A Tangible Connection to the "Longest Day"
In June 1940, Axis forces accomplished what their leader, Adolph Hitler, called “the most famous victory in history” with the fall of France. The following year, Axis forces invaded the Soviet Union, and the United States joined the war. Joseph Stalin, then leader of the Soviet Union, pressed for Allied forces to open a western front, but those forces instead engaged in the Mediterranean, in both Africa and in Europe, rather than launching a full-on assault. Finally, in May 1943, attendees of the Trident Conference decided to launch such an assault in France. Planning for Operation Overlord began, and the assault began on what is today known as “D-Day” on June 6, 1944.
Covert Measures and Redirection
One of the most important aspects of D-Day was the deception leading up to it. Well in advance of the attack, Operation Bodyguard was developed to confuse German forces on the date and location of the invasion, while Operation Fortitude employed fake radio traffic to build up expectation of an attack in Norway. Operations Taxable and Glimmer dropped “window,” metal strips designed to produce false radar readings, while the British employed dummy parachutists in Operation Titanic to send German forces scattering to directions away from the invasion sites. These operations proved crucial in the invasion’s success.
Largest Amphibious Military Operation
When D-Day finally arrived, it became the largest ever amphibious military operation in history. In total, five beaches were assaulted, with American forces tasked with invading both Omaha Beach and Utah Beach, while British and Canadian forces were assigned to Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches. All told, 822 planes dropped parachutists in Normandy, while another 13,000 planes provided air support and cover. 176,000 troops made the voyage from England to France, carried by 6,000 ships, landing craft, and additional vessels. Four of the beaches fell relatively easily, while the Germans put up the toughest resistance at Omaha Beach, where 2,000 troops were lost. By nightfall, 155,000 Allied troops had successfully made their way ashore.
The D-Day invasion served as the foundation for a successful Operation Overlord. By July, 850,000 allied men and 150,000 allied vehicles were poised in Normandy to head east. This foothold would ultimately enable the Allies to invade Germany and share occupation of the nation with the Soviet Union in the immediate aftermath of the war.
Today, the stories of D-Day heroism continue to be told. As those who lived through it age, the stories are increasingly told by books and movies rather than those who had first hand experience. Movies such as Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, and the Longest Day bring the important story to life. They provide connections with the violence and valor of one of the most important days in human history.
A Tangible Connection to the "Longest Day"
For those looking for more intimate and personal connections to the period, we are now offering coins and sets of coins from the countries and time periods involved in the conflict. These small denomination coins, such as a British sixpence and American and Canadian nickels, may well have been carried by those who fought on that fateful day. One set even includes a German 5 Reichspfenning, meaning that both sides are represented. This coin also serves as a reminder that, while German SS units committed inexcusable crimes, other German soldiers, like Allied soldiers, were simply fighting for their country. All the coins date from 1937-1944. 1937 was a significant date because the Anschluss, Germany’s annexation of Austria, took place the following year.
Another set that we are offering consists of coins that were struck in the US during 1943 and 1944. It includes a Jefferson War Nickel, a Mercury Dime, a Walking Liberty Half Dollar, a 1944 Lincoln Penny, and a 1944 Belgium 2 Franc piece. The Belgian coin was struck in the United States on the same planchets as were used for Steel Cents, while the Lincoln Cent was struck from melted down shell casings.
While the number of survivors of World War II continues to dwindle, millions of their relatives continue to tell their stories. The D-Day invasion was crucial to Allied success. It would not have been possible without the countless strategies, soldiers, sailors, and airmen who made it possible. Now, you can own some personal, physical connections with the time period and those who lived through it. Whether you served during World War II, have loved ones who did, or simply want to feel a connection with one of the most important events in recent history, be sure to add at least one of these sets to your collection today.