"An immense armada of more than 4,000 ships and several thousand smaller craft have crossed the Channel..." These were the words of Mr. Churchill announcing the commencement of the long-awaiting invasion in the West on June 6, 1944. The great assault took place between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8.15 a.m. on that morning, and at 9.30 a.m. Communiqué No. 1 from General Eisenhower's Supreme Headquarters announced that landings had been made on the north coast of France, and that General Montgomery was in command of the 21st Army Group (which included British, Canadian and U.S. forces) carrying out the attack.
Mr. Churchill said the landings were the first of a series in force on the European continent, and that 11,000 first-line aircraft were backing operations. He revealed that our forces had penetrated enemy defences inland to a distance of several miles, and that successful landings of airborne troops "on a scale far larger than anything that had been seen so far in the world" took place with little loss and great accuracy. Fighting was in progress around Caen in Normandy, which is nine miles inland and has an airfield: situated on the River Orne, it is the most important road junction in the southeastern part of the Cherbourg Peninsula and is 130 miles from Paris.