Remembering the DDay Landings: a 75th anniversary blog

  • Today (Thursday 6th June) marks a very special anniversary; both the 75th anniversary of the DDay Landings, and the beginning of a new generation working together to ensure peace across the globe. 

    Preparations for the DDay Landings commenced long before June1944 and involved an operation of cunning guile and duplicity - Operation Bodyguard. The operation involved double agents, inflatable tanks, and contrived radio transmissions reporting that fictitious units were based at Kent and making ready to attack Calais. So authentic was the ruse to appear, that agents even planted wedding notices for fake soldiers in local newspapers!

    Operation Bodyguard was a resounding success; Hitler began to divert his depleted resources away from the heavily fortified beaches of Normandy, and toward Calais. 

    Shortly after midnight on the 6th June 1944, 24,000 Allied paratroopers were dropped behind enemy lines; a further 132,000 men landed at the beaches of Omaha, Juno, Sword, Utah and Gold, just after dawn.

    Over 7,000 ships and 11,000 aircraft were involved in the largest operation the world had ever seen. One German soldier remarked  “I had never seen such an assembly of ships, and I’m sure nobody will ever see such a thing again, perhaps not in human history. The sea was absolutely solid with metal.”

    Fierce fighting ensued, with heavy casualties on both sides. 

    Whilst much ground was made, the  DDay landings was by no means a decisive victory for the Allied forces; it would be many more long and arduous months before the liberation of Nazi-occupied Europe was complete.

    DDay and indeed both World Wars, have inspired a wealth of poetry, painting, song and film; which both lament the heavy loss of life, but remember the heroism of those who fought for the liberty and freedom of those who could not fight for themselves. In a time of nationalism and Brexit, if I take anything away from remembering those who fought valiantly for our future; it is that the world works much better together than apart. 

    In commemoration, my colleague has created this stunning image of one of the DDay beaches, using 1m Lidar. Credit for the data lies with SHOM