70th anniversary of D-Day, commemoration ceremonies in western Mass.

HOLYOKE,Mass.(WWLP)- This Friday marks the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the allied invasion of Normandy during World War II.

On June 6, 1944 the assault phase of Operation Overlord, known as Operation Neptune, began.  About 156,000 Allied troops crossed the English Channel to begin the invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe.

The assault of about 7,000 ships and landing craft along a 50 mile stretch of the Normandy coast remains the largest amphibious invasion in history.  Soldiers came under heavy gunfire from the Germans in one of the costliest military advancements during WWII.

The U.S. National D-Day Memorial Foundation says allied casualties were at least 12,000.  Casualties include all that were injured, captured or killed.  The U.S. National D-Day Memorial Foundation  has recorded the names of the Allies killed on D-Day and have verified 2,499 American fatalities and 1,914 from the other Allied nations, a total of 4,413 dead.

The Germans were estimated to have 1,000 casualties.

Starting at 10 a.m. Friday, three veterans of the Soldiers’ Home of Holyoke that participated in D-Day will be recognized and honored.  One of the residents, Normand Drapeau, who fought on Omaha Beach is among them.

The ceremony will be on the second floor of the Soldiers Home, and highlights will include readings from the D-Day operation.

At the new Rivers Mill Center on West Main Street in Chicopee, veterans will be raising the city, state, and U.S. flags outside. Mayor Richard Kos is also expected to speak.

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