This statement from General Dwight D. Eisenhower encouraged Allied soldiers, sailors, and airmen taking part in the D-day invasion. It was handed to Allied troops stepping onto their transports on the eve of the cross-channel assault into Normandy. As Commander of the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force, Eisenhower provided hope for those about to liberate the European continent from Nazi tyranny.
Against a tense backdrop of uncertain weather forecasts, disagreements in strategy, and related timing dilemmas predicated on the need for optimal tidal conditions, Eisenhower decided before dawn on June 5 to proceed with Overlord. Later that same afternoon, he scribbled a note intended for release, accepting responsibility for the decision to launch the invasion and full blame, should the effort to create a beachhead on the Normandy coast fail.
Much more polished is this printed Order of the Day for June 6, 1944, which Eisenhower began drafting in February. The order was distributed to the 175,000-member expeditionary force on the eve of the invasion.
Transcript of Eisenhower’s Message
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.
Citation: 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]