The invasion of Normandy, codename “Operation Overlord”, in 1944 through the eyes of the British Army.
Operation Overlord was the code name for the Battle of Normandy, the Allied operation that launched the successful invasion of German-occupied western Europe during World War II. The operation commenced on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings (Operation Neptune, commonly known as D-Day). A 1,200-plane airborne assault preceded anamphibious assault involving more than 5,000 vessels. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on 6 June, and more than three million allied troops were in France by the end of August.
The Allies failed to reach their goals for the first day, but gained a tenuous foothold that they gradually expanded as they captured the port at Cherbourg on 26 June and the city of Caen on 21 July. A failed counterattack by German forces on 8 August led to 50,000 soldiers of the German 7th Army being trapped in the Falaise pocket. The Allies launched an invasion of southern France (Operation Dragoon) on 15 August, and the Liberation of Paris followed on 25 August. German forces retreated across the Seine on 30 August 1944, marking the close of Operation Overlord.
Casualties and Losses of the United Kingdom & Commonwealth Forces (Canada) are approximated 82,309 including 15,818 killed, 4,101 planes and 4,000 tanks.
British Army in Normandy
Sherman tanks and other vehicles of 13th/18th Royal Hussars, 27th Armoured Brigade, aboard LCT 610 approaching the French coast, 6 June 1944. The Sherman tank in the foreground (T147161 ’10’ ‘Balaclava’) is a RHQ tank. In front of it is a Sherman BARV (Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicle).
A jeep and other vehicles and troops passing through La Breche as they move inland from Sword Beach, Normandy, 6 June 1944.
Commandos of 1st Special Service Brigade led by Brigadier Lord Lovat (in the water, to the right of his men) land on Queen Red beach, Sword area, c. 0840 hours, 6 June 1944. Sherman DD tanks of 13th/18th Royal Hussars and other vehicles can be seen on the beach. Lovat’s piper, Bill Millin, is in the foreground about to disembark.
Troops of 3rd Infantry Division on Queen Red beach, Sword area, circa 0845 hrs, 6 June 1944. In the foreground are sappers of 84 Field Company Royal Engineers, part of No.5 Beach Group, identified by the white bands around their helmets. Behind them, medical orderlies of 8 Field Ambulance, RAMC, can be seen assisting wounded men. In the background commandos of 1st Special Service Brigade can be seen disembarking from their LCI(S) landing craft.
Troops from 3rd Division of the British Army, some with bicycles, move inland from Sword Beach, 6 June 1944. Photograph taken from a Universal carrier.
British Army and naval beach parties on Sword Beach in Normandy on D-Day, 6 June 1944.
British 3rd Division troops passing a First World War memorial in Hermanville-sur-Mer, 6 June 1944.
German prisoners being escorted back through La Brèche d’Hermanville by men of the 2nd King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, 6 June 1944.
Troops of 3rd Division pause in La Brèche d’Hermanville during their move inland, 6 June 1944.
French civilians show their identity cards to a British Royal Army Service Corps captain of No. 6 Beach Group in La Brèche d’Hermanville, 6 June 1944.
Commandos of 1st Special Service Brigade in action with a Bren gun during the advance to link up with 6th Airborne Division at Benouville, 6 June 1944.
Men of No. 3 Commando dig in beside a Horsa glider near La Haute Ecarde, on the western end of DZ ‘N’ between Ranville and Sallenelles, after the link-up with 6th Airborne, 6 June 1944.
Commandos of No. 4 Commando, 1st Special Service Brigade, and troops of 6th Airborne Division in Bénouville after the link-up between the two forces, 6 June 1944.
Commandos of 1st Special Service Brigade march German and Italian prisoners back to the rear, 6 June 1944.
German prisoners being marched along Queen beach, Sword area, 6 June 1944.
A group of German prisoners standing in the water next to a disabled Sherman Crab flail tank watch as a jeep is towed from the sea, Queen beach, Sword area, 6 June 1944.
An M10 Wolverine 3-inch self-propelled gun of 20th Anti-Tank Regiment on Queen Red beach, Sword area, 6 June 1944.
Commandos of 1st Special Service Brigade digging in near Horsa gliders on 6th Airborne Division’s landing zone east of the River Orne, near Ranville, on the evening of 6 June 1944.
Universal Carriers of 2nd Middlesex Regiment (3rd Division’s MG battalion) pass a Churchill AVRE of 77th Assault Squadron, 5th Assault Regiment, in La Brèche d’Hermanville, 6 June 1944.
D-day – British Army during the Invasion of Normandy, 6th June 1944.
Members of 12th Parachute Battalion, 5th Parachute Brigade, 6th Airborne Division, enjoy a cup of tea after fighting their way back to their own lines near Ranville after three days behind enemy lines, 10 June 1944.
British troops herd cattle past a Morris ‘Quad’ artillery tractor and 25pdr field gun, Normandy, 8 July 1944.
A British casualty is brought back to a Universal Carrier being used to evacuate wounded, 49th (West Riding) Division, Operation ‘Epsom’, Normandy, 27 June 1944.
A British infantryman prepares to fire a PIAT anti-tank weapon, Normandy, 9 August 1944.
A Loyd carrier and 6-pdr anti-tank gun of the Durham Light Infantry, 49th (West Riding) Division parked alongside a knocked-out German Panther tank during Operation ‘Epsom’, 27 June 1944.
A group of veteran German prisoners captured at Maltot, 23 July 1944.
MPs question a German prisoner who was found to be carrying a large quantity of Russian banknotes, 20 July 1944.
A soldier of 3rd Division guards two German soldiers captured at Caen, 11 July 1944.
Infantry of the 59th Division dug in on the outskirts of Caen, 9 July 1944.
A cheerful group of soldiers from 3rd Division pose for a photograph in Caen, 10 July 1944.
Churchill tanks move up at dawn near the village of Tourville to attack Hill 112, 16 July 1944.
A British soldier examines an abandoned German ‘Nebelwerfer’ near Troarn, Normandy, 20 July 1944.
A Centaur Mk IV tank of the Royal Marines Armoured Support Group near Tilly-sur-Seulles, Normandy, 13 June 1944.
Carriers of the Queen’s Regiment drive through a cornfield as a German Panther tank burns in the background, during the advance towards Aunay-sur-Odon, 31 July – 1 August 1944.
The crew of a Sherman tank of 7th Armoured Division pose with a German swastika flag captured near Roucamps, 8 August 1944.
Daimler armoured car and crews of 1st Troop, ‘C’ Squadron, 11th Hussars, 22 September 1944.
REME fitters prepare to install a new engine into a Sherman tank at 8th Armoured Brigade workshops, 9 August 1944.
A Cromwell Mk V tank of 4th County of London Yeomanry, 22nd Armoured Brigade, 7th Armoured Division, leads a column of armour (including a Sherman Firefly immediately behind) and soft-skin vehicles inland from King beach, Gold area, 7 June 1944.
A Cromwell tank crew of 4th County of London Yeomanry, 7th Armoured Division, preparing a meal in front of their vehicle, 17 June 1944. Left to right: Trooper Arthur Nelson, Trooper William Leonard and Sergeant A Gordon.
A gunner at a 25-pdr battery, British Army, chats to a local French girl in Normandy, 20 July 1944.
A sergeant of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps bandages the wounded ear of ‘Jasper’, a mine-detecting dog at Bayeux in Normandy, 5 July 1944.
A casualty is carried back on an improvised stretcher to a Regimental Aid Post for treatment.
Reverend Victor Leach, Padre of 13/18 Hussars, reading the burial service for a fallen tankman who was killed in action with the German 21st Panzer Division in the Hermanville sur Mer sector of Normandy, France. The dead man’s comrades stand in silent tribute at the graveside.
Sherman tank crew of ‘C’ Squadron, 13th/18th Royal Hussars, 27th Armoured Brigade, rest and write letters home by the side of their vehicle, 10 June 1944.
Rifleman Reg. Oates of Walthamstow and Sergeant James Woodward of Tottenham take up a position with a Piat mortar in a cornfield near Caen.
General Sir Bernard Montgomery addressing Allied war correspondents at a press conference at his headquarters, 11 June 1944.
Troops of the British Army marching through Bayeux, with the cathedral in the background, 27 June 1944.
Infantry and Sherman tanks wait to advance at the start of Operation ‘Goodwood’, 18 July 1944. A Sherman Firefly is in the foreground.
Major General George ‘Pip’ Roberts (right), commanding 11th Armoured Division, with Brigadier Roscoe Harvey of 29th Armoured Brigade, and a Sherman command tank, Normandy, 15 August 1944.
Sherman tanks and infantry of the British Army during the advance on Caen, Normandy, 9 July 1944.
Captain L Cotton MM (left, wearing a ‘liberated’ German Iron Cross!) with his Cromwell VI tank, ‘Old Bill’, and crew of 4th County of London Yeomanry, 7th Armoured Division, 17 June 1944. Cotton had been promoted to captain following the regiment’s action at Villers Bocage.
A union flag hangs in the main street of Les Andelys in Normandy as British forces arrive, 31 August 1944. The woman in the foreground is Madame Scarlett, wife of an expatriate Englishman and owner of the Hotel des Fleurs.