The 6th of June marks the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings - history’s largest seaborne invasion, code-named Operation Overlord.

The Allied forces launched an attack on France by land, air and sea, which was occupied by the Nazi’s at the time of the invasion. D-Day was one of the most significant moments of the battle and this military victory became the turning point of World War II. 

The landings took place across the five beaches of Normandy; Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno and Sword. This came as a surprise for the German military. It has one of the furthest crossing distances from the UK and has no port to easily transport supplies and military vehicles. Meanwhile, on Adolf Hitler’s command, a large portion of the German military was awaiting the attack at the Pas de Calais – the narrowest stretch of the English Channel. 

After being temporarily delayed due to bad weather conditions, it was decided that the Normandy landings would commence on the 6th of June, and marked the beginning of the defeat against Germany. Here’s what happened on each of the beaches:


Paratroopers were the first to land on the beach in the early hours of the morning to secure a route for the 23,000 servicemen of the US 4th Infantry Division who were due to arrive later that day. After hours of battle, the military managed to advance four miles inland. 


This beach had the most defence out of any of the five assault beaches. The German forces were extremely experienced, had undergone anti-invasion training and had strong coastal defence in place, which the US 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions found difficult to overcome. After much perseverance, the American military secured a small section of the beach as the day drew to a close. 


The British 50th Division was responsible for securing Gold Beach, with the aim of joining the US 1st and 29th Divisions at Omaha. High winds and a little bit of luck were on their side, as the sea quickly concealed the beach obstacles that were set to hinder their progress. After a day of battle, the British military managed to move six miles inland and ended up meeting the Canadian troops from Juno Beach.


Juno Beach was hit by rough seas and high tides which postponed the landing of the Canadian 3rd Division. The beach had high levels of defence and quickly became crammed with military equipment and vehicles. The Canadians fought hard to clear the exits of the beach and advance inland before joining the British 50th Division.


Once again, the weather intervened with the success of securing Sword Beach. The British 3rd Division had to navigate fast-rising tides, tricky landscapes and a strong German defence. This made it difficult to secure the armoured support that was crucial for their ability to move inland. This British Division was tasked with securing the city of Caen but failed to do so during D-Day. 

Around 150,000 brave soldiers from the UK, USA and Canada battled that day, with a high number of casualties as a result of the turbulent battle. The exact number of deaths is still unknown to this day, but some historians estimate the figure to be around 10,000 men from the Allied forces.

D-Day Medals from Our Exclusive 80th Anniversary Collection 

Many events are planned to commemorate the 80th anniversary at home and on the beaches of Normandy. Prepare to celebrate and commemorate this important event in our history and browse our D-Day 80 Collection and support the Spirit of Normandy Trust with your purchase. The collection includes D-Day Medals, Normandy campaign medals and much more.