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.

World War II Educational Resources

World War II Educational Resources

WWII touched the lives of all that lived (and died) through it, from 1939 -1945. It was a global affair, involving most of the world’s countries.  WWII features heavily in Britain’s educational curriculum and is taught to us from a very young age. It is vital that children learn about the horrors, the politics and the social and economic impact that the war had, but this needs to be done, above all, sensitively and without glorification. There are a number of excellent World War II educational resources available online to help teachers, those home schooling (especially during lock down) or indeed keen amateur historians.

The key to engaging students with learning is to make it interesting and fun. Encouraging them to use their imaginations, to explore, discover and question, will certainly have a positive effect in their understanding for the events of the Second World War . Online classrooms like BBC Bitesize and Teaching Ideas are excellent. These wonderful sites provide fun games, videos and activities to engage children. Activities include word searches, poetry templates and quizzes. The exercises are all tailored to specific age groups and are free to use!

We all learn through stimulation and it is generally understood that this is achieved through one of four different methods, known as the VARK learning styles. These styles are divided into four groups; Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing and Kinesthetic. Below are a few ideas on how to engage each of the learning styles with World War Two.

Visual Learners

Visual learners enjoy graphics and charts. Creating timelines for events during this period is a great way to help visual students retain dates. Our World War II memorabilia packs also make excellent visual aids and specialise in all aspects of the era. The packs include ‘Children’s War’, ‘The Home Front’ and ‘The Blitz’. Each one contains replica documents like ration books, images and examples of advice leaflets given at the time. They are a visual feast for those wishing to learn more about the war time period.

Auditory Learners

Auditory learners like to recite information out loud to remember it. They prefer to listen to information and discuss it, rather than reading it. Watching educational videos about the era, like those on watchlearnknow.org, for example, can really benefit children retain the details. It is a great idea to set up discussion groups too, giving them an opportunity to talk about the videos they have watched.

Reading/Writing

If you have students that prefer to learn through the more traditional method of reading and writing, why not try simple question and answer handout sheets?  Researching information online or from books and making notes is another effective method. There are some very informative World War II books available in our shop. Another great idea, read some original newspaper articles from the day, then set a challenge to students to write an article themselves. There’s a superb selection of replica newspapers available at Sweet and Nostalgic, these are excellent World War II educational resources.

Kinesthetic

Finally, Kinesthetic learners. They prefer a more hands on approach. Often thought of as ‘tactile’ learners, these individuals are stimulated by far more than simply utilising their ‘touch’ sense. These learners tend to use all their senses equally when learning. They are very active, so flash cards and practical exercises can be very beneficial. We stock World War II educational colouring postcards and posters suitable for younger students. These packs create a fun, practical way to learn some of the facts of this era and come with the colouring pencils too! Immersing youngsters into the period itself can be great fun too! Role playing events, for instance, purchasing goods with a ration book and vintage coins, can be really effective. Take a look at our World War II gifts for more ideas.

We have just touched upon the plethora of World War II educational resources available to teachers, students, parents and keen amateur historians.  The internet is awash with information and we hope our suggestions will help guide you towards some original ones. World War II is a period in our history that should never be repeated and we believe at Sweet and Nostalgic that it is only through education, understanding and remembrance that we, the human race, will avoid such an atrocity recurring again in our futures.

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