MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Thursday, June 6th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Megan Basham.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
Operation Overlord was the largest seaborne invasion in history. Twelve thousand ships and landing craft took part. By the end of the first day, more than 150,000 Allied forces came ashore in Normandy, France.
Hitler’s defenses along the beaches were strong, but U.S. and British forces eventually overwhelmed their positions. In the first 24 hours, the Allies suffered more than 10,000 casualties. But this became the turning point in the war with Germany.
BASHAM: To commemorate this crucial battle, we now present without comment, “Voices of D-Day:” four radio broadcast and speech excerpts from June 6th, 1944.
JOHN SNAGGE: This is the BBC home service. Here is a special bulletin read by John Snagge. D-Day has come.
Early this morning the Allies began the assault on the northwestern face on Hitler’s European fortress. The first official news came just after half past nine, when supreme headquarters of the Allied expeditionary force issued communique number one.
This said: “Under the command of General Eisenhower, Allied naval forces supported by strong air forces began landing Allied forces this morning on the Northern coast of France. The Allied commander-in-chief General Eisenhower has issued an order of the day addressed to each individual of the Allied expeditionary force.”
DWIGHT EISENHOWER: Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen…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. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is will trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely. The united nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. 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.
BBC ANNOUNCER: In a few moments, His Majesty the King will speak to his people at home and overseas.
KING GEORGE: I desire solemnly to call my people to prayer and dedication. We are not unmindful of our own shortcomings. We shall ask not that God may do our will, but that we may be enabled to do the will of God: and we dare to believe that God has used our nation and empire as an instrument for fulfilling his high purpose.
If from every place of worship, from home and factory, from men and women of all ages and many races and occupations, our intercessions rise, then, please God, both now and in that future not remote, the predictions of an ancient Psalm may be fulfilled: “The Lord will give strength unto his people: the Lord will give his people the blessing of peace.”
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States…
FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT: I ask you to join with me in prayer. Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.
Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.
They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest—until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war. And for us at home, help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.
Thy will be done, Almighty God. Amen.
REICHARD: That was former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, addressing the nation on D-Day—75 years ago today. Before that, you heard England’s then-King George, General Dwight Eisenhower, and BBC announcer John Snagg.