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Word Count: 683
A great invasion force stood off the Normandy coast of France as dawn broke on 6 June 1944 9 battleships 23 cruisers 104 destroyers and 71 large landing craft of various descriptions as well as troop transports mine sweepers and merchant men in all nearly 5000 ships of every type It was the largest armada ever assembled The naval bombardment that began at 0550 that morning detonated large mine-fields along the shoreline and destroyed a number of the enemys defensive positions To one correspondent reporting from the deck of the cruiser HMS Hillary it sounded like the rhythmic beating of a gigantic drum all along the coast In the hours following the bombardment more than 100000 fighting men swept ashore to begin one of the epic assaults of history a mighty endeavour as President Franklin D Roosevelt described it to the American people to preserveour civilization and to set free a suffering humanity The attack had been long in coming From the moment British forces had been forced to withdraw from France in 1940 in the face of an overwhelming German onslaught planners had plotted a return to the Continent Only in that way would the Allies be able to confront the enemys power on the ground liberate northwestern Europe and put an end to the Nazi regime On the night before the invasion the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions would land by parachute and glider near the town of Ste Mere-Eglise securing the roads that led from the shoreline and obstructing enemy efforts to reinforce beach defenses The next morning Bradleys First Army would arrive The VII Corps would put the US 4th Division ashore on UTAH Beach near les Dunes de Varreville To the east the V Corps composed of the US 1st and portions of the 29th Infantry Divisions would land on OMAHA Beach near the town of Vierville-sur-Mer With a foothold secure in Normandy V Corps would expand the
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