The announcement everyone was waiting for arrived in Manchester over a makeshift tannoy at the Army Equipment exhibition in Manchester.
Soldiers and civilians alike craned their heads towards the loudspeaker which suddenly crackled into life.
A monotone voice delivered the momentous news that the allied forces had successfully landed on the Normandy beaches.
It was Tuesday June 6th 1944. D-Day. The long anticipated liberation of France had begun.
Everyone in the city prayed for their loved ones serving across the Channel – either wading ashore under heavy fire or tending the many injured and wounded.
Brave soldiers like Manchester Marine G. Sincock- we don’t know his first name – who is pictured receiving a cup of tea from a nurse on board a hospital train.
The striking image captures all the horror – and compassion – of war in one touching moment.
As D-Day unfolded, prayers were offered up in solemn dignity in St Ann’s Church in Manchester. It was one of many services held across the city.
Newspapers, including the M.E.N. rushed out special editions which were eagerly snapped up on the street.
Harassed newspaper sellers, as our picture shows, had to ration the first edition to regular customers only!
D-Day itself was the largest seaborne invasion in history. It started with a massive aerial and naval bombardment followed by an airborne assault shortly after midnight.
More than 24,000 American, British and Canadian airborne troops paved the way for the allied infantry and armoured divisions to land on the French coast at 6.30am.
The target was a 50-mile stretch of coast divided into five sectors – Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.
As well as facing heavy gunfire, strong winds blew landing craft east of their intended positions. Beaches were mined and covered with barbed wire and hazardous obstacles.
Casualties were highest at Omaha with its high cliffs, but towns were cleared at Gold, Juno and Sword.
In all, 156,000 troops came ashore on D-Day. There were 73,000 from the USA and 83,000 from Great Britain and Canada.
There were more than 10,000 allied casualties, including 4,414 confirmed dead. German casualties were estimated at between 4,000 to 9,000.
By the end of June 11th, known as D+5, a total of 326,547 troops, 54,186 vehicles and 104,428 tons of supplies had come ashore.
The allies failed to achieve any of their aims on the first day. Bayeux, Carentan and St. Lo remained uncaptured, along with the critical target of Caen.
But a vital foothold had been established on French soil – a foothold which enabled the allies to send more units into battle in the weeks to come.
The Manchester Regiment landed in France on June 27th and was quickly involved in bitter fighting in the Battle of Normandy.
The regiment formed part of the allied force that captured Caen on July 9th and fought in the Battle of Falaise in August.
Whole towns and villages were devastated. In Valognes, debris literally had to be ploughed off the streets by powerful mechanical shovels just for vehicles to pass.
Buildings remained gutted and half-standing after the allies’ bombardment and the German retreat. The townspeople had long since disappeared. Nothing was left habitable.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill journeyed to the front line to boost troops’ morale as the allies pushed further into France.
Our photo shows him sharing a joke with soldiers outside Caen under the watchful eye of the British commander General Bernard Montgomery.
After taking Caen, the Manchesters reached the Belgian city of Antwerp by early September.
The regiment fought alongside the First Canadian Army at the Battle of the Scheldt in the Netherlands and crossed the Rhine into Germany in March 1945.
The Manchesters saw their final action of World War II in Bremen when the city was captured on April 26th. They reached Hamburg by the time the surrender was signed.