On June 6, 1944, under the code name Operation “Overlord,” US, British, and Canadian troops land on the beaches of Normandy, France, on the English Channel coast east of Cherbourg and west of Le Havre.
After the German conquest of France in 1940, the opening of a second front in western Europe had been a major aim of Allied strategy during World War II. Under the overall command of US General Dwight D. Eisenhower and using the code name Operation “Overlord,” US, British, and Canadian troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, on the English Channel coast east of Cherbourg and west of Le Havre. A successful Allied deception plan led the Germans to believe the main attack would fall further north and east on the coast near Calais and the Belgian border. Fooled, the Germans moved only slowly to reinforce the Normandy defenses after the initial landing. Yet the Germans contained Allied troops in their slowly expanding beachhead for six weeks. Allied forces finally broke out of the Normandy beachhead near the town of St. Lo in late July and began the liberation of northern France. By mid-August, Allied troops had encircled and destroyed much of the German army in Normandy (Falaise pocket) and by late August, Free French forces liberated Paris.