On the choppy waters of the English Channel, nearly 7,000 Allied navy and merchant vessels pushed toward the beaches of Normandy. Overhead, 12,000 bombers and fighter planes poured inland. Soldiers loaded with gear were crowded into open landing craft—tired, cold, stiff, soaked in sea spray. Many were seasick. Wave after wave of troops waded ashore, some in neck-deep water. They were met by withering fire from concrete pillboxes atop high bluffs. Left and right, soldiers fell, blown to bits. Survivors clawed their way forward, securing an Allied foothold in France.