-Day founded?

While D-Day is not a federal holiday, the tradition of honoring the Allied forces who participated in the historic invasion has been observed annually since its occurrence.

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