D-Day 66 Years Ago



Mixed in with the soldiers crossing the English Channel and landing on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944, were those entrusted not with a gun but with a camera to record the start of the liberation of Europe. Their pictures record the terrible price we paid in the Allied soldiers, as well as Germans soldires, who were killed or wounded during the battles that ensued to take control of the five heavily fortified and defended Normandy beaches that were stormed: Sword (British troops), Juno (Canadian troops), Gold (British troops), Omaha (US troops) and Utah (US troops).

The Normandy Landings were also known under the code names Operation Neptune and Operation Overlord. It started with an air assault landing of American, British and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight, followed by an amphibious landing at 6:30am on the five beaches of Normandy. Though by the end of D-Day, most intermediate objectives were met and the Allies were back in Europe, it took three months to capture Normandy.

Approximately 14,000 Canadians landed in Normandy on D-Day, about 450 jumped by parachute or landed by glider, and around 10,000 sailors of the RCN participated. Estimates vary, but there were over 1000 Canadian casualties, with more than 400 killed that day alone.

The French Resistance played an important part in the plan for Overlord, orchestrating a massive campaign of sabotage by attacking railway lines, ambushing roads, destroying telephone exchanges and electrical substations. The resistance was alerted to carry out these tasks by means of the messages personnels, transmitted by the BBC in its French service from London. Among the stream of apparently meaningless messages broadcast by the BBC at 21:00 CET on 5 June, were coded instructions such as Les carottes sont cuites (“The carrots are cooked”) and Les dés sont jetés (“The dice are thrown”).


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