With the recent 76th Anniversary of the Operation Overlord and D-Day I thought I will devote next article in my “passion for history” series exactly to that topic. To be quite honest I did not have to convince  myself too much as I am very much interested in that topic. It was not only morally required liberation of the Western Europe but also the largest amphibious invasion in history of mankind. And the key element of this was that one fateful day, June 6th 1944.


Other articles in the series:
My Passion for History – Ancient Greece (Peloponesian Wars)
My passion for History – together through epochs – Europa Universalis IV
My passion for History – together through epochs – Hearts of Iron IV

The Book

I will start with the good, old-fashioned but best to get condensed amount of knowledge medium – the book. And not any book but “Omaha Beach: D-Day, June 6, 1944″ by Joseph Balkoski.

D-Day

That title was suggested to me by one of fellow boargamers from US when I was discussing the D-Day topic. I am really glad I got it – this is fantastic lecture regarding the preparations to operation Overlord and then in details of the Omaha Beach landings. I am not a native English speaker but the language used in this position is fantastic and very easy to read. The whole text is richly saturated with citations and witnesses relations which makes it even more compelling to read.

If you hesitate which one book regarding D-Day to buy, please check above position!

The Boardgames

This is the boardgames blog so of course the main focus of my suggestions will lay in that area. I have three titles in mind – each recommended for different reason.

D-Day at Omaha Beach @DecisionGames

If I want to play a good solitaire game, very challenging and very accurate, I am reaching for above title. Solitaire study of America’s most bloody and heroic day in WWII. The player controls the US forces landing along the five mile stretch of Omaha Beach on D-Day and their desperate struggle to establish a viable beachhead. The game covers the entire first day at a time scale that varies from 15 minutes per turn (during the initial landings) to 30 minutes per turn later in the day.

The basic unit size is the US infantry company. German units consist of Widerstandsnest crews and reinforcement infantry companies. US tanks, and some US artillery, AA and anti-tank units are also included. US engineers are represented abstractly, clearing beach obstacles early in the game and opening traffic routes off the beach later in the game.

We have three scenarios here and many optional rules with some flexible German set-up in the beginning . Al this gives a very good replayability value. I have already played a couple of times but I did not manage to win yet… but I will try!

Memoir ’44: D-Day Landings @DaysOfWonder

Something completely different is Memoir’44. But I am not referring to the base game, but the best, in my opinion, expansion to this title – D-Day Landings published for commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy on D-Day (June 6, 1944).

This is a set of six giant battle maps that can be configured and played on in small, medium and large set-ups. The game introduces the “Extended Breakthrough” format, with the maps being 23 hexes deep and allowing players to undertake battles on a scale and scope never before possible in Memoir ’44. Te six maps consist of settings for American Airborne, Utah Beach, Omaha Beach, Gold Beach, Juno Beach, and Sword Beach. What is more, each battle can be played individually or assembled with its neighboring scenarios for double- and triple-map battles.

I already had occasion to play three set-ups (Juno & Gold, Utah & Airborne, Omaha & Utah) and each time it was a fantastic experience. I am really glad that Memoir’44 went through such a transformation, making this boardgame much better then in the beginning.

Combat Commander Europe @GMT Games

Although Chad Jensen is no longer with us, his great games are still here to give us tons of good time. My personal favorite – which I also decided to present in this article – is Combat Commander series, with special emphasis on Europe version.

Not entirely a D-Day / Operation Overlord game but saturated with scenarios pertaining to that conflict. Especially many skirmishes and battles can be found in Battle Pack 3 – Normandy.

That is definitely one of the best wargames on the tactical level I have ever played and whenever I am in mood for an exciting game, with tons of twists and turns, I am reaching for this!

The Videogame

I spent a lot of hours trying to successfully assault the Pointe du Hoc in Call of Duty II. It was 2005 and CoD was becoming one of the best first person shooters ever created. Today this is a classic which from graphics perspective cannot compare to current productions. Still, when it was released there was nothing even remotely similar to it.

That was so realistic and you could fully immerse yourselves into those events. I am coming back with nostalgia to those days as rarely any videogame made such an impression on me.

The Movies

D-Day and Operation Overlord are such important events in the history that they were of course also depicted in many motion pictures. Below are my favorite two – the choice is probably not surprising to anybody 🙂

Band of Brothers

Saving Private Ryan

Both present D-Day from completely different perspective. First is focused on Airbone operation, which was aimed at capturing key points inland in order to delay / prevent German reinforcements from reaching beaches. The other is one of the most realistic battle scenes ever created – Omaha Beach landing. And while both movies present much more than only D-Day and Overlord, those fateful moments are definitely the most stirring episodes.

The Music

A small bonus at the end of the article. In popular culture D-Day is also presented in songs and albums. One of such is Primo Victoria by Sabaton – below the title track – enjoy!

Summary

Of course, I only scratched the surface – the topic presented is huge and above are only some of my personal choices. D-Day and Operation Overlord is a tremendous episode of history and no amount of books, games, movies or music will exhausted it. I only hope you found some inspirations above!