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D-Day casualties in numbers

Explore D-Day casualties in numbers and discover real human stories behind the statistics. 

D-Day casualties

Graphic displaying the Normandy landing zones with the number of men killed on each Normandy landing beach.

Why did so many die on D-Day?

Allied deaths on D-Day totalled over 4,000 during Operation Overlord.

So many died on D-Day or became casualties in Normandy because of the nature of the campaign.

Operation Overlord was the largest, most complex operation devised by the Western Allies of the war that date.

An enormous invasion force was assembled. The first stage of the invasion, D-Day itself, drew in over 150,000 servicemen, 7,000 ships and 11,000 aircraft to assault five key beaches on the Normandy coast.

The Wehrmacht had been busy during its occupation of France. Along key stretches of coastline, it had been building a defensive network called the Atlantic Wall.

Comprised of control towers, concrete bunkers, artillery emplacements, beach obstacles, machine-gun posts and more defensive features, the Atlantic Wall was designed to stop any invasion on the beaches.

Despite an overwhelming preponderance of men and firepower, the beach assault forces had to rush into these defences and overcome them. In some areas, defences were stronger than others, resulting in higher D-Day casualties on some beaches than others.

As well as the German defenders, the Allies had to contend with the weather. Seas were choppy and hidden reefs and shoals beneath the waves were yet more obstacles to overcome. 

The D-Day plan also incorporated an airborne assault. Many paratroopers were scattered on deployment and dropped in away from their landing zones, leading to further deaths across Normandy.

The number of casualties on D-Day explained

How many soldiers died on D-Day?

An army padre holds a small memorial suervice for a soldier killed in the Nomrandy campaign, circa June 7 1944.

Image: An Army Padre leads burial service near Hermanville, 7 June 1944 (© IWM)

The widest reported figure is 4,441 Allied soldiers died on D-Day.

Including Wehrmacht casualties, estimates for soldiers killed on D-Day are estimated at up to 9,000 killed.

When you consider the Allies landed over 150,000 men on the Normandy beaches by the end of D-Day, casualties, and deaths for an operation of this size were relatively small.

Combat deaths mounted as the fighting left the beaches and pushed into the Normandy countryside.

How many airborne died on D-Day?

Operation Tonga was the British and Canadian airborne component of the D-Day landings.

Some of the earliest D-Day casualties were those taken by the Airborne forces. Dropped behind enemy lines ahead of the main invasion force, the paratroopers were tasked with capturing key bridges and canal crossings, attacking artillery emplacements and other disruption duties.

Together the British 6th Airborne Division and 1st Canadian Parachute Brigade was made of 8,500 men.

Some 800 airborne troopers were taken casualty on D-Day. According to Commonwealth War Graves data, just shy of 300 Commonwealth paratroopers were killed on D-Day.

What were the heaviest casualties on D-Day?

The combatant nation that suffered the heaviest casualties on D-Day was Nazi Germany.

Estimates suggest that the German forces on D-Day, which included soldiers and personnel impressed from occupied countries, lost as many as 9,000 soldiers killed.

In terms of casualties to force size, Canada proportionally took the largest number of casualties and subsequent losses. Close to 400 Canadians were killed on D-Day. 

Did anyone survive the first wave of D-Day?

British soldiers in a landing craft on their way to Gold Beach, Normandy, circa June 6 1944

Image: British infantry aboard their landing craft on their way to Gold Beach, Normandy (IWM (BU 1181))

The overwhelming majority of Allied servicemen survived the first wave of D-Day.

Different landing beaches showed different levels of resistance. At Juno and Omaha, for example, beach defences and geography combined to make the attacks very difficult.

Some units, such as those first on the beaches at Omaha, did take horrendous casualties, in some cases over 90% were killed or wounded.

On other beaches, resistance was weaker, but the advancing troops were still charging into bullets and bloodshed.

Private Ken Cooke was serving with 7th Battalion, The Green Howards in June 1944. He was part of the first wave of British troops to hit the beach.

"It was one big adventure to me - despite all the explosions, bullets flying past, battleships on fire and rockets going off," said Ken told UK Parliament.

"A lot of people were sick that day, but I found out I was a good sailor, despite never having been on a ship or a beach before.

"It wasn’t until the following day that we realised how serious it was, when people were looking around saying “Where’s Harry? Where’s Billy?”

"Somebody said: ‘You remember that tank that got blown up on the beach? They were standing next to it when it happened.’ That is when it all got scary."

By the end of the morning of D-Day, the Allies had established a beachhead and were pushing inland.

How many casualties were there in the UK on D-Day?

Commonwealth War Graves Commission records 230 casualties commemorated in the UK killed on June 6, 1944.

However, this isn’t to say these men were killed in the UK.

The focus of D-Day was Normandy in northern France. Even though Operation Overlord was immense in scale and scope, it took the German defenders completely by surprise. 

As such, very few if any casualties on D-Day were sustained in the UK.

At least 5,000 men were taken casualty in the training for D-Day. The most infamous episode came in April 1944 at Slapton Sands, Devon and Operation Tiger.

Vessels holding US soldiers training at Slapton were hit by German E-boats with the loss of over 900 American servicemen.

D-Day casualties by country

Allied casualties on D-Day

The Allies took approximately 10,250 casualties on D-Day.

This total includes killed, wounded, and missing servicemen, as well as those casualties from the airborne assault under Operation Tonga.

Of the 10,250 casualties, around 4,440 were killed.

British casualties on D-Day

48 Commando Cemetery, St Aubin-sur-Mer

Image: 48 Commando Cemetery, St Aubin-sur-Mer, before the graves were moved to Bayeux War Cemetery  © IWM

Britain supplied land, sea, and air forces for the Invasion of Normandy.

Two of the main landing beaches, Gold and Sword, were assigned to the British effort on D-Day. Additionally, the 6th Parachute Division. 

Initially, Britain had the largest presence in Normandy.  Operation Overlord had been devised by Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery and 80% of naval forces on D-Day came from the Royal Navy.

No official casualty figures were published by British military authorities at the time. This makes it difficult to find wholly accurate totals.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission records show some 1,760 British casualties commemorated in France from 6 June 1944. Another 200 or so are commemorated on Naval Memorials in the UK. 

D-Day Canadian casualties

Canada sent the lowest number of troops, aircraft, and vessels to Normandy for Operation Overlord, simply because it was the smallest of the three major nations leading the assault.

The Canadians punched far above their weight during the Battle of Normandy. Despite losing 30% of their landing craft before hitting Juno Beach, the Canadians were able to break their German defences. By the end of the day, they had made the most distance inland too.

Canadian forces on D-Day lost 370 men killed.

American casualties on D-Day

Omaha Beach was the bloodiest landing beach in terms of casualties, leading to the United States military taking the heaviest losses during the amphibious phase of the Normandy Landings.

Including airborne operations and the beach assault, the United States Army lost 2,500 men killed on D-Day.

D-Day German casualties

German losses for D-Day have historically been difficult to track.

Estimates suggest that the Wehrmacht may have lost up to 9,000 men killed, wounded, or missing on June 6, 1944.

As the Battle of Normandy progressed, Germany threw men and machinery at the Allies to halt their advance through northern France.

By the end of the Normandy Campaign in late August 1944, 27 out of 38 German Divisions had been destroyed. 

In Normandy, the German Army suffered 290,000 casualties in total, including 23,000 dead, 67,000 wounded, and more than 200,000 missing or prisoners of war.

Commandos carrying a wounded comrade on an improvised stretcher in Normandy on June 6 1944.

Image: Commandos of No. 4 Commando, 1st Special Service Brigade, use an improvised stretcher to bring one of their casualties back as they advance into Ouistreham, Sword area, 6 June 1944 (IWM (BU 1190))

D-Day Gold Beach casualties

Gold Beach was one of two Normandy landing beaches assigned to the British on D-Day. The British 50th Division led the attack.

British casualties on Gold Beach are estimated at around 1,000 in total with 350 killed.

D-Day Sword Beach casualties

Sword Beach was the second of the British D-Day landing beaches. The British 3rd Division spearheaded the amphibious assault on Sword.

Estimates suggest the British took 1,300 casualties at Sword with around 680 or so killed.

D-Day Juno Beach casualties

Juno Beach lay in between Gold and Sword and was assigned to the 3rd Canadian Division.

The Canadians suffered over 1,000 casualties on D-Day with 370 killed.

D-Day Omaha Beach casualties

“Bloody Omaha” was the D-Day landing beach that saw the highest number of casualties on D-Day.

Omaha  was assaulted by the 1st US Infantry Division, and elements of the US Rangers and 29th Infantry Division.

The US suffered 3,600 casualties at Omaha Beach. Around 770 were killed.

D-Day Utah Beach casualties

Utah Beach was the most westerly of the Normandy beaches attacked on June 6, 1944.

It was assaulted by the 4th US Infantry Division while the 82nd and 101st US Airborne Divisions attacked inland targets.

On Utah Beach, the US Army suffered 590 casualties and around 200 dead.

Read the D-Day stories behind the numbers

Captain Derek Ivon Gower

Captain Derek Ivon Gower

Image: Captain Derek Ivon Gower

Derek Ivon Gower, known as Ivon, was born on 5 September 1915 in Nairobi, Kenya, the son of Ivon Llewellyn and Ursula Margaret Gower.

Derek was serving with the Royal Artillery at the time of D-Day. He was killed in action on June 6, 1944.

The Kent and Sussex Courier for the 16th of June records his death and life. The paper notes that:

“Mr and Mrs Ivon Gower of “Greenways”, Sandhurst Park, Tunbridge Wells, had received notification of his death before going on to record that, aged 27, he was one of those who stormed the beaches between Cherbourg and Le Havre.

“He was a popular sportsman with a charming personality who had tried to join the army in 1939 but it was not until the following year that he was able to forsake the legal profession for the army. 

“Ivon was articled to Sir Robert Gower MP and later became a solicitor who practised in London. As a member of the Neville Golf Club, he excelled and won many prizes at this and squash rackets and played for his county.”

Ivon has no known grave and is commemorated on the Bayeux Memorial. 

Our thanks to Philip Baldock for this entry.

Lieutenant Oliver John Sinnatt 

Lieutenant Oliver John SinnattImage: Lieutenant Oliver Sinnatt

The eldest son of Doctor Oliver Sturdy Sinnatt and his wife Marjorie, Oliver was born in Sleaford, Lincolnshire in 1922. 

Oliver was commissioned into the Army on 30 January 1943. Half a year later, as a Lieutenant with the Royal Armoured Corps, he landed on Juno Beach on 6 June 1944.

He landed on Juno with ‘C’ Squadron, Inns of Cour Regiment, alongside the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division. Oliver’s British unit had been assigned to the Canadian sector to offer armoured reconnaissance support as they pushed inland.

‘C’ Squadron, equipped with Daimler Armoured Cars, were to advance inland at speed ahead of the main Canadian force and stop any German reinforcements from reaching Juno.

By 16:00 on 6 June, Oliver and ‘C’ Squadron had fought its way inland to the village of Reviers. Oliver’s vehicle attacked a German defence post. Sadly, Oliver and his Armoured Car Operator, Trooper William George Hall, were killed.

They are buried next to each other at Ryes War Cemetery.

With thanks to Kieran Reed for sharing this story.

LCI 524

On D-Day, LCI 524 was carrying members of 41 Commando across to Sword Beach.

It was hit several times on its approach to the beach and having made the drop, started to make out to sea when it was hit again exploding in a sheet of flame 2 miles off Ouisterham.

Burning fuel spilled out around the wrecked LCI and the five surviving crew members were rescued by a nearby US Coastguard Cutter at great risk to itself.

12 crewmembers perished, four bodies were recovered and buried, The remaining missing crewmembers are all commemorated on three of our Naval Memorials at Plymouth, Portsmouth and Chatham.

Ordinary Seaman Robert Dixon Panel 82 col 3, Able Seamen Leonard Holloway panel 82 col 2, LS Charles Ayres panel 81 column 2 commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

Commemorating the fallen of D-Day

Commonwealth D-Day Casualties are commemorated at cemeteries and memorials on or close to the former Normandy battlefields maintained by CWGC.

The United States' fallen from the Battle of Normandy are not in the care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Many were repatriated back to the United States but those left in France now rest in Normandy American Cemetery.

Some German burials can be found in CWGC’s Normandy cemeteries but the major sites, such as Cambe German War Cemetery, are maintained by the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge (VDK)

Bayeux War Cemetery

Bayeux War Cemetery

Bayeux War Cemetery, although started in 1952, has become one of the focal points for the commemoration of the Normandy campaign’s Commonwealth war dead. 

Over 4,500 war graves can be found in Bayeux War Cemetery. D-Day war graves total around 500 of the Commonwealth burials here. 

Within Bayeux War Cemetery stands the Bayeux Memorial, commemorating fallen officers and enlisted men with no known war grave. 1,800 servicemen are commemorated by name on the memorial.

Ryes War Cemetery

Ryes War Cemetery

Ryes War Cemetery lies close to Arromanches. 

The first burials at Ryes were made just two days after the landings on Gold Beach.

Today, it contains around 650 Commonwealth war graves, roughly a sixth of which were casualties killed on D-Day itself. Interestingly, there are around 330 German graves at Ryes War Cemetery.

Hermanville War Cemetery

Hermanville War Cemetery

Hermanville War Cemetery contains many D-Day war graves, which represent roughly a quarter of the 1000 or so burials in the cemetery.

Hermanville is a small village that lies a short way behind Sword Beach. It was occupied early on D-Day by men of the South Lancashire.

Later that day, the Shropshire Light Infantry and tanks of the Staffordshire Yeomanry managed to capture Bieville-Beniville, around 4 km to Hermanville’s south.

La Delivrande War Cemetery

La Delivrande War Cemetery

La Deliverande is only a short distance from Sword Beach, situated to the west of Hermanville.

The cemetery was started not long after D-Day, with casualties from Sword Beach buried here, drawn from the beach’s Oboe and Peter sectors. 

Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery

Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery

Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery contains over 2,000 Second World War graves.

As the name suggests, most of the war graves in Beny-sur-Mer are Canadian. 

Roughly 300 were killed on D-Day, either on Juno Beach or as the fighting turned inland.

Lighting their legacy

Lighting their Legacy

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The Great Vigil

The Great Vigil

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Bayeux Cathedral


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