The D-Day Landings

The D-Day Landings

On Tuesday 6th June 1944, the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overload began. Codenamed Operation Neptune, more commonly known now as D-Day and the largest seaborne invasion in history. The D-Day landings marked the start of the campaign to free North-West Europe from the Nazis.

Planning the Operation

Planning for the operation began in 1943. However, talks about completing such an offensive had been ongoing between Winston Churchill and U.S President Franklin D. Roosevelt since early 1942. You can read a full account of their fluctuating support for such an assault on History.com. The North Africa and Italian campaigns took precedent, they proved to be lengthier and costlier than expected. Operation Overlord finally came into planning at the end of 1943. Leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted a military deception, called Operation Bodyguard. Bodyguard succeeded in its mission. It misled the Nazis over the date and location of the mass landings. As a result, the Nazis were surprised by the D-day landings and Hitler delayed sending reinforcements.

D-Day

Poor weather delayed the D-Day landings for 24 hours. Any further delay would  have resulted in plans being put back by at least two weeks. Why? The plans had been carefully devised around the phase of the moon, tides, and the time of day. As a result, only a handful of days a month proved suitable.

The attack began with a bombardment of German defences along the coastline. This allowed the troops to get ashore easier. At the same time, planes and gliders dropped allied soldiers behind the German defences, taking control of key roads and bridges. Over 6,000 vessels landed allied troops, their objective, to link the Normandy coastline. This involved landing at five key beaches: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. The men faced heavy gunfire, barbed wire, mines, and wooden stakes. Casualties were extremely high, particularly at Omaha with its large cliffs. The five beaches were not connected until 11th June.

The Casualties

More than 150,000 brave, young soldiers from America, Britain and Canada stormed the beaches of Normandy. Poor weather and German resistance made the landings bloody and chaotic. Casualties in this first wave were horrendous. Nevertheless, by the end of the day, each of the beaches had been claimed. The Allied fatalities for D-Day alone amounted to an estimated between 5,000 and 12,000. German casualties (killed, wounded, or missing) it is estimated numbered between 4,000 – 9,000. Just 2 days after the D-Day landings, the first Allied cemetery was dedicated. There are now 27 war cemeteries in Normandy. Some have fewer than 30 graves in them, the largest has over 20,000.

The Outcome

D-Day gave the Allies the foothold it needed to turn the tide against the Nazis, though it had not entirely gone to plan. Capturing Caen, for example, a major objective, did not occur until July 21st. The Battle of Normandy, in fact, dragged on until August. Allied casualties amplified to over 226,000! There is no doubt though, that the D-Day landings were instrumental in winning World War II. The attack set on that day lasted for 11 months. It led the Allies to Berlin and Adolf Hitler’s Bunker Headquarters. On 8th May 1945, the World celebrated Victory in Europe. 3 Months later, in August, World War II ended with Victory against Japan too.

Here at Sweet and Nostalgic we have a wide range of World War II memorabilia available, including the D-Day landings. Come and have a look! Our products span the whole of the 20th Century, a remarkable period in our history.

VE Day 75th Anniversary GIfts

VE Day 75th Anniversary Gifts

On 8th May 1945 the Allied Forces of World War II officially accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany’s armed forces. This ended nearly six years of a war that had cost so much. Millions of lives had been lost, homes and cities had been destroyed and families torn apart.

The end of World War II itself, did not occur until Japan surrendered on 15th August 1945. Despite this however, celebrations erupted in towns and cities across the world. Over a million people took to the streets of Great Britain singing and dancing. In London, crowds massed in Trafalgar Square and up The Mall to Buckingham Palace. There King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Winston Churchill appeared on the balcony of the palace. They greeted the cheering crowds, sharing their feelings of relief and pride. Famously Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth II) and her sister Princess Margaret joined the masses incognito. The princesses fully immersed themselves in the revelry and joy, a very rare feeling of freedom.

2020 will observe the 75th Anniversary of this historic event and there are many VE Day 75th Anniversary Gifts available to mark this milestone and the events of World War II. Take a look at our replica miniature war medals or our vintage coins, they’ll make a great addition to your commemorative goody bags!

Nazi Germany Surrenders

On 7th May 1945, at the headquarters of the Supreme Allied Commander, General Eisenhower in Reims, France,  General Alfred Jodl signed the treaty on behalf of Germany. The treaty officially came into effect the next day.  The Imperial War Museum website states that ‘Germany’s surrender was not a surprise’.  Indeed, the news had been anticipated by many for some time. It was late on 7th May that the BBC interrupted its scheduled broadcast with a news flash. The announcement stated that Victory in Europe Day would be a National holiday and would take place the next day.

Newspapers rallied to run the headlines. Special edition papers were printed and distributed to commemorate the long-awaited announcement. We have some excellent examples in our personalised newspaper books which make wonderful VE Day 75th anniversary gifts for enthusiasts. The books contain scans from original newspaper articles. Each book captures the stories and events of World War Two as they happened, including VE day. With no embellishments or alterations, the book’s contents are printed exactly as they were when first published. Our World War Two Pictorial Book also features masses of high-quality photographs. It provides a provocative and educational insight into WWII.

Celebrations Begin

Many people didn’t wait for the official day to celebrate victory in Europe, they began the festivities as soon as they heard the news! Colourful bunting lined the streets, parades were organised, bonfires were lit, pubs were filled with revellers. Churchill had assurances from the Ministry of Food that there was enough beer in the capital!  Dancing broke out, licensing hours were extended, and dance halls stayed open until midnight. People had endured so much, from horrendous air raids (captured in our Blitz memorabilia packs), to strict rationing of food and clothing. They were more than ready to let loose and enjoy themselves.

The 8th May was, however, a day of mixed emotions. The noise and celebrations were too much for some who mourned the loss of their loved ones. Others remained worried for those still serving overseas. The war years had taken their toll on many, leaving some individuals feeling weary and not in the party mood.

Winston Churchill reflected these feelings of mixed emotions in his famous speech to the nation at 3pm on 8th May. ‘We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but lets us not forget for a moment the toils and efforts that lie ahead.’ He knew that they still had to defeat Japan and that the political, economic and social impacts of the war would be felt for many years to come. Indeed, ration books remained in place until 1954, nearly ten years later. Perhaps, if you are organising a VE day party, you might like to give everyone their own ration book (they can write their name in it)  or a ration book themed mug, they make great VE day 75th anniversary gifts? On the other hand, why not treat yourself to a 1940’s hamper, packed with memorabilia for that authentic party feel?Retro Gift Hamper

VE Day Celebrations in 2020

It is ironic, that the 75th anniversary year for VE day should now be hit by its own horrendous difficulties. A new war, an unseen enemy, Coronavirus has impacted almost every country in the world. NHS workers, Care givers and keyworkers are the new heroes whilst thousands of people have sadly lost their lives.

Celebration plans for VE day have, understandably, been put on hold with a tentative hope that they may now be combined with VJ day celebrations on 15th and 16th August. During these difficult times sentiments from World War II are being echoed throughout the country. Even the Queen, in an unprecedented address to the nation, recalled the events of World War II. The Queen recollected how she and her sister had spoken to the evacuees to have courage whilst parted from loved ones. Her parting words indeed were, ‘We will meet again’.

We would like to reiterate those feelings here at Sweet and Nostalgic. These are troublesome times, but look back to World War II when our parents, grandparent and great grandparents faced such traumatic difficulties and loss. They survived, they came through it. When this terrible time in our current history is over, we will celebrate as they did with joy, revelry and of course reflective remembrance for those that we have lost. Stay Safe x

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