Learn about the Allied invasion of France -- the D-Day invasion -- and other major June 1944 events by following the World War II timeline below.
World War II Timeline: June 6-June 13
June 6: In an awesome show of military force, the Allies land on the coast of France. By the end of the day, German positions in Normandy will be bombarded with more than 175,000 troops, 600 warships, and nearly 10,000 bombers and other warplanes. By the end of the month, nearly a million Allies will be on French soil.
While the European Theater is heavily engaged on the beaches of Normandy, Allied Pacific Theater commanders set the date for a similar invasion of Japan for October 1 of the following year.
June 7: German troops detain King Leopold III of Belgium and transport him to Nazi Germany.
June 8: The beaten and depleted Wehrmacht retreats from coastal positions in eastern Italy.
June 9: For the first time, the Allies launch bombing missions on German positions from recaptured airfields on the French mainland.
June 10: The village of Oradour-sur-Glâne is destroyed, and 642 men, women, and children are slaughtered, by members of the Waffen-SS who are searching for a missing gold shipment and Major Helmut Kämpfe, kidnapped by French partisans.
Americans on the Normandy beaches code-named "Utah" and "Omaha" join forces and move inland.
June 12: Six days after the initial D-Day invasion, the Allies have cemented a solid offensive line along the Normandy beaches.
June 13: Hitler unleashes his long-promised "secret weapon" against England. Over the next 80 days, V-1 rocket bombs will kill 5,500 civilians and cause widespread destruction.
World War II Headlines
The headlines below shed light on additional newsworthy events of 1944, including news from the Pacific theater.
Japanese soldiers in Saipan choose death over surrender: In a World War II photo, the corpse of one of the 23,811 Japanese known to have died on Saipan leans back on a tree as if asleep. How he died is unknown, but he evaded the fate of thousands sealed in caves or charred beyond recognition. Perhaps he died in a night raid or a banzai charge. The last charge, on July 7, cost more than 3,000 Japanese lives. Perhaps this soldier in the photo committed suicide rather than surrender. Only 736 of the 30,000 defenders, includuing 438 Koreans, allowed themselves to be captured. As the garrison commander, General Saito, concluded before committing hara-kiri, "Whether we attack, or whether we stay where we are, there is only death."
U.S. Marines seek spiritual strength during Saipan campaign: During the initial landings on Saipan, Marines listened as chaplains gave them a prayer and blessing over the ships' loudspeakers. Of 71,034 officers and men committed to the invasion of the island, casualties amounted to 14,111, or about 20 percent. Nearly four times as many Marines became casualties on Saipan as on Tarawa. Navy chaplains, who supported the Marine Corps, moved between units from dawn till dusk, providing up to 14 services a day. They also performed burial services.
Americans try to spare civilians while attacking in Saipan: American forces on Saipan were ordered to avoid civilian casualties when attacking enemy-held caves. Most American troops showed good will towards civilians, even amid a quintessentially brutal battle. Civilians showed fear when encountering American servicemen, whom the island's Japanese commander called "American devils." Propaganda that civilians would be tortured and killed prevented many from leaving their caves. Hundreds followed the lead of Japanese troops and committed suicide, most famously by leaping off cliffs at Marpi Point.
In the next section, find out what happened during the remainder of June 1944. Notable World War II events of the period are chronicled in a timeline.
For more timelines and information on World War II events, see: