Alexandria-Caen Sister Cities Committee member LTC(R) Tom Christianson, Senior Historian to the Secretary of Defense-History, presented a lecture “The Longest Day: June 6, 1944″ to a packed crowd at the Lyceum in Old Town, Alexandria on June 5th, 2014. We invite you to read an article by LTC Tom Christianson and watch videos of the lecture below.
The Longest Day: June 6, 1944
By Tom Christianson
On June 6th, 1944 the Allies, under the command of General Dwight Eisenhower invaded Nazi held France. They chose Normandy as they knew the Germans expected an invasion near Calais, the shortest distance between Great Britain and France. The invasion fleet numbered more than 7,000 ships and carried more than 130,000 soldiers, making it the largest invasion in world history. Three Parachute Airborne Divisions, one British/Canadian and two American, dropped during the night, numbering 17,000 troops. They were followed that morning by the assault on the beaches. Despite bitter resistance the Allies established a firm beachhead. The cost was significant in that casualties including killed and wounded for the Americans numbered about 6,000 and for the British/Canadian around 4,300. Incredibly, less than a week after June 6th the Allies had landed more than 330,000 men and 55,000 vehicles, along with 104,000 tons of supplies. This is an achievement that would be difficult to match today.
British/Canadian troops got to the outskirts of our Sister City Caen on the first day. The Germans frustrated further Allied efforts by sending some of their best armored tank divisions into the fight. Only after more than a month of combat did the Germans pull out of Caen on July 8, 1944. The city was virtually destroyed by bitter fighting.
The Alexandria-Caen Sister Cities Committee is honored to recognize the sacrifices made on D-Day in Normandy, France.