How Many People Died on D-Day?

March 14, 2024

The successful landings of D-Day, June 6, 1944, marked a turning point in World War II. They struck a psychological blow to the Nazis and allowed Allied forces to build up a front against Germany that eventually led to its defeat.

But the Allied D-Day invasion did not come without a high cost in human lives, especially at Omaha Beach. And for those who perished in the assault, their families, friends and coworkers were left with unimaginable grief and loss.

When the National D-Day Memorial was first being planned, its early leaders were faced with the difficult task of identifying every single Allied soldier, sailor, airman and coast guardsman killed during the Normandy Invasion. The task was made even more complicated by wildly different estimates of Allied casualties, and by the fact that men often died in the same locations, and sometimes had similar names. Recognizing the tenacious skills of Carol Tuckwiller, a retired librarian who took a part-time job at the Memorial, supervisors tasked her with tracking down and reviewing voluminous burial records, after-action reports, unit histories, personnel files, headstone applications, ship logs, and hometown obituaries. The effort came to be known as the Necrology Project.

From the moment they emerged from their landing craft, Allied troops were met with heavy German machine-gun fire and the threat of being trapped on the long, flat beach coded Omaha. They fought to free themselves from the pillboxes and cliffs lining the beach, and they strove to capture key points such as Pointe du Hoc. Then they continued the push into France to achieve their ultimate goal: to liberate a suppressed continent.

Mission

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