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Stalin repeatedly asked Churchill and Roosevelt to open a second front by invading France which was at the time taken over by Germany. If they were to invade France then it would force the Germans to withdraw troops from the war against Russia to deal with British and American troops in France.
After much secret planning, General Eisenhower (The American commander of all the Allied forces) decided that the good weather expected for June 6th 1944 would last long enough for a seaborne invasion of France to take place. They decided that D-Day would be 6th June. He gave the go-ahead for Operation Overlord with the simple instruction of "Lets Go!"
The British and American troops' choice of the Normandy beaches took the Germans completely by surprise - there was no suitable port on the Normandy coast for the Allies to unload the huge amount of supplies and equipment they would need for an invasion. Therefore the Germans expected an attack across the shortest sea route to Calais.
The Germans were completely unaware that the Allies were bringing their own 'ports'. These were artificial harbours which could be towed across the Channel and onto which trucks, tanks and supplies could be unloaded. Even after the first landing had taken place Hitler was convinced that Normandy was not the real invasion, he held back over 500 tanks until it was late, when he was ready to use them , the British and Americans had established a firm hold on French soil.
Thousands of ships set out from the south coast of England, in all over 6,000 vessels joined the attack. They were supported by over 11,000 planes. The naval force crossed the channel overnight.
The heaviest fighting was on Omaha beach. Overall the allies suffered about 10,000 casualties (dead or wounded) on D-Day itself. It's not known how many German soldiers were killed or wounded on June 6, but it's been estimated at between 4,000 and 9,000.
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