General Dwight D. Eisenhower gave the final order that put the vast D-day operation in motion on June 5, 1944, after a break in the stormy weather was predicted for the next day. Following his decision, Eisenhower dashed off this note, in case the Allied invasion of Europe on D-Day (June 6th) failed. In the statement, he praised the men under his command and claimed that any fault or failure “is mine alone.” The only apparent hint of nerves on his part is his error in dating the note “July 5” instead of June 5.
Transcript of note (picture on the right):
Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.
Transcript of Eisenhower’s Message (figure on the right):
ALLIED EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is will trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!
I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!
Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
- “In Case of Failure” Message Drafted by General Dwight Eisenhower in Case the D-Day Invasion Failed; 6/5/1944; Principal Files, 1916 – 1952; Collection DDE-EPRE: Eisenhower, Dwight D: Papers, Pre-Presidential; Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Abilene, KS. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/in-case-of-failure, January 18, 2020]
- D-Day Statement to Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force; 6/1944; Principal Files, 1916 – 1952; Collection DDE-EPRE: Eisenhower, Dwight D: Papers, Pre-Presidential; Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Abilene, KS. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/dday-statement, January 18, 2020]