On June 6th, 1944 the forces of the United States landed on the beaches of Normandy in one of the most iconic battles in human history. The Allied Forces had an intense uphill battle in an attempt to defeat Nazi Germany and penetrate their massive Atlantik Wall. However, it is unlikely that most Americans would have made it safely on to the beaches if not for one certain boat, the minesweeper.
The first line of defense against naval vessels were mines laid out by the forces of Nazi Germany. Their primary focus was to move quickly through the water and cut loose mines attached to the seafloor. Minesweepers were made of wood to reduce detection from radar and launch sneak attacks on enemy vessels.
Minesweepers cleared the seas near Normandy to ensure that American vessels could get close enough to shore to launch. A large group of Harbor Defense Motor Launch (HDML) minesweepers cleared the entire English Channel to allow a safe landing for the Allied Ships.
Due to the high number of mines deployed during WWII minesweepers stayed active in their role for years to come. The Smithsonian Channel takes a deeper look at the unsung heroes of D-Day, the Minesweepers.