world war ii: operation overlord

The Planners of D-Day: Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force commanders at a conference in London, 2 January, 1944. From left to right: Lieutenant General Omar N. Bradley, Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, General Sir Bernard Montgomery, Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory and Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith.

Years ago, when ever I’d walk onto a beach I’d see red. There was blood everywhere in the water. I’d hear gunfire, the machine guns cutting down my men and their screams. The flashbacks you know, I couldn’t escape them.

Sometimes I still have nightmares about it.
—  Sgt Bell of A Company 116th Infantry, Hitler’s War: The Western Front

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944 ! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground.

Our Home Fronts have given us an superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world marching together to Victory!

I have full confidence in your devotion to duty and skill in battle.
We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good Luck! And let us all beseech blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

A captured SS NCO being searched by a US soldier during Operation ‘Cobra’. 

Generally regarded as the best the German army had to offer in Normandy, the Waffen-SS were elite. During Overlord, most formations were deployed in the British sector of Normandy, but the Americans faced 2nd SS Panzer Division and the 17th SS Panzergrenadiers.

My eyes were glued to the boat coming in next to ours, and on the water in between, boiling with bullets from hidden shore emplacements, like a mud puddle in a hailstorm. It seemed impossible that we could make it in without being riddled.
—  A Coast Guard coxswain describing Omaha Beach on 6 June 1944.