Seventy-two years ago, on June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops, aided by more than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft, began their invasion of Europe during World War II, bringing the long, bloody fight against the Third Reich to Adolf Hitler's doorstep. More than 9,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded during the invasion of the beaches of Normandy, France, in what would become known as D-Day. The war in Europe came to a close in May 1945, and World War II ended when the Japanese surrendered several months later. As world leaders, veterans, soldiers and family members gather in France today to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice, we present a photographic look back at the event that helped turn the tide of the war. Related: In their own words: The story of D-Day as told by the veterans who lived it Related: Associated Press reports from D-Day, 1944: Allies win footholds in France
Somewhere in England, these U.S. Army specislists, quartermaster corpsmen, use amphibious "Ducks " to unload a bargeload of gasoline cans, May 3, 1944 during drills for the western European invasion. One "Duck" is alongside the water at upper left and a third is on beach at upper right.
As the D-Day draws near, men of a U. S. tank division line up their General Sherman (M-4) tanks on a range for firing practice with their 75mm guns, somewhere in England, May 9, 1944.
Canadian snipers get some last minute training in England, May 9, 1944 as all await D-day. From left to right are : J. J. Showers, Montreal; C.H.Gerrard, Tottenham, Ont.; W. G. Bettridge, Brampton, Ont.; W.A.Lyons, Toronto and L.H. Oddy, Toronto.
The ‘Bazooka Boys’, a squad of tank maintenance men practicing on a firing range in England, May 9, 1944, marches through a collection of General Sherman tanks, as the tank crewmen watch, while final invasion preparation are made for D-Day.
Barrage balloon cruises high over a heavily loaded "rhino ferry" undergoing a test trip before D-Day, somewhere off the coast of England, June 1944.
Armored vehicles arriving at a British Port for transportation to France on June 6, 1944.
A company commander briefs his men, using a model of the French invasion coast, prior to the June 6 landings in northern France. Note tense expressions on faces of these men, who study details of terrain during his huddle somewhere in England, June 1944.
Charles Parker, right with back to camera, stands atop a transport craft for shuttling troops to larger ships for crossing the English Channel in preparation for D-Day in this June 1944 photo.
U.S. serviceman attend a Protestant service aboard a landing craft before the D-Day invasion on the coast of France, June 5, 1944.
Supreme Commander Dwight Eisenhower gives the order of the day "Full victory - nothing else" to paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division at the Royal Air Force base in Greenham Common, England, three hours before the men board their planes to participate in the first assault wave of the invasion of the continent of Europe, June 5, 1944.
Waiting somewhere in England on June 5, 1944 are these Allied soldiers and their armored vehicles, filling this narrow, tree-lined road with mechanisms of war as they ready themselves and their equipment for the invasion of Europe.
Lieutenant Harrie W. James, USNR, of New York, N.Y., briefs officers and men who participated in landing operations during the invasion of Southern France June 5, 1944 on the day before D-Day.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, left, reviews American troops at a base in England on the eve of D-Day, June 1944, during World War II. The initials AAAO on the steel helmets with a line across the As stands for "Anywhere, Anytime, Anyhow, Bar Nothing." The identification shoulder patches of the G.I.s are blotted out by the censor.
The first landings were made in France by the Airborne Forces. The whole Operations planned to take place with great precision were the result of many months of careful training. The men are seen making last-minute preparations, etc., before emplaning. Paratroops sitting with their kits ready for emplaning in June 1944.
In this image provided by the U.S. Army Signal Corps, General Dwight Eisenhower gives the order of the day, "Full Victory - Nothing Else," to paratroopers somewhere in England just before they board their planes to participate in the first assault in the invasion of the continent of Europe, June 6, 1944.
Part of the R.A.F. air armada before it set off from Britain for the French coast on June 6, 1944.
In this photo provided by the U.S. Army Signal Corps, U.S. paratroopers fix their static lines before a jump before dawn over Normandy on D-Day June 6, 1944, in France.
Airborne troops prepare for the descent on Europe on June 6th. Line-up of parachute dropping stirlings (aircraft) ranged either side of the runway on June 6, 1944.
The spirit of these G.I.s are high as their landing crafts set out for the shores of France, on June 6, 1944.
Landing craft are loaded with half tracks and other armored vehicles by American Troops, at an Embarkation point in England on June 6, 1944 just before they set sail for the D-day invasion of the French coast.
Lt. William V. Patten, centre of group, wearing overseas cap, briefs his crew at a port in England before the invasion of France began June 6, 1944. Patten and his ship are veterans of Tunisia, Salerno, Anzio and Licata.
These members of the first groups of assault troops to take part in the Allied invasion of Northern France receive benediction from an Army chaplain before leaving England on June 6, 1944, for the European continent. Their assault craft are in the background.
As the Allied invasion of the Normandy gets underway, American troops are shown as they embark in landing crafts at a British port, on June 6, 1944.
American troops embark in landing craft at a British port on June 6, 1944.
Crewmen maintain an alert at their gun stations on five-inch weapons aboard an invasion craft, one of the huge armada which carried Allied forces to the French Coast for the long-awaited assault on fortress Europe on June 6, 1944. Manning the gun in foreground is Boatswain’s Mate 1/C Ferrell Browening of Dallas, Texas.
Glider-borne troops cross the Channel with ships of the Royal Navy on June 6, 1944. In the background are the battleships Warspite and Ramillies.
15-inch guns shell German invasion coast positions on the Normandy coast on June 6, 1944.
Bouncing about on the rough waters of the Channel, these landing craft loaded with assault troops head for the shore of the French coast early in the dawn of D-Day, June 6, 1944.
Men, barges, landing craft and assault vehicles storm ashore on a beach in France on D-Day on June 6, 1944.
A U.S. Coast Guard LCI, heavily listing to port, moves alongside a transport ship to evacuate her troops during the initial Normandy landing operations in France, on June 6, 1944. Moments later the craft will capsize and sink.
Under the cover of naval shell fire, American infantrymen wade ashore from their landing craft during the initial Normandy landing operations in France, June 6, 1944.
Canadian troops in landing crafts approach a stretch of coastline code-named Juno Beach, near Bernieres-sur-mer, as the Allied Normandy invasion gets underway, on June 6, 1944.
In this image provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, while under attack of heavy machine gun fire from the German coastal defense forces, these American soldiers wade ashore off the ramp of a U.S. Coast Guard landing craft, during the Allied landing operations at Normandy, France on June 6, 1944.
Members of an American landing unit help their exhausted comrades ashore during the Normandy invasion, June 6, 1944. The men reached the zone code-named Utah Beach, near Sainte Mere Eglise, on a life raft after their landing craft was hit and sunk by German coastal defenses.
In this photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, a U.S. Coast Guard landing barge, tightly packed with helmeted soldiers, approaches the shore at Normandy, France, during initial Allied landing operations, June 6, 1944. These barges rode back and forth across the English Channel, bringing wave after wave of reinforcement troops to the Allied beachheads.
American soldiers and supplies arrive on the shore of the French coast of German-occupied Normandy during the Allied D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944 in World War II.
In this photo provided by the British Navy, wounded British troops from the South Lancashire and Middlesex regiments are being helped ashore at Sword Beach, June 6, 1944, during the D-Day invasion of German occupied France during World War II.
After landing at the shore, these British troops wait for the signal to move forward during the initial Allied landing operations in Normandy, France, June 6, 1944.
A first-wave beach battalion lay low under the fire of Nazi guns on the beach of southern France on D-Day, June 6, 1944 during World War II. One man operates a walkie talkie radio directing other landing craft to the safest spots for unloading their parties of fighting men.
Soldiers of the 2nd Canadian Flotilla are carrying bicycles as they disembark their LCIs at a beachhead code-named Juno Beach, at Bernieres-sur-mer, during the Allied invasion of the Normandy on June 6, 1944.
In this June 6, 1944 file picture, some of the first assault troops to hit the Normandy, France, beachhead take cover behind enemy obstacles to fire on German forces as others follow the first tanks plunging through the water toward the German-held shore.
Soldiers of the 2nd Canadian Flotilla are seen as they establish a beachhead code-named Juno Beach, near Bernieres-sur-mer, on the northern coast of France, on June 6, 1944, during the Allied invasion of the Normandy.
Carrying full equipment, American assault troops move onto a beachhead code-named Omaha Beach, on the northern coast of France on June 6, 1944, during the Allied invasion of the Normandy coast.
Sitting in the cover of their foxholes, American soldiers of the Allied Expeditionary Force secure a beachhead during initial landing operations at Normandy, France, June 6, 1944. In the background amphibious tanks and other equipment crowd the beach, while landing craft bring more troops and material ashore.
British troops make their way through low water and up the beach after leaving landing craft which transported them across the Channel to the Normandy beachhead for D-Day invasion in France, June 6, 1944 in World War II.
German prisoners of war are led away by Allied forces from Utah Beach, on June 6, 1944, during landing operations at the Normandy coast, France.
Men of the American assault troops of the 16th Infantry Regiment, injured while storming a coastal area code-named Omaha Beach during the Allied invasion of the Normandy, wait by the chalk cliffs at Collville-sur-Mer for evacuation to a field hospital for further treatment, June 6, 1944.
A French civilian points out the way for an American soldier who landed with the Allied expeditionary force in northern France, on June 6, 1944.
Special service troops (commandos) fight their way inland from French beaches under enemy shell, mortar and sniper fire. The British troops pushed inland on one of the Normandy beaches in France on June 6, 1944.
In Piccadilly Circus, crowds of Londoners read the first news of the invasion in the editions of the evening papers, June 6, 1944.
American assault troops move onto a beachhead during the D-Day invasion of German-occupied France on the beach of Normandy, June 7, 1944 during World War II. The harbor is filled with numerous other landing craft awaiting orders.
Commandos of the British Army rest on the beach after D-Day at Normandy, France, on June 7, 1944.
British Commando troops land on the Normandy beachhead on D-Day. British Commandoes advanced inland to gain the first Normandy village, June 7,1944.
Landing craft come into a beach in France on June 7, 1944, to deliver American fighting men to the continent.
Allied tanks stand in a line on a beach on the Norman coast, firing inland against German defenses as cover for assault troops moving ashore from landing craft, in the invasion on June 7, 1944.
In this British official photo, balloons are inflated within a few yards of the craft during an invasion exercise in France on June 7, 1944.
American troops loaded with equipment wade ashore and make for their assembly point in France on June 8, 1944. Units of the invasion fleet are lying off-shore all along the coast.
British troops, trucks, and ambulances stand on deck in readiness for landing as the transport ship nears the coast of France during the Allied invasion of the Normandy, June 8, 1944.
One of the deadly B-26 Marauders of the Ninth Air Force roars over the Channel on June 8, 1944, at a low altitude to blast gun installations and coastal defenses while landing craft steam toward the French coast.
A German machine gun nest along the Atlantic Wall, background, is captured by Canadian troops on June 8, 1944 following the Allied D-Day invasion of German-occupied Normandy, France, during World War II. A scaling ladder leans on the massed barbed wire defence to the concrete emplacement.
Assault troops line up for special supplies, including candy and cigarettes, just before moving out from their station in England on June 8, 1944 for the invasion of France.
Standing behind the protective cover of their landing craft door, American assault troops near a beachhead on the Normandy coast of France for the opening of the invasion of Fortress Europe on June 8, 1944. Smoke in left background is from supporting fire from naval ships.
American assault troops carrying full equipment move along a cliff on a beachhead, in Normandy, on June 8, 1944.
American Red Cross medics tend to a wounded soldier lying on the beach, during Allied Normandy landing operations in France, on June 9, 1944.
King George of Great Britain, takes the salute of assault craft at a British invasion port on June 9, 1944 which he visited before the attack on the French Coast began. He inspected the invasion fleet.
Special service troops (commandos) getting ready for the liberation of Europe and embarking at a coast port. Engineers carry all their own explosives for special assignments in France on June 9, 1944.
American troops dig foxholes behind the beaches in Normandy, France on June 9, 1944.
U.S. reinforcements wade through the surf from a landing craft in the days following D-Day and the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France at Normandy in June 1944 during World War II.
This photo shows part of the giant armada of 4,000 ships which massed off the coast of France near the Normandy shore (upper right) on June 9, 1944.
This June 9, 1944, view of a beach that was one of the Allied objectives on the coast of France shows the masses of men and equipment being landed from the various landing craft lying off-shore.
Some of the first German soldiers to surrender to the Americans during the battle of the Normandy beaches on June 9, 1944.
Members of a U.S. Navy Beach Battalion dig in and arrange gear for their first night ashore in France on June 9, 1944.
Two American soldiers rest against a cliff on the beach of the Normandy coast of France on June 9, 1944. The soldier at right is wrapped in blanket and the soldier at left stretches out beside an inflated life belt he apparently wore in making his way to shore.
American invasion troops stop for a breather under a protecting chalk cliff after wading ashore on the French Coast on June 9, 1944, during the Allied invasion of northern France.
Mortally wounded by a direct hit, this Coast Guard Infantry landing craft limps alongside a Coast Guard assault transport to evacuate all hands and its load of soldiers before sinking in the English Channel, June 10, 1944. Nazi gunners knocked out the LCI during the initial invasion of the French Coast on D-Day.
U.S. troops in the beachhead area in Normandy, France, use an anti-tank ditch on June 10, 1944, as a temporary first aid station.
U.S. troops use a captured German pillbox on a beachhead in Normandy as a temporary headquarters on June 10, 1944.
German prisoners, captured during an assault on a beachhead in Normandy on June 10, 1944, carry their wounded on stretchers to the beach to be evacuated.
Member of a shore fire control party set up “shop” in an old shell hole and immediately proceed to direct the fire of naval guns against targets on the beach in France on June 10, 1944.
German soldiers, former “Herrenvolk”, come over the crest of a hill with their hands over their heads in surrender to American troops during the battle for the Normandy beachhead in France on June 11, 1944.
Among the first to land on the Normandy beaches were Royal Navy Commandoes whose task was to remove various types of obstructions embedded by the enemy in the sands. High explosives and mines were attached to many of these obstructions. This photo shows commandoes running to get clear while obstacles are blown up on a Normandy beach, France, on June 13, 1944.
History was made at a Royal Air Force Transport Command Station when three Women's Auxiliary Air Force nursing orderlies, selected from 15 volunteers, took off in the first air ambulances to leave this country to bring back wounded from Normandy. Nine hours after its departure, the first Dakota plane to land in France returned to its base carrying six wounded soldiers. The first WAAF nursing orderly to land in Normandy, France on June 14, 1944 , was Corporal Lydia Alford, aged 27, seen on her return.
The American flag flies from a make-shift staff on a beach on the French Normandy coast on June 14, 1944 where allied troops fought bitterly to push back the Germans. Americans in the background push a captured German ammunition cart.
Pfc. Jerry Casillo, of Buffalo, N.Y., cleans his rifle during a rare moment of rest while his fellow soldiers catch some sleep on a beachhead at Normandy, France, during the Allied invasion, on June 15, 1944. His comrade on the right is Pfc. Rohde of Elmira, New York.
A Coast Guard landing barge ties up alongside an assault transport in the English Channel to deliver its cargo of wounded American invaders for treatment in the transport’s sick bay on June 16, 1944.
A medical officer on the right checks the walking wounded as they file ashore, each man tagged with a classification of his injuries, June 17, 1944.
Villagers of Amfreville, France, chat with members of a French commando unit who landed in Normandy with Allied forces on June 20, 1944.
U.S. infantrymen wade through the surf as they land at Normandy in the days following the June 1944 D-Day invasion of occupied France. An Allied ship loaded with supplies and reinforcements waits on the horizon.
U.S. reinforcements wade through the surf as they land at Normandy in the days following the Allies' June 1944, D-Day invasion of occupied France.
U.S. reinforcements wade through the surf as they land at Normandy in the days following the Allies' June 1944, D-Day invasion of occupied France.
American soldiers lie on stretchers and sit propped against a sea wall awaiting transportation back to England for treatment after being wounded in the Normandy invasion, northern France, June 1944 during World War II.
U.S. Army medical personnel administer a plasma transfusion to a wounded comrade who survived when his landing craft went down off the coast of Normandy, France, in the early days of the Allied landing operations in June 1944.
With his hair matted, and a weary but determined look in his face, this American soldier has his hand bandaged by a fellow medical officer, after he was wounded in battle in the early days of the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, in June 1944.
With the combined efforts of U.S. Navy construction battalions and U.S. Army engineers, beachhead roadways fast become realities, providing a steady stream of supplies from LSTs to the fighting troops at the front, during the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, in June 1944.
Associated Press War Correspondent Roger Greene stands on the Normandy battle front shortly after D-Day, June 6, 1944. Greene wore a white patch over his right eye, lost in a childhood accident, and made the D-Day invasion landing with his broken left wrist encased in a steel-ribbed leather gauntlet. Greene was shouldering a 65-pound rucksack and his water-proof typewriter when he was dumped into the channel off the French coast. Greene, of Washington D.C., pressed on to the shore and landed in a bomb crater where he promptly wrote his story.
A tribute to an unknown American soldier who lost his life fighting in the landing operations of the Allied Forces marks the sand of Normandy's shore, June 1944.
German prisoners of war, captured during the Allied Normandy invasion, are marched to the ships that bring them into captivity in England, in June 1944, at Bernieres-sur-mer, France.
American assault forces hurdle over the side of a Coast Guard LCI into a landing barge, which will bring them into the fight to liberate France, during the Allied invasion of the Normandy, in June 1944.
A pair of landing craft hit Utah Beach in Normandy, France, June 1944.
U.S. assault troops, laden with equipment, wade through the surf to a Normandy beach from a landing craft in June 1944 to support those who had gone before in the D-Day assault.