Those who witnessed it never forgot it: the great armada of Allied ships that filled the English Channel on D-Day, June 6, 1944. From battleships, cruisers, and destroyers down to the much smaller landing ships and landing craft, these nearly 7,000 vessels bombarded the Normandy coast, ferried men, tanks, and equipment across the channel, and landed 150,000 troops—under withering German fire—on Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches in a single day. In numbers and scope, it was the largest seaborne invasion in history.
Meanwhile, some 12,000 aircraft flew above the sea, a dizzying assortment of fighters and bombers, transports, recon craft, and gliders. Taking off from air fields in England, they dropped thousands of paratroopers and even vehicles, bombed roads and German positions miles inland, provided vital intelligence, and attacked any German planes that were able to take to the skies. It was the largest single-day aerial operation in history.
And yet these important—and impressive—aspects of D-Day haven’t received the coverage they deserve, having been overshadowed by the fighting on the beaches. Veronico assembles photos of both the air and sea components of the D-Day invasion, giving the sailors and airmen their due and giving modern readers a vivid sense of what this monumental day was like in the air and at sea.
Nicholas A. Veronico is public affairs officer for the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and its SOFIA program (NASA’s airborne observatory). He previously worked as an aviation journalist and has numerous aviation titles to his credit, including, for Stackpole, Boneyard Nose Art (2013), Bloody Skies (2014), and Pearl Harbor Air Raid (2016).