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On the Eve

D-Day: The Supreme Climax of the War


On the eve of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the D-Day landings, we recall extracts from Churchill’s description of the tense series of events that took place during the hours before the attack.

The hours dragged slowly by until, at 9:15 pm on the evening of June 4, another fateful conference opened at Eisenhower’s battle headquarters. Conditions were bad, typical of December rather than June, but the weather experts gave some promise of a temporary improvement on the morning of the 6th. After this they predicted a return of rough weather for an indefinite period.

Faced with the desperate alternatives of accepting the immediate risks or of postponing the attack for at least a fortnight, General Eisenhower, with the advice of his commanders, boldly, and as it proved wisely, chose to go ahead with the operation, subject to final confirmation early on the following morning. At 4 am on June 5 the die was irrevocably cast: the invasion would be launched on June 6.

All day on June 5 the convoys bearing the spearhead of the invasion converged on the rendezvous south of the Isle of Wight. Thence, in an endless stream, led by the minesweepers on a wide front and protected on all sides by the might of the Allied Navies and Air Forces, the greatest armada that ever left our shores set out for the coast of France.

Here then we reach what the Western Powers may justly regard as the supreme climax of the war.

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