Tomorrow will be the 75th anniversary of the start of the battle to free the occupied European states from German control. The Allied landings on the Normandy beaches marked the start of a long and costly campaign to liberate north-west Europe.
The invasion, if successful, would drain German resources and block access to key military sites. Securing a bridgehead in Normandy would allow the Allies to establish a viable presence in northern Europe. But it was not easy fight and over the weeks that followed the Battle of Normandy would incur the deaths of nearly 37,000 ground and over 16,000 air personnel for the invading forces.
Of the five invasion beaches the landings at Omaha suffered the most casualties but none of them could be called, by any stretch of the imagination, painless. Over 425,000 Allied and German troops were killed, wounded or went missing during the landings and subsequent push inland.
Despite their tremendous costs in terms of lives and national wealth the invading Allies did not seek control over the countries they fought for. Instead they chose to restore these nations’ freedoms and encourage democratic governments.
How different it could all have been if the D-Day plans had failed – or if the USA and the British Commonwealth had opted to simply defend their homeland borders instead.