D-Day June 6th, 1944.


D-DAY June 6th, 1944. That was 72 years ago today.


On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily fortified French coastline, to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which, “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end, the Allies gained a foot-hold in Continental Europe. The cost in lives on D-Day was high. More than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 Soldiers to begin the slow, hard slog across Europe, to defeat Adolf Hitler’s crack troops.

Battle plans for the Normandy Invasion is the most famous D-Day.

What does the “D” in D-day mean?

D-Day Map




In Paul Dickson’s “War Slang,” he quotes Robert Hendrickson’s Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, “Many explanations have been given for the meaning of D-Day, June 6, 1944. It is known as the day the Allies invaded Normandy from England during World War II.  The Army has said that it is “simply alliteration, as in H-Hour.”  Others say the first D in the word also stands for “day,” the term a code designation.  The French maintain the D means “disembarkation,” still others say “debarkation,” and the more poetic insist D-Day is short for “day of decision.”  When someone wrote to General Eisenhower in 1964 asking for an explanation, his executive assistant Brigadier General Robert Schultz answered: “General Eisenhower asked me to respond to your letter.  Be advised that any amphibious operation has a ‘departed date’; therefore, the shortened term ‘D-Day’ is used” (p.146).  I’ve heard it also referred to as “dog day,” i.e. every dog has its day or dog soldier, but I doubt this idiom is accurate in this reference to D-Day.

Brigadier General Schultz reminds us that the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, was not the only D-Day of World War II.  Every amphibious assault—including those in the Pacific, in North Africa, and in Sicily and Italy—had its own D-Day. Guam called it W-Day. That was designated by General Spruance for the attack on the West coast of Guam, or for Wasp the aircraft carrier where much of the airstrikes originated. On Tinian was J-Day, or for the attack to take place on a day in July. For Okinawa was L-Day for “Love-Day.” They all had their day of “Departure Date.”

D-Day for the invasion of Normandy by the Allies was originally set for June 5, 1944, but bad weather and heavy seas caused U.S. Army General Dwight David Eisenhower to delay until June 6 and that date has been popularly referred to ever since by the short title “D-Day”. Because of the connotation with the invasion of Normandy, planners of later military operations sometimes avoided the term to prevent confusion. For example, Douglas MacArthur’s invasion of Leyte began on “A-Day”, and the invasion of Okinawa began on “L-Day”. The Allies’ proposed invasions of Japan would have begun on “X-Day” (on Kyūshū, scheduled for November 1945) and “Y-Day” (on Honshū, scheduled for March 1946). Thankfully those days of “X-Day” and “Y-Day” never happened.

The above was from the internet search for “What was D-day?” “Why was it called D-day?”  “What was J-Day on Tinian?” “What was W-Day on Guam? Some of the information written here also came from the book featured on this site “Pain and Purpose in the Pacific.”

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