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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > Family Tree June 2019 > The Crusade in Europe

The Crusade in Europe

War had been raging in Europe for nearly five years, when the Allied forces embarked on an invasion of the Continent that would turn the tide of the war. Graham Bandy looks at the events of Operation Overlord – and the plans and preparations that were launched on a summer’s day 75 years ago


YOUR RESEARCH Learn about the lead up to D-Day and how to piece together your ancestor’s role in the war

It can be said that the plans for the invasion of Europe in 1944 had their beginnings in the evacuation of the beaches at Dunkirk in 1940.

Montgomery in his history of the 21st Army Group (Normandy to the Baltic) of 1946 states as much. He speaks of the resolution of the joint command structure of the Allied Forces, or ‘The United Nations’ as they were known, to ‘launch a mighty cross channel assault against fortress Europe’. In April 1942, the decision for this enterprise was jointly agreed as being the main focus of the Anglo-American forces working towards the future defeat of German forces.

In its course, all of Europe west of the Rhine with a few exceptions had been ‘under the jackboot’ of German occupation. Great Britain had just about exhausted itself economically and financially to carry on its part of the war. The nation was almost entirely mobilised, with all of those of any useful age either in the armed forces or engaged in some type of warrelated work – from the factories, to the ARP (Air Raid Precautions) and messenger boys on push bikes for the Home Guard.

A new ally to the East

After Operation Barbarossa, launched by the Germans in June 1941, a new ally was found in the USSR. Previously, the ‘Non-Aggression Pact’ had existed between Hitler’s Germany and the USSR of Stalin. In fact Churchill, when told of the German invasion of the Soviet Union, smiled with satisfaction, and later said in a radio broadcast: ‘No one has been a more consistent opponent of Communism for the past 25 years. I will unsay no word I have spoken about it. But this all fades away before the spectacle which is now unfolding… The Russian danger is therefore our danger… just as the cause of any Russian fighting for hearth and house is the cause of free men and free peoples in every quarter of the globe.’

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About Family Tree

What is it about family history that's captured your imagination? Whether you're seeking the story of your WW2 veterans who fought at D-Day, or tracing your tree across continents to bring your family back together again, we've got a host of advice and tales to help and inspire you: 1. Gen up on your ancestors' role in D-Day (75 years ago this June). 2. Discover how to use DNA, combined with the paper records, to trace family worldwide. 3. Learn about the top 10 genealogy sins - and how to repent and become a better family history sleuth! Plus DNA tips, reader stories, expert advice on your questions and brickwalls, and so much more... - including that all-important topic of 'How to write your family history'! Enjoy