Human Stories

Over 150,000 Allied troops were landed or dropped into Normandy on 6th June 1944. Many more would follow them. As well as the fighting forces, thousands of others performed vital functions in research and development, intelligence, logistics and others areas. An entire website could be dedicated to profiling just a fraction of those involved. Here we take a brief look at just a handful of those with links to the Normandy Campaign - from both sides of the conflict. Some you will almost certainly know, but we hope a few at least may be new to you.

Donald Bailey

Bailey, Donald

Civilian Engineer

Donald Bailey was a civil engineer from Rotherham. Born in 1901, at the time of the Second World War he was a civil servant in the War Office. As a hobby, Bailey enjoyed constructing model bridges and in 1940 he came up with an idea for...

Seaman 2nd Class Yogi Berra

Berra, Yogi

Seaman, 2nd Class, US Navy

In 1943 Lawrence Berra, better known as "Yogi", received his draft card. The 17 year old made his way from the baseball park where he played to join the Navy, leaving behind him a $90 per month job playing for the Norfolk Tars...

Corporal Johannes Börner

Börner, Johannes

Corporal, German Air Force

Originally from Leipzig in Germany, in 1944 Corporal Johannes Börner was serving with the 3rd "Fallschirmjäger" (parachute) Division of the German Luftwaffe. On 6th June he was actually several hundred miles from the beaches of Normandy...

Lt Col David Currie

Currie, David

Lt Colonel, Canadian Army

David Currie joined the Canadian Army before the war, rising to the rank of Major by 1944 where he commanded a battle group of tanks from the South Alberta Regiment Artillery and Infantry of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders...

Sgt George A Davison

Davison, George A.

Sergeant, US Army

George Davison was one of the many black soldiers to serve in Normandy. Although the US Army was still segregated at the time and black soldiers were unable to serve in combat roles, many served in support units on the front line...

Major Adolf Diekmann

Diekmann, Adolf

Major, German Army

Adolf Diekmann, sometimes referred to as Otto Diekmann, died in Normandy on 29th June and is buried at La Cambe Cemetery. He was killed by a shrapnel wound to the head whilst in command of the 4th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment...

Martha Gellhorn

Gellhorn, Martha


Born in 1908 in St Louis, Missouri, Martha Gellhorn was the third wife of novelist Ernest Hemingway. As a journalist she covered the Second World War from Finland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Burma and Britain.

Private Stanley Gilchrist

Gilchrist, Stanley

Private, British Army

Welshman Private Stanley Gilchrist of 2nd Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment landed on Sword Beach as part of the British 3rd Division. He and a comrade were injured during fighting as their unit made its way to...

Private Franz Gockel

Gockel, Franz

Private, German Army

Franz Gockel was born in December 1925 in Rhynern. He celebrated his 18th birthday in Normandy whilst serving with the 716th Infantry Regiment of the 726th Infantry Division. On the morning of D-Day, Gockel was manning his captured Polish...

Lieutenant John Gorman

Gorman, John

Lieutenant, British Army

John Gorman - later Sir John Gorman, CVO, CBE, MC, DL - was a 21 year old Lieutenant with 2nd Battalion Irish Guards during the Normandy Campaign. On 18th July 1944 during Operation Goodwood, whilst in command of a Sherman tank...

Vera Hay

Hay, Vera

Junior Sister, British Army

Vera Hay was a Junior Sister with the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps and was one of the first women to land in Normandy. After arriving on Gold beach a week after D-Day, Vera Hay was taken a few miles inland to...

André Heintz

Heintz, André

French Resistance

Between 1940 and 1944, young Frenchman André Heintz operated as a member of the French Resistance. He was recruited by a Polish-French priest and friend of the family, Father Makulec. Although he longed for action, André was...

Andrew Higgins

Higgins, Andrew


An extremely colourful character, Higgins was born in Nebraska in 1886. Before for the First World War he served in the Nebraska Army National Guard before leaving to enter the lumber industry, and eventually formed...

Major General Percy Hobart

Hobart, Percy

Major General, British Army

Born in Naini Tal, British India in 1885 Hobart fought on the North West Frontier in the First World War, receiving the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and Military Cross (MC) for his actions. In 1923, Hobart requested a transfer...

Major John Howard

Howard, John

Major, British Army

John Howard served as a Private and later as an NCO with the British Army between 1932 and 1938. After leaving the military to join the Oxford police he was recalled to service after the outbreak of war in 1939. He rose through...

CSM Stan Hollis

Hollis, Stanley E.

Company Sergeant Major Stanley Hollis

Serving as a dispatch rider, Hollis was evacuated as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) from Dunkirk in 1940 before fighting with the 8th Army in North Africa. He was promoted to Company Sergeant Major shortly before...

Bernard Jordan

Jordan, Bernard

Engineer, Royal Navy

In 1941, aged just 17, Bernard Jordan lied about his age and joined the Royal Navy. Serving aboard HMS Bulldog, he had a ring-side seat at the crippling of the German submarine U-110 and the subsequent capture of a critical Enigma...

George Lane

Lane, George

Special Operations Executive (SOE)

George Lane was born Gyuri Lanyi in Upper Hungary in January 1915. Whilst working as a journalist, this Hungarian Jew wrote an eyewitness account of a Nuremburg Rally. He moved to England in 1935 to study in London and when...

Joseph McCann

McCann, Joseph "Eddie"

Coxswain, US Navy

Joseph "Eddie" McCann was a tall boy for his age, and so at just 13 years old he was able to convince a stranger in Oakland, California to sign papers which would allow him to join the US Navy. By the age of fifteen he was a decorated veteran after...

Lt Colonel Terence Otway

Otway, Terence

Lt Colonel, British Army

Terence Otway was born in Egypt in 1914, and shortly thereafter returned to the UK with his parents. In 1933 he entered the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. In 1934 he joined the 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles based at Gravesend in Kent...

Veronica Owen

Owen, Veronica

Women's Royal Naval Service

At the start of the war, Veronica was still at school in Dorset and was among a group of girls evacuated to Canada. Determined to serve her country she returned to England in July 1942, aged 17 and a half. Because she was underage...

Sub-Lieutenant Richard Pirrie

Pirrie, Richard "Digger"

Sub-Lieutenant, Royal Australian Navy

Born in 1920, "Digger" Pirrie was an Australian Rules Football player before the war, playing for Hawthorne in the Victorian Football League. A member of the Royal Australian Navy, Pirrie was serving aboard HMS Invicta on June 6th 1944...

Lance Sergeant Raymond Rayner

Rayner, Raymond

Lance Sergeant, British Army

Ray Rayner, known to his friends as "Titch", was born in Aylesbury and in 1935, aged just 16, he joined the Territorial Army. In 1940 he was sent to France as part of the BEF, and later evacuated from Dunkirk. During Operation Deadstick...

Red Cross Volunteer Elizabeth A. Richardson

Richardson, Elizabeth

Volunteer, American Red Cross

Elizabeth A. Richardson of Mishakawa, Indiana was an artists and athlete in college. In 1944 she, along with two female college friends joined the American Red Cross. In order to qualify for posting overseas volunteers had to be single...

Coastguardsman John Noble Roberts

Roberts, John Noble

Coastguardsmen, US Coastguard

John Roberts was born in Louisiana in 1924, the first of fifteen siblings. He was drafted into the coastguard in June 1943. As an African American, the roles in which he could serve were limited, and he received training in Florida as a steward...

Private Helmut Romer

Romer, Helmut

Private, German Army

The 18-year-old German Private from Berlin named Helmut Romer was potentially the very first enemy soldier to witness the start of the Normandy invasion. He was a sentry on duty at the bridge over the Caen Canal that is now immortalised as...

Lt. Colonel James E.Rudder

Rudder, James

Lt. Colonel, US Army

Born in 1910 in Eden, Texas, James Earl Rudder was a football coach and teacher at Tarleton Agricultural College before the war. After graduating from Texas A&M, Rudder was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Army Reserve...

Corporal Heinrich Severloh

Severloh, Heinrich

German Army

Heinrich Severloh was born in the Weimar Republic in 1923. In July 1942, at the age of 19, he was conscripted into the 19th Light Artillery Replacement Division in Hannover. In August 1942 he was transferred to France where he served with...

Lt. Frances Y. Slanger

Slanger, Frances

Lt, US Army

Born in Łódź, Poland, Frances Slanger emigrated to the United States with her parents when she was seven years old. She worked at Boston City Hospital as a nurse before joining the Army Nurse Corps in 1943...

General Hans Speidel

Speidel, Hans


Born in October 1897 in Metzingen, Hans Speidel fought in both World Wars. In April 1944 he was appointed Chief of Staff to Field Marshall Erwin Rommel. As Rommel was away in Germany visiting his wife for her birthday, Speidel was...

Group Captain James M. Stagg

Stagg, James

Group Captain, RAF Volunteer Reserve

James Stagg was born in June 1900 in Dalkeith, Scotland. During the Second World War he served as a Royal Air Force Meteorologist. In 1943 he was commissioned a Group Captain in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve...

Private John M. Steele

Steele, John

Private, US Army

John Marvin Steele was born in Metropolis, Illinois in 1912. In 1943 he arrived in North Africa as a member of F Company, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division. He was the oldest man in F Company and was also...

Ron Tucker, Parachute Regiment

Tucker, Ronald

Private, British Army

Ron Tucker lied about his age to sign up for the British army in 1942 - at 16 years old he joined the Gordon Highlanders. He then volunteered to join the fledgling Parachute Regiment, and aged just 18 he dropped in Normandy in the early hours...

Lt. Colonel Anna Wilson

Wilson, Anna "Tony"

Lt. Colonel, US Army

Captain Anna "Tony" Walker Wilson arrived in England in April 1943. She was the Women's Army Corps (WAC) Staff Directory in the European Theatre of Operations. She was the first WAC to arrive in the ETO and it was her job to...

Michael Wittmann

Wittmann, Michael

SS-Hauptsturmführer, German Army

Known in military circles as the "Black Baron", Michael Wittmann was a Waffen-SS tank commander who was born in Bavaria in 1914. He fought in Poland and in the Battle of France, then in Greece before his unit was withdrawn to Czechoslovakia...

Kyoungjong Yang

Yang, Kyoungjong

German Army

Born in 1920, Yang Kyoungjong was a Korean living in Manchuria in 1938 when the ruling Japanese conscripted him into the Kwantung Army of the Imperial Japanese Army to fight against the Soviet Union. In September 1939...

The Allied Leaders

The German Leaders