President of the United States; Supreme Allied Commander.
Printed Broadside Signed, one page, quarto, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, [undated]. To the “Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!” Eisenhower signs a printed D-Day Order of the Day containing his famous address to the forces preparing to depart for the Normandy Invasion: “You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you….”
In giving the order, Dwight D Eisenhower set in motion the largest amphibious invasion in world history; an armada of over 4,000 warships, 11,000 aircraft, and nearly three million soldiers, marines, airmen, and sailors assembled in England for the assault. High casualty rates were a near certainty; all of this did not insure victory – in fact Eisenhower wrote out his statement in advance taking full responsibility for the failure of the landings and evacuating the surviving troops.
The place of the landings was the most important secret; if the Germans were certain it was Normandy, they could move all their troops along the Atlantic Wall to meet the invasion. Eisenhower had the advantage of weather – the Germans on June 5th thought it was too bad for landings.
It was also Ike’s problem. The troop ships were all loaded to land on June 5th but Dwight D Eisenhower had to make the difficult decision to hold the troops on the ships for twenty-four hours and attack on June 6th. The invasion could not be put off another day – the assault troops would be too worn down by sea sickness, and the ships didn’t have fuel for another day. Unloading the troops back in England and waiting for the next tides in July would surely have compromised the secrecy of Normandy.
If the Allied forces were driven back into the sea, Germany could send its Western armies to the East against Russia, and Stalin would most likely be satisfied with driving the Germans out of Russia and making peace. That would leave all the German armies to defend against any future invasion by the Allies and insure Germany’s indefinite occupation of Europe.
This message to his troops did not exaggerate when Dwight D Eisenhower wrote “the eyes of the world are upon you.” Seventy-three years later, they still are.
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- World War II