D-Day: Minute by Minute

D-Day: Minute by Minute
A view from inside one of the landing craft after U.S. troops hit the water during the Allied D-Day invasion of Normandy, France. The troops on the shore are lying flat under German machine gun resistance. (Photo by Robert F. Sargent/Getty Images)

(A version of this article by Lt. Col. Patrick Chaisson, USA (Ret), originally appeared in the June 2024 issue of Military Officer, a magazine available to all MOAA Premium and Life members. Learn more about the magazine here; learn more about joining MOAA here.)


On June 6, 1944, Allied forces under the command of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower came ashore along the coast of Normandy, France. This massive airborne and amphibious landing, now known as D-Day, opened the liberation of Nazi-occupied Western Europe during World War II.


Collected here is a minute-by-minute account of a few of the events on D-Day:



Pathfinder Capt. Frank L. Lillyman of the 101st Airborne Division becomes the first American paratrooper to land in France on D-Day.




Six British gliders, commanded by Maj. John Howard, land near key bridges spanning the Orne River and Caen Canal.



Paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division hoist an American flag over Sainte-Mère-Église, the first French town liberated on D-Day.



Dwight D. Eisenhower takes part in a June 6, 1951, ceremony in Sainte-Mère-Église, France, marking the town's liberation. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)


British airborne troops capture Merville Battery to prevent German gun crews there from shelling the invasion beaches.



More than a thousand 8th Air Force B-24 Liberator and B-17 Flying Fortress bombers attack targets along Beach Area; low clouds prevent accurate drops.


[MORE FROM MOAA: Wings of World War II]



278 B-26 Marauder medium bombers fly under the clouds to effectively deliver 550 tons of bombs on coastal fortifications along Utah Beach.



B-26 Marauders, with D-Day invasion stripes, strike a road and rail junction behind the front lines to slow down enemy reinforcements. (National Museum of the U.S. Air Force photo) 



H-Hour for Utah and Omaha beaches.



The destroyer USS Corry (DD-463) explodes off Utah; its crew abandons ship minutes later.



The destroyer USS Corry (DD-463), shown here in March 1944 after a successful engagement with a German U-boat, earned four battle stars for World War II service. (Photo via National Archives and Records Administration) 



The first wave at Omaha is stalled at the waterline; A Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, suffers an estimated 70% casualties with all its officers and NCOs killed or wounded.



Lt. Col. James E. Rudder’s 2nd Ranger Battalion lands at Pointe du Hoc and begins climbing 110-foot cliffs to seize suspected gun positions on top.



Army Rangers rest atop the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc, which they stormed in support of Omaha Beach landings on D-Day. (Navy photo via National Archives) 



H-Hour for the British forces at Gold Beach.



Capt. Joseph T. Dawson of the 1st Infantry Division leads his men up the bluffs overlooking Omaha; this site later becomes the Normandy American Cemetery.



The U.S. cemetery in Normandy, France, contains the graves of more than 9,300 U.S. servicemembers, most of whom died on D-Day. (Courtesy photo via Air Force)



U.S. demolition teams, their ranks decimated, cannot clear Omaha’s obstacles; the Coast Guard-crewed LCI(L)-91 is among dozens of landing craft destroyed.


[FROM MILITARY.COM: The Critical Role the Coast Guard Played in the D-Day Invasion]



H-Hour for British Sword Beach and Canadian Juno Beach; the Juno landings are delayed 10 minutes by rough seas.



Led by Brig. Gen. Norman D. Cota of the 29th Infantry Division, combat engineers blow a gap in the wire at Omaha; infantry advances.



Staff Sgt. Leonard “Check” Jindra, a 29th Infantry Division D-Day veteran, meets with a 29th ID soldier during a June 5, 2019, ceremony in France. (Photo by Maj. Scott Campbell, Virginia National Guard)


After discovering the 4th Infantry Division has landed off target at Utah, Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr., pictured, reportedly orders: “We’ll start the war from here!”



U.S. Navy beachmasters suspend vehicle landings on Omaha; First Army’s Lt. Gen. Omar N. Bradley considers shifting follow-on waves at Utah.



To stop German artillerymen from shelling Utah, 1st Lt. Richard D. Winters and 22 paratroopers attack their position at Brécourt Manor.



Herb Suerth, a veteran of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, walks past the the Richard D. Winters Leadership Monument near Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, France (near where Winters first landed), during the statue's 2012 unveiling. (Army photo)



With no U.S. artillery yet in place on Omaha, over one dozen Allied destroyers provide fire support; some reportedly close to within 800 yards of the beach.



Bradley receives a report from Omaha that reads “Troops formerly pinned down on beaches … [now] advancing up heights behind beaches.”



A 1st Infantry Division officer, 1st Lt. Jimmie R. Monteith Jr., pictured, is killed while leading his platoon out of a German ambush; he was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor.



The German 21st Panzer Division counterattacks British forces, forcing Allied commanders to halt their advance on Caen.



A flight of 176 U.S.-crewed cargo gliders comprising Mission Elmira approaches landing zones behind Utah.



Off Omaha, the battleship USS Texas (BB-35) secures after having fired hundreds of 14-inch and 5-inch rounds on enemy targets since 05:50 hours.



A heavy German artillery shell falls between USS Texas (BB-35), in the background, and USS Arkansas (BB-33), while the two battleships were engaging Battery Hamburg during the bombardment of Cherbourg, France, on June 25, 1944. (Navy photo via National Archives) 


D-Day ends with 156,115 Allied troops landed in Normandy, at a cost of 4,414 killed and thousands more wounded.


Note: Times shown are as documented in historical report and records. Time references marked with an asterisk (*) are based on eyewitness testimony. Official records were used to compile this list whenever possible.


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