What does the 'D' in D-Day actually stand for?

Veterans have gathered once again this weekend to pay their respects to fallen comrades and remember that most climactic moment of the Second World War that became known simply as D-Day.

As always, hearing their recollections from June 6 1944 are both moving and humbling.

But how did it wind up being called “D-Day” in the first place – what does that “D” actually stand for?

The words “doom”, “debarkation” and “deliverance” have all been suggested. But the letter is actually derived from the word “day” and means the day on which a military operation begins.

D-Day has in fact been used for many different operations but is most closely associated with the Allied landings on Normandy’s beaches on June 6 1944.

The day before D-Day was D-1 and the day after was D+1. It meant that if the date for an operation changed, military planners wouldn’t have to change all the dates in their plan.

That flexibility was necessary for the Normandy landings D-Day, which was originally planned for June 5 1944 – but bad weather delayed it by a day.

The concept of “D-Day” also translates rather nicely into other languages. The French for example call it “Jour J” and in Irish it’s “Lá L”. The Germans buck the trend, however, and insist on using “Tag X”.

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