D-Day is June 6 on the National Day Calendar and we are honoring those who fought on the beaches of Normandy, France. This historical day is a reminder of the day troops of Allied forces staged one of the most pivotal attacks against Germany during World War II.
The Battle of Normandy was executed under the codename Operation Overlord and became known as the beginning of the end of World War II. The Battle of Normandy was along a 50 mile stretch of beaches, including Utah and Omaha Beach. While many explanations exist for the name, one reason may be due to the military countdown. The countdown designated the day and hour of the assault. D represented Day and H represented Hour in the military.
The battle liberated Northern France. Britain, the United States, and Canada sent more than 160,000 Allied troops under the leadership of General Dwight Eisenhower. The troops manned more than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft the day of the initial landing. The invasion is considered one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history. An amphibious military operation requires the use of naval ships to project ground and air power at a designated landing beach. Due to the sheer numbers of troops, ships, and aircraft involved, Operation Overlord required extensive planning.
Message to the troops of Normandy: “You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you.”
Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, 1944
6 Interesting D-Day Facts
- About 150,000 Allied troops successfully carried out their mission to storm the beaches of Normandy. Unfortunately, nearly 10,000 lives were lost on that day.
- The Normandy invasion a vital turn in the war began to turn the tide in the war against the Nazis and was a huge blow to Hitler.
- The Normandy Invasion is one of the most significant events of WWII.
- Allied forces consisted of troops from Australia, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Greece, New Zealand, Norway, and Poland.
- Over 18,000 Allied paratroopers were dropped into the invasion area.
- A few months before D-Day, General Eisenhower threatened to quit due to being at odds with Winston Churchill over a controversial plan.
HOW TO OBSERVE D-Day
On June 6th, World War II museums, memorials, and ceremonies honor the Allied forces who landed along the 50 mile stretch of beaches in 1944.
- Learn more about the Battle of Normandy by exploring World War II museums.
- Visit the National D-Day Memorial to attend the D-Day Commemoration at the WWII Memorial.
- Fly the American flag.
- Visit with a combat veteran and learn about their experiences.
- Watch Band of Brothers, which is a true story of U.S. Army’s Easy Company, 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division.
- Read books about the Battle of Normandy or listen to a podcast such as:
- D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II by Sarah Rose.
- The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan.
- Normandy ’44: D-Day and the Battle for France by James Holland.
- Pegasus Bridge by Stephen E. Ambrose.
- The Bedford Boys by Alex Kershaw.
- History Extra Podcast.
- Share your family stories and photos on social media and tag #DDay.