A commemorative short film presented by HitchinTV, on June 6, 1944, an event that would forever alter the course of history began – this was D-Day, the commencement of the Allied invasion of Normandy. This operation, known by the code name ‘Overlord’, was the most significant seaborne assault ever and marked the Allies’ substantial force landing on Europe’s mainland during the Second World War, primarily involving the United States and the United Kingdom.

This monumental assault unfolded in two key stages – initial airborne operations and subsequent seaside landings. As the clock struck midnight on D-Day, the skies above the invasion zone filled with over 18,000 Allied paratroopers plunging into the darkness, their mission to provide vital tactical support for the infantry divisions on the beaches later that morning. Meanwhile, the Allied air forces patrolled overhead with more than 14,000 missions. The prior achievement of air superiority meant that these flights met with minimal resistance from the German air force, the Luftwaffe.

Operation ‘Neptune’, the guise under which the naval segment of ‘Overlord’ was conducted, mobilised an armada of nearly 7,000 ships. This fleet comprised of numerous types – from battleships and destroyers to minesweepers and landing crafts. Their main task was not only to transport and escort over 132,000 ground troops, but also to execute strategic bombardments on German coastal defences before and during the landings. The naval forces played a crucial role in providing artillery support for the invading troops once they reached the beaches.

Prior to the landings, the naval forces relentlessly bombarded the German coastal defences, raining down shells and explosives to weaken their stronghold. Once the troops reached the shores, the naval forces continued their support role by providing artillery cover. This allowed the infantry to advance and establish their positions, overpowering the German defenders.

It was the collective efforts of these naval forces that ensured the success of Operation ‘Neptune’. Their unwavering determination, strategic bombardments, and relentless support played a pivotal role in the Allied victory on D-Day, ultimately leading to the liberation of Europe from Nazi occupation. The successful execution of D-Day was a product of cumulative efforts from the Allies across various fronts, both before and during 1944.