Europe & Britain | People & Stories

D-Day at 80: Honoring your family's war-time stories

Recently updated on June 7th, 2024 at 09:36 am

The 6th of June 1944 is a day etched in our history. A day, forever synonymous with courage, sacrifice, and the fight for freedom. That fateful day – better known as D-Day – was the Allied invasion of Normandy, which marked a pivotal turning point in World War II. 

More than 160,000 troops from Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia and other Allied nations stormed the beaches of occupied France, facing a heavily fortified German defense. The cost of that day was immense – thousands of troops fell on both sides, altering the course of the war.

Omahu Beach on the ccoast of Normandy is  D-Day beach

Your family stories

In the years since D-Day, the veterans who fought on those beaches have grown older, and many have passed on. But their legacy, and the stories of their bravery, will never be forgotten. We reached out to our past guests to hear the tales have been passed down through generations, whether that be from World War II or other battles.

To honor the 80th anniversary of D-Day, we wanted to highlight some of these tales of sacrifice and courage. If you have a family heirloom from the war, a vivid account passed down, or simply a deep respect for those who fought, then leave us a comment at the bottom with your connection to D-Day.

This D-Day memorial statue is found near Gold Beach in Arromanches les Bains, Normandy, France

A photo of mum saved my dad

“My late father was a Private in the Tvl Scottish Regiment in WW2,” says our past guest Verity Anne N. “He was in Egypt mostly. He had a leather wallet with a photo of my Mum in it (see bottom-left of the image, below). 

“[When] he was shot, [he] would have died if he [didn’t] have the photo in the wallet. I have it in a box frame [and] you can see the bullet indentation clearly.

“I also have his medals and Christmas cards he sent to my Mum. RIP Dad.”

Seeking out lost relatives aboard

“My uncle is buried in the Grosbeak Canadian War Cemetery in the Netherlands,” says past guest Valerie B. “In September, our Trafalgar tour starts in Amsterdam and we will arrive four days before tour so we can visit his grave.”

Standing on the same D-Day shore

“Being on Omaha Beach when the tide was very low made for an incredible D-Day beach experience,” says Diane W, who joined our Treasures of France tour. 

“Standing way out from the shore, just as it was on June 6, 1944, and imagining what it was like for the brave men was unforgettable.”

EXPERIENCE NORMANDY: Treasures of France Including Normandy

A memoir now in the D.C. Library of Congress

“My father-in-law was on the U.S.S Alywen at Pearl Harbor. He was on guns as the planes flew so low he said you could see the mustache on the pilots. He wrote his whole story out [and now] it’s in the library of congress in D.C,” says Beverly S.C.

The villagers still have a great respect for us

“I enjoy history and was particularly interested in World War history,” says Marsha K, who joined our special WWI & WWII Battlefields tour. 

“Touring the cemeteries and memorials in Northern France was touching and moving. As a Canadian, to see and feel the honour and respect the villages gave to the fallen soldiers during those times. [It] was very moving for me. 

“To wander the sites, reading and hearing from our tour guides, about the war activities was fascinating. I will always remember that tour with many moments that touched my heart.”

A POW to the Japanese

“My great uncle Jack served in the 2nd/29th AIF [and] became a POW to the Japanese. [He] helped build the infamous Burma Railway,” says Kayley W.

Both parents connected to WWII

“Both of my parents served in WWII,” says Lorna G.W. “Mum was a sargent, Dad was a private who was part of the Dutch liberation. Mum worked out of Ottawa. [My] grandparents also served in the great war.”

A father lost in Italy

“My father, a private in the London Irish Rifles, served five years in Egypt, Sicily and Italy, respectively,” says Margaret H. “My mother, I and my three siblings saw him three times during that time. 

“I was 10 when he died in an Italian hospital. I visited his grave in 2001 in Bari Cemetery. A beautiful, well kept resting place for a brave soldier.”

Do you have a D-Day story or family war memory to share? Leave us a comment…. 

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