It was on this day, June 6, 1944, that approximately 156,000 Allied American, British, and Canadian forces stormed five heavily fortified beaches of Normandy, France by air and by sea for Operation Overlord, one of the largest amphibious (sea/land) military operations in history. Over 4,000 Allied service members lost their lives on those beaches, code named Gold, Juno, Omaha, Sword, and Utah, with thousands more wounded or missing in action. That day, now known to history as D-Day, began the three month Battle of Normandy which eventually resulted in the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi German control and was a turning point that has been called the “beginning of the end of war” in Europe.
Interestingly, there is no definitive answer for what the first “D” in D-Day stands for. Today’s US Army offers two possible explanations: It stands for Day, literally making it Day-Day – a coded designation for the day of an operation. Another possible answer came from former US President and Operation Overlord’s commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower who dictated a letter in 1964, that called it a “departed date.” Either way, both have the same meaning – it was the day the operation began.
There were many “d-days” over the course of the war, but today we remember those who were at Normandy and we honor their service.
Was Normandy a part of your family story? Please feel free to share in the comments section.