This Day in History ( June 6 )

Winston Churchill

On the eve of D-Day the Allied leadership was in a state of neurotic anxiety. Just after midnight on 6 June, a restless Churchill, haunted by memories of the disastrous Allied landings at Gallipoli 29 years earlier, bade his wife goodnight with the words, 'Do you realise that by the time you wake up in the morning twenty thousand men may have been killed?'

Operation Overlord
Although the term D-Day is used routinely as military lingo for an ‘operation’ date, for many it is also synonymous with June 6, 1944, the day the Allied powers crossed the English Channel and landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, beginning the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi control during World War II. Within three months, the northern part of France would be freed and the invasion force would be preparing to enter Germany, where they would meet up with Soviet forces moving in from the east. 
Hitler's control of Europe
With Hitler's armies in control of most of mainland Europe, the Allies knew that a successful invasion of the continent was central to winning the war. On the morning of June 5, 1944, U.S. General Eisenhower, the supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe gave the go-ahead for Operation Overlord, the largest amphibious military operation in history. That night, 822 aircraft filled with parachutists headed for drop zones in Normandy. By dawn on June 6, 18,000 parachutists were already on the ground; the land invasions began at 6:30 a.m. By day's end, 155,000 Allied troops--Americans, British and Canadians--had successfully stormed Normandy’s beaches.

The Normandy beach landings
For their part, the Germans suffered from confusion in the ranks and the absence of celebrated commander Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, who was away on leave, didn't help. At first, Hitler, believing that the invasion was a feint designed to distract the Germans from a coming attack north of the Seine River, refused to release nearby divisions to join the counterattack and reinforcements had to be called from further afield, causing delays. He also hesitated in calling for armoured divisions to help in the defence of the coast.  Though it did not go exactly as planned, by the end of June, the Allies had 850,000 men and 150,000 vehicles in Normandy and were poised to continue their march across Europe. 

French & American flags - Normandy
The heroism and bravery displayed by troops from the Allied countries on D-Day has served as inspiration for several films, most famously 
The Longest Day- book (1962)
The Longest Day- large print book.
Where Eagles Dare- DVD (1968)
Saving Private Ryan- DVD (1998).
Saving Private Ryan- large print book.

Also the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers (2001).
PegasusBridge : D-Day: the daring British airborne raid / Stephen E. Ambrose- book

World War II Memorial Washington DC