Remembering D-Day 80 years on
6 June 2024 marks 80 years since the D-Day landings, the largest amphibious operation in history, which marked the beginning of the liberation of France and Western Europe.
It drew on the knowledge of meteorologists, scientists, inventors, the combined might of militaries of 13 nations and assistance of tens of thousands of members of the French Resistance. It involved vast deceptions and secret operations to ensure success.
It's no surprise that D-Day has earned its place as one of the most significant battles in history.
We want to find as many Normandy veterans as we can and we need communities across the UK to help us find Normandy veterans, and to encourage and help them in registering their interest in participating in these Remembrance events.
The registration form is now closed, but if you haven’t had a chance to fill this in please get in touch with the Remembrance Events Team on RemembranceEvents@britishlegion.org.uk
RBL will support all Normandy veterans who wish to mark the operation 80 years on in a way suitable to their needs, and once registered, our welfare team will be in touch with the veterans and/ or their carer to understand how they would like to participate.
Commemorating D-Day 80 as an RBL Member
In 2024, RBL will be hosting a programme of commemorative events in Normandy on 5 and 6 June and in the UK at the National Memorial Arboretum on 6 June. We will also be providing resources to help our members and supporters find veterans in their local communities and to commemorate their service. We want people to make meaningful connections and celebrate the legacy of the whole D-Day generation.
Early in the new year these webpages will be updated with dedicated resources to help you host an event or hold an exhibition. For now, you might like to look at our Resources for members and start thinking about who in your community was involved in D-Day and the Battle for Normandy, as well as those who served in Monte Cassino, Imphal, Kohima and Operation Market Garden.
On the 6 June 1944 Operation Overlord, was finally launched as the first step to freeing Western Europe from Axis domination.
The D-Day landings, codenamed Operation Neptune, would include an armada of over 5,000 vessels and ships, nearly 11,000 aeroplanes and over 130,000 ground troops. These vast forces were coordinated from Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force with US General Dwight D Eisenhower appointed supreme commander of this huge conglomerate of troops and resources from different nations.
The landings had been shrouded in secrecy as part of a large coordinated deception effort the Allied secret services launched Operation Fortitude. Split into two parts Fortitude North and Fortitude South the aim was to convince Hitler that the planned invasion would be aimed at Norway (Fortitude North) or the Pas de Calais (Fortitude South).
As a result of these operations Hitler mistakenly moved troops from France to Norway and the German High Command moved divisions away from Normandy and towards Pas-de-Calais. BBC radio messages were broadcast on the eve of D-Day alerting Special Operation Executive Agents and French Resistance forces, encouraging them to make ‘maximum effort’ in carrying out acts of sabotage.
Shortly after midnight on 6 June 23,400 Allied paratroopers were dropped into Normandy to provide tactical support to the troops landing on the beaches. Allied air forces would go on to conduct over 14,000 sorties in support of the landings.
Just after 05:20 the Allied fleet opened up their guns all along the Normandy beaches. Between 06:30 and 07:30 across five beaches which encompassed 50 miles of coastline the Allied armies were landed. By the end of D-Day Allied forces had suffered nearly 10,000 casualties, of which 4,000 were fatalities.
The sacrifice and courage of the men and women who played their part in D-Day whether as service personnel, nurses, engineers, meteorologists, SOE agents or logistical support would secure for the Allies a foothold in mainland Europe for the first time since 1941.