The documents on these pages cover the planning, the landing and the aftermath of D-Day, June 6, 1944, when Allied forces attacked German defenders along the Normandy coast of France.
With the 77th anniversary of D-Day in 2021, it's important to again recognize the immense courage of those involved and the effort it took to start the process of pushing the Germans out of France. In 43 A.D., armored Roman soldiers crossed the English Channel and landed on peaceful beaches in wooden boats. Almost exactly 1,900 years later, American, British and Canadian soldiers did it again (in the opposite direction), also in wooden boats, but with no body armor and having to face German machine guns, mines, mortars and artillery.
The documents on this site were chosen from an enormous collection related to the U.S. 1st Infantry Division, covering from the U.S. entry into World War I through the Vietnam War, that were digitized by the First Division Museum in Wheaton, Illinois. I've pulled out the most interesting and relevant documents for this web site. Most are focused on the most costly landing, at Omaha Beach, where the "Big Red One" was in the first wave.
As you can see in the box to the right, they are divided into eight parts. Each part has a short introduction, the images of the documents, and, at the end of each part, a link to the document's location in the museum's archive.
If you read only one document, read the last one in the list: The 16th Infantry Regiment's Distinguished Unit Citation. It's an incredible account of what it was like to be on the beach that morning.
This is my second such project using the museum's online archive: The first, "Buried in Paper: Fascinating and Poignant Stories Revealed in Actual World War II Documents" is created in electronic form for the Apple iPad and Mac and covers the Allies' and Germans' activities in northern Europe from the aftermath of the invasion to the end of the fighting in May 1945. You can learn more about that project and read a sample chapter here. I'm also considering creating a PDF version of that project that can be viewed on any tablet or computer or even printed out; that will depend upon whether there's a certain level of interest. If you'd like a copy please let me know by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading.