What Was D-Day? (with pictures)

Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco
The largest sea invasion in history is often referred to as D-Day.
The largest sea invasion in history is often referred to as D-Day.

D-Day refers to two separate events that are related to each other. The first use of the word is to refer to any day in which an initiative is taken by the military. Most commonly, this alludes to combat attacks, but it can also signal the beginning of peaceful operations, invasion procedures, and takeover maneuvers. The term was first used during World War I on a written order to attack St. Mihiel Salient on 7 September 1918.

D-Day most commonly refers to the 1944 battle that took place in Normandy, France.
D-Day most commonly refers to the 1944 battle that took place in Normandy, France.

Despite different interpretations give to the first "D" in the name, the truth is that it does not stand for anything, even among military personnel. D-Day is one of several military denominations using letters of the alphabet. C-Day (or Candy Day) is the day deployment orders are given; E-Day refers to the beginning of any NATO exercise deployment; H-Hour is the exact time an operation starts; and V-Day marks Victory Day, or the day a military attack is finished.

D-Day marks the day the Allies arrived in Europe to end Nazi occupation.
D-Day marks the day the Allies arrived in Europe to end Nazi occupation.

D-Day is also the most common name given to 6 June 1944, the day the Battle of Normandy began. This was the day the Allies arrived in Europe to help liberate the continent from Nazi occupation. The full name for the battle is "1944 D-Day Operation Overlord" as a reference to the largest sea invasion in military history. On this day, about 156,000 troops arrived in Normandy, France, from England. After parachute landings and air and naval attacks, troops arrived via water and took over Normandy, starting a fight that would last for over two months and ended with the liberation of Paris at the end of August.

Formed in 1949, NATO has its roots in the D-Day invasion.
Formed in 1949, NATO has its roots in the D-Day invasion.

The term has such an emotional connotation for World War II veterans and survivors that the military has avoided using the term officially since 1944. While it may be used among military personnel, a different denomination is often used in open speeches and public announcements. For example, L-Day was used to refer to the invasion of Okinawa (March 1945), and A-Day to refer to the invasion of Leyte (October 1944).

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Discussion Comments

anon172535

My name is bryonna, and i am doing a paper on D-day. this is so hard, in a way. do have any facts about d day if so try to answer these questions: what is D-day?, invasion of normandy in france, and victory in europe. thanks so much.

astor

@kilorenz – Many of these lettered days do in fact refer to specific events and days within World War II. A number of them however, are less specific and refer to operations that could occur at any time. For instance, P-Day is the day at which the rate of a given consumable equals the military’s need for it and E-Day is an unspecific day on which a NATO operation begins. As for your second question, every letter of the alphabet is designated some kind of meaning except for “U”.

kilorenz

I just had a couple of questions about the military’s “lettered days”. First of all, do these days refer to events outside of World War II? A lot of them seem to refer to specific days or operations within World War II, except D-Day, which was used in World War I. And also, are all letters of the alphabet part of this military lingo? Thanks.

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    • The largest sea invasion in history is often referred to as D-Day.
      The largest sea invasion in history is often referred to as D-Day.
    • D-Day most commonly refers to the 1944 battle that took place in Normandy, France.
      D-Day most commonly refers to the 1944 battle that took place in Normandy, France.
    • D-Day marks the day the Allies arrived in Europe to end Nazi occupation.
      D-Day marks the day the Allies arrived in Europe to end Nazi occupation.
    • Formed in 1949, NATO has its roots in the D-Day invasion.
      Formed in 1949, NATO has its roots in the D-Day invasion.