CHRONOLOGY OF THE INVASION

May 1943: President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill set a target date for a cross-Channel invasion by the Allies: May 1944. It is later postponed a month to allow for the building of more landing craft.

Jan. 16, 1944: Gen. Dwight Eisenhower arrives in England to command the Allied invasion forces. He had been appointed in December.

April 17: The British, having earlier sealed off England's southern coast to all visitors, impose censorship on all mail, including diplomatic pouches.

May 29: Allied troops begin moving from staging areas to ports. Embarkation begins.

June 1: The BBC broadcasts the first coded message to the French underground to prepare for an invasion. The Germans know the general significance of the broadcast, and put some units on alert. D-Day is June 5.

Sun., June 4, 4:30 a.m.: General Eisenhower calls the invasion fleet back; the weather is too rough. The 5th is the first of three days this month when tide and lunar phases will be ideal for an invasion: enough moonlight for airborne troops, and a low tide at dawn.

Eisenhower consults with his commanders that night. His meteorological staff predicts a 24-hour break in the storms before bad weather sets in again. Eisenhower decides to go on the 6th.

Mon., June 5: At a final meeting, the meteorologists are consulted again. ``OK,'' Eisenhower says, ``We'll go.'' The fleet puts out to sea.

Later, the second message to the Resistance goes out, telling them the invasion is imminent. The Germans pick up the message, but their forces in Normandy are not alerted. After a third message that evening, the underground sets off a wave of sabotage against railroads and communications lines.

Tue., June 6, midnight: US and British airborne troops set off for their drops on the flanks of the landing beaches.

5:20 a.m.: Bombing runs by more than 600 planes begin over the invasion beaches. Cloud cover limits their effectiveness.

5:35 a.m.: A 40-minute naval bombardment of the beaches begins by six battleships, 20 cruisers, and 68 destroyers.

6:30 a.m.: H-Hour for American soldiers landing on Utah and Omaha beaches. Because of the tides, British and Canadian forces begin landing somewhat later.

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