Operation Overlord in the United Kingdom
D-Day is one of the most remembered campaigns of the Second World War. The operation involved troops from Britain, the United States, Canada and several other countries. On 6 June 1944 the Allied forces sailed across the English Channel to begin their campaign to gain victory against the German forces. Planning the invasion was an enormous undertaking.
On 6 June 1944 the Allied forces crossed the English Channel to Normandy to begin their epic struggle to reclaim France and eventually gain victory against the German forces in Europe. Often overlooked, planning the invasion (codenamed Operation Overlord) was a mammoth task. A vast army of workers toiled on various elements of the campaign, from providing safe harbours for the travelling fleet to ensuring that fuel would be in plentiful supply. An array of sites linked to the planning, preparation and implementation of D-Day were located across Britain, from embarkation area headquarters along coastal regions, such as Quay House in Portsmouth, to the inland headquarters of the Allied commanders, such as Southwick House in Hampshire, the Cabinet War Rooms and St Paul’s School in London. Once the campaign was underway, Britain continued to provide troops and supplies to mainland Europe, while injured service personnel returned to the country to recuperate, many located in Haslar Hospital, Gosport. Once underway, the campaign was reported on by journalists such as the Daily Telegraph’s Fred Perfect, who travelled with the convoy, wiring back stories for publication.
The significance of Operation Overlord ensures that it is one of the most remembered campaigns of the Second World War and is prominent in remembrance events. In 1959 Cornelius Ryan published The Longest Day, based on interviews he undertook with Allied and German service personnel. Meanwhile the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire is home to a dedicated D-Day memorial, while the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth remains the only museum devoted solely to remembering the D-Day campaign.
The Cabinet War Rooms, beneath London, were key places in the planning of Allied forces from 1940 onwards. It was here that 115 Cabinet meetings were held under the direction of Winston Churchill. The Map Room was particularly significant and was manned by officers from each of the armed forces, who would produce a daily intelligence summary.
At the first phase of the Second World War, the tunnels of Dover Castle housed the command centre of the great evacuation of Dunkerque (Operation Dynamo). Later, Dover Castle and the surrounding area were also used as the notional centre of the fictitious 1st U.S. Army Group (FUSAG). From here misleading radio signals were broadcast as part of Operation Fortitude South.
As part of the planning for Operation Overlord, it was decided that artificial harbours would be needed in order to offload the heavy and bulky cargo needed to mount a successful invasion of Normandy. These harbours were built in Britain, towed across the channel and then assembled by the army once in the waters surrounding France.
While preparing for Operation Overlord, the Allied strategists decided they needed two artificial, pre-fabricated ports in Normandy. These were considered essential for bringing reinforcements and equipment to the Continent. The remains of the port of Arromanches are still visible today as silent witnesses to this bold gamble and stunning technical achievement.
Re-opened in April 2018, the D-Day Story takes the visitors through the build up to the event, D-Day itself and the Battle of Normandy. The story is told through the perspectives of the people involved using objects, interactives and video. The impressive 83-metre long Overlord Embroidery offers a fantastic finale to the visit.
As the Embarkation Area Headquarters for the Portsmouth sector during the D-Day campaign, Quay House was central to the successful launching of the campaign. Organising the launches of the allied troops from four areas across Portsmouth to the beaches of Normandy, France, military personnel at Quay House played a vital role in ensuring the campaign ran efficiently.
The Landing Museum (D-Day Museum) of Arromanches, Normandy explains the technical prowess used in the (pre)fabrication – in Britain – of the artificial port of Arromanches. A model and a film complement the educational presentation, allowing a better understanding of the visible remains that can be seen through a large window overlooking the bay.
During the D-Day invasion of 6 June 1944, journalist Fred Perfect sailed with the Allied troops on HMS Largs. As the Daily Telegraph’s special Naval War Correspondent, Perfect reported on many of the campaign’s events, both while he was on ship in the English Channel and on shore in Normandy, France.
During the Second World War much of the Allied planning for operations was conducted in London. The plans for Operation Overlord (D-Day) were finalised at Southwick House in Hampshire. This became the headquarters of the main Allied commanders, led by General Eisenhower. The whole of the village was taken over by the Allied command.
The Royal Naval Hospital Haslar was a key site for the treatment of soldiers returning from Normandy, injured in action during D-Day and in subsequent fighting. Run by the United States Military during 1944 and 1945, the staff treated both Allied soldiers and German prisoners of war, before they were transferred to other hospitals around Britain.
The National Memorial Arboretum is the centre of remembrance in the U.K. Here you find the Normandy Campaign Memorial, a permanent site of remembrance for the 156,000 troops who landed in northern France in 1944. The memorial was funded by The Spirit of Normandy Trust in conjunction with the Normandy Veterans’ Association.
As D-Day approached, Kent became the stage for one of the War’s greatest deception plans, Operation Fortitude South. In order to mislead the German army and conceal the real location of the Allied invasion of Western Europe, extensive military preparations were made around Dover. But it was all fake.
The Battle of Britain Memorial can be found at Capel-le Ferne on the coast of Kent, England. It features one central statue of a pilot and the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall. The Memorial was opened by the Queen Mother in 1993 and is dedicated to those who fought the Battle of Britain from July 10, 1940 to October 31, 1940.