On the morning of the 6th of June 1944, between 6:30 and 8 am, 3000 engineers, 5000 infantrymen, 500 Rangers, 100 tanks, artillery and mortar land on Normand soil, preceded by intense naval and air attacks, regretfully with little success against the well-entrenched enemy. It is a terribly murderous attack; by 12 noon already 3,500 men are out of combat and almost all the tanks destroyed. The German troups, heavily armed and well-hidden, lack munitions, but their highly effective shots from inland destroy the beach. The American soldiers’ bravery proves decisive.
Leaving their temporary dike and pebble shelters, they climb the grassy cliff slopes between the German fortifications and capture Vierville by surprise, liberating the village at 10 am. The anti-tank wall of Vierville-sur-Mer is finally destroyed at 5 pm. The troups can begin advancing to Vierville. On the other side of the beach things are going better. Le Ruquet is cleared out within the morning and the two US regiments can advance and liberate Saint-Laurent and Colleville by the end of the day.
Simultaneously, an immense task is undertaken : the construction of the Omaha Beach artificial bridge. A 6 km long protective mound is made out of 24 old boats and 55 enormous reinforced concrete docks, poured on-site. Pre-fab facilities used to unload the ships are installed. In spite of a strong North-East storm from June 19 to 21 that damages the port, it remains in-use until the liberation of Cherbourg in September 1944.
These figures provide an idea of the enormity of the task completed in 4 months : 1,200,000 tons of material and supplies, 60,000 tons of gasoline, 75,000 vehicles, 600,000 men are unloaded, in total, half of the American expeditionary force.
At the same time a large hospital is set up under a tent and an aviation area is created on the Saint Laurent plateau in order to treat and evacuate the wounded to England. Europe will be liberated.
The calm that one feels today on the beautiful Omaha Beach site makes it almost impossible to imagine the dramatic events of D-Day, June 6, 1944.