World War II: The Allied Invasion of Europe
|OCT 2, 2011 | 77|
Starting with the Invasion of Sicily in July of 1943, and culminating in the June 6, 1944 D-Day Invasion of Normandy, Allied forces took the fight to the Axis powers in many locations across Western Europe. The push into Italy began in Sicily, but soon made it to the Italian mainland, with landings in the south. The Italian government (having recently ousted Prime Minister Benito Mussolini) quickly signed an armistice with the Allies -- but German forces dug in and set up massive defensive lines across Italy, prepared to halt any armed push to the north. After several major offensives, the Allies broke through and captured Rome on June 4, 1944. Two days later, the largest amphibious invasion in history took place, with nearly 200,000 Allied troops taking 7,000 ships and more than 3,000 aircraft toward the coast of Normandy, France on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Some 156,000 troops landed, 24,000 by air and the rest by sea, meeting stiff resistance from well-defended German positions across 50 miles of French coastline. After several days of intense warfare, Allied troops gained tenuous holds on several beaches, which they were able to grow with reinforcement and bombardment. By the end of June, Allies were in firm control of Normandy, and by August 25, Paris was liberated by the French Resistance, with help from the French Forces of the Interior and the U.S. 4th Infantry Division. In September, the Allies launched another major invasion, Operation Market Garden, the largest airborne operation of its time, where tens of thousands of troops descended on the Netherlands by parachute and glider. Though the landings were successful, troops on the ground were unable to take and hold their targets, including bridges across the Rhine River. Despite that setback, by late 1944, the Allies had successfully established a Western Front, and were preparing to advance on Germany. (This entry is Part 16 of a weekly 20-part retrospective of World War II) [45 photos]
Use j/k keys or ←/→ to navigate Choose:
General Dwight D. Eisenhower gives the order of the Day. "Full victory - nothing else" to paratroopers in England on June 6, 1944, just before they board their airplanes to participate in the first assault in the invasion of the continent of Europe. All of the men with General Eisenhower are members of Company E, 502d.
(U.S. Army) #
U.S. Rangers on a troop ship in an English port waiting for the signal to sail to the coast of Normandy. Clockwise, starting from far left, is First Sergeant Sandy Martin, who was killed during the landing, Technician Fifth Grade Joseph Markovich, Corporal John Loshiavo, and at bottom, Private First Class Frank E. Lockwood.
(U.S. Army) #
An American soldier, who died in combat during the Allied invasion, lies on the beach of the Normandy coast, in the early days of June 1944. Two crossed rifles in the sand next to his body are a comrade's last reverence. The wooden structure on the right, normally veiled by high tide water, was an obstruction erected by the Germans to prevent seaborne landings.
(AP Photo) #
These five Germans were wounded and left without food or water for three days, hiding in a Normandy farmhouse waiting for a chance to surrender. Acting on information received from a French couple, U.S. soldiers went to the barn only to be attacked by snipers who seemed determined upon preventing their comrades from falling into Allied hands. After a skirmish, the snipers were dealt with and the wounded Germans taken captive, in France on June 14, 1944.
(AP Photo) #
After the French Resistance staged an uprising on August 19, American and Free French troops made a peaceful entrance on August 25, 1944. Here, four days later, soldiers of Pennsylvania's Twenty-eighth Infantry Division march along the Champs-Elysees, with the Arc de Triomphe in the background.
(AP Photo/Peter J. Carroll)