This continues the Appeal’s review of news stories and headlines during its Sesquicentennial year.
June 6, 1944
D-Day Arrives: Airborne missions reported little battery fire; landings stated at mid-day to be successful; on time set
Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force, London, June 6 — (UP) — Allied armies today stormed northern France with history’s greatest invasion armada — 11,000 planes, 4,000 ships and thousands of smaller craft — and in the first few hours seized beachheads that threatened to isolate the Normandy peninsula and win a railroad pointed straight to Paris.
Some six hours after the first waves of American, British and Canadian assault forces landed by sea and air on the Normandy peninsula, Prime Minster Winston Churchill told commons that the invasion was proceeding “according to plan.”
“Obstacles which were constructed in the sea have not proved so difficult as was apprehended,” Churchill said. “The fire of shore batteries has been largely quelled. Massed air-borne landings have been successfully effected behind enemy lines and landings on the beaches are proceeding at various points at the present time.”
German news agencies said Allied shock forces and paratroops landed along the north coast of the Normandy peninsula, which juts out from France some 90 to 110 miles below the English south coast — all the way from the Cherbourg area at the northern tip to LeHavre at the moth of the Seine, 110 miles northwest of Paris.
The Germans said the heaviest fighting developed in the area of Caen, on the main Cherbourg-Paris railway some nine miles inland from the mouth of the Orne river.
Air-borne troops were landing deep inland on the peninsula, the official Nazi DNB agency said, in an effort to seize a number of strategic airfields, cut off the Normandy peninsula, and capture Cherbourg, one of the two main ports for Paris.
Cherbourg and LeHavre which evidently have been selected as the main invasion ports, the transoceanic agency said. “Very strong” air-borne landings took place on both sides of Cherbourg, Transocean said. The agency also said Allied paratroops had landed on the islands of Guernsey and Jersey, west of the Normandy peninsula.
A German high command communique reported “bitter fighting” was in progress in the attacking areas and claimed that an entire parachute regiment was wiped out at Caen.
Virtually every type of American naval craft, from battleship to motor torpedo boat, joined British warships and thousands of Allied planes in laying down an earthshaking bombardment of the invasion coast.
Churchill said that the battle which now has been joined “will grow constantly in scale and intensity for many weeks to come.” He said there were hopes that “tactical surprise already has been achieved.”
“This vast plan is undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that ever has occurred,” he said. “It involves tides, wind, waves, visibility from both the air and the sea standpoints, and the combined employment of land, air and sea forces in the highest degree of intimacy.”