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How D-Day Was Fought From The Sea

On 6 June 1944, two naval task forces landed over 132,000 ground troops on the beaches of Normandy as part of Operation 'Neptune', the seaborne invasion of northern France. The Western Task Force was responsible for the American beaches at Utah and Omaha, and the Eastern Task Force was assigned to the British at Gold, Juno and Sword. Within these task forces were five Naval Assault Forces - one for each of the five beaches. The Allied navies bombarded German coastal defences both before and during the landings and continued to provide artillery support after D-Day as troops moved further inland. Nearly 7,000 vessels took part in the invasion.

Naval forces and merchant ships also helped transport men and supplies during the crucial post-invasion build-up. Daily convoys, controlled and guarded by the Royal Navy, brought reinforcements and supplies from England and took casualties and German POWs from France. Between D-Day and the end of Operation 'Neptune' on 30 June, the Allied navies landed over 850,000 men, 148,000 vehicles and 570,000 tons of stores on the beaches. By the time the Battle of Normandy ended in August 1944, these numbers had increased to over 2 million men, 400,000 vehicles and 3 million tons of stores and supplies.

The Allied navies also had to deal with Germany's efforts to disrupt the operation, but Allied air power and naval patrols were able to limit the threat from Germany's U-boat fleet. In the weeks after D-Day the majority of Allied vessels crossed the Channel safely - 127 were damaged or lost through enemy action.