On 6 June 1944, Operation Overlord – aimed at liberating German-occupied western Europe – commenced as Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, on D-Day.

British, US and Canadian soldiers descended on the beaches in an operation that turned the tide of the Second World War against the Nazis, marking the beginning of the end of the conflict. IBTimes UK looks back at this momentous event, 72 years ago.

D-Day landings Normandy 1944
Edward J Waters, Catholic Chaplain from Oswego, New York, conducts services on a pier in Weymouth for the first troops to head to NormandyReuters
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
British soldiers joke as they read a tourist guide about France aboard a landing craftAFP
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
US Army troops are seen on board a vessel bound for Normandy on the night of 5 June 1944, the day before D-DayReuters
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
American assault troops huddle behind the shield of a landing craft approaching Utah BeachAFP
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
British landing crafts line the Normandy shore, each with a barrage balloon designed to discourage enemy air attackReuters
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
US troops in landing craft head for a beach during the D-Day landingsKeystone/Getty Images
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
Canadian troops come ashore at a Juno Beach landing area on D-DayReuters
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
American soldiers leave the ramp of a Coast Guard landing boat under heavy Nazi machine gun fireReuters
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
Aerial view of the Allied forces engaged in the Overlord operation of landing while troops storm the Normandy beaches on D-DayAFP
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
Canadian soldiers land on a beach in NormandyAFP
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
American infantrymen wade towards a beach during the D-Day LandingsAFP
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
American troops, part of the Allied Expeditionary Force, wade ashore beside their amphibious tanks during the initial landings in FranceHulton Archive/Getty Images
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
Members of an American landing party lend helping hands to others whose landing craft was sunk by enemy action off the coast of FranceReuters
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
American assault troops of the 16th Infantry Regiment, injured while storming Omaha Beach, wait for evacuation to a field hospital for further medical treatment in this photo taken at Collville-sur-Mer, NormandyReuters
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
American medics administer first aid to wounded soldiers on Utah beach in NormandyHulton Archive/Getty Images
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
Crossed rifles in the sand are a comrade's tribute to this American soldier who died during the landingsReuters
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
US Army paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division drive a captured German Kubelwagen on D-Day at the junction of Rue Holgate and RN13 in Carentan, FranceReuters
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
Allied troops and vehicles are seen on Omaha Beach after it was secured after D-Day
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
British soldiers of the Royal Army Medical Corps take a breather after landing in France on D-DayKeystone/Getty Images
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
German prisoners-of-war are marched along Juno Beach landing area to a ship taking them to England, after they were captured by Canadian troopsReuters
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
The bodies of American soldiers lie on the ground in Normandy, France, awaiting burial, following the D-Day Allied invasionFox Photos/Getty Images
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
A Coast Guard combat photographer came upon this monument to a dead American soldier somewhere on the shell-blasted shore of NormandyReuters
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
A serviceman wounded during the Allied landings is lifted on a stretcher onto a DC-4 Dakota in Normandy, bound for EnglandFox Photos/Getty Images
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
7 June 1944: Soldiers try to flush out a German sniper located in a church in the centre of Sainte Mere Eglise, after the Normandy town's liberationKeystone/Getty Images
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
A crashed US fighter plane is seen on the waterfront in Bernieres-sur-Mer, France some time after the D-Day invasionReuters
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
15 June 1944: The body of a dead German soldier lies in the main square of Place Du Marche after the town was taken by US troops who landed at nearby Omaha BeachReuters
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
A happy crowd of American soldiers receive a warm welcome from the inhabitants of Cherbourg, after its liberationKeystone/Getty Images
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
20 June 1944: An American paratrooper and an elderly French woman enjoy a joke together in the shell-torn streets of Sainte Mere EgliseKeystone/Getty Images
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
24 June 1944: A Jeep from a US Army combat engineers unit drives past the destroyed Saint Malo church in ValognesReuters
D-Day landings Normandy 1944
21 August 1944: German prisoners of war captured after the D-Day landings in Normandy are guarded by US troops at a camp in Nonant-le-Pin, FranceReuters