Dwight Eisenhower Had This Secret Message Prepared For When D-Day Failed


You've probably never read this letter, written by Dwight D. Eisenhower.

That's because the D-Day landings didn't fail.  

On Sunday, June 4, 1944 — two days before the Allied assault on Europe that would be known as D-Day would be launched — Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower faced a decision that would forever change the course of civilization.

American President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British PM Winston Churchill had promised Russian leader Joseph Stalin they would invade Europe. They were repeatedly urged by Stalin to open a "second front" that would alleviate the enormous pressure that Germany's military was exerting on Russia. 

Eisenhower was on the brink of launching that second front. 

Monday was definitely out, but Tuesday had to be weighed on weather data available Sunday. At 4:30 a.m., it was not favorable. At 930 p.m. Sunday, June 4, it had improved but was still not very promising.

Eisenhower reportedly asked: "Just how long can you hang this operation on the end of a limb and let it hang there?" A few minutes later, the supreme commander said. "I'm quite positive we must give the order. ... I don't like it, but there it is ... I don't see how we can possibly do anything else."

The invasion date was set.

On the morn­ing of June 6, 1944, Eis­en­hower sent this state­ment to the troops of the Al­lied Ex­ped­i­tion­ary Forces. His en­cour­age­ment was writ­ten in hopes that the in­va­sion of France would bring a quick end to the war in Europe.

Image credits: Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum

As the combined invasion fleet of British Empire and American forces set off from south England towards Hitler's European fortress, anxiety was high. 

Eisenhower — who would become the 34th president of the United States — waited patiently for the first news of the invasion. 

As a 1964 Stars and Stripes recap of the invasion explained, the emotions, and of the character of the man who welded together the Allied Expeditionary Force, was revealed weeks aterwards when he discovered in a uniform pocket a prepared statement no one had even thought he might have considered.

It read: "Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the navy did all that bravery and devotion to duly could do. If any blame or fault is attached to the attempt it is mine alone."

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to remove language that was used without attribution to the National Archives, Stars and Stripes, and Learn NC. We apologize to our readers for this violation of our basic editorial standards. Mic has put in place new mechanisms, including plagiarism detection software, to ensure that this does not happen in the future.