With those words, or maybe similar words, General Dwight D. Eisenhower committed Allied troops to the invasion of France.
The original plan was to go on June 5th, but the weather was too bad and the invasion was postponed. June 6th was the last day when the tides in the English Channel would be favorable for a seaborne invasion. If June 6th wasn’t possible, the next date would be in July.
As a practical matter, it would be impossible to disembark tens of thousands of troops from ships, stand down paratroops, have ships return to port and wait. Someone would talk and German spies operating in England would figure out what was going on.
The Germans expected an invasion and had spent over two years preparing for it. They suspected that it would come at Calais, as it was the closest point to England. They didn’t know that for sure, but it made sense. They also didn’t know when and so thousands of Axis troops were tied down along the coast of France.
For now, the Allied troops were kept in place waiting for a final decision.
At a meeting early in the morning on June 5 General Eisenhower and his top commanders met to make a decision. The weather report for the morning of June 6 was “acceptable.” Less than ideal, but good enough for the paratroops to drop, the ships to sale, and the landing craft to approach the beach.
The decision was made, the invasion would start as scheduled.
Sometime after midnight the first paratroops landed behind German lines. Their mission was to capture and hold roads, bridges, and causeways for follow on troops. A bit later glider borne British commandos landed near Caen Canal. Their mission was to capture and hold a key bridge across the Canal.
The naval bombardment started at 0550 on the morning of the 6th. The first landings of troops at 0630.
I could write a blog post each day for the next month and not tell the complete story. Fortunately, there are several resources available that tell the story much more completely than I ever could.
The Longest Day is the classic telling of the invasion. Published in 1959, it includes many interviews with soldiers that landed and fought. The movie is well worth watching as well, but not as comprehensive as the book.
D Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II by Stephen Ambrose. Published in 1995, is also very well detailed. It covers the 24 hours from midnight June 6 until midnight June 7.
Pegasus Bridge: June 6, 1944 also by Stephen Ambrose. Tells the story of the British capture and hold of the Bridge over the Caen Canal.
The National WWII Museum in New Orleans started out as the “D Day Museum” and has an exhaustive number of displays. It’s expanded to include all of World War II. When I was there a couple of years ago, there were some WW II veterans discussing what they experienced.
There are several videos available with footage from the invasion. They tell the story better than any written words can.
Finally, a video from 7 years ago featuring interviews with veterans who landed in Normandy.