Jargon buster

What is a bogus map? What does BIGOT mean?

What was SHAEF? What does BARV stand for? What were hedgehogs doing on the Normandy beaches?

D-Day produced thousands of code names, acronyms, abbreviations and many other strange and unusual terms and names!

We have compiled a list of some of the most common terms related to D-Day. If you think something is missing, please let us know.

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

21st Army Group

The main British headquarters in the North West Europe campaign in 1944 and 1945. 21st Army Group was commanded by General (later Field Marshal) Sir Bernard Montgomery.

Abwehr

The military intelligence service of the Wehrmacht, the German Armed Forces during the Second World War.

aerial reconnaissance

Aerial reconnaissance is the observation of enemy activity in a specific place to gather intelligence to aid planning.

airborne

Units who land from the air, usually in enemy-occupied territory, either by glider or by parachute. The Allies used airborne forces early on D-Day.

Albany, Mission

The codename for the landings by the US 101st Airborne Division on the western flank of the landing beaches in the early hours of D-Day.

Allies

A group of people or countries working together with a common aim. In the context of D-Day the term ‘Allies’ usually refers to the United States of America, Great Britain, Canada, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, Czechoslovakia, Greece and Poland.

amphibious assault training

Training troops in preparation to land in an assault from the water or sea.

ARP

Air Raid Precautions. A British civil defence organisation set up to protect civilians against air-raids.

Atlantic Wall

The Atlantic Wall was the name for the system of coastal defences built by the Germans stretching from the north of Norway to the French-Spanish border. By June 1944 the Atlantic Wall was incomplete – in places it was very strong whereas in other places it did not exist.

Atlantic, Operation

The codename for a Canadian offensive between 18 and 21 July 1944 to capture the city of Caen.

AVRE

Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers. A tank modified to be used by British Royal Engineers. AVREs were armed with a Petard Mortar which fired a large projectile designed to destroy bunkers and other fortifications.

 

Band

The codename for the planned landing beach east of the River Orne. In the event Band Beach was not used on D-Day as the area inland from the beach was flooded.

BARV

Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicle. A modification of the Sherman tank that was designed to recover broken down vehicles that became immobile on beaches during assault landings.

Battle of Normandy, The

D-Day was the first phase of the Allied campaign to defeat the German armed forces in Normandy. The aim of D-Day was to gain a foothold in France from which the Allies could then advance and defeat the Germans before advancing towards Germany.

Baytown, Operation

The Allied landings on mainland Italy in 1943. The Allies landed in Sicily as they were not yet prepared to land in Northern France.

Beetle

The codename for the floats that the Whale roadways floated on.

Belgian gate

A type of beach defence used by the German armed forces in Normandy. The Belgian gate was a large metal barrier designed to prevent landing craft and vehicles from approaching the beach. Also known as Element C.

BIGOT

The highest level of security clearance, introduced by the Allies before D-Day to help keep their plans secret.

Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park was the central site for British (and subsequently, Allied) codebreakers during World War II. It housed the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS), which regularly penetrated the secret communications of the Axis Powers – most importantly the German Enigma and Lorenz ciphers. This enabled the Allies to know what the Germans were planning and to adjust their own plans accordingly.

blitzkrieg

The description of the German tactics of ‘lightning war’. Particularly used to describe the German invasion of much of Western Europe in 1940.

Bluecoat, Operation

The codename for a British offensive between 30 July and 7 August 1944. The objective of the operation was to exploit the success of Operation Cobra, breakout to the south-east and to capture the strategic point at Mont Pincon.

bocage

A type of thick hedgerow found in Normandy in 1944 and often impossible for tanks to move through. Often the bank of the hedgerow could be six feet high. Bocage can refer to either a single hedge or larger areas of Normandy that had this kind of terrain.

Modern farming methods mean that much of the bocage has been removed since the end of the Second World War.

Bodyguard, Operation

The codename for a deception plan developed by the Allies before D-Day. Bodyguard was the overall codename for a number of other deception plans, including Fortitude.

bogus map

A type of map produced by the Allies before D-Day. The names of French towns and cities were changed for other places in the world to make it harder for anyone to work out which area the map covered.

Bolero

The build-up of US forces in Britain from early 1942 onwards.

Boston, Mission

The codename for the landings by the US 82nd Airborne Division on the western flank of the landing beaches in the early hours of D-Day, around the town of St Mère-Église.

British beaches

Sword and Gold beaches in Normandy, France where British forces landed on D-Day.

Calais

Calais is a town and major ferry port in northern France. England’s famous White Cliffs of Dover can easily be seen on a clear day from Calais. Calais is a major port for ferries and the Channel Tunnel link between France and England.

Charnwood, Operation

The codename for a British and Canadian offensive on 8 and 9 July 1944 to capture the city of Caen.

Churchill tank

A British heavy infantry tank used in the Second World War, best known for its heavy armour, large longitudinal chassis with all-around tracks with multiple bogies, its ability to climb steep slopes, and its use as the basis of many specialist vehicles. It was one of the heaviest Allied tanks of the war and was used at D-Day and Normandy campaign as the basis for many Hobart’s funnies specialist vehicles.

Churchill, Winston

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) was a British statesman, army officer and writer, who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. During his time as Prime Minister, Churchill led Britain to an allied victory in the Second World War.

Cobra, Operation

The codename for a US offensive between 25 and 31 July 1944. The objective was to break through the German defences in the west of Normandy.

collaborators

People living in countries occupied by Nazi German who co-operated with the German forces.

commando

A type of special military personnel whose have undergone special training. Commando units landed on D-Day, particularly on the flanks of landing beaches. Similiar to the US Rangers.

Commonwealth

The Commonwealth of Nations, also known as simply ‘the Commonwealth’, is a group of 52 member states that are mostly territories of the former British Empire. In the context of D-Day it is usually used to refer to countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand that fought alongside Britain in the Second World War.

Conundrum

The codename for large drums used for laying the PLUTO pipeline across the English Channel.

COPP

Ccombined Operations Pilotage Parties. COPP personnel took part in operations to the Normandy beaches to collect sand samples.

Corncob

The codename for blockships that were towed across to France and sunk to create breakwaters. Corncobs were mostly redundant or obsolete warships or merchant vessels.

COSSAC

Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander. Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Morgan was appointed as COSSAC in 1943, before a Supreme Commander had been appointed. His staff developed the early plans for the D-Day landings.

Crab

The codename for a variant of the Sherman tank that carried a rotating drum and flail chains that were used to detonate mines.

Crocodile

The codename for a variant of the British Churchill tank had a flamethrower as well as a main gun.

Cromwell

A British tank designed and built during the Second World War and used in the D-Day and Normandy campaign.

D-Day

The ‘D’ in D-Day does not stand for anything. It comes from the word ‘Day’, and ‘D-Day’ means the day on which a military operation begins. The term “D-Day” has been used for many different operations, but it is most well-known for the Allied landings in Normandy, France on 6 June 1944.

DD tank

Duplex Drive or swimming tank. The DD tank floated with the help of a canvas screen and was powered by a propeller.

de Gaulle, Charles

Charles de Gaulle (1890–1970) was a French general and statesman. He was the leader of Free France (1940–1944) and the head of the Provisional Government of the French Republic (1944–1946).

Deadstick, Operation

The codename for the operation conducted by D Company of the 2nd Battalion of the Oxford and Buckinghamshire (Ox and Bucks) Light Infantry to capture Pegasus Bridge by glider assault in the early hours of D-Day.

DEMS

Defensively Equipped Merchant Ship. An Allied merchant ship that had defensive weapons fitted.

Dieppe

The Allies organised a raid on the French coastal town of Dieppe in 1942, using mainly Canadian troops.

Dragoon, Operation

The Allied landings in Southern France in August 1944. The Dragoon landings were designed to support the landings in Normandy by attacking the German forces in France from the south.

DUKW

A six-wheeled amphibious truck used during the Second World War. Designed and built by General Motors Corporation, it was used by the Allies during the D-Day landings. Its name refers to its model names – D for designed in 1942, U for Utility, K for all-wheel drive and W for dual-tandem rear axles.

Dunkirk

A town in North-East France. In 1940 the British and French armies were forced bacl to Dunkirk by the German armed forces and thousands of troops were evacuated back to Britain.

E-boat

Small German fast attack craft. E-boats were a threat to allied ships on D-Day and sank the Norwegian ship Svenner.

Eastern Front

The campaign between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in Russia and Eastern Europe from 1941 to 1945.

Eastern Task Force

A group of naval vessels that supported the US landings on D-Day. It included bombarding warships, minesweepers escorts, assault ships and landing craft.

Eisenhower, Dwight

An American Army general and statesman, President of the United States from 1953 to 1961. During World War II, he was a five-star general in the United States Army and served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe. He was responsible for planning and supervising the invasion of North Africa in Operation Torch in 1942–43 and the successful invasion of France and Germany in 1944–45 from the Western Front.

El Alamein, Battle of

Two battles were fought at El Alamein in Egypt during the North African campaign of the Second World War. The Second Battle of El Alamein led to the defeat of the Axis forces in North Africa. The British Eighth Army was commanded by Field Marshal Montgomery and the Axis forces were commanded by Rommel.

embarkation point

Places where troops boarded landing craft or ships to sail to France.

Enigma

Codename for a type of cipher machine used by the German armed forces and intelligence agencies to send secret messages. The Enigma code was broken by codebreakers at Bletchley Park, allowing the Allies to read Enigma signals.

Epsom, Operation

The codename for a British offensive between 26 and 30 June 1944. The operation aimed to outflank and capture Caen from the west. The operation ended after the Battle of Villers Bocage.

Fabius, Exercise

A series of exercises before D-Day that acted as a last ‘dress rehearsal’ for the troops who would land on D-Day itself.

Falaise Pocket

After the Allies advanced from the Normandy beachhead in late July and early August 1944 a large number of German units were surrounded near the town of Falaise. This area became known as the Falaise Pocket.

Firefly

A British modification of the Sherman tank that replaced the 75mm gun with a British 17-pounder gun.

Fortitude, Operation

The codename for a deception plan developed by the Allies before D-Day. Fortitude created fake armies in south-east England and Scotland to convince t he Germans that the Allies were planning to land in the Pas-de-Calais region of France or in Norway.

France

Officially the French Republic, France is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in western Europe, as well as several overseas regions and territories. France was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1940 and liberated by the Western Allies in 1944. While France was occupied many French people had escaped and joined the Free French Forces and fought with the Allies.

Garbo

The codename of the double-agent Juan Pujol Garcia. Garbo was a Spanish citizen who became both a British and German secret agent. He fed false information to the Germans in the run-up to D-Day to deceive them as part of Operation Fortitude.

Glimmer, Operation

The codename for a deception operation that took place on the night before D-Day. Glimmer simulated an invasion force sailing towards the Pas-de-Calais.

Gold

The codename for the British landing beach close to Arromanches. On D-Day the landings on Gold Beach were led by the British 50th Division.

Goodwood, Operation

The codename for a British offensive between 18 and 20 June 1944. The operation aimed to outflank Caen from the east and capture the south bank of the city.

Gooseberry

The codename for breakwaters that were formed to create calmer water for ships to shelter and unload in. Some gooseberries were part of a Mulberry harbour.

Gustav the Pigeon

Before modern communication technologies, the armed forces were often reliant on pigeons to deliver important messages. Carrier pigeons performed a crucial role in wartime and during the Second World War in particular. On D-Day a pigeon called Gustav was aboard an Allied ship off the coast of Normandy when the invasion fleet was under radio silence to avoid enemy detection. At the appropriate time Gustav was released and he flew 150 miles across the Channel to RAF Thorney Island near Chichester in West Sussex where he delivered, five hours and 16 minutes later, the very first message that the Normandy landings had commenced.

HAIS

A type of PLUTO pipe, short for the names of it’s manufacturers, Hartley-Anglo-Iranian-Siemens.

HAMEL

A type of PLUTO pipe, short for the names of its chief engineer H A Hammick and B J Ellis.

Hamilcar

A type of glider designed by General Aircraft Limited. The Hamilcar was used by the British airborne forces to transport heavier cargoes such as light tanks.

Hedgehog

The codename for a type of beach obstacle used by the German armed forces in Normandy. The hedgehog was constructed out of several pieces of angle iron welded together. Large numbers of hedgehogs were used as beach defences along the Normandy coast.

Hillman

A German bunker complex inland from Sword Beach. On D-Day the British advance from Sword Beach towards Caen was seriously delayed at Hillman.

HMS

His Majesty’s Ship. The term HMS can be used to describe either a ship or a shore base or ‘stone frigate’.

Hobart’s funnies

An unofficial term for the group of specialist armoured vehicles used by the British 79th Armoured Division on D-Day, commanded by Major-General Sir Percy Hobart.

Horsa

A type of glider, designed by the Airspeed Company and built by many different manufacturers in Britain. Used by the Allied airborne forces on D-Day.

Husky, Operation

The Allied landings in Sicily in 1943. The Allies landed in Sicily as they were not yet prepared to land in Northern France.

ISTD

Inter-Services Topographical Department. Established in 1940, ISTD prepared intelligence reports and maps for the Allied forces, based on reconnaissance such as aerial photography.

Jedburgh, Operation

The codename for an operational conducted by personnel from the British Special Operations Executive, the US Office of Strategic Services and other allied countries to drop personnel into occupied countries to conduct sabotage and link up with resistance groups.

Jupiter, Operation

The codename for a British offensive on 10 and 11 July 1944. The objective was to capture the strategic point at Hill 112.

Kriegsmarine

The German Navy during the Second World War.

LCA

Landing Craft Assault.

LCI(L)

Landing Craft Infantry (Large).

LCM

Landing Craft Mechanised.

LCT

Landing Craft Tank.

LCVP

Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel.

LSI

Landing Ship Infantry.

LST

Landing Ship Tank.

Luftwaffe

The German Air Force during the Second World War.

Mallard, Operation

The codename for the landing of the British 6th Airlanding Brigade in Normandy by glider assault in the early hours of D-Day.

Marshalling area

Areas in southern England that were used to house troops just before they boarded landing craft and ships to sail to Normandy.

Martlet, Operation

The codename for a British offensive between 25 June and 1 July 1944 to capture the city of Caen.

Mastodon, HMS

The Exbury Estate in the New Forest played an important role in the strategic planning of D-Day. Exbury House was designated as HMS Mastodon from May 1942 to July 1945. Mastodon was responsible for the administration of victualling, arming and training of crews for the landing craft that were used in the amphibious assaults against occupied Europe, D-Day.

Montgomery, Bernard L, Field Marshal

Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery was Commander-in-Chief of the British 21st Army Group and Allied Land Forces Commander for the initial assault phase of Operation Overlord, including D-Day. He had commanded the British Eighth Army in the North African, Sicily and Italian campaigns.

MTB

Motor Torpedo Boat.

Mulberry

The code name for two artificial harbours, off Omaha Beach and Arromanches, designed and built by the Allies to support the D-Day landings and enable them to get reinforcements and supplies ashore quickly at all states of the tide.

Neptune, Operation

The codename for the naval part of Operation Overlord.

Omaha

The codename for the eastern-most US landing beach. On D-Day the landings on Omaha Beach were led by the US 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions.

OSS

Office of Strategic Services. A US intelligence agency that co-ordinated espionage activities behind enemy lines.

Osttruppen

German for ‘eastern troops’. The German forces in Normandy in 1944 included a large number of non-German personnel, including men who had been captured fighting for the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front and were subsequently conscripted or volunteered to fight for the Germans.

Overlord, Operation

The codename for the Allied Operation to land in occupied France and liberate Western Europe. D-Day was the initial phase of Operation Overlord.

padre

The British Army term for chaplain. The term padre originates from the British Army’s campaign in Spain and Portugal during the Napoleonic Wars.

Panzer

German armoured or tank units, for example the 21st Panzer Division.

Pas-de-Calais

The region of the French coast close to the towns of Calais and Boulogne. The Germans expected the Allies to land in the Pas-de-Calais area in 1944.

Pathfinders

Airborne troops who landed just before the main force to set up homing beacons and recognition panels to help them land in the right place.

Perch, Operation

The codename for a British offensive between 7 and 14 June 1944. The operation aimed to encircle and capture Caen from the west. The operation ended after the Battle of Villers Bocage.

Phoenix

The codename for large concrete caissons that were built on the south coast of England in late 1943 and early 1944, and then towed across to Normandy to form the outer breakwaters of the Mulberry harbours.

PLUTO

Pipeline under the ocean, an underwaterpipeline to pump fuel to Normandy after the D-Day landings.

RAChD

The British Army’s Royal Army Chaplains Department. All units of battalion size had their own Chaplain to care for the troops’ spiritual and moral welfare.

Rangers

A unit of the US Army whose members had undergone special training. On D-Day Rangers units landed on Omaha Beach and Point-du-Hoc. Similar to the British Commandos.

Resistance, The

Groups of men and women in parts of Europe occupied by Nazi Germany who fought against the Germans and gathered information to send to the Allies.

Rhino

Ferry pontoons that carried men, vehicles and supplies ashore from ships out at sea. They were powered by outboard motors.

ROC

Royal Observer Corps. A civil defence organisation manned by volunteers who kept lookout for enemy aircraft over Britain. For D-Day some ROC personnel volunteered to sail onboard merchant ships as Seaborne Observers to identify aircraft and to prevent anti-aircraft gunners from firing at friendly aircraft.

Rupert

The codename for dummy parachutists dropped over occupied France in the early hours of D-Day to confuse the Germans.

SHAEF

Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force.

Sherman tank

The most widely used Allied tank of the Second World War. Designed and built in the US and used by many other Allied countries.

SOE

Special Operations Executive. A British organisation that conducted espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe during the Second World War.

Special Operations Executive

A British organisation that conducted espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe during the Second World War. Also referred to as ‘SOE’.

Spring, Operation

The codename for a Canadian offensive between 26 and 27 July 1944. The objective was to break through the German defences south of Caen, at the same time as Operation Cobra further west.

Spud

The codename for pontoons that floated up and down with the tide. They were attached to the Whale roadways and allowed vehicles to unload from ships.

Supreme Allied Commander

The senior officer in command of all Allied Forces in the North-West Europe campaign. General Dwight D Eisenhower was the Supreme Allied Commander.

Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force

The headquarters that was in overall command of the Allied forces on D-Day and during the Battle of Normandy. It was commanded by General Dwight D Eisenhower.

Sword Beach

The codename for the British landing beach close to Ouistreham. On D-Day the landings on Sword Beach were led by the British 3rd Division.

Taxable, Operation

The codename for a deception operation that took place on the night before D-Dat. Taxable simulated an invasion force sailing towards the Normandy coast further north from where the actual landings would take place.

Thunderclap, Exercise

The codename for General Sir Bernard Montgomery’s final presentations of his plans for D-Day and Operational Overlord at St Paul’s School in London on 7 April and 15 May 1944.

Tiger, Exercise

The codename for a large exercise held by US forces at Slapton Sands in Devon in April 1944. The exercise was attacked by German E-Boats, causing the death of 749 US servicemen.

Titanic, Operation

The codename for a group of deception operations that took place on the night before D-Day. Titanic consisted of the dropping of dummy paratroopers, metal foil known as ‘chaff’, which confused German radars and dropping special forces. The aim was to confuse the Germans and draw their attention away from the real landing beaches.

Todt Organisation

A civil and military engineering group from 1933 to 1945, named after its founder Fritz Todt. The Todt Organisation built many of the German defences on the Atlantic Wall.

Tonga, Operation

The codename for the British 6th Airborne Division’s landing on the eastern flank of the landing beaches in Normandy.

Torch, Operation

The Allied landings in French North Africa in 1942.

Totalize, Operation

The codename for a British and Canadian offensive on 8 and 9 August 1944. The objective was to break through the German defences south of Caen and advance towards Falaise.

Tractable, Operation

The codename for an offensive carried out by Canadian and Polish troops between 14 and 21 August 1944. The objective was to capture the towns of Falaise, Trun and Chambois and close the Falaise gap.

Transportation Plan

The plan developed by the Allies before D-Day to bomb railway yards in France in order to prevent the Germans from being able to send reinforcements to Normandy.

U-boat

U-boat is English translation of the German word U-Boot, a shortening of Unterseeboot, literally ‘undersea boat’. On D-Day Allied naval and air forces patrolled the English Channel to prevent German U-boats from attacking the landing forces.

Ultra

The Allied codename for the intelligence taken from intercepts of the German Enigma signals. Ultra intelligence was given to senior commanders during the Battle of Normandy to help them to base their plans on what the Germans were doing.

Utah Beach

The codename for the western-most US landing beach on the east coast of the Cotentin Peninsula. On D-Day the landings were led by the US 4th Infantry Division.

V-1

A variety of German unmanned ‘vengeance weapon’ that was targeted at Britain from 13 June 1944 onwards.

V-2

A variety of German unmanned ‘vengeance weapon’ that was targeted at Britain from September 1944 onwards.

Vichy France

After the fall of France in 1940 the German armed forces occupied the north-west of France. Vichy France is the common name of the French government, headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain, in the unoccupied “Free Zone” in the southern part of metropolitan France and theoretically, the French colonial empire

Waco

A type of glider designed by the Waco Aircraft Company. The Waco was mainly used by US airborne forces.

Wehrmacht

The German Armed Forces during the Second World War.

Western Task Force

A group of naval vessels that supported the US landings on D-Day. It included bombarding warships, minesweepers escorts, assault ships and landing craft.

Whale

The codename for the floating roadways that ran from the Mulberry harbours onto shore. These allowed ships to unload vehicles.

X-craft

British midget submarines. X-craft were used to carry out missions along the Normandy coast before D-Day and to mark the routes to the landing beaches.