CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Historians regard D-Day as among the greatest military achievements ever.
After nearly five years of war, most of western Europe was occupied by German troops or fascist governments. American and British leaders took years to plan the massive invasion of mainland Europe in hopes of toppling Hitler's regime.
Let's connect the dots.
It combined over 156,000 U.S., British and Canadian troops, along with nearly 7,000 ships to pull it off.
The goal was to trick the Nazis into thinking the invasion would take part on a different part of the French coast. Troops and supplies were in place by May, but bad weather delayed the launch by a month. All five beaches were secured within five days of the invasion, which brought 2.5 million troops and 4 million tons of supplies.
Peter Smoothy, 97, served in the British Royal Navy and landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
“The first thing I remember are the poor lads who didn’t come back ... It’s a long time ago now, nearly 80 years ... And here we are still living,” he told The Associated Press.
“We’re thinking about all these poor lads who didn’t get off the beach that day, their last day, but they’re always in our minds.”
The massive influx of troops marked a decisive turning point in World War II and Germany surrendered less than a year later.
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