Paris (AFP) – The June 6, 1944 landings by Allied forces on five Normandy beaches were the biggest naval operation ever in terms of the number of ships deployed to bring over troops, equipment and supplies.
Here are key figures about the D-Day landings, a turning point in the conflict, based on figures from France’s Caen Memorial on World War II.
– The Allies –
– Troop strength: On the first day of the operation, 156,177 troops landed on the beaches chosen for the D-Day invasion, most of them American, British and Canadian. They were grouped mainly in five infantry and three airborne divisions.
By the end of the day, 10,470 were killed, injured or listed as missing.
Around 133,000 troops arrived by sea. Another 23,000 landed by air, of whom 13,000 were American paratroopers from the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions who were dropped behind Utah Beach. Ten thousand paratroopers from the British 6th Airborne Division landed between the Orne and Dives rivers.
– Air power: On June 6 alone, 11,500 aircraft — including 3,500 gliders, 5,000 fighters and 3,000 bombers — flew over the Normandy beaches, dropping 11,912 tonnes of bombs on German coastal defence forces. Losses were comparatively low — 127 aircraft were lost and 63 damaged.
– Naval forces: Operation Neptune involved 6,939 vessels, the most ever involved in an amphibious landing. The actual landing force included 4,126 boats and landing craft, grouped in 47 convoys.
Some of the Landing Craft Assault boats were carried across the English Channel on larger vessels and were only dropped into the sea once off the beaches on which they were intended to land.
Other kinds of landing craft crossed under their own power. They included small troop carriers called Landing Craft Infantry; Landing Craft Tanks and the larger Landing Ship Tanks, which transported tanks and other vehicles; and the “ducks”, amphibious vehicles driven by a propeller.
Around 20,000 vehicles and 1,000 tanks were brought into France.
– The logistical fleet: 736 auxiliary vessels and 864 cargo ships carried food, munitions and floating hospitals to France. Among the cargo ships, 54 were used as blockships, scuttled to create protective reefs.
– The fighting squadron: The warships included seven battleships, of which four were British and three from the US, as well as around 20 cruisers; 221 destroyers, frigates and corvettes; 495 gunboats; 58 subchasers; 287 minesweepers; four mine layers and two submarines.
– German forces –
– Troop strength: Just under 150,000 soldiers of the 7th Army were stationed in Normandy, of whom around 50,000 were in the landing zone.
Near the beaches was a single armoured division, the 21st, southeast of Caen, and six infantry divisions. Two other armoured divisions, the 12th SS Panzer Division and the Panzer-Lehr Division, were near Evreux and Alencon-Le Mans respectively.
Three other units — the 1st SS Panzer Division, and the 2nd and 16th Divisions — were based north of the Seine river, around Mons, Peronne and Senlis.
– Air power: Fewer than 500 aircraft, of which a large number had just been sent to the eastern front, with only several dozen bombers and fighter planes.
– Sea power: 30 gun boats, four destroyers, nine torpedo boats, 35 submarines.
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