World War II (detail from Pearl Harbor photo)

Fighting for France

After D day, the Allies poured two million troops and tons of supplies, equipment, and munitions into France. Allied troops and armored divisions under the overall command of U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower spread inland from the beach and air-drop zones in Normandy. They stormed enemy positions, traded fire across fields, and tramped along winding roads that were often littered with shattered wagons, abandoned bicycles, burned-out trucks and tanks, and the bloated bodies of enemy dead. In towns, many with bombed-out buildings and rubble-filled streets, they advanced door-to-door in close-quarters fighting, always alert for sniper fire. During the three-month advance, 37,000 Allied infantry were killed.

Meanwhile Allied bombing and strafing battered German defenses. In August, amphibious landings from the Mediterranean poured troops and supplies diverted from Italy into southern France.

On August 29, 1944, U.S. infantrymen marched down the streets of Paris. They were greeted with cheers and kisses as residents celebrated the city’s liberation from German occupation. France had fallen to the Nazis in 1940, but an internal resistance movement had struggled to sabotage occupying forces and overthrow the German-backed Vichy government. By late summer of 1944, as Allied troops neared the city, freedom fighters took to the streets and Allied commanders dispatched a French armored division to the city. In days, the commander of German forces in Paris surrendered. By mid-September, the Allies were in control of Belgium and stood ready to strike Germany.

Soldier communicating by field telephone
Urban warfare in Saint-Malo, France
American paratroopers flushing out the enemy
U.S. troops march through Paris
French civilians showing the way to Berlin

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