On 6 June 1944, Operation Overlord – aimed at liberating German-occupied western Europe – commenced as Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy, France. In what became known as the D-Day landings, British, US and Canadian soldiers descended on the beaches in an operation that turned the tide of the Second World War against the Nazis, marking the beginning of the end of the conflict.
More than 61,000 Britons were among the 150,000 troops who took part in the landings, in which thousands lost their lives. IBTimes UK looks back at this momentous event, which occurred 73 years ago. Edward J Waters, Catholic Chaplain from Oswego, New York, conducts services on a pier in Weymouth for the first troops to head to Normandy Reuters British soldiers joke as they read a tourist guide about France aboard a landing craft AFP US Army troops are seen on board a vessel bound for Normandy on the night of 5 June 1944, the day before D-Day Reuters American assault troops huddle behind the shield of a landing craft approaching Utah Beach AFP British landing crafts line the Normandy shore, each with a barrage balloon designed to discourage enemy air attack Reuters US troops in landing craft head for a beach during the D-Day landings Keystone/Getty Images American troops land on Normandy beaches as reinforcements during the historic D-Day landings AFP Survivors from a landing craft which sank off Omaha Beach on 6 June 1944 come safely ashore on a life raft Weintraub/Keystone/Getty Images Canadian troops come ashore at a Juno Beach landing area on D-Day Reuters American soldiers leave the ramp of a Coast Guard landing boat under heavy Nazi machine gun fire Reuters Aerial view of the Allied forces engaged in the Overlord operation of landing while troops storm the Normandy beaches on D-Day AFP American troops and transport are seen disembarking from the landing craft on the shores of France on 6 June 1944 Fox Photos/Getty Images Canadian soldiers land on a beach in Normandy AFP American infantrymen wade towards a beach during the D-Day Landings AFP American troops, part of the Allied Expeditionary Force, wade ashore beside their amphibious tanks during the initial landings in France Hulton Archive/Getty Images Members of an American landing party lend helping hands to others whose landing craft was sunk by enemy action off the coast of France Reuters American assault troops of the 16th Infantry Regiment, injured while storming Omaha Beach, wait for evacuation to a field hospital for further medical treatment in this photo taken at Collville-sur-Mer, Normandy Reuters A German officer explains details of a military map captured with him, to members of the Allied Expeditionary Force who made the initial landings in northern France on 6 June 1944 Hulton Archive/Getty Images American medics administer first aid to wounded soldiers on Utah beach in Normandy Hulton Archive/Getty Images Crossed rifles in the sand are a comrade's tribute to this American soldier who died during the landings Reuters US Army paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division drive a captured German Kubelwagen on D-Day at the junction of Rue Holgate and RN13 in Carentan, France Reuters Allied troops and vehicles are seen on Omaha Beach after it was secured after D-Day US soldiers gather around trucks disembarking from landing crafts shortly after D-Day AFP Bomber crews of the US Ninth Airforce are seen their B26 Marauder aircraft after returning from a mission to support the D-Day landings in Normandy by disrupting German lines of communication and supply on 7 June 1944 Fred Ramage/Keystone/Getty Images British soldiers of the Royal Army Medical Corps take a breather after landing in France on D-Day Keystone/Getty Images German prisoners-of-war are marched along Juno Beach landing area to a ship taking them to England, after they were captured by Canadian troops Reuters The bodies of American soldiers lie on the ground in Normandy, France, awaiting burial, following the D-Day Allied invasion Fox Photos/Getty Images A Coast Guard combat photographer came upon this monument to a dead American soldier somewhere on the shell-blasted shore of Normandy Reuters A serviceman wounded during the Allied landings is lifted on a stretcher onto a DC-4 Dakota in Normandy, bound for England Fox Photos/Getty Images 7 June 1944: Soldiers try to flush out a German sniper located in a church in the centre of Sainte Mere Eglise, after the Normandy town's liberation Keystone/Getty Images A crashed US fighter plane is seen on the waterfront in Bernieres-sur-Mer, France some time after the D-Day invasion Reuters 15 June 1944: The body of a dead German soldier lies in the main square of Place Du Marche after the town was taken by US troops who landed at nearby Omaha Beach Reuters A happy crowd of American soldiers receive a warm welcome from the inhabitants of Cherbourg, after its liberation Keystone/Getty Images 20 June 1944: An American paratrooper and an elderly French woman enjoy a joke together in the shell-torn streets of Sainte Mere Eglise Keystone/Getty Images 24 June 1944: A Jeep from a US Army combat engineers unit drives past the destroyed Saint Malo church in Valognes Reuters
21 August 1944: German prisoners of war captured after the D-Day landings in Normandy are guarded by US troops at a camp in Nonant-le-Pin, France Reuters