June 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
On 6 June 1944, Allied forces launched the largest combined naval, air and land operation in the history of warfare. The combined assault on Nazi-occupied France was codenamed Operation 'Overlord' and the Allied landings on the Normandy beaches marked the start of a long and costly campaign to liberate north-west Europe from German occupation.
Normandy was chosen because of its close proximity to the British coast, thus allowing Allied aircraft to effectively support troops landing during the initial phase of the assault (Operation Neptune). Also, the German defences along this stretch of the coastline were less formidable than in the north as the German Command expected the Allies to land where the Channel was at its narrowest.
The invasion was conducted in two main phases - an airborne assault and amphibious landings. Shortly after midnight on 6 June, over 18,000 Allied paratroopers were dropped into the invasion area to provide tactical support for infantry divisions on the beaches. Allied air forces flew over 14,000 sorties in support of the landings and, having secured air supremacy prior to the invasion, many of these flights were unchallenged by the Luftwaffe.
Nearly 7,000 naval vessels, including battleships, destroyers, minesweepers, escorts and assault craft then took part in Operation 'Neptune', the naval component of 'Overlord'. Naval forces were responsible for escorting and landing over 132,000 ground troops on the beaches. They also carried out bombardments on German coastal defences before and during the landings and provided artillery support for the invading troops.
The ground troops landed across five assault beaches - Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. Despite poor weather conditions and fierce resistance from German units the operations were successful and by the end of the day, the Allies had established a foothold along the coast and could begin their advance into France.
D-Day was mostly an Anglo-American effort: British, American and Canadian troops made up most of the numbers, but no less than 17 Allied countries participated on the ground, the sea and in the air. The landings of 6 June 1944 entered history under the now legendary name of D-Day.
20p Created by Malindine E G (Capt), War Office official photographer, troops of 6th Airlanding Brigade are photographed smiling from the door of their Horsa glider on an RAF airfield as they prepare to fly out as part of 6th Airborne Division's second lift on the evening of 6 June 1944.
35p Created by Mapham, James (Sergeant), No. 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit, troops of 3rd Infantry Division are photographed 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.
50p Created by Midgley, A. N. (Sergeant), No. 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit, commandos of 47 (RM) Commando are photographed coming ashore from LCAs (Landing Craft Assault) on Jig Green beach, Gold area, 6 June 1944. LCTs can be seen in the background unloading priority vehicles for 231st Brigade, 50th Division.
£2 Created by McNeill, M H A (Lt), Royal Navy official photographer, HMS Warspite, part of Bombarding Force 'D' off Le Havre, is photographed shelling German gun batteries in support of the landings on Sword area, 6 June 1944. The photo was taken from the frigate HMS Holmes which formed part of the escort group.
FDC Created by Midgley, A. N. (Sergeant), No. 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit, troops from 6th or 7th Battalion The Green Howards, 69th Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division are shown embarking onto the LSI 'SS Empire Lance' at Southampton, 29 May 1944.
Layout: Bee Design
Photographs: © IWM
Printer: Cartor Security Printing
Process: Stochastic Lithography
Perforation: 13 ¼ x 13 ½ per 2cms
Stamp size: 42 x 28mm
Sheet Layout: 10
Release date: 6 June, 2019
Production Co-ordination: Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd
All photographs © Imperial War Museum