The ArgusD-Day 70 years on - brutal, bloody and costly (From The Argus)

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D-Day 70 years on - brutal, bloody and costly

The Argus: D-Day 70 years on - brutal, bloody and costly D-Day 70 years on - brutal, bloody and costly

Seventy years ago to the day Allied troops embarked on one of the most audacious and daring military operations of all time.

Some 150,000 people packed on to landing craft, backed by the navy and air force.

What followed was a brutal, bloody, costly but ultimately successful invasion of occupied France.

It marked the beginning of the end for Hitler and the Third Reich.

The codename was Operation Overlord. We now know it as D-Day.

Planning began back in 1943, when Allied generals spotted an opportunity to turn the tide of the war in their favour.

Americans and Canadians were shipped over in their thousands and put up in huge camps along the south coast of England.

Secret meetings were held, with Winston Churchill heavily involved, and four invasion sites were considered: Brittany, the Cotentin Peninsula, Normandy and Calais.

The Germans were expecting us and had their eye firmly fixed on Calais, with it providing the shortest crossing.

But five beaches in Normandy were eventually chosen.

Omaha and Utah would be taken by the Americans. The Canadians would take care of Juno and the Brits Gold and Sword.

The lack of available harbour in Normandy threatened to scupper the whole operation but one of the most intuitive and genius inventions in history sorted the issue.

Although the brain behind the Mulberry Harbour is disputed, Hugh Iorys Hughes, a Welsh civil engineer, along with the scientist John Desmond Bernal and naval commander of the disastrous Dieppe raid John Hughes-Hallett are all credited.

The artificial harbour was pre-built in Britain before being carefully towed across the English Channel at no more than 5mph.

Remarkably almost the entire 600,000-ton structure made it safely and the 33 jetties and 10 miles of floating roadways were constructed at Omaha beach and Arromanches.

It provided a vital landing point and place for supplies to ensure the invasion could continue.

However, not all the harbour made it over safely. A section of the Mullbery sank on the way just off of Pagham. It remains underwater and is now a popular site for divers.

Everything was in place and the tens of thousands of Allied troops stood in their landing crafts in the middle of the Channel waiting for the signal.

Just after midnight on June 6, bombardment of the German defences began.

Meanwhile paratroopers were being dropped in behind enemy lines to secure key towns, bridges and roads.

One of the most daring attacks during D-Day was also one of the first. Six gliders, packed with British infantry, flew in at low level over Northern France before dropping in just metres from one of the key strategic targets, Pegasus Bridge.

They took the garrison by surprise and within minutes had secured the route over the Caen Canal.

It was later described as one of the most “outstanding flying achievements of the war”.

Shortly after 6am the signal was given and the first of the landing craft were sent off towards the five beaches.

The first ramp dropped at Utah at 6.30am.

American troops poured on to the sands, dodging machine gun and sniper fire while trying to find cover before the tank traps and dunes.

Shortly after, the Americans landed at Omaha. Enemy fire rained down on them from the heavily fortified defences with hundreds gunned down before they reached the sand.

A fierce six hours of fighting ensued but by noon the Germans were running out of ammunition. The Americans took their chance and stormed the cliff tops before finally taking control of the beach.

The Canadians also suffered heavy losses at Juno with mines and heavy machine gun fire killing nearly a thousand.

Sword beach’s mines and tank traps led to heavy casualties with more than 1,000 dead or missing while those landing at Gold continued their fierce fighting into the nearby French town.

More than 4,000 allied troops were dead by the end of D-Day with at least 12,000 casualties.

The Germans had lost just 1,000.

But with the sun setting on June 6 1944, the Allies had a foothold in Nazi-occupied Europe for the first time since the war began.

For Hitler and the Third Reich it was the beginning of the end.

For the Allied forces, it was their longest day.

Comments (12)

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8:26am Fri 6 Jun 14

firemanste says...

to each and every person who took part in the war that lets me live the life i lead today from the tear in my eye for those who never came back and the ones still alive to tell their tale,i say thank you from the bottom of my heart and i will never forget what you and your comrades done. god bless
to each and every person who took part in the war that lets me live the life i lead today from the tear in my eye for those who never came back and the ones still alive to tell their tale,i say thank you from the bottom of my heart and i will never forget what you and your comrades done. god bless firemanste
  • Score: 8

8:38am Fri 6 Jun 14

clubrob6 says...

My dad who is now 97 and lives in Cumbria served on the Belfast during D-Day and many other missions he is pleased this day is being remembered the world should not forget the tens of millions that died to give us the freedoms of today.I have heard many tales and he often shown me the many picture he took from the Belfast.
My dad who is now 97 and lives in Cumbria served on the Belfast during D-Day and many other missions he is pleased this day is being remembered the world should not forget the tens of millions that died to give us the freedoms of today.I have heard many tales and he often shown me the many picture he took from the Belfast. clubrob6
  • Score: 5

9:09am Fri 6 Jun 14

gazzamagoo says...

Operation Overlord wasn't it? Overload lol...
Operation Overlord wasn't it? Overload lol... gazzamagoo
  • Score: 4

9:38am Fri 6 Jun 14

john newman says...

Yes it should be Overlord!!
Yes it should be Overlord!! john newman
  • Score: 5

9:40am Fri 6 Jun 14

gazzamagoo says...

Awaits article to be corrected and comments to be deleted...
Awaits article to be corrected and comments to be deleted... gazzamagoo
  • Score: 2

9:59am Fri 6 Jun 14

gaay buoy says...

And now look whats happened to our Country...Still at least UKIP are here to save us.
And now look whats happened to our Country...Still at least UKIP are here to save us. gaay buoy
  • Score: 1

10:00am Fri 6 Jun 14

stevensavage says...

firemanste wrote:
to each and every person who took part in the war that lets me live the life i lead today from the tear in my eye for those who never came back and the ones still alive to tell their tale,i say thank you from the bottom of my heart and i will never forget what you and your comrades done. god bless
spot on words
[quote][p][bold]firemanste[/bold] wrote: to each and every person who took part in the war that lets me live the life i lead today from the tear in my eye for those who never came back and the ones still alive to tell their tale,i say thank you from the bottom of my heart and i will never forget what you and your comrades done. god bless[/p][/quote]spot on words stevensavage
  • Score: 3

10:35am Fri 6 Jun 14

Martin999 says...

gazzamagoo wrote:
Operation Overlord wasn't it? Overload lol...
Typical Argus, can't get the most simple things right. Also, if you look at the Argus page reprinted from 1944 you will the date as June 4th. So either they got the date wrong or they decided to give the Germans 2 days notice of the invasion!
[quote][p][bold]gazzamagoo[/bold] wrote: Operation Overlord wasn't it? Overload lol...[/p][/quote]Typical Argus, can't get the most simple things right. Also, if you look at the Argus page reprinted from 1944 you will the date as June 4th. So either they got the date wrong or they decided to give the Germans 2 days notice of the invasion! Martin999
  • Score: 2

10:35am Fri 6 Jun 14

ZeeGee, ffs says...

Of all the potential spelling errors, The Yarg-us chose the codename for the entire operation. Utterly pathetic!

"to each and every person who took part in the war that lets me live the life i lead today from the tear in my eye for those who never came back and the ones still alive to tell their tale,i say thank you from the bottom of my heart and i will never forget what you and your comrades done. god bless"


^^^^^What he said^^^^^^
Of all the potential spelling errors, The Yarg-us chose the codename for the entire operation. Utterly pathetic! "to each and every person who took part in the war that lets me live the life i lead today from the tear in my eye for those who never came back and the ones still alive to tell their tale,i say thank you from the bottom of my heart and i will never forget what you and your comrades done. god bless" ^^^^^What he said^^^^^^ ZeeGee, ffs
  • Score: 0

11:11am Sat 7 Jun 14

ZeeGee, ffs says...

The 6th of June, 1944 WAS a Tuesday, so why The Yarg-us chose to have the 4th is a mystery.

After all, the invasion had already started by then.
The 6th of June, 1944 WAS a Tuesday, so why The Yarg-us chose to have the 4th is a mystery. After all, the invasion had already started by then. ZeeGee, ffs
  • Score: -1

9:24pm Sat 7 Jun 14

AshingtonJohn says...

70 years ago was a great day for Britain and the world.

Note then that the Argus in 1944 was a really good newpaper before it was finally taken over by Newsquest.
70 years ago was a great day for Britain and the world. Note then that the Argus in 1944 was a really good newpaper before it was finally taken over by Newsquest. AshingtonJohn
  • Score: 0

8:59am Sun 8 Jun 14

Fercri Sakes says...

gaay buoy wrote:
And now look whats happened to our Country...Still at least UKIP are here to save us.
I think many of the people who died on those beaches will be turning in their graves seeing the lurch to the far right and blanket surveillance we live under now. They may have thought that the Allies didn't actually win the war.
[quote][p][bold]gaay buoy[/bold] wrote: And now look whats happened to our Country...Still at least UKIP are here to save us.[/p][/quote]I think many of the people who died on those beaches will be turning in their graves seeing the lurch to the far right and blanket surveillance we live under now. They may have thought that the Allies didn't actually win the war. Fercri Sakes
  • Score: 1

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