On 6 June 1944 a huge military machine embarked on the invasion of German-occupied France. Its target was the coast of Normandy. A vast armada of ships carried more than 130,000 men. Ahead of them, planes and gliders transported another 23,000. This was the biggest amphibious landing in history, and its aim was to end the war in Europe and bring victory to the Allies.
Over the following months, further troops landed to help regain German-held territory; their number grew to more than two million.
Jack Ingham, a commanding officer on a Royal Navy Landing Craft, describes his journey across the English Channel on D-Day. See the transcript.
No New Zealand ground forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, but New Zealanders like Jack Ingham were on the ships and planes that carried troops to France on 6 June – D-Day – and in the months that followed. These young men served with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Navy (RN). Some were in charge of landing craft, vessels that carried the troops and tanks to the invasion. Others were seamen or officers on frigates, battleships and destroyers.
New Zealanders in the RAF were among the crews of Dakotas and gliders, which carried paratroops. Other New Zealanders flew in fighters and bombers, sent out on operations in support of the landings. Far from home, these men were witnesses to one of the decisive events in the Second World War.