D-Day & Battle of Normandy

D-Day begins in the early hours of the 6 June 1944 when planes and ships set off across the English Channel.

Find out why the area to the south of the Isle of Wight was known as Piccadilly Circus. Share the thoughts of the troops on board the museum’s iconic landing craft as they approach the shores of France.

On the beaches

A spectacular audio-visual display captures the scale of D-Day and the experience of the troops on the five D-Day beaches. The displays below it show an extraordinary array of objects from the day itself – lifebelts, a padre’s stole, currency signed by American soldiers given to the crew of their landing craft, the mine that turned out to be a saucepan.

“We had absolutely no cover, the waves were breaking over the front of the landing craft … so we were thoroughly wet, seasick …”Pat Briggs, 17/43 Battery, Royal Artillery

A plastic capsule used for carrying messages by carrier pigeon.

From our collection:

A plastic capsule used for carrying messages by carrier pigeon.

Find out how news of D-Day spread across the world and the important role played by Gustav the Pigeon

The Battle of Normandy

D-Day was the start of what became the Battle of Normandy. The fighting was horrific. Displays focus on weaponry, casualties and first aid. Bertie the ventriloquist’s dummy who entertained the troops also makes an appearance.

An especially commissioned illustration captures the challenge of fighting in the bocage – a landscape of small fields and tall thick impenetrable hedges that conceal the enemy.  What happens next – until the Liberation of Paris – forms the main content of the remaining displays.