D-Day 80

Remembering the triumphs and sacrifices of those who took part in the largest sea invasion in military history.

6 June 1944 is a significant date in military history. 

On that day the armies, navies and air forces of Britain, the United States, Canada and Australia, and other Allied nations, mounted the largest sea-land invasion in the history of the world.

After months of secrecy, and training, almost a quarter of a million soldiers and sailors and aviators took part in the invasion, landing forces along the sandy beaches of Normandy, France, supported by airborne infantry and commando attacks that had taken place the night before.

British and Commonwealth Forces approaching, landing and securing the Normandy beaches on D-Day.
British and Commonwealth Forces approaching, landing and securing the Normandy beaches on D-Day.

The aim of the invasion - codenamed OVERLORD - was to liberate Western Europe - France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark - from the occupying German and Axis armies, and then to push on into Germany itself, to meet up with our allies, the Russian Red Army, and end the sadistic ambitions of Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime. 

The invasion was a massive success.  

Espionage efforts had misdirected the German attention away from Normandy. Airborne and commando units caused huge levels of disruption behind the German lines.  Naval and air power provided overwhelming fire support.  And the grit of the marines and soldiers who spearheaded the beach landings can not be overstated.  

The Normandy coastline today.
The remains of Hitler's 'Atlantic Wall' of defensive fortifications.

10,300 men of the allied force died in the invasion.

In many areas the allied forces captured or forced back the German defenders quickly, and with little loss.  But some sections of the German defence were more committed, and better protected, most tragically on 'Omaha' beach, where over 2,000 American soldiers lost their lives (famously depicted in the film Saving Private Ryan) and another 3,000 seriously wounded.

But the sacrifices of those who died, and of those who survived, will never be forgotten.  The invasion allowed for a new front to be created against the Nazi war machine, and led to the liberation of France, Belgium and the Netherlands.  Just under a year later Adolf Hitler lay dead, his evil empire utterly destroyed.

D-Day Stories

SSAFA is marking D-Day 80 with recollections from employees and volunteers of their family members who played a part.  Most of the remaining survivors of that day will now be centenarians, with the majority of their comrades having now passed away, and this makes it more important than ever to record their thoughts and experiences from this era-defining war.

In doing so we hope to keep alive the memories of this Greatest Generation - the men and women who fought hard to keep alive liberty and democracy.

We would also love to hear the stories of your memories of D-Day, or the memories of your loved ones who may have taken part on that fateful day.

Please send your stories - and stories are always improved with a good picture or two - to Andrew.Johnstone@ssafa.org.uk, with the subject line "D-Day".  

D-Day Cycle Ride

On 6 June 2024 SSAFA will be running a three day cycling tour of Normandy! 

Our popular D-Day Ride will be an amazing way for you to visit the coastal battlefields, fortifications and objectives of Operation OVERLORD - including the famous Pegasus Bridge - as well as the memorials and graveyards commemorating the dead.

This is a fundraising event for SSAFA, allowing you to support your favourite Armed Forces charity whilst re-tracing the events of this monumental day, eighty years on.

Unfortunately the D-Day Ride has been fully booked and there are no more tickets available.

Please browse our events section if you are interested in similar activities, or sign up for our e-newsletter to keep informed about future events.


The D-Day Dodgers

"D-Day Dodgers" was a name adopted by the British Forces who were already fighting in mainland Europe, in the Italian campaign.  The name is a classic case of British self-deprecating humour, turning an unfortunate remark by a Member of Parliament into a badge of pride.

The Italian campaign had been ongoing since 10 July 1943, and became a bitter fight up the beaches, towns and mountains of Italy.  300,000 casualties were sustained across the multinational Allied force, with some of the most intense and dogged fighting in the entire war happening there.  It took almost two years to finally rid Italy of the fascism that had led it into the war.

D-Day itself has become a symbol of the defeat of Nazi Germany, but we should remember that the war was won thanks to the efforts of all the Allied forces across the world, as well as the home-fronts that supported them.


D-Day at the SSAFA Store

Please come and have a look at the SSAFA Store's D-Day 80 collection - perfect for gifts for yourself or any of your friends and family with an interest in military history.

We have two fantastic histories by two fantastic historians available: 'Forgotten Voices of D-Day' by Roderick Bailey, and 'D-Day, the Battle for Normandy' by Antony Beevor.

'D-DAY 80' is a complete guide to the events eighty years ago, a great coffee table book of pictures, details, anecdotes and historical context.

We also have a special Operation OVERLORD graphic, showing the invasion plans, on mugs, coasters and and tea towels, as well as a great collection of D-Day and Battle for Normandy t-shirts, hoodies and cycling jerseys.

Useful Resources

D-Day Explored - Imperial War Museum


The D-Day Story
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission