80th Anniversary of the D-Day landings

Today we commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings by the Allies on the beaches of Normandy. We pause to reflect on the countless thousands that either gave their lives or were injured in body or mind to ultimately secure our freedom and way of life.

In a mammoth effort of planning and co-ordination by engineers, meteorologists, logisticians and many more specialists from the Allied nations, a force from 13 countries arrived in Normandy, France in a 5000-vessel armada.1

The strategy was rolled out in phases. First up, in the early hours of D-Day, 24,000 paratroopers and glider-borne troops landed behind German lines to provide tactical support. Following that, massive naval and aerial bombardments attempted to supress the German defences and weaponry. 1

Then a ground force of more than 130,000 troops came ashore on five beaches across a 50-mile stretch of Normandy coast, along the Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword beaches. By the end of D-Day there had been 10,000 allied casualties. Yet this was only the beginning. 1

The ensuing Battle of Normandy was to last into late August and cost tens of thousands of lives as it defeated and repulsed the occupying German forces eastwards. 1

It was a decisive success for the Allies despite the huge casualties and paved the way for the liberation of much of north west Europe1 and ultimately led to the liberation of Paris itself.

Map showing the scale of D-Day in co-ordinating the points of departure and arrival of the D-Day armada. Credit: History Matters, George Mason University
A breakout map showing the planned advancement through northern France. Credit: Wiki. Fandom.

Before, during and after the invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944, artists were in the thick of the activity, observing and recording the campaign. The British Imperial War Musem (IWM) has a collection of artwork relating to D-Day thanks to the efforts of the War Artists Advisory Committee (WAAC), the body that oversaw Britain’s official war art scheme during the Second World War. 2

The following link shows different aspects of D-Day, from training and seascapes to the people involved in the conflict.2

These Extraordinary Artworks Tell The Story Of D-Day
IWM has a collection of artwork relating to D-Day thanks to the efforts of the War Artists Advisory Committee (WAAC), the body that oversaw Britain’s official war art scheme during the Second World War.

We presented other D-Day paintings when we wrote about the D-Day landings on the 76th anniversary, on 6th of June 2020. You may care to revisit that art as well if you click here.


  1. With thanks to the British Legion, britishlegion.org.uk

  2. With thanks to the Imperial War Museum, iwm.org.uk/history

If you are interested, there is more information about the routes and scale of the Normandy offensive here.