Was it necessary to invade the European continent to defeat Nazi Germany, or could the continual aerial bombing of towns and factories alone have done the job? Or was the invasion really mounted to forestall a Soviet victory and communist takeover of Europe? Some historians still debate the question.

D-Day

Code named Operation Overlord, the D-Day Invasion occurred on June 6, 1944, as elements of five Allied infantry and three Allied airborne divisions assaulted the Normandy coast of Nazi-occupied France during World War II. Under the overall command of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the landings on Gold, Juno, Sword, Utah, and Omaha beaches succeeded in establishing a foothold on the continent. Following an arduous campaign in Normandy and savage fighting across the German frontier, troops of the Western Allies met the Soviet Red Army, advancing from the East, and Nazi Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945.

Members of Tom Myers’s 110th Infantry cautiously move through the “green hell” of the Hürtgen Forest, November 2, 1944.

D-Day

The Battle of Hürtgen Forest: Army Rangers vs Fallschirmjägers

By James Marino

Mired in combat during the Battle of Hürtgen Forest of Germany, an American soldier wrote in December 5, 1944: “The road to the front led straight and muddy brown between the billowing greenery of the broken topless firs, and in the jeeps that were coming back they were bringing the still living. Read more

D-Day

The M2 4.2-Inch Chemical Mortar

By Christopher Miskimon

In the last days of March 1945, a soldier named Carl Getzel sat on a hill outside the city of Aschaffenburg and watched as it was slowly destroyed. Read more

Shooting up a German airfield with their eight .50-caliber wing-mounted machine guns, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighter planes of the 84th Squadron, 78th Fighter Group, Eighth Air Force roar past a flaming German fighter.

D-Day

P-47 Thunderbolts at the Battle of the Bulge

By Robert F. Dorr & Thomas D. Jones

The captured German pilot was cocky and boastful. He had just parachuted into the American airfield, now lit up by the fires of burning Republic P-47 Thunderbolts, a sprinkling of bright torches amid the gray January gloom and the dirty white snow. Read more

D-Day

Liberating Cherbourg, Normandy’s Great Port

By David H. Lippman

It was the storm that forced the battle. On June 19, 1944, a massive gale hit the English Channel, sweeping in from the west, hitting the gigantic artificial harbors the Allies had built on their D-Day invasion beaches. Read more

D-Day

M4 Sherman: “Blunder” or “Wonder” Weapon?

By Blaine Taylor

For the Allied tankers and infantrymen of the American, British, Canadian, and Free French armies battling German Panther and Tiger tanks in Normandy in the summer of 1944, the Sherman tank’s failures were glaringly evident as their own shells bounced off the hulls of the Nazi armor and they were themselves destroyed at a far greater range by the powerful German tanks. Read more