On June the 5th 1944 the largest combined military operation was about to begin. It was codenamed Operation Overlord, consisting of over 5000 ships, 160000 Soldiers, 24000 Paratroopers and countless Navy personnel. the actual assault was split into two phases, air assault and amphibious landings on five beaches on the coast of Normandy. the first phase of the assault was conducted by Paratroopers of the American, British, Canadian and the Free French.
The objective of the Para troops was to capture key bridges and installations behind enemy lines. Prior to the main air assault groups of Para troopers were dropped into Normandy in designated areas to place radar beacons in the drop-zones. this was so that pilots could find the correct drop zones to deploy their troops in the main assault. due to poor weather and anti-aircraft fire many of the beacons could not be planted as many areas were flooded or to heavily defended. Just after quarter past midnight 6th June, six Horsa gliders carrying 181 troops commanded by Major John Howard landed within yards of their objective and with the element of surprise captured their attended target, Pegasus Bridge. this was despite the constant and threat and attacks that were ongoing.
The Objectives of the American Para troops of the 82nd airborne division was to capture Sainte-Mere-Eglise and protect the flanks of the impending assaults at Omaha and Utah beaches. the 101st Airborne division was to be dropped behind Utah beach to protect the numerous exits from the beach. However, many of the American Para troops were dropped miles from their intended dz due to poor weather and intensive flak from German anti-aircraft guns pounding the skies.
Despite the chaos of the missed drop zones the Para troops reformed in mixed units of 82nd & 101st capturing many of their objectives. at 02.00hrs RAF Bombers were leaving airfields on the south coast of England on route to bomb many key targets near the beach heads to soften the German defences. During the early hours of the first day the Allied troops continued to capture many of their objectives such as the British taking control of the Merville battery, a coastal fortification containing four 150mm guns overlooking Sword beach in the British sector.
At 05.30hrs the allied navy warships begin the shelling the beaches and coastal defences in preparation for the amphibious troop landings.