Interesting D-Day Memoirs To Read For The 80th Anniversary

With the 80th anniversary of D-Day on the horizon, here are some book recommendations to check out!

Memoirs & Biographies Recommendations
A soldier stands over a grave site for veterans.

June 6th marks the anniversary of the Allies’ invasion of the beaches of Normandy. Imagine yourself moments before the invasion, gentle waves bobbing your boat in the water as you approach the shore. The boats are close enough together that you could walk across the water, using them as stepping stones. And when the doors finally open, you have to wade through waist-high water while being shot at by heavy machine guns. Lucky for us, we only have to imagine going through something like that as we read books that explain the scars that D-Day left on the soldiers.

History of D-Day

June 6th marks a bloody day in the history of World War II. The goal was to take the beaches of Normandy because it would drain German resources and block access to key military sites. D-Day, codenamed Overlord, was the largest naval, air, and land operation in history. The airborne assault started shortly after midnight with amphibious landings following spread over two days. The assault was an international effort. While most soldiers were American, British, and Canadian troops, other countries such as Australia, Belgium, Czech, Dutch, France, Greece, New Zealand, Norway, Rhodesia, and Poland offered support.

British commando troops landing on the beaches of Normandy during D-Day.

D-Day required detailed planning, including deception campaigns to confuse German troops and sabotage missions to weaken Germany’s already insufficiently manned defenses. Despite the strict planning, disorganization and confusion consumed the soldiers. The paratroopers were severely scattered, and the beach landings faced heavy opposition. To their credit, the soldiers were able to adapt and succeed in taking the beaches of Normandy, which created a domino effect that resulted in Germany’s surrender.

Reading About D-Day

If you’re interested in reading about the horrific battles of D-Day, look no further. These books tell stories about D-Day from different perspectives, such as paratroopers and the waves of soldiers that stormed the beaches from the shore.

The Forgotten Reapers of World War II: Gallant Jamaicans Help Defeat the Axis Powers by John L. McHugh

The book is John McHugh’s story about his time as a war worker in New York City. Now 103 years old, McHugh’s book describes his move from Jamaica to New York as a contracted farmworker. During the war, the British and US governments hired men from other countries to harvest crops for their populations. This book brings recognition to the unknown contributors to the war effort. By putting the farming industry on their backs, McHugh and his fellow workers supported the country at a time when it needed it most.

Book cover for Forgotten Reapers of World War 2 featuring the arm of the statue of liberty holding its torch.

Normandy ’44: D-Day and the Epic 77-Day Battle for France by James Holland

Historian James Holland shares his knowledge of D-Day and its defining moment in World War II. Holland describes the planning that made the sacrifice of thousands of men worth it for victory in France. He recounts memories of specific troops along with their roles in the battle and the decisions made by Eisenhower and other commanders. Holland’s coverage of the problematic battle the Allies faced against a quick-thinking German army creates an exhilarating narrative of the military engagements on D-Day.

Book cover for Normandy '44 which features a group of soldiers crossing a road with wrecked vehicles.

Parachute Infantry: An American Paratrooper’s Memoir of D-Day and the Fall of the Third Reich by David Kenyon Webster and Stephen E. Ambrose

David Webster was a journalist and World War II soldier. This memoir is separated into multiple sections, starting with Webster’s participation in D-Day and the events after. Webster was deployed into Holland to rescue prisoners as the German army retreated, stranded from his unit, and reunited with them months later. The book ends with Webster returning home and being discharged from the army. Stephen Ambrose introduces the book and notes Webster’s descriptions and writing, connecting it into a story.

Book cover for Parachute Infantry which features an image of Webster during World War II.

Every Man a Hero: A Memoir of D-Day, the First Wave at Omaha Beach, and a World at War by Ray Lambert and Jim DeFelice

In this book, Ray Lambert recalls his time during World War II and his time as a decorated medic who risked his life to save many others. Ray stormed Omaha Beach alongside his brother, Bill. During the battle, Ray saved dozens of lives while being wounded three times and lost consciousness in the shallow water. Ray’s story continues throughout the war and follows it to victory day. Jim DeFelice crafts Ray’s story into a memoir for future generations to look back on.

Book cover of Every Man a Hero which features an image of Ray Lambert and soldiers rushing through the waters during D-Day.

Cornelius Ryan: The Longest Day (D-Day June 6, 1944), a Bridge Too Far (LOA #318) by Cornelius Ryan and Rick Atkinson

This book, written by Cornelius Ryan and introduced by Pulitzer Prize winner and historian Rick Atkinson, tells the story of the Allies’ victory during the Normandy invasion and the failure of the Holland invasion. These stories combine to create a story that recounts the largest amphibious and airborne invasion from the perspective of ordinary soldiers. Ryan’s writing paints the finest hour of common people fighting against tyranny.

Book cover for The Longest Day featuring soldiers deploying into the waters from their U-boats.

These books are perfect for anyone interested in learning about the D-Day invasion. This year will be the 80th anniversary of the invasion. There aren’t many veterans from the war left, soon enough there won’t be anyone else to tell their personal stories of their experiences during the war. Their sacrifices 80 years ago have allowed us to live as we do now.

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