78 years ago, today thousands of Americans in unity stormed the beaches of Normandy and changed the course of World War II. Many lives were lost in the effort to keep the world free. In light of current unrest and discord I appreciate our freedoms even more than ever before. As the threat against freedom has again reared its ugly head, it will take unity to prevail once again.
“You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months,” General Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote.
“The eyes of the world are upon you. The hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
“Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.
“But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!
“I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!
“Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”
The following article on D-Day casualties is an excerpt from Barrett Tillman’ D-Day Encyclopedia.
Allied figures for D-Day casualties are contradictory, and German figures will necessarily remain inexact. Historian Stephen Ambrose cites 4,900 Allied troops killed, missing, and wounded.
- The First U.S. Army, accounting for the first twenty-four hours in Normandy, tabulated 1,465 killed, 1,928 missing, and 6,603 wounded. The after-action report of U.S. VII Corps (ending 1 July) showed 22,119 casualties including 2,811 killed, 5,665 missing, 79 prisoners, and 13,564 wounded, including paratroopers.
- Canadian forces at Juno Beach sustained 946 casualties, of whom 335 were listed as killed.
- Surprisingly, no British figures were published, but Cornelius Ryan cites estimates of 2,500 to 3,000 killed, wounded, and missing, including 650 from the Sixth Airborne Division.
- German sources vary between four thousand and nine thousand D-Day casualties on 6 June—a range of 125 percent. Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s report for all of June cited killed, wounded, and missing of some 250,000 men, including twenty-eight generals.
By early July the Allied armies had captured 41,000 German troops while sustaining 60,771 casualties, including 8,975 dead. French losses in the Normandy campaign have been calculated at fifteen thousand civilian dead.
The total number of casualties that occurred during Operation Overlord, from June 6 (the date of D-Day) to August 30 (when German forces retreated across the Seine) was over 425,000 Allied and German troops. This figure includes over 209,000 Allied casualties:
- Nearly 37,000 dead amongst the ground forces
- 16,714 deaths amongst the Allied air forces.
- Of the Allied casualties, 83,045 were from 21st Army Group (British, Canadian and Polish ground forces)
- 125,847 from the US ground forces.
The losses of the German forces during the Battle of Normandy can only be guessed. Roughly 200,000 German troops were killed or wounded. The Allies also captured 200,000 prisoners of war (not included in the 425,000 total, above). During the fighting around the Falaise Pocket (August 1944) alone, the Germans suffered 90,000 losses, including prisoners.
“There’s a graveyard in northern France where all the dead boys from D-Day are buried. The white crosses reach from one horizon to the other. I remember looking it over and thinking it was a forest of graves. But the rows were like this, dizzying, diagonal, perfectly straight, so after all it wasn’t a forest but an orchard of graves. Nothing to do with nature, unless you count human nature.” ― Barbara Kingsolver
If you can’t appreciate what they accomplished, just try to imagine what life would be like today had they failed. United we stand. Divided we fall.
Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!