6 D-Day Facts You Might Not Know

D-Day Higgins boat and Allied troops landingWith the 75th anniversary of D-Day rapidly approaching, we wanted to share six facts about D-Day you might not know.

1. The Allied forces for Operation Overlord comprised 23 infantry divisions (13 U.S., eight British, two Canadian); 12 armored (five U.S., four British, one each Canadian, French, and Polish); and four airborne (two each U.S. and British)—for a total of 20 American divisions, 14 British, three Canadian, and one each French and Polish.  (from History on the Net)

2. To keep German reinforcements from interfering with Operation Neptune, the Allied landings on the Normandy beaches, the Allies conducted an air offensive that resulted in the death of over 60,000 French civilians and an immense amount of damage to towns, churches, buildings, and works of art. (from Stephen Bourque’s book, Beyond The Beach: The Allied War Against France)

3. In the beach landings, the Free French land forces deployed on Sword Beach were 177 commandos (1er Bataillon de Fusiliers Marins) led by Commandant Philippe Kieffer. They joined with British Commandos in the attack on the German defenders at Ouistreham. Many of the Frenchmen had evacuated from Dunkirk four years earlier or had escaped from Vichy France.

4. The most difficult landing of D-Day was at Omaha Beach, where navigation issues led to many men drowning before they even reached land. Omaha Beach also had the largest number of German troops. It is the Omaha Beach battle that is re-enacted in the opening of Private Ryan.

5. The first British casualty on D-Day was Lt “Den” Brotheridge, leading a 28 men of his platoon from the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infrantry Regiment at 12:16 am. He received a shot in the neck while in the act of throwing a grenade at a German machine gun position. They had just crash landed in a glider and were tasked with taking the crucial target of Pegasus Bridge. They would achieve their objective. 

6. The Higgins boat was the major troop transport in the beach landings. It was a 36-foot diesel propelled “cigar box” that could carry 36 men or a jeep and 12 men. Andrew Higgins’ factories in New Orleans employed as many as 30,000 workers and produced 20,000 LCVPs (Landing Craft Vehicle and Personnel) by the end of the war.

Travel on the D-Day to the Rhine Tour!

“This D-Day tour is a dream trip for any WWII history buff who wants to stand on the beaches at Normandy, experience the powerful emotions brought forth by the military cemeteries in France and Luxembourg, stand in a foxhole in the Ardennes, and tour General McAuliffe’s office in Bastogne.” – H. Roger Barksdale, New Palestine, IN

Learn more about the D-Day to the Rhine Tour>>

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