On June 6, 1944, Allied troops from the U.S., Britain, Canada and France, stormed the coastline of Normandy, France, taking the occupying Germans by surprise. The attack was the largest single-day invasion of all time, with over 130,000 troops arriving by air and by sea in one day.
"Four years in the preparation, Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944, marked the beginning of the end of World War II and the eventual liberation of Europe." The D-Day Museum of Portsmouth, UK, has a large D-Day archive, including articles, veterans' memoirs, and audio clips. Best reasons to visit are the first person accounts sprinkled throughout the site. In addition to features about preparing for D-Day, and crossing the channel, the site has sections covering the five Normandy beaches where American and British troops landed.
Encyclopedia Britannica's multimedia guide is a terrific starting point for a school research project. Highlights include audio memories from D-Day veterans, interactive charts, and Learning Activities. Change the Course of History (the first of four Learning Activities) is a classroom role-playing game where students take on the role of a real German commander, Field Marshall Gerd von Rundstedt. What might have happened if he had somehow learned how and when the Allies were to invade France?
Notable clicks at this PBS site include the World War II European timeline, and the Special Features. "Did You Know?" answers the popular question: What does the "D" in D-Day stand for? The short answer is that it probably stands for "Day," but you'll need to read the article to get the whole story. "Hot Off the Presses" is a look at newspaper reports of the time. For teachers, there are seven classroom activities, covering four subject areas: geography, economics, history and civics.
Don't miss the eight-minute video (on the front page) featuring the recollections of five D-Day veterans, and D-Day film footage. If you have trouble understanding the voices, there is a transcript that pops up in a separate window. Other great clicks are Photos from the Front, and General Eisenhower's message to the troops just prior to the invasion (in audio, as well as a transcript.) "Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months."
Using photographs and illustrations, the Center of Military History has created a annotated timeline gallery of D-Day. The exhibit starts with an illustration by Olin Dows called "On the Way to the Assault Boats" which depicts soldiers marching on a beach in England. It might be cliche at this point to say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but I included this virtual exhibit because it adds a visual dimension to today's D-Day collection.