The title above is a direct quote from General Dwight D. Eisenhower, as he prepared the troops who were about to storm the beaches at Normandy. He added to it saying “we will accept nothing short of victory.” June 6, 1944 is a day that will forever live in infamy. The heroic efforts of almost 200,000 Allied troops as they landed at five different locations on the beaches of Normandy will never be forgotten. Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword were the code names given to the five locations. This was the beginning of the end of the war, slowly crumbling away the strongholds that the German soldiers held in Europe. As the Allied troops gained their foothold on Europe, it came with a terrible price – great sacrifice of life. More than 9,000 Allied troops died that day, laying down their lives in an effort to end the war of all wars so that others might enjoy the benefits of their sacrifice. The numbers have been estimated at 6,603 Americans, 2,700 British, and 946 Canadians.
The landings at Normandy, was and still is, the largest amphibious landing in history. The landing was originally supposed to take place on 5 June 1944, but bad weather prohibited the planes and other necessary cover and equipment that would be needed for a successful landing. General Eisenhower was pushed to move the date again, as there was still some weather moving through, but he persisted in pushing through with the mission, knowing that any other delays would be costly to the war effort. The landing that became so famous was set to kick off at 6:30 am on the 6th of June. The rest, as they say, is history!
Today, we see these landings portrayed in film, gaining only a glimpse into the horrific actions on that day. There are FIVE films which have been deemed the best D-Day movies by War History Online They are:
- The Longest Day
- Band of Brothers
- Storming Juno
- Ike: Countdown to D-Day
- Saving Private Ryan
If you watch just one of them, The Longest Day is the one that I recommend the most. Not only because it has John Wayne (I love the Duke), but because it brings together each of the five landings, as well as the combined efforts of the American and British forces. Saving Private Ryan is a close second for me, with the first 20 minutes dedicated to the landing, and the sheer momentum of what it took to gain that foothold that would be crucial in ending the war.