June 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
On 6 June 1944, Allied forces launched the largest combined naval, air and land operation in the history of warfare. The combined assault on Nazi-occupied France was codenamed Operation 'Overlord' and the Allied landings on the Normandy beaches marked the start of a long and costly campaign to liberate north-west Europe from German occupation.
Normandy was chosen because of its close proximity to the British coast, thus allowing Allied aircraft to effectively support troops landing during the initial phase of the assault (Operation Neptune). Also, the German defences along this stretch of the coastline were less formidable than in the north as the German Command expected the Allies to land where the Channel was at its narrowest.
The invasion was conducted in two main phases - an airborne assault and amphibious landings. Shortly after midnight on 6 June, over 18,000 Allied paratroopers were dropped into the invasion area to provide tactical support for infantry divisions on the beaches. Allied air forces flew over 14,000 sorties in support of the landings and, having secured air supremacy prior to the invasion, many of these flights were unchallenged by the Luftwaffe.
Nearly 7,000 naval vessels, including battleships, destroyers, minesweepers, escorts and assault craft then took part in Operation 'Neptune', the naval component of 'Overlord'. Naval forces were responsible for escorting and landing over 132,000 ground troops on the beaches. They also carried out bombardments on German coastal defences before and during the landings and provided artillery support for the invading troops.
The ground troops landed across five assault beaches - Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. Despite poor weather conditions and fierce resistance from German units the operations were successful and by the end of the day, the Allies had established a foothold along the coast and could begin their advance into France.
D-Day was mostly an Anglo-American effort: British, American and Canadian troops made up most of the numbers, but no less than 17 Allied countries participated on the ground, the sea and in the air. The landings of 6 June 1944 entered history under the now legendary name of D-Day.
It is not known whether any Falkland Islanders took part in the D-Day landings. Incomplete records and the passage of time make it impossible to know for sure. However, it is known that 11% of the male population and at least 174 Islanders, men and women, volunteered and served overseas in a variety of roles within the armed forces. Of these, 22 died in action whilst others went on to represent the Islands in the London Victory Parade in 1946.
32p Created by Malindine E G (Capt), War Office official photographer, airborne troops of 6th Airlanding Brigade admire the graffiti chalked on the side of their Horsa glider at an RAF airfield as they prepare to fly out to Normandy as part of 6th Airborne Division's second lift on the evening of 6 June 1944.
78p Created by Clark N S (F/O), Royal Air Force official photographer, Short Stirling Mk IVs of Nos. 196 and 299 Squadrons RAF lining the runway at Keevil in Wiltshire, before emplaning paratroops of the 5th Parachute Brigade Group for the invasion of Normandy, 5 June 1944. The invasion stripes can be seen painted on the wings, introduced to reduce friendly fire for a brief period on and after D-Day.
£1.04 Troops of the US 7th Corps wading ashore on Utah Beach.
£1.26 Created by Laing (Sgt), No. 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit, a Cromwell Mk IV tank of 4th County of London Yeomanry, 22nd Armoured Brigade, 7th Armoured Division, with infantry aboard, is photographed coming ashore from an LST, Gold area, 7 June 1944.
FDC Created by Midgley, A. N. (Sergeant), No. 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit, Commandos of 47 (RM) Commando are photographed coming ashore from LCAs (Landing Craft Assault) on Jig Green beach, Gold area, 6 June 1944. LCTs unloading priority vehicles of 231st Brigade, 50th Division, can be seen in the background.
Layout: Bee Design
Photographs: © IWM
Printer: Cartor Security Printing
Process: Stochastic Lithography
Perforation: 13 ¼ x 13 ½ per 2cms
Stamp size: 42 x 28mm
Sheet Layout: 10
Release date: 6 June, 2019
Production Co-ordination: Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd
All photographs © Imperial War Museum