74 years ago, thousands of troops carried out the largest amphibious assault known to man. Operation Overlord, otherwise known as D-Day, was a massive coordinated effort carried out by Allied forces in WWII, on this day in history: June 6, 1944.

Around 160,000 men from an assortment of countries landed on stretches of beach and rocky coasts across the English Channel in Northern France. Some stormed beaches under relentless machine gun fire, some climbed cliffs under gunfire, and some jumped out of airplanes at low altitudes under the cover of darkness. American, British and Canadian forces were involved, supplemented by French Resistance actions deeper in the country. Other Allied nations involved were Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Poland.

Everyone played a crucial role in securing victory, and it came at a steep price. In the single day, 4,414 allied soldiers had been killed, and another 10,000 were wounded, depending on which estimates you are reading.

The Germans suffered somewhere between 4,000 and 9,000 casualties, and losing this would cost them the entirety of Northern France by the end of August. The successful invasion gave the Allies a significant foothold in Europe, and some would describe it as the beginning of the end for the Nazi Reich.

An extra fact: The term “D-Day” is now widely recognized to mean the Allied invasion into Normandy, but it wasn’t always known as such. “D-Day” used to be a term much like “H-Hour” — when an operation is planned, but the specific dates are not yet known, they would use “D” and “H” as placeholders. They planned to conduct Operation Overlord on “D-Day,” beginning at “H-Hour.” However, the name stuck after the invasion, and is generally used as a historical term now instead of a military one.

D-Day, June 6, 1944:

Members of an American armored unit are somewhere in England on June 6, 1944; they are being briefed by their commanding officer prior to receiving their D-Day assignments. (AP Photo)
American Soldiers equipped with full packs and extra allotments of ammunition, march down an English street to their invasion craft for embarkation on June 6, 1944. (AP Photo)
Bouncing about on the rough waters of the English Channel, these landing craft loaded with assault troops head for the shore of the French coast early in the dawn of D-Day. (AP Photo)
A U.S. Coast Guard landing barge, tightly packed with helmeted soldiers, approaches the shore at Normandy, France. These barges ride back and forth across the English Channel, bringing wave after wave of reinforcement troops to the Allied beachheads. (AP Photo)
U.S. paratroopers fix their static lines before a jump before dawn over Normandy on D-Day June 6, 1944, in France. (AP Photo/U.S. Army Signal Corps)
Men and assault vehicles storm the Normandy Beach of France, as allied landing craft arrive at their destination. Note men coming ashore in surf and vehicles starting inland. (AP Photo)
Some of the first assault troops to hit the Normandy, France beachhead take cover behind enemy obstacles to fire on German forces as others follow the first tanks plunging through the water toward the German-held shore during World War II. (AP Photo)
Ducks (amphibious trucks) and a half-track follow troops ashore. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard)
Members of an American landing unit help their exhausted comrades ashore during the Normandy invasion. The men reached the zone code-named Utah Beach, near Sainte-Mère-Église, on a life raft after their landing craft was hit and sunk by German coastal defenses. (AP Photo/INP Pool/Louis Weintraub)
Wounded British troops from the South Lancashire and Middlesex regiments are being helped ashore at Sword Beach. (AP Photo/British Navy)
U.S. Army medical personnel administer a plasma transfusion to a wounded soldier, who survived when his landing craft went down off the coast of Normandy. (AP Photo)
After landing at the shore, these British troops wait for the signal to move forward. (AP Photo)
Sitting in the cover of their foxholes, American soldiers of the Allied Expeditionary Force secure a beachhead during initial landing operations. In the background, amphibious tanks and other equipment crowd the beach, while landing craft bring more troops and material ashore. (AP Photo/Weston Haynes)
First wave beach battalion “Ducks” lay low under the fire of Nazi guns on the beach. One soldier operates a radio, directing other landing craft to the safest spots for unloading their troops. (AP Photo/File)
Some of the first British soldiers wounded in the Normandy invasion lie on stretchers somewhere in England, brought back the very day the assault started. (AP Photo/Harry Harris)
Soldiers of the 2nd Canadian Flotilla are seen as they establish a beachhead code-named Juno Beach, near Bernières-sur-Mer, on the northern coast of France. (AP Photo)

Featured image courtesy of the Associated Press.

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