Discover the story behind 80 remarkable objects from D-Day 1944 new premium hardback book


14 June 2024
D-Day-Betty-Whites-coat D-Day in 80 objects book Family Tree Little Betty White, aged just 5 at the time of D-Day, collected 90 military badges from men as they embarked for Normandy. Her collection is one of the 80 D-Day historic treasures
Shining a light on 80 remarkable D-Day-related artefacts in national museum holdings, a brand-new book tells of the stories and wartime experiences of those who served, fought, and died in the course of Operation Overlord, 6 June 1944.

Working with national museums in the UK and the USA, the team from the D-Day Story museum and the D-Day Museum Trust in Portsmouth have published D-Day in 80 Objects.

It's written by BBC reporter Steve Humphrey, with a foreword by Henry Montgomery, 3rd Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, the grandson of General Bernard Law Montgomery, who commanded the Allied ground forces on D-Day, and edited by Cathy Hakes, head of museums at Portsmouth City Council (sponsors of this post).

Why was D-Day 6 June 1944 so important for the Allies?

This date marked the start of the Allied invasion of Europe, in an ultimately successful campaign that led to the toppling of Nazi power and the liberation of Europe.

For nearly 5 years war had been waged against the Axis forces in Europe and during that time there had been several times when victory looked far from certain for Britain and her allies. 

D-Day was so important as it managed to remain top secret, despite the involvement of hundreds of thousands of troops. This element of surprise meant that the Allied troops could land in Normandy, and begin to take ground, travelling East. This was the beginning of the end for the German occupation of Europe. 

D-Day this year, 2024, is especially important as it commemorates the 80th anniversary of D-Day - hence why 80 objects have been chosen for the commemorative book.

Over the coming year, we will see the 80th anniversary of further WW2 key dates. To trace your ancestors' war years, start here. In the meantime let's dig into this fascinating new book.

What D-Day treasures are included?

Postcards! - yes simple holiday postcards. In 1942 an appeal went out to the British public asking them to donate their holiday postcards. Over the next two years 10 million postcards were supplied by the patriotic public. The scenic photos on the postcards were used to help familiarise the troops with the French coastline, in preparation of invasion.

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Dummy maps - maps were created with correct topography, but false names - so that Allied troops could be briefed of the plan ahead of time, but couldn't accidentally bubble the planned location of the Normandy invasion.

Betty's jacket of badges - little Betty White, aged just 5 at the time, asked the servicemen passing by her home in Gosport for a badge as they marched by. She collected 90 military badges in total and her mother attached them to her jacket, which is on display in The D-Day Story museum in Portsmouth.

Monty's plan - handwritten in pencil on a sheet of beige paper, General Bernard Law Montgomery, commander of the Allied ground forces on D-Day, noted down the key points. The last word of which was 'SIMPLICITY' - in capital letters. Easier said than done in a military operation involving hundreds of thousands of people and pieces of equipment. 

Beautifully illustrated with clear photographs of the historic items features in the book, it's a fascinating read. As family historians know, the interest of history so often lies in the details, and this book has that covered.

Buy a copy and support the D-Day Story Museum (profits from the sale of the book will go to supporting the work of the D-Day museum)

The D-Day Story located in Portsmouth is the only UK museum dedicated to the events of the Normandy Landings in June 1944, and holds a unique collection of artefacts including the last surviving Landing Craft Tank involved in the campaign.

Not just any ventriloquist's dummy, this historic treasure owned by Captain Ted North, kept troop morale high in the toughest of times.

Explore the stories and remember the heroes of D-Day with the D-Day in 80 Objects, brand-new premium hardback book, out now.