Utah Beach was the westernmost landing beach taken by the Allied troops during the invasion of Normandy on D-Day (also known as Operation Overlord).
The beach is about 3 miles long and is situated between the small French villages of Pouppeville and La Madeleine. It was the first of two American landing zones on the 6th June 1944. Utah Beach was only added to the invasion plan later on by General Bernard Montgomery when more landing craft – such as Higgins boats – became available. General Montgomery believed that by capturing the beach, this would give Allied troops a firmer foothold in the Cotentin region. Consequently, this in turn would enable a faster capture of Cherbourg.
At 6:30am, the first wave of amphibious tanks landed on Utah Beach and immediately after, so did the American troops. The 4th U.S Infantry Division, under direction of General Barton, climbed the dunes of La Madeleine, the beach of Sainte-Marie-du-Monte. They successfully attacked the German bunkers and blockhouses that littered Utah Beach.
Originally, the Americans were met with fierce machine gun fire but after a few minutes this stopped and long distance guns, situated a few kilometers inland, were mercilessly fired by the 709th German Infantry Division.
In stark contrast to Omaha Beach, German resistance was significantly reduced by the overnight air and naval bombardment. Nearly 200 American soldiers were killed and a further 60 went missing.
By the early afternoon, 1, 700 vehicles had landed in addition to 23,250 American soldiers. 28 of the 32 tanks successfully landed and the 4th U.S Infantry Division were joined by the 82nd and 101st American Airborne Divisions.
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