2019 marks 75 years since the Normandy Landings which took place on 6th June 1944, also known as D-Day. It was the largest seaborne invasion in history. The operation laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front and the subsequent liberation of Nazi-controlled Europe.
Three of the most influential people during Operation Neptune (AKA D-DAY), and World War II in its entirety, were Winston Churchill, General Bernard Montgomery and of course, King George VI. Each of these historical figures played a vital role in the Allied victory and delivering speeches that inspired the nation and boosted morale in the trenches and on the battlefield. Below we take a look at the part they played, as well as those monumental speeches.
For Winston Churchill, D-Day 6th June 1944 was the culmination of four years of struggle, hardship and frustration. Shortly after the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940, Churchill had started planning for the invasion of Europe. At the time it was no more than a dream, with Britain expecting an imminent invasion by Germany. With the entry of the USA into the war, Stalin urging the opening of a second front and Britain’s growing military power and confidence, the dream became a reality. Churchill had rallied his stricken country. Now he was about to lead them to victory.
“We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old”.
Winston Churchill – 4th June 1944
GENERAL BERNARD MONTGOMERY
By D-Day, Field Marshall Montgomery had proved to be a great and inspirational leader, one of the finest and most experienced battlefield generals of World War II. In 1942 he was made commander of the 8th Army and led them to victory in North Africa and on into the invasion of Italy. For D-Day, and the subsequent battle for Normandy, Montgomery was made commander of all Allied ground forces. Despite setbacks, he once again showed his outstanding qualities of leadership. On 4th May 1945 Montgomery accepted the German surrender at Luneburg Heath. He later served as NATO’s Deputy Supreme Allied Commander until 1958.
“On the eve of this great adventure I send my best wishes to every soldier in the Allied team. To us is given the honour of striking a blow for freedom which will live in history; and in the better days that lie ahead men will speak with pride of our doings. We have a great and a righteous cause. Let us pray that “The Lord Mighty in Battle“ will go forth with our armies, and that his special providence will aid us in the struggle. I want every soldier to know that I have complete confidence in the successful outcome of the operations that we are now about to begin. With stout hearts, and with enthusiasm for the contest, let us go forward to victory“.
General Bernard Montgomery – 5th June 1944
KING GEORGE VI
On 6th June 1944 George had been King just eight years, ascending the throne in December 1936. For almost five of those years his country had been at war. Despite coming unexpectedly to the throne and his pronounced speech impediment, he had proved a popular and inspirational leader. He remained in Britain to face the horrors of the blitz and the hardships of war with his people, a calming and steadfast figure through the years of peril. On the evening of D-Day, George VI spoke to the people of Britain and the Empire and Commonwealth of the need to pray, not now for survival, but for victory.
“At this historic moment surely not one of us is too busy, too young, or too old to play a part in a nationwide, a worldwide vigil of prayer as the great Crusade sets forth. If from every place of worship, from home and factory, from men and women of all ages and many races and occupations, our intercessions rise, then, please God, both now and in the future not remote, the predictions of an ancient song may be fulfilled: “The Lord will give strength unto His people, the Lord will give His people the blessing of peace”.
King George VI – 6th June 1944
To mark the 75th anniversary we are proud to announce we have issued a strictly limited Brilliant Uncirculated £2 Coin Set – click here to see more information on the D-Day 75th Anniversary Leaders Three Coin Set >>