1994 29¢ WWII: Allies in Normandy, D-Day
US #2838c was issued on the 50th anniversary of D-Day.

On June 6, 1944, some 155,000 Allied troops stormed the shores of Normandy on D-Day, the start of Operation Overlord.

Following the invasion of Poland in 1939 that sparked the start of World War II, German troops moved swiftly through Belgium and the Netherlands to France. There, they trapped British, French, and Belgian troops, who were eventually saved in the Dunkirk evacuation. However, France was soon occupied by German troops and would remain so for five years.

2019 D-Day 75th Anniversary souvenir sheet of 1
Item #M12482 – Marshall Islands Souvenir Sheet picturing a newspaper headline from the day of the invasion

Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was an early driving force behind re-taking France. Despite Stalin’s non-aggression pact with Hitler, German forces invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. The Soviets then joined the Allies, and Stalin made calls for establishing a second front in Europe. Once the US joined the war, President Roosevelt agreed to the importance of such a front but was convinced by Winston Churchill to wait, as the Allies did not have a large enough force. Instead, the Allies launched campaigns in the Mediterranean and North Africa. With those won and a successful invasion of Sicily, planning for the invasion of France began.

2019 D-Day 75th Anniversary, Mint, Sheet of 8 Stamps, Isle of Man
Item #MFN011 – Isle of Man stamp sheet featuring leaders from different sides of the battle plus scenes of soldiers fighting.

In May 1943, Allied leaders met at the Trident Conference and decided that the cross-channel invasion would take place within the next year. At the Tehran Conference that November, they agreed the invasion would take place the following May. They considered four different sites for the landings: Brittany, the Cotentin Peninsula, Normandy, and the Pas-de-Calais. The Germans could have easily cut off an Allied advance at Brittany and Cotentin, so those were rejected. As Pas-de-Calais is the closest to Britain, the Germans would have considered that the most likely landing spot, so it was also not a good choice. Normandy seemed to be the ideal location. It offered a long front the Allies could use to launch multiple attacks on Cherbourg, Brittany, and eventually move toward Paris and Germany.

2019 D250 D-Day 75th Anniversary souvenir sheet of 1
Item #M12495 – Gambia Souvenir Sheet issued for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day

To launch such a massive attack, the Allies had to develop new equipment. Among these were artificial Mulberry harbors and tanks that could climb sea walls while offering close supporting fire on the beach. The number of troops, as well as landing craft needed, was increased from the initial plans. More time was needed to build the extra landing craft, so the invasion was moved to June.

1953 3¢ General George S. Patton, Jr.
US #1026 – Patton and his 3rd Army arrived in Normandy in July and began combat operations on August 1.

Part of the Allied plan was to lead the Germans to believe the attack would happen elsewhere. Operation Bodyguard was the name for a series of smaller operations of deception. In Operation Fortitude North, the Allies transmitted fake radio communications suggesting the attack would be on Norway. Fortitude South revolved around a fake army under George Patton that would attack Calais. Even after D-Day, Patton was stationed in England until July 6 to convince the Germans that a second attack was coming.

2019 $150 D-Day - 75th Anniversary, Mint, Sheet of 4 Stamps, Liberia
Item #M12503 – Liberia 75th Anniversary sheet featuring photos from the invasion

The Allies destroyed German radar stations along the French coast to prevent detection of the invasion fleet until it was too late. The day before the invasion, they also dropped dummy paratroopers over Le Havre and Isigny to lead the Germans to believe that the landings were already in progress. Small ships with barrage balloons were also used near Le Havre and Pas-de-Calais to cause confusion.

2004 Gibraltar WWII D-Day Landings
Item #M11155 pictures scenes from D-Day, Eisenhower, and maps of the area.

Eisenhower had selected June 5 for the invasion date, but high winds and rough waters made it impossible. The next date with good tides, but no full moon, was not for another two weeks. His meteorological team believed June 6 would have good weather, so Eisenhower set that as the new invasion date. In the meantime, the Germans did not have such reliable weather forecasts and were predicting two weeks of storms. Because of this, many of their commanders left to attend war games while soldiers were given leave.

2019 $750 D-Day 75th Anniversary, Mint Souvenir Sheet, Liberia
Item #M12504 – Liberia Souvenir Sheet featuring a painting by Dwight Shepler titled The Tough Beach

The Germans were not entirely unprepared. Previous raids in 1942 led Hitler to order fortifications along the Atlantic coast, from Spain to Norway. Pas-de-Calais had the greatest defenses, while Normandy’s defenses were concentrated around Cherbourg and Saint-Malo. Normandy’s beaches were also fitted with gun emplacements, wooden stakes, mines, and anti-tank obstacles.

2019 Landings and Battle of Normandy, D-Day 75th Anniversary sheet of 4
Item #M12481 – Marshall Islands sheet featuring authentic photos from the D-Day landings

In the weeks leading up to the invasion, the Allies also coordinated with the French Resistance to sabotage the Germans. Their duties included damaging the rail systems, ruining electrical facilities, and cutting underground communication cables.

2004 Guernsey $5 D-day Coin w/soldier
Item #4589386 – Guernsey coin commemorating the 60th Anniversary of D-Day

Around midnight on June 6, 1944, more than 2,200 British and American bombers struck targets up the Normandy coast and inland. Many of these bombers were afraid to hit their own troops, so they waited too long and did not hit the beach defenses they were supposed to.

2004 $20 & $90 D-Day Collection, Mint, Set of 5 Sheets and 5 Souvenir Sheets, Liberia
Item #M10572 – collection of 10 mint sheets and souvenir sheets honoring the aircraft of D-Day

Shortly after midnight, minesweepers started clearing the channel, finishing their work around dawn. Paratroopers and gliders began their jumps around 12:15 a.m. Their goal was to delay a German approach by seizing bridges and road crossings. However, thick clouds made it difficult for pilots to find the drop zones and many of the men landed far from their targets.

1970 6¢ Dwight D. Eisenhower
US #1393 – Eisenhower served as supreme commander of Allied forces during D-Day.

At 5:45 a.m., the Allies launched a naval bombardment on areas behind the beach while it was still dark. As the sun rose, they then focused on targets they could see on the beach. Some landing craft were fitted with guns so they could also lay cover fire for the troops coming ashore.

The first troops to storm the Normandy beaches were the Americans at the beach code-named Utah. They arrived around 6:30, but were about 2,000 yards south of their intended position, as strong currents had pushed their boats off course. The landing craft at all of the beaches would suffer this same problem. It worked in their favor at Utah, and the Americans were across the beach by 9 a.m. and wading their way through flooded fields to spend the rest of the day fighting. Americans were also tasked with landing at Omaha Beach and scaling the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc. They encountered trouble at both locations and were unable to accomplish all their objectives for a couple of days. British and Canadian troops stormed Gold, Juno, and Sword Beaches and encountered similar problems as the Americans.

2000 33¢ Distinguished Soldiers: Omar N. Bradley
US #3394 – Bradley commanded the 1st US army during the landings and later the 12th US Army Group during the breakout from Normandy. It was the largest group of soldiers under a single field commander – 1.3 men in 43 divisions.
2021 55¢ Yogi Berra
US #5608Berra served aboard the attack transport USS Bayfield during the invasion of Normandy.

Due to the choppy seas, weather, and German resistance, the Allies did not complete any of the objectives they had planned for the first day. But in the coming days and weeks, more troops arrived and they managed to meet their goals. Major victories came with the captures of the Cherbourg port on June 26, and the city of Caen on July 21. In response, the Germans launched a failed counterattack on August 8 that led to 40,000 of their men being captured. On August 19, the French Resistance in Paris rose against the Germans, and days later, the Allies arrived to liberate the city. By the end of the month, the Germans were pushed out of France. Though they would launch one more offensive, the Battle of the Bulge, the Germans were on a downward spiral to losing the Second World War.

Click here to view video footage from D-Day and Operation Overlord.

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8 Comments

  1. Great chronology of this historical event, but possibly more information could have been given about casualties suffered by both Allies and German personnel. For example, perhaps 1/3 (figures needed) of people from Normandy itself were killed during the invasion; while virtually all (figures needed) of the allied soldiers who stormed Juno/Gold beaches, in the first wave of the invasion, were decimated by a determined German response. Most allied service men in this phase were drawn from descendants of Normans who had previously settled in Canada back in early 1600s. Moreover, isn’t it time we included in this kind of celebration, people from today’s Germany to honour their ordinary service men (majority of them were not Nazis) who also gave their lives on that day (figures needed). There are countless people today in USA/Canada whose families fled Nazi Germany before the invasion, and who also had relatives perishing during the invasion. Many thanks for this short summary of events leading to today’s 75th celebration of the landing in Normandy.

  2. An important anniversary in both American and World History. I hope there is a great deal made of this event and the impact it had on the outcome of WWII. Thank you Mystic for doing your part.

  3. Well done, what stamps should be about and these days doubt if generation “X” would even have an iota what that assault was about. Own a few of these myself, many more out there. Can be mind-boggling at times…

    Regarding, Rich

  4. Freedom is not free, demonstrated so courageously and sacrificially by that Greatest of Generations. We take so, so much for granted.

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