American soldiers pour onto Omaha Beach, Normandy, France, on D-Day.

Photograph courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

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  • On June 6, 1944, Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, France. This World War II invasion of mainland Europe was the largest amphibious assault in history, with more than 160,000 troops participating in coordinated land, air, and sea attacks: D-Day. (“D” simply stands for “day.” The day before D-Day was “D-1” or “D minus one,” for example.)

     

    By the time the sun rose on D-Day, 18,000 men had parachuted behind Nazi fortifications. Canadian, British, and American forces began landing at 6:30 a.m., charging up beaches under heavy German gunfire. More than 4,000 Allied troops lost their lives.

     

    D-Day began an assault (Operation Overlord) that liberated Western Europe and helped hasten the end of World War II. Today, the beaches of Normandy are solemn tourist attractions dotted by the graves of Allied soldiers, and still referred to by their codenames: Utah, Omaha, Juno, Gold, Sword, and Pointe du Hoc.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    amphibious Adjective

    trained or organized to function both on land and in water.

    assault Noun

    violent attack.

    invasion Noun

    an attack or move to take possession.

    Nazi noun, adjective

    (1919-1945) (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) having to do with the National Socialist German Workers' Party.

    solemn Adjective

    serious or sad.

    tourist Noun

    person who travels for pleasure.

    troop Noun

    a soldier.

    World War II Noun

    (1939-1945) armed conflict between the Allies (represented by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union) and the Axis (represented by Germany, Italy, and Japan.)