A fateful 24 hours

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admin - Posted on 22 May 2009

Late spring, 1944

Some troops are shown a model of beaches where they’d be landing, but major details – including the country, France, where they’d land – are left out

June 5, 1944

Invasion originally planned for this day but delayed; still, many units set off despite storms anticipating a break in the weather the next day

June 6, 1944

Shortly after midnight: Paratroopers are dropped behind enemy lines – a bid to ultimately stymie German counter-attacks. They take over bridges, knock down telephone polls.

1 a.m.: U.S. Navy sailors take battle stations, as landing craft are lowered into water.

2 a.m.: First wave of aircraft from Britain take off, to target Axis troops in France.

Just after 3 a.m.: German radar detects first wave of Allied invasion, and Axis units on the shore prepare for action.

3:30 a.m.: Allied assault troops start boarding their landing craft.

5:30 a.m.: Allied forces start bombarding Axis troops on the beaches, and U.S. troops land on St. Marcouf, a German-held island off Utah beach.

6:30 a.m.: Allied troops set foot on Omaha, Utah beaches for the first time. By 7:45, they’re moving inland from Utah; by 8, they’re climbing bluffs at Omaha.

7:30 a.m.: The invasion of Sword, Gold beaches begins.

9:30 a.m.: As British troops move one mile inland by Gold Beach, the press learns the invasion is underway.

10 a.m.: U.S. troops climb atop, and take over the bluffs over Omaha Beach.

11 a.m.: U.S. troops take the village of Vierville-sur-mer. Shortly thereafter, Canadian forces secure St. Aubin.

Noon: Airborne troops, U.K. commandos meet up by the bridges over the Orne River. An hour later, members of the U.S. 101st Airborne and 4th Infantry Division link up.

1:30 p.m.: German and U.S. troops continue intense fighting along Omaha Beach, as well as Periers Ridge and Sword Beach.

2 p.m.: In Germany, Nazi leader Adolph Hitler leads his first meeting after the invasion.

4 p.m.: U.S. forces make headway near Omaha Beach, while German and British forces engage near the villages of Bazenville and Villers-le-Sec.

4:30 p.m.: German’s 21st Panzer Division launches a counter-attack on the Allies by Sword Beach.

6 p.m.: Axis forces stymie British troops advance toward Caen.

8 p.m.: Allied troops capture the village of Colleville-sur-Med, with Canadian forces taking Taillerville shortly thereafter.

9 p.m.: Reinforcements for Allied troops start landing by Utah Beach and east of the Orne River.

By midnight: While the mission isn’t complete after invading at nine distinct locations, Allied forces finish the day having secured five beachheads on the French coast.

Sources: The Armchair General; The Memory Project (The Dominion Institute)