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Operation Overlord and the D-Day landings

The Story

Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, Sword. Neptune, Mulberry, Overlord. Finally the codenames make sense for the thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and support crews taking part in D-Day. After over a year of planning, the Allied forces have invaded Fortress Europe and are on their way to victory. On the eve of the 40th anniversary of D-Day, CBC reporter Dan Bjarnason explains the action that day and the historical significance of Operation Overlord. 

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: June 1, 1984
Guest: Charles Stacey
Host: Knowlton Nash
Reporter: Dan Bjarnason
Duration: 4:18

Did You know?

• Only after the ships and landing craft departed from the south coast of England did the invading units learn where they were headed: a 60-kilometre stretch of five beaches on the Normandy coast between Cherbourg and Le Havre.
• American forces would land at Utah and Omaha beaches to the west while British troops would take Gold and Sword beaches on the east. Juno Beach, where the Canadians landed, was sandwiched between Gold and Sword.
• There were 7,016 Allied navy vessels involved in the operation, including two monitors, six battleships, 22 cruisers, 71 corvettes, 93 destroyers and thousands of landing craft.
• In the air, 171 squadrons of fighters and fighter bombers flew about 14,000 sorties to protect the landing, ward off the Luftwaffe (the German air force) and bomb enemy ground positions.
• Almost 6,000 Allied vehicles, including 900 tanks and armoured vehicles, were ashore within three days of the invasion.
• Key to the success of the operation were two artificial harbours, code-named "Mulberry," constructed in England and towed to the invasion zone. They made it possible for large ships to bring in heavy supplies before the Allies could seize a port city from the enemy.
The Longest Day is a book about D-Day, written by Cornelius Ryan and published in 1959. Three years later it was made into a movie starring John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Richard Burton and many other notable actors.
• The archival BBC radio clip in this segment opens with the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. These four notes (dah-dah-dah-dum) signalled "victory" because of their similarity to Morse code for the letter V (dot-dot-dot-dash). British Prime Minister Winston Churchill introduced the "V for Victory" campaign in 1941, and the BBC used those four notes in its broadcasts.


D-Day: Canadians Target Juno Beach more