Yesterday, was the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the launching of Operation Overlord, a day that saw a massive international force of more than 150,000 storm French beaches to battle more than 50,000 well-entrenched Nazis to launch the final push to end World War II, liberate Europe and end the Holocaust.
Before the battle was won on Aug. 30, 1944, it involved over 3 million Allied troops and 1 million Germans, according to “Dirty Little Secrets of WWII” by James F. Dunnigan and Albert A. Nofi, a book dedicated to facts and figures of the global conflict.
The effort, which cost the Allies more than 10,000 casualties on its first day, is likely the greatest single achievement of mankind. America’s worldwide monthly casualties roughly doubled beginning in June 1944.
Its greatness is not in the carnage but the scale, organization and astonishing success the battle finally achieved in the face of such intimidating opposition.
To think eight nations from around the globe, from differing cultures and languages, joined together in a united purpose and worked in swift and coordinated motions on a scale never before seen.
On July 6, the Germans had nearly 800 tanks in the area. The Allies brought about 5,500 tanks, 4,800 artillery, 3,400 fighter planes and 2,500 bombers. Before any of these could be brought into battle they had to be designed, manufactured and shipped, and their operators trained.
An astonishing glimpse at how even the smallest detail of an amphibious landing of this scale is a massive undertaking was given in a column by famed war correspondent Ernie Pyle.
While Pyle was at the Normandy landing, he previously covered the landing at Sicily (Operation Husky) where he reported that 83 tons of maps were used. Those maps had been printed in the United States just days before, from aerial photographs taken earlier that week, quickly shipped to the Mediterranean Sea in numerous freighters and distributed to the troops just before the invasion. That’s just one small item.