The day before Allied troops stormed ashore in Normandy 75 years ago, General Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces and overall commander of Operation Overlord, issued the following order of the day to the soldiers that were about to hurl themselves against the barbed wire and machine guns of Festung Europa.

Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force:

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months.

The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.

In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped, and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944. Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned. The free men of the world are marching together to victory.

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory.

Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe (SHAEF), speaks with First lieutenant Wallace C. Strobel and men of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment on June 5, 1944. Strobel’s battalion was the first to drop into Normandy. Strobel survived Normandy and the war. (US Army)

Perhaps the most iconic photo of the invasion was taken by famed war photographer Robert Capa. Capa took four rolls of photographs at Omaha Beach, but most were ruined by an overeager photo technician in a rush to develop them. Only 11 images were recovered.


After British forces defeated German general Erwin Rommel at El Alamein in North Africa in 1942, Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously said, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Though WWII would go on for another bloody year following D-Day, the successful invasion of France was clearly the beginning of the end.

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