Omaha, Gold, Juno, Sword and Utah Beach were the five D-Day beaches. While the US troops landed at Utah and Omaha Beach, the British aimed for Sword and Gold Beach. The Canadians, meanwhile, reached Normandy via Juno Beach.

Utah Beach, the beach in the Manche département where the Americans landed on 6 June 1944

On the North-East Cotentin coast, Utah Beach extends over 5 km from Sainte-Marie-du-Mont to Quinéville.

Here, the Landings’ primary aim was to provide a springboard for conquering Cherbourg, a deep-water port. Were the operations on the Calvados beaches to fail, Utah Beach would also have provided an effective Plan B.

To lay the groundwork for the landing at Utah on 6 June 1944, an air-launched operation was performed the night before. This night-time operation was supposed to aid the troops’ progress by controlling the roads leading from the beach inland. Sadly the resulting human death toll was high.

The other D-Day beaches at a glance

Together with Utah, Omaha was the second beach in the American sector. The landings here proved the most complex and deadly – earning this Calvados beach the nickname “Bloody Omaha”. The landings of the British troops at Gold Beach were fairly successful, but the German army inflicted heavy losses on the Allies in Hamel village, which had been spared by the previous bombings. Sword Beach, meanwhile, was also where – along with British troops – the 177 French marines under Lieutenant Philippe Kieffer landed.

The landing of the Canadian troops at Juno Beach was hindered by the rising tide and many vessels exploded on the mines attached to the posts driven into the sand.