Eisenhower’s D-Day Message to the Troops
In February 1944 Allied General Dwight D. Eisenhower started writing of an order that would change the world. WWII had been raging for years and the final act was on the verge of beginning. The Allies would be invading German occupied France and the results of the invasion would most likely determine the war.
For years the Germans had worked to turn Europe into a fortress. The Atlantic Wall, a series of fortifications that spanned the entire coast, would be the great obstacle that must be overcome. To that end the Allies gathered over 4,000 ships and almost three million troops to breach the defenses. Strategy questions, weather issues and proper timing was the next obstacle.
Finally on the morning of June 5th Eisenhower made the decision that the next day would be the day. Looking back on the letter he started in February he finalized his words. In the letter he took responsibility for the decision to go ahead, and the blame should it fail. The daily order was issued to the troops in letter form before the invasion kicked off. The letter above belonged to one of the soldiers from that day.
For a readable version click here.
The invasion started with a bombardment of naval guns and flights of bombers. This was followed by an airborne assault of paratroopers that would pave the way for the landings. 175,000 men proceeded to storm the beach and turn the tide of history.
There is a footnote to this story. Eisenhower had another letter ready to go should the invasion fail. Thankfully he didn’t need it The original is in the archives of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas.