This order was issued by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower to encourage Allied soldiers taking part in the D-day invasion of June 6, 1944. By May 1944, almost 3 million Allied troops were gathered in southern England. The largest armada in history, made up of more than 4,000 American, British, and Canadian ships, lay in wait, and more than 1,200 planes stood ready.
Against a tense backdrop of uncertain weather forecasts, disagreements in strategy, and related timing dilemmas, Eisenhower decided before dawn on June 5 to proceed withOverlord. Later that same afternoon, he scribbled a note intended for release, accepting responsibility for the decision to launch the invasion and full blame should the effort to create a beachhead on the Normandy coast fail. Much more polished is his printed Order of the Day for June 6, 1944, which Eisenhower began drafting in February. The order was distributed to the 175,000-member expeditionary force on the eve of the invasion. He also repeated the order in a speech to the troops.
Eisenhower’s Order Of The Day
Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! 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 hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, 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 well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely. But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground.
Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. 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 blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
Eisenhower’s Order Trivia
An earlier version of the order used plainer language, having “great undertaking” in place of “Great Crusade” and omitting mention of “liberty-loving people”.\
Eisenhower also changed the placement of phrases in the order. He was responsible for moving the “eyes of the world” and “liberty-loving people” sentences from the end of the speech to near the start and for using “march with you” where the original had “go with you”.
Eisenhower also replaced “you may expect him to fight savagely” with “he will fight savagely” and the original closing phrase “we can and we will win” was amended to “we accept nothing less than full victory!” with an exclamation point added.
On the eve of D-Day (June 5, 1944) the order was distributed as a printed leaflet to 175,000 members of the Allied forces.
At the time of the invasion Eisenhower’s order was widely distributed outside of the armed forces—it was read out to 50,000 people assembled in New York’s Central Park on the evening of June 6—and has been reproduced since in books and films about the war.
Eisenhower recorded a version for radio broadcast on 28 May, at which point the invasion was intended for 31 May or 1 June (poor weather delayed the landings until June 6).
The recording has been described by Timothy Rives, Deputy Director of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home, as “[ringing] with confidence”, with Eisenhower sounding “reminiscent of the actor Clark Gable“
Eisenhower himself adapted the “Great Crusade” line for the title of his 1948 book about the war Crusade in Europe.