Originally scheduled for 5 June but delayed to 6 June 1944 due to bad weather, D-Day (or Operation Neptune) would go down as the most successful invasion in history. Four thousand ships released 133,000 troops onto five Normandy beaches, with a further 23,000 parachuted from 822 aircrafts. It was a joint operation between the UK Armed Forces: Army, Navy and RAF and the US and Canada.
It was up to SSAFA’s Overseas Department, established in 1941, to provide support for their families back home. As demand grew for SSAFA’s help, our offices expanded rapidly with representatives working in Europe, the Middle East and India. By 1944, SSAFA had 50,000 volunteers. Everyday ﬁghting men would come to us to share their problems and tell us about family members in need. This information would then be sent back to our headquarters in Whitehall where SSAFA workers arranged visits and assistance.
This support made a big difference to our Forces. On touring SSAFA’s overseas offices in 1944, a senior Army officer remarked, “Everyone knows what SSAFA means…they much appreciate the sympathetic methods and efficient work of SSAFA representatives, which contribute directly to the maintenance of the man’s morale as a ﬁghting soldier”.
"In the knowledge that his family at home are being well cared for by SSAFA, the soldier fighting overseas may wholeheartedly devote himself to his duty, without being worried by family troubles and hampered in the efficient execution of his duty."
From a letter written by General Montgomery, Commander of 21st Army Group, later to become the British Liberation Army (BLA) and British Army of the Rhine (BAOR).
Our D-Day stories
Alison and Richard Gregory
The SSAFA Controller, Sir Andrew Gregory, recounts the stories of his parents' D-Days
Donald MacKay served on the minesweeper HMS Gozo during the D-Day invasion.
William Jones' D-Day story as told by his grandson and ex-Royal Marine David.
Elaine Hanson, one of the first weapons trained female soldiers in the British Army discovered the hidden story of her uncle's bravery on D-Day.
Alfred Smith was a veteran of both Dunkirk and D-Day, and later a stalwart supporter of SSAFA
Peter Davies, D-Day Veteran who was a radio operator in a Sherman Tank crew at the Sword Beach landings.