Five D-Day beaches in Normandy

D-DAY is one of the deadliest days in human history as over 150,000 soldiers landed on the beaches of Normandy.

The five beaches in the north of France have since become historical landmarks, with each given a codename for which they continued to be called by.

Utah Beach

Utah Beach was the first to be invaded by allied troops of D-Day
Utah Beach was the first to be invaded by allied troops of D-Day

Utah Beach – just over eight miles from Sainte-Mere-Eglise – is the beach furthest to the west and the first to see troops land as American soldiers set foot on the shores at 6.30am on June 6, 1944.

They had landed more than mile from their intended target but were able to take the beach and defeat the German resistance at the cost of only 197 casualties.

There was even a notable member in the attack, with Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr – son of the former US President by the same name – being the first senior officer to arrive on Utah Beach and playing a major role in directing his troops to victory.

Omaha Beach

Visitors from all over the world travel to Omaha Beach to pay tribute to the American soldiers that lost their lives on D-Day
Visitors from all over the world travel to Omaha Beach to pay tribute to the American soldiers that lost their lives on D-Day

The other beach hit by American soldiers was Omaha, situated near Vierville-sur-Mer.

Like at Utah, strong currents caused them to land some way off their mark – yet they did not have the same luck as their compatriots with 27 of their 32 DD tanks sinking before even making it ashore.

The remaining armoured vehicles suffered further problems while on the beach and they ended up suffering around 2,000 casualties before neutralising their German opposition.

Gold Beach

Many of the D-Day beaches still have wreckage left over from the Normandy landings including Gold Beach (Engyles/Flickr)
Many of the D-Day beaches still have wreckage left over from the Normandy landings including Gold Beach (Engyles/Flickr)

Nearly 17 miles to the east, British soldiers made their first landing on Gold Beach, which sits on the coast of Ver-sur-Mer.

Three guns were destroyed at the Longues-sur-Mer battery thanks to direct hits from British cruisers, limiting the casualties, as troops quickly advanced after landing at 7.25am.

They faced some resistance from fortified houses and the nearby Le Hamel strongpoint – but they managed to limit casualties to 1,000 before meeting up with Canadian allied forces.

Juno Beach

Juno Beach saw troops from Britain and Canada among others join in the fight against the defending Germans
Juno Beach saw troops from Britain and Canada among others join in the fight against the defending Germans

The Juno Beach attack was a joint effort between Canada and the United Kingdom with the Courseulles-sur-Mer shores still heavily defended by Germany after several failed bombardment attempts.

Troops struggled to push the Germans back with machine gun nest, heavy fortifications and mines located around the local area, before having to clear houses of the resisting opposition.

In total, allied forces suffered 961 casualties, including 340 dead.

Sword Beach

The advancement onto Sword Beach was swift but the allied forces faced resistance as they looked to push the Germans away from the shore
The advancement onto Sword Beach was swift but the allied forces faced resistance as they looked to push the Germans away from the shore (Mike Warner/Flickr)

The furthest beach to the east – Sword – is located in between Luc-sur-Mer and Lion-sur-Mer.

During the invasion, it saw 21 of its 25 tanks safely make it to shore, but heavy defences from mines to obstacles caused the British forces problems in clearing the German strongholds.

Sword Beach saw around 683 allied casualties, with soldiers from Poland, France and Norway also involved.

Why not stay just metres away from Omaha Beach at D Day House from just £81 a night and explore the incredible monuments nearby.

Can I visit the D-Day beaches?

Today, the five beaches are incredible expanses of sand and sea offering extraordinary views.

Gone are the obstacles, mines and other defences with millions of people visiting the region every year to step on the historical grounds.

The biggest of the quintet is Omaha Beach, which stretches six miles across the Normandy coast with museums and artefacts from World War II on show in the area.

Meanwhile, there are numerous other beaches in the Normandy area including Cabourg and Houlgate.

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