General Dwight Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during the Second World War, delivered the above message to encourage Allied soldiers taking part in the D-Day invasion. (Image courtesy of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum).
The D-Day operation of June 6, 1944 brought together the land, air and sea forces of the allied armies in what became the largest invasion force in human history.
The operation, given the codename OVERLORD, delivered five naval assault divisions to the beaches of Normandy, France. The beaches were given the code names UTAH, OMAHA, GOLD, JUNO and SWORD. The invasion force included 7,000 ships and landing craft manned by over 195,000 naval personnel from eight allied countries. Almost 133,000 troops from England, Canada and the United States landed on D-Day.
Casualties from the three countries during the landing numbered 10,300.
Had the operation failed, General Eisenhower was also prepared to accept full responsibility. The night before the invasion, he penciled a note on a small pad that he would deliver if the invasion went wrong:
“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops,” Eisenhower wrote. “My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”
Of course, his note never had to be used. By June 30th, over 850,000 men, 148,000 vehicles, and 570,000 tons of supplies had landed on the Normandy shores. Fighting by the brave soldiers, sailors and airmen of the allied forces western front, and Russian forces on the eastern front, led to the defeat of German Nazi forces.