Utah Beach

© Nomandy Tourist Board

Chronologically, there were three definable phases to the operation on June 6th 1944: the air landings (which were centred on Utah Beach in the west and Sword Beach in the east), the air and naval bombardments of the Atlantic Wall, and the seaborne landings on the six beaches (Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword) and at Pointe du Hoc.

So it was that by the early hours of the 6th June, the first airborne troops had already set foot on the soil of Normandy: the British in the east, and the Americans in the west.

The American parachutists of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions were tasked with capturing Sainte-Mère-Église and securing the beachhead at Utah Beach. At 4am, Sainte-Mère-Église was stormed.

Saint-Mère-Eglise

At first light, the sea from the mouth of the Seine to the Cherbourg Peninsula was completely covered with ships. Thousands of craft carrying men, vehicles and equipment, pushed their way towards the coast, while at the same time Allied aircraft bombarded the fortifications along the Channel coast, and naval guns opened fire.

 

Thousands of craft carrying men, vehicles and equipment, pushed their way towards the coast

Men headed towards the coast on the greatest endeavour of their lives. Utah Beach was rapidly taken without too many losses. The German defences were soon overcome, and breaches opened up to allow troops and heavy equipment to advance.

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