D-Day: 17 stunning photos from 1944 show how hard the Normandy invasion really was

On June 6, 1944, Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, forever reshaping the progress of the war and history during the D-Day operation.

Thousands of ships, planes and soldiers from the United States, Britain and Canada surprised Nazi forces.

More than 4,000 Allied soldiers, most of them younger than 20 years old, as well as more than 4,000 German troops died in the invasion. Up to 20,000 French civilians were also reportedly killed in the bombings.

In 2019, veterans and world leaders gathered to honor the soldiers who took part in the invasion, led by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and known then as Operation Overlord.

To mark the historic day, here are 17 photos that show how the battle unfolded.

This file photo taken on June 6, 1944 shows the Allied forces soldiers landing in Normandy. - In what remains the biggest amphibious assault in history, some 156,000 Allied personnel landed in France on June 6, 1944. An estimated 10,000 Allied troops were left dead, wounded or missing, while Nazi Germany lost between 4,000 and 9,000 troops, and thousands of French civilians were killed. The 75th anniversary of the D-day landings will fall on June 6, 2019.
This file photo taken on June 6, 1944 shows the Allied forces soldiers landing in Normandy. - In what remains the biggest amphibious assault in history, some 156,000 Allied personnel landed in France on June 6, 1944. An estimated 10,000 Allied troops were left dead, wounded or missing, while Nazi Germany lost between 4,000 and 9,000 troops, and thousands of French civilians were killed. The 75th anniversary of the D-day landings will fall on June 6, 2019.
Some of the first assault troops to hit the beachhead hide behind enemy beach obstacles to fire on the Germans, others follow the first tanks plunging through water towards the Normandy shore on June 6, 1944.
Some of the first assault troops to hit the beachhead hide behind enemy beach obstacles to fire on the Germans, others follow the first tanks plunging through water towards the Normandy shore on June 6, 1944.
Paratroopers of the Allied Army land on La Manche, on the coast of France on June 6, 1944 after Allied forces stormed the Normandy beaches during D-Day.
Paratroopers of the Allied Army land on La Manche, on the coast of France on June 6, 1944 after Allied forces stormed the Normandy beaches during D-Day.
This file photograph taken on June 6, 1944, shows Allied forces soldiers during the D-Day landing operations in Normandy, north-western France.
This file photograph taken on June 6, 1944, shows Allied forces soldiers during the D-Day landing operations in Normandy, north-western France.
H.M.S. Warspite is shown shelling German invasion coast positions.
H.M.S. Warspite is shown shelling German invasion coast positions.
Canadian soldiers land on Courseulles beach in Normandy as Allied forces storm the Normandy beaches on D-Day.
Canadian soldiers land on Courseulles beach in Normandy as Allied forces storm the Normandy beaches on D-Day.
US troops of the 4th Infantry Division "Famous Fourth" land on 'Utah Beach' as Allied forces storm the Normandy beaches on D-Day.
US troops of the 4th Infantry Division "Famous Fourth" land on 'Utah Beach' as Allied forces storm the Normandy beaches on D-Day.
British paratroopers, their faces painted with camouflage paint, read slogans chalked on the side of a glider after Allied forces stormed the Normandy beaches during D-Day on June 6, 1944.
British paratroopers, their faces painted with camouflage paint, read slogans chalked on the side of a glider after Allied forces stormed the Normandy beaches during D-Day on June 6, 1944.
Allied forces' military planes bombing enemy boats in order to prepare the allied troops landing aimed at fighting the German Wehrmacht as part of the Second World War.
Allied forces' military planes bombing enemy boats in order to prepare the allied troops landing aimed at fighting the German Wehrmacht as part of the Second World War.

Contributing: Shelby Fleig, USA TODAY. Follow USA TODAY's Ryan Miller on Twitter: @RyanW_Miller

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: D-Day: 17 stunning photos from 1944 show how hard the Normandy invasion really was