Operation Overlord: the Turning Point of World War II

Posted by Speakeasy News > Thursday 06 June 2024 > Celebrate

On June 6, 1944 at dawn, Operation Overlord, the largest airborne and naval offensive in history, was launched by the Allied forces to open a second front in Western Europe against Nazi Germany.

After months of titanic preparations mobilising nearly 5 million men and immense logistics, an armada of 4,300 landing ships and 500 warships, protected by more than 10,000 aircraft, assaulted the beaches of Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword in Normandy. Despite fierce resistance from German forces, especially at Omaha Beach, the Allies managed to establish a solid 10 km deep bridgehead, beginning the liberation of France and Western Europe.

The Battle of Normandy
This was followed by a bitter three-month battle to completely liberate Normandy from German forces entrenched in the cities and hedgerows. After the breakout from Avranches in late July, the Allies succeeded in encircling the Germans in the Falaise Pocket in mid-August 1944, marking a decisive turning point. The Battle of Normandy ended with the liberation of Le Havre on September 12, opening the way to Paris and then Germany. The D-Day landings of June 6, 1944 and the victory in Normandy allowed the Allies to regain a foothold in Western Europe, leading to the final defeat of the Third Reich in May 1945.

80 years after
From June 5 to 7, 2024, Normandy is commemorating the 80th anniversary of this major event of World War II.

The main international ceremony is taking place on June 6 in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer (Omaha Beach), gathering numerous heads of state and government such as U.S. President Joe Biden, King Charles III of the United Kingdom, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Only Russia is not represented out of the former Allies.

200 Nonagenarian or Centenarian Veterans Present
Around 200 nonagenarian or centenarian veterans, probably the last direct witnesses, have come to pay a final tribute to the fallen soldiers who fought for the liberation of Europe. 48 American veterans arrived on June 3 at Deauville Airport on a special Delta Air Lines flight from Atlanta. They were welcomed on the tarmac by hundreds of Normans, French and American military personnel, and schoolchildren.

French First Lady Brigitte Macron and Secretary of State Patricia Miralles were present in Deauville to personally welcome these American veterans upon their arrival.

This solemn and warm welcome given to the last D-Day veterans, some over 95 years old, testifies to the gratitude and emotion aroused by their presence 80 years after these decisive events that remain etched in the collective memory as a symbol of the struggle for freedom against Nazi oppression. The duty of passing on this history to new generations is now a priority as the last veterans pass away.