As plans matured for an invasion of Europe through Normandy, the Allies sought to prepare the battlefield for a favorable result even as they were mustering and training the forces that would participate in the invasion.
March 1944: Allied air forces disrupted transportation between the Seine and Loire Rivers in France. They also conducted strategic air bombardment deep into enemy territory to cripple German industry, destroy the German air force and isolate the landing areas.
June 5, 1944: Three airborne divisions (the British 6th and the United States 82nd and 101st) landed by parachute and glider near the beach areas to secure egress from the beaches and cover the deployment of the seaborne assault forces.
June 6 – Before Dawn: Allied naval forces, including the U.S. Coast Guard, swept the English Channel of mines and preceded the assault vessels to the landing areas.
June 6 – 6:30 a.m.: Six U.S., British and Canadian divisions began landing on Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches in history’s greatest amphibious assault. The 1st and 29th infantry divisions stormed ashore at Omaha Beach against fierce resistance.
June 6 –7:00 a.m.: The U.S. 4th Infantry Division landed at Utah Beach and pushed rapidly inland to link up with the airborne divisions that had already landed.
At Omaha Beach, the U.S. 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions battled German resistance over a beach bristling with obstacles. The beach area abruptly ended in steep sandy bluffs. The only available concealment was patches of tall marsh grass.
Further east on Gold, Juno, and Sword landing beaches, the British and Canadian divisions forged steadily ahead.
June 7-13, within a week after D-Day, under the cover of continuous naval gunfire and air support, the Allied beachheads were linked together. Temporary anchorages and artificial harbors were constructed to facilitate the unloading of troops and supplies.
June 14 – June 20: American emphasis shifted to overrunning the Cotentin Peninsula and isolating the port of Cherbourg.
June 21 – June 30: Allied offensives focused on Cherbourg and Caen. The 9th, 79th, and 4th Infantry Divisions battled their way through formidable fortifications and fierce resistance to seize Cherbourg. The port itself fell on June 27.
July 1 – July 18: U.S. infantrymen battled down the west coast of Normandy to seize La Haye-du-Puits and approach Coutances. British and Canadian divisions secured Caen on July 9. U.S. infantry divisions opened a route from Carentan to St. Lo. The 35th and 29th Infantry Divisions fought to the outskirts of St. Lo, and the 29th forced its way into the city. St. Lo was liberated on July 18.