Wounds my heart with a monotonous languor.
—British Broadcasting Corporation message for French Resistance fighters, informing them that the invasion was on.
I am prepared to lose the whole group.
—Col. Donald Blakeslee, commanding the Fourth Fighter Group, Eighth Air Force, briefing his P-51 Mustang pilots on 5 June.
They’re murdering us here. Let’s move inland and get murdered.
—Col. Charles D. Canham, commanding the 116th Infantry Regiment, First Infantry Division, on Omaha Beach.
This is a very serious business.
—Photographer Robert Capa on Omaha Beach.
Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force: You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944! The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory!
I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle.
We will accept nothing less than full victory!
Good luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
—Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, 6 June 1944.
Four years ago our nation and empire stood alone against an overwhelming enemy, with our backs to the wall. . . . Now once more a supreme test has to be faced. This time the challenge is not to fight to survive but to fight to win the final victory for the good cause. . . .
At this historic moment surely not one of us is too busy, too young, or too old to play a part in a nation-wide, perchance a world-wide vigil of prayer as the great crusade sets forth.
—King George VI, radio address, 6 June 1944.
You get your ass on the beach. I’ll be there waiting for you and I’ll tell you what to do. There ain’t anything in this plan that is going to go right.
—Col. Paul R. Goode, addressing the 175th Infantry Regiment, Twentyninth Infantry Division, before D-Day.
Well, is it or isn’t it the invasion?
— Adolf Hitler to Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel on the afternoon of 6 June.
We shall see who fights better and who dies more easily, the German soldier faced with the destruction of his homeland or the Americans and British, who don’t even know what they are fighting for in Europe.
—Gen. Alfred Jodl, operations chief of the German high command, early 1944.
I took chances on D-Day that I never would have taken later in the war.
—First Sgt. C. Carwood Lipton, 506th Parachute Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.
I’m sorry we’re a few minutes late.
— Lord Lovat, arriving with his commandos to relieve the British airborne troops holding the Orne River bridges, 6 June.
I am firmly convinced that our supporting naval fire got us in; that without the gunfire we positively could not have crossed the beaches. —Col. Stanhope B. Mason, chief of staff, First Infantry Division.
Nobody dashed ashore. We staggered. With one hand I carried my gun, finger on the trigger; with the other I held onto the rope-rail down the ramp, and with the third hand I carried my bicycle.
—Cpl. Peter Masters, 10 Commando, Sword Beach.
We have a sufficiency of troops; we have all the necessary tackle; we have an excellent plan. This is a perfectly normal operation which is certain of success.
If anyone has any doubts in his mind, let him stay behind.
—Gen. Bernard L. Montgomery, commanding Twenty-first Army Group.
It was something which you just can’t imagine if you have not seen it. It was boats, boats, boats and more boats, boats everywhere.
—Jacqueline Noel, recalling the British beaches. She met her future husband on D+4.
The Anglo-Saxons have set foot on our soil. France is becoming a battlefield. Frenchmen, do not attempt to commit any action which might bring terrible reprisals. Obey the orders of the government.
—Marshal Henri Philippe Petain, 6 June.
This is the end for Germany.
—Maj. Werner Pluskat, 352d Infantry Division at dawn on 6 June.
We’re going in alone and I don’t think we’re coming back.
—Lt. Col. Josef ‘‘Pips’’ Priller, Kommodore of JG-26, to his wingman before their strafing attack on Sword and Juno beaches.
The first twenty-four hours of the invasion will be decisive. . . . [T]he fate of Germany depends on the outcome. For the Allies as well as Germany, it will be the longest day.
—Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, 22 April 1944.
We’ll start the war from right here.
—Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., assistant commander of the Fourth Infantry Division, upon finding that his force had been landed in the wrong place on Utah Beach.
Two kinds of people are staying on this beach—the dead and those who are going to die.
—Col. George A. Taylor, commanding the Sixteenth Infantry Regiment, First Infantry Division, on Omaha Beach. (In The Longest Day, this statement is delivered by Robert Mitchum as Brig. Gen. Norman D. Cota of the Twenty-ninth Infantry Division.)
This article is part of our larger selection of posts about the Normandy Invasion. To learn more, click here for our comprehensive guide to D-Day.
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