The Battle of Normandy, which led to the liberation of Europe from the Nazis, suffered approximately 425,000 Allied and German casualties; more than 15,000 civilians died.
Sherman Tanks Passing Through Bayeux*
The many museums, cemeteries, and abandoned fortifications found in this region of France are a poignant reminder of the events that shaped Western history.
If you’re interested in visiting the main sites relating to the Battle of Normandy and d-day invasion, here is some background on the battle itself and D-Day, as well as some tips on where to find detailed lists of cemeteries, museums and a map of the landing beaches.
We’d suggest allowing around 2 or 3 days for visiting the key sites and points of interest, however you could easily spend 2 or 3 weeks here.
The Battle of Normandy
The Battle of Normandy refers to the fighting that took place between the Allied nations and German forces in the summer of 1944. It is one of the most famous battles of the Second World War.
The allied invasion of Northwest Europe, codenamed Operation Overlord, started in June 1944 with the normandy landings and continued until August 19th when the Allied forces crossed the River Seine.
The D-Day invasion was the largest seaborne military operation of its kind, with over 156,000 troops involved, more than 14,000 planes and over 6,000 ships.
Millions more in the allied countries were involved to support the operation, both in the army and as civilians.
The Invasion of Normandy: D-Day Beaches
The d-day beaches span approximately 80km of Normandy coastline – codenamed Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword (please see our normandy map).
The Allied forces involved in the normandy landings were mainly American, British and Canadian but also included troops from Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, France, Czechoslovakia, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway and Poland.
There is no official or accurate figure for the number of D-Day casualties, however we have seen that most estimates are around 10,000 for allied forces.
The battle on Omaha beach suffered the heaviest number – estimated to be around 3,000. German casualties are estimated to have been approximately 9,000.
Did you know….
The word D-Day is derived from ‘day’ (not Doom or Devastation). The term D-Day can be used when planning a military operation, as the specific date is sometimes not known or could change (as was the case with the d-day invasion – it was originally planned for 5th June but was delayed by one day due to bad weather). D-Day tends to be associated most with the Normandy landings in 1944 but can be used for other military operations.
Where to Start?
Interested in seeing the historic sites in the area, and would like to do it on your own timetable (rather than through a tour?)
We’ve found the Normandy Memoire website quite useful – among other things it’s got a map of the main sites and a list of museums and military cemeteries. *Photos Courtesy of U.S. Army.