D-Day landings 70th anniversary: 20 facts about 'Operation Overlord' 

 

D-Day is the biggest amphibious assault ever mounted, a vast operation which was years in the planning and was crucial to the outcome of the Second World War.

Here is a timeline of how the Longest Day unfolded:

5 June, 1944

22.00 - Operation Neptune, a seaborne force of five Allied assault groups consisting of 130,000 men, leaves the English coast in 6,939 vessels, travelling through channels already cleared by minesweepers.

6 June, 1944 - D-Day

00.05 - German coastal batteries between Le Havre and Cherbourg are bombed by the Allies.

00.20 - British airborne troops secure Pegasus and other bridges over the River Orne.

02.30-03.00 - Combined bombardment and assault fleets arrive and anchor.

04.30 - St Mere Eglise is captured by US airborne troops and roads leading up to Utah Beach are closed.

05.00 - Britain's 9th Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, helps destroy weapons at the Merville Battery thus protecting troops who will land at Sword Beach.

05.30 - Allied warships begin bombarding the Normandy coastline. Landing ships and landing craft head for shore.

06.00 - Bombers pound the German shore defences. More than 5,300 tonnes of bombs are dropped.

06.30 - American troops begin landing on Omaha Beach and face a devastating enemy onslaught which pins them there until 1100.

06.30 - American forces begin landing on Utah Beach.

07.10 - US 2nd Army Ranger Battalion attacks the Pointe du Hoc and defends it for the rest of the day.

07.25 - British troops land at Gold and Sword Beaches.

07.35 - Canadian regiments land at Juno Beach.

09.00 - General Eisenhower authorises release of communique announcing the invasion has begun and General Bradley calls for reinforcements.

09.45 - Enemy forces cleared from Utah Beach.

12.00 - Winston Churchill speaks to the House of Commons about the landings.

13.30 - Troops on Omaha Beach begin securing the area.

14.30 - The 21st Panzer Division unleashes a counter attack towards the coast.

16.00 - The British arrive at the coastal town of Arromanches.

18.00 - Some of the 3rd Canadian Division, North Nova Scotia Highlanders, reach three miles inland. 1st Hussar tanks cross the Caen-Bayeux railway, nine miles inland.

19.00 - Command post set up on Omaha Beach.

20.00 - Allied patrols at the outskirts of Bayeux.

7 June, 1944

00.00 - All the beaches are secure. By the end of day the Allies had disembarked more than 135,000 men and had bridgeheads of varying depths along the Normandy coastline.

But on Omaha the situation was perilous as the Germans fought for every inch of territory. By sunset a total of 10,000 men had been killed, injured or were missing.

PA

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