D-Day: 17 stunning photos from 1944 show how hard the Normandy invasion really was

On June 6, 1944, Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, forever reshaping the progress of the war and history during the D-Day operation.

Thousands of ships, planes and soldiers from the United States, Britain and Canada surprised Nazi forces.

More than 4,000 Allied soldiers, most of them younger than 20 years old, as well as more than 4,000 German troops died in the invasion. Up to 20,000 French civilians were also reportedly killed in the bombings.

In 2019, veterans and world leaders gathered to honor the soldiers who took part in the invasion, led by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and known then as Operation Overlord.

To mark the historic day, here are 17 photos that show how the battle unfolded.

Members of a landing party help injured US soldiers to safety on Utah Beach during the Allied Invasion of Europe, on D-Day in Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944. (Photo: US ARMY / HANDOUT, US ARMY via EPA-EFE)

This file photo taken on June 6, 1944, shows the Allied forces soldiers landing in Normandy. (Photo: -, AFP/Getty Images)

American soldiers land on the French coast of Normandy during the D-Day invasion in June 1944. (Photo: Associated Press)

Some of the first assault troops to hit the beachhead hide behind enemy beach obstacles to fire on the Germans, others follow the first tanks plunging through water towards the Normandy shore on June 6, 1944. (Photo: AP)

British troops land on the beaches of Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944, marking the commencement of D-Day. (Photo: British Ministry Of Defence via EPA-EFE)

US soldiers wade through surf and German gunfire to secure a beachhead during the Allied Invasion, on the beaches of Normandy. (Photo: US ARMY via EPA-EFE)

Paratroopers of the Allied Army land on La Manche, on the coast of France on June 6, 1944, after Allied forces stormed the Normandy beaches during D-Day. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

This file photograph taken on June 6, 1944, shows Allied forces soldiers during the D-Day landing operations in Normandy, north-western France. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

US soldiers of the 16th Infantry Regiment, wounded while storming Omaha Beach, waiting by the chalk cliffs for evacuation to a field hospital for treatment. (Photo: US ARMY via EPA-EFE)

German troops surrender to US soldiers. (Photo: US ARMY / HANDOUT, US ARMY via EPA-EFE)

On board the Captain Class Frigate H.M.S. Holmes when she formed part of the escort to the Navy's big ships off Le Havre during their bombardment of enemy positions on the Normandy Coast on June 6, 1944. The 15-inch guns of the war ship shelling German invasion coast positions is shown. (Photo: AP)

A convoy of US landing craft nears the beach during the Allied Invasion of Europe, on D-Day in Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944. (Photo: US ARMY via EPA-EFE)

Canadian soldiers land on Courseulles beach in Normandy as Allied forces storm the Normandy beaches on D-Day. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

US troops of the 4th Infantry Division "Famous Fourth" land on 'Utah Beach' as Allied forces storm the Normandy beaches on D-Day. (Photo: Imperial War Museum via AFP/Getty Images)

British paratroopers, their faces painted with camouflage paint, read slogans chalked on the side of a glider after Allied forces stormed the Normandy beaches during D-Day on June 6, 1944. (Photo: STF, AFP/Getty Images)

Allied forces' military planes bombing enemy boats in order to prepare the Allied troops landing aimed at fighting the German Wehrmacht. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

US Army Air Corps photographers making aerial images of D-Day beach traffic, as photographed from a Ninth Air Force bomber showing vehicle lanes leading away from the landing areas, and landing craft left aground by the tide during the Allied Invasion, on the beaches of Normandy. (Photo: US ARMY / HANDOUT, EPA-EFE)

Contributing: Shelby Fleig, USA TODAY. Follow USA TODAY’s Ryan Miller on Twitter: @RyanW_Miller

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