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Europe gears up to mark 80 years since D-Day Normandy landings

A French soldier looks on as U.S. and French Naval Forces perform an amphibious assault rehearsal on OMAHA Beach, France, on 4th June 2024
A French soldier looks on as U.S. and French Naval Forces perform an amphibious assault rehearsal on OMAHA Beach, France, on 4th June 2024 Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Alessio Dell'Anna with AP
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D-Day, also known as Operation Overlord, remains the biggest amphibious operation in military history, involving around 150,000 Allied forces landing in Normandy on 6 June 1944.

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Europe is preparing to mark 80 years since D-Day with a week of commemorations and ceremonies.

On Tuesday, two French Navy landing craft arrived at Omaha Beach for an assault rehearsal involving dozens of volunteers. They were joined by US Army vintage Harley Davidson motorbikes in a large parade across the Normandy landing beaches.

On the other side of the Channel, the sea and skies around the English city of Portsmouth were buzzing with ships and planes as British veterans left the coast of the UK, heading to France.

The veterans will take part in parades, school visits and other ceremonies — including the official 6 June commemoration of the landings by soldiers from across the US, the UK, Canada and other Allied nations on five beaches.

Largest amphibious invasion in military history

On 6 June 1944, Allied forces invaded Normandy, on the northern coast of France, with an unprecedented armada of ships, troops and planes to punch a hole in Nazi leader Adolph Hitler's defences in Western Europe.

In France, the Allies landed over 150,000 troops, using more than 5,000 ships and landing craft.

It still remains the largest naval, air and land operation in history and significantly accelerated the fall of Nazi Germany, as its forces were already losing ground to the Soviet Union in the east and facing the earlier Allied invasion in southern Italy.

The effort mainly involved US, UK and Canadian troops but also received support from units from France, Australia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Greece, New Zealand, Norway, Poland and Rhodesia.

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