Your D-Day Questions Answered

The terms D-day and H-hour are used for the day and hour on which a combat attack or operation is to be initiated. They designate the day and hour of the operation when the day and hour have not yet been determined, or where secrecy is essential. The letters are derived from the words for which they stand, "D" for the day of the invasion and "H" for the hour operations actually begin. It is unnecessary to state that H-hour is on D-day.

When used in combination with figures and plus or minus signs, these terms indicate the length of time preceding or following a specific action. Thus, H-3 means 3 hours before H-hour, and D+3 means 3 days after D-day.

The earliest use of these terms by the U.S. Army seems to date from World War I. In Field Order Number 9, First Army, American Expeditionary Forces, dated September 7, 1918: "The First Army will attack at H hour on D day with the object of forcing the evacuation of the St. Mihiel Salient."
The Atlantic Wall was the name given to the thousands of miles of bunkers, observation posts and other defences constructed by the Germans to defend the coast of mainland Europe from Allied invasion.

The defences of the Atlantic Wall were constructed between 1940 and 1944, stretching from Norway to the French border with Spain. Some of the best preserved examples can actually be seen on the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey.

Fortifications and other elements of the Atlantic Wall were often built by slave labourers under the control of "Organisation Todt". Records estimate that around 11,000,000 cubic meters of concrete went into constructing the various fortifications.
On D-Day, shortly after midnight, three gliders containing troops from the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infanty conducted a coup de main to capture the bridge over the Caen Canal. Operation Deadstick as it was designated was to capture the Caen Canal bridge and another several hundred meters to the east over the Orne River. They were amongst the first engagements of Operation Overlord.

Although not paratroopers, the 2nd Battalion "Ox and Bucks" were part of the 6th Airlanding Brigade within the 6th Airborne Division. Parachutist reinforcements from the 6th Airborne Division starting landing shortly after the Ox and Bucks captured the bridge, and later a sign was erected bearing the Pegasus emblem of the British Parachute Regiment.

Since then, the bridge has been known as "Pegasus Bridge". A replacement sign still stands at the site, and the original can now be viewed in the nearby Pegasus Bridge Museum.The smaller bridge across the River Orne is officially known as "Horsa Bridge", after the plywood gliders which delivered the initial assault force.
Operation Aquatint was the name given to a September 1942 raid by British Commandos on the coast of occupied France, in the area of Sainte-Honorine-des-Pertes - later to become Dog Sector at Omaha Beach. The raid was carried out by No. 62 Commando, also known as the Small Scale Raiding Force. The mission was to collect information about the surrounding area, and take a German guard prisoner. The operation was a failure and all of the Commandos were either killed or captured.
Yes, originally there were two artificial harbours created. Known as Mulberry A and Mulberry B, one was constructed in the American sector at Omaha Beach, whilst the other - the one from which many large sections are still visible today - was constructed at Arromanches on Gold Beach in the British sector.

On 19th June, a terrible storm battered the Normandy coastline. Both artificial harbours suffered extensive damage, however, Mulberry A was deemed beyond repair and parts that could be salvaged were used to repair Mulberry B at Arromanches.

Winston Churchill personally ordered the development of the artificial harbours, sending a directive on May 30, 1942 to Admiral Mountbatten, the head of combined operations. Hitler's architect, Albert Speer, called the Mulberry harbours 'an idea of simple genius'.
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