Sometime during May of 1944, allied forces came together and agreed on a date and time for the Normandy invasion. The date was June 5th and the time was 6 in the morning. British, Canadian, and U. S. forces were assigned five beaches to invade code named Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno, and Sword Beach. All communication from U. S. troops to the United States was cut off so that the word couldn’t get out that they were planning an attack. On June 4, the allies came up against some rough seas and bad weather while heading through the English Channel.
They only had one choice and that was to postpone the invasion until June 6 when the weather changed. (Fein, page 12-15) The invasion began with 13,000 paratroopers jumping into the Normandy invasion area. The mission that had been assigned to them was to protect the main landing forces and secure the surrounding bridges. Directly after the paratroopers, came approximately 2000 allied bombers that were sent to attack German positions that were farther inland. By 6:00 A. M. a large incoming fleet of nearly 5,000 ships were visible from the Normandy beaches. The First beach that was invaded was code named Omaha Beach.
Omaha Beach being about 3 miles long was invaded by nearly two-thirds of the entire U. S. force. This was about 45,000 troops. The previous allied bombing had not accomplished their mission to take out the German defenses that lined the beaches. The invading U. S. troops were extremely easy targets for the German defenses that allied bombings had failed to destroy. This was one of the bloodiest battles on D-Day. Nearly two thousand soldiers lost their lives on Omaha Beach, which was nick named “Bloody Omaha”. The next beach that was invaded was Utah Beach.
This beach had a far different outcome than that of Utah beach. The soldiers landing on Utah beach met little resistance from German soldiers. The only difficulties U. S. troops encountered was that once they had crossed the beach, they found themselves wading through flooded fields. In the end, the outcome of the invasion of Utah Beach was far less devastating than Omaha beach with only approximately two hundred U. S. troops dead. The third beach that was attacked was code named Gold Beach. Allied British soldiers attacked this beach. Like Omaha Beach, allied bombings had failed to take out the German defenses.
Because of this, the British troops were welcomed by a rain of gunfire. A large percentage of the troops that died on Gold Beach had been killed within the first minutes of the attack. The fourth Beach attacked had the code name Juno Beach. This beach was invaded by Canadian troops. This beach was located between the British targets Gold Beach and Sword Beach. This group landed 15 minutes late and by that time the rising tide had covered a high percentage of the beach, providing a much smaller landing area. Like Gold beach, most of the deaths occurred at the beginning of the invasion.
The last beach to be invaded was code named Sword Beach. The British soldiers attacked this beach. Unlike most of the other beaches, the allied bombing had succeeded in destroying most of the German defenses. The troops landing at Sword Beach were aided by special tanks that could explode hidden mines. This may have been the most successfully invaded beach. In a very short time British troops had moved more than half a mile inland from Sword Beach. (Hynson, page 22-24) By the end of the June 6, 1944, 80 square miles of Normandy had been captured by 150,000 allied troops.
Some beaches had very few lives lost like Utah beach where only approximately 200 soldiers had lost their lives. Then there was Omaha beach where there had been nearly 2000 deaths. In the next four days the five beaches became linked together. They were no longer at risk from any German counterattacks. The allies had taken a great gamble, but in the end it had paid off. (Isserman, page 132-133) In conclusion I would like to quote Private George Roache, a 19-year-old U. S. soldier who landed at Omaha Beach. “When the boat hit the shore and the ramp went down everybody did supposedly what they had to do.
The riflemen were fanning out but the casualty rate was very bad. We couldn’t determine where the firing was coming from because there was something like one hundred yards of open beach ahead of us and all we could see were the houses along the shoreline. I can remember dropping into the sand and taking my rifle and firing it at one of the houses. Sergeant Wikes said to me “What are you firing at? ” I said, “I don’t know. I don’t know what I am firing at. ” (Hynson, page 25) I think this quote portrays what it must have been like on June 6, 1944 at Omaha Beach.