Great BritainHampshire

As a centre for aircraft production and as an embarkation point for the D-Day landings, Hampshire played an important role in the defence of Britain and the liberation of Europe. 

Liberation Route Europe

Liberation Route:Great BritainHampshire

During the Second World War the county of Hampshire was home to several military and naval bases. The ports at Southampton and Portsmouth were important locations for the preparation and execution of the D-Day landings. During the war both these cities were bombed by the Luftwaffe. Furthermore Hampshire was an important location for the production of the iconic Spitfire airplane, which was designed and constructed here alongside other aircraft.

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Highlighted story: Preparations for D-Day

D-Day is one of the most remembered campaigns of the Second World War. The operation involved troops from Britain, the United States, Canada and several other countries. On 6 June 1944 the Allied forces sailed across the English Channel to begin their campaign to gain victory against the German forces. Planning the invasion was an enormous undertaking.

Operation Overlord in the United Kingdom
In this picture:
Into the Jaws of Death
Allied troops disembarking during D-Day.

On 6 June 1944 the Allied forces crossed the English Channel to Normandy to begin their epic struggle to reclaim France and eventually gain victory against the German forces in Europe. Often overlooked, planning the invasion (codenamed Operation Overlord) was a mammoth task. A vast army of workers toiled on various elements of the campaign, from providing safe harbours for the travelling fleet to ensuring that fuel would be in plentiful supply. An array of sites linked to the planning, preparation and implementation of D-Day were located across Britain, from embarkation area headquarters along coastal regions, such as Quay House in Portsmouth, to the inland headquarters of the Allied commanders, such as Southwick House in Hampshire, the Cabinet War Rooms and St Paul’s School in London. Once the campaign was underway, Britain continued to provide troops and supplies to mainland Europe, while injured service personnel returned to the country to recuperate, many located in Haslar Hospital, Gosport. Once underway, the campaign was reported on by journalists such as the Daily Telegraph’s Fred Perfect, who travelled with the convoy, wiring back stories for publication.

The significance of Operation Overlord ensures that it is one of the most remembered campaigns of the Second World War and is prominent in remembrance events. In 1959 Cornelius Ryan published The Longest Day, based on interviews he undertook with Allied and German service personnel. Meanwhile the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire is home to a dedicated D-Day memorial, while the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth remains the only museum devoted solely to remembering the D-Day campaign.

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