80th anniversary of D-Day

Paula Kitching

Published: 1st June 2024

It is 80 years since D-Day, the Allied invasion of Western Europe – an invasion that was about liberation for many, not simply attack. To understand why that day, and just as importantly the days and weeks following it, are so important one needs to know just how terrible the Second World War was, and the damage that the Nazis and their supporters had wreaked.

Much of the commemorations will cover the incredible ingenuity leading up to the day as well as the bravery of thousands who landed and fought to ensure that it was a success. It was undoubtedly the largest amphibious attack in modern history, and the inventiveness and ambition were enormous; hundreds of thousands were involved in reality. Yet it is not just the scale or the impressiveness that is the significance of D-Day; it marks a turning point in a conflict that was killing millions, and it was about stopping a regime which intended to kill millions more through its ideological hatred or disregard of different groups in society.

We should not forget that Allied soldiers had been fighting in Southern Europe for months before 6 June and these were just as brave and just as important. Without their foothold and advance the attack in France would not have been possible. However, what D-Day marks is the Allies’ determination to begin to destroy the Nazis in the places they had taken as their own and to banish them from their territorial gains. 

In the final year of the war the Nazis stepped up their killing of the innocent in the Death Camps, the Concentration Camps and the Labour units but their ability to kill was no longer indefinite. When the news of the attack was transmitted across the air waves and listened to on secret radios it signalled a change and provided hope where many had stopped having any. D-Day was proof that the Nazis were not the dominators of Europe and that their presence was defeatable, reversable and removable.

While the few remaining veterans are still with us we should focus on their individual bravery, but also be reminded of the need for audacity and hope in a world brutalised by war.