Was it necessary to invade the European continent to defeat Nazi Germany, or could the continual aerial bombing of towns and factories alone have done the job? Or was the invasion really mounted to forestall a Soviet victory and communist takeover of Europe? Some historians still debate the question.

D-Day

Code named Operation Overlord, the D-Day Invasion occurred on June 6, 1944, as elements of five Allied infantry and three Allied airborne divisions assaulted the Normandy coast of Nazi-occupied France during World War II. Under the overall command of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the landings on Gold, Juno, Sword, Utah, and Omaha beaches succeeded in establishing a foothold on the continent. Following an arduous campaign in Normandy and savage fighting across the German frontier, troops of the Western Allies met the Soviet Red Army, advancing from the East, and Nazi Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945.

D-Day

LIFE Photographer Ralph Morse’s War

By Susan Zimmerman

In an age before television and instant communications, Americans wanted to see what was going on in the world’s “deadliest conflict in human history,” and LIFE magazine was making a name for itself as THE war magazine during World War II. Read more

D-Day

The Amazing Voyages of the USS O’Brien

By Eric Niderost

At exactly three o’clock in the afternoon on February 25, 1944, a crowd gathered at the Boston Navy Yard for the commissioning ceremony of the USS O’Brien (DD725), a destroyer of the Sumner class. Read more

D-Day

Massacre at Hémevez

By Martin K.A. Morgan

When we remember the 13,000 paratroopers and glider infantrymen who contributed so significantly to the hard-won success of June 6, 1944, we tend to remember the stories that leave us with something to admire. Read more

D-Day

The “Big Wing” Controversy and Hugh Dowding’s Fall From Grace

By Jon Diamond

In the summer of 1940, the vaunted Luftwaffe, fresh from its victories in the skies of France and the Low Countries, began its aerial assault in an attempt to either bring Britain to “peace” terms or destroy the Royal Air Force as a prelude to Operation Sea Lion, the invasion of southeastern England. Read more

D-Day

The D-Day Invasion Museum

By Flint Whitlock

There is such a treasure trove of fine military museums in Normandy—perhaps more than anywhere else in the world—that we could devote an entire issue to nothing but them. Read more