BBC - WW2 People's War - 'What does the D in D-Day mean?' (2024)

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Message 1 - The meaning and use of D-Day

Posted on: 07 June 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

If I can just expand on that, both 'D' and 'H' were specifically chosen, other letters would cause confusion when signalling. Their use dates back to WW1 and they are used for all operations.

There are three very good reasons for using these designations:

1. Flexibility. An operation can be planned and rehearsed well in advance.

2. Convenience. The complex plans for a large operation, such as the Anzio Landings or the Normandy Landings, run into thousands of pages with hundreds of sections. If a date were written in it would take considerable time to alter it on all copies. Many dates would have to be written in for D+1, D+2, and in very large scale operations a forecast often up to D+90.

3. Security. Troops need not know when D-Day is until absolutely necessary. This applies to all ranks.

In military orders D minus a number is not used, this is just a convention used by historians with hindsight. You cannot possibly know when D-3 is until D-Day is set, and by then it is too late; training for an invasion can take many months, or even years, without reference to a D-Day.

D-Day applies to everyone, H-Hour does not. Various sections may have their own H-Hour. The overall D-Day H-Hour is measured in minutes, thus H+135 is two hours and fifteen minutes after H-Hour.

Zero Day and Zero Hour are more often used when a date or hour is preset.

Message 2 - The meaning and use of D-Day

Posted on: 17 June 2004 by Matt

The reason D and H where chosen was because the risk of spies leaking the actual times and dates to the Germans.

D-Day was the day and H-Hour was the time (obviously) and until the 5th June (when the original D-Day was cancelled) some officers didn't know which day it was going ahead on. Thats how secretive it was.

Message 3 - The meaning and use of D-Day

Posted on: 18 June 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper


D-Day stands for the DATE of an operation, and has nothing to do with Germans, it is used no matter who the opponent is. It was used many times both in WW1 and WW2 and in all theatres. There are several reasons for its use, field security (rarely to do with spies) being but one reason as you will see if you read my message above, Message 1.


Message 4 - The meaning and use of D-Day

Posted on: 19 June 2004 by Matt

i have relayed the info from a book i borrowed from a friend on the planning of D-Day (i cant tell you what the title or author is) but he was talking about how he was interviewing 2 men who where there when Monty announced the plans...

Yours is probably more accurate and knowing me, i mis-read the book and got the wrong idea.

And when i said the Germans, I was giving them as an example...should have put eg.The Germans i guess...

Message 1 - other uses of D-Day

Posted on: 07 June 2004 by Phil Lewis

The term D-Day was also used in the Pacific theatre for the attack on Iwo Jima.

Message 2 - other uses of D-Day

Posted on: 07 June 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper


With respect, either you have not read the explanations or you have misunderstood the meaning. D-Day is used for ANY military operation and has been so used since the Great War 1914-1918. In WW2 there were hundreds of D-Days of which the Normandy Landings and the Iwo Jima Landings are but two examples.

On 6 June 1944 no one referred to the invasion of France as D-Day. It is now unfortunately stuck with that title, but that came much later.


Message 3 - other uses of D-Day

Posted on: 09 June 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Phil -
not that Peter needs any back up from me but it has to be remembered that many of the forgotten d-days concerning British troops were the landings in North Africa - 8th Nov 1942 by the British 1st Army and the US Corps - the landings in Sicily of 10th July 1943 by British, Canadian and US troops - the landings on Reggio Calabria,Italy - the first re-entry into Europe on 3rd September 1943 - the landings at Salerno, Italy - a week later, not forgetting many D Days by the long forgotten 14th British Army out in Burma.

Message 4 - other uses of D-Day

Posted on: 10 June 2004 by Phil Lewis

I was just adding to the point that D-day was not called that for any significant reason. I know that D-day is used in other operations but I was just adding that it was used elswhere (for example: Iwo Jima)

I did not write my message clear enugh so I apologize.

Message 5 - other uses of D-Day

Posted on: 10 June 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper


There is absolutely no need, or any reason, to apologise.

All the very best,


Message 6 - other uses of D-Day

Posted on: 11 June 2004 by Frank Mee Researcher 241911

Hi Tom,
If you and Peter keep duffing up my Grandson Phil Lewis I will be pelting you both with wet jellies.
The actual cross channel code was Neptune the internal code word of Overlord to signify the cross channel part of the operation which was designated Overlord.
If my memory serves me, one of the Papers publishing the news of the landing gave the Head line "D" for Deliverance day. This meant the deliverance of France from the German oppressor and it stuck.
As you said "D" day is old military parlance and not so old as it was often used in my time too.
We got one on a massive manouevre on the Continent during the Cold War. "D" day will be (date given) we cross the "Start Line" on Operation Greensward at "H" hour (time given) and was usually the start of utter chaos. On that one the ammunition was in Holland and we were on Luneburg about par for the course.
Oh well I will stand by for bric-bats now.
Regards Frank.

Message 7 - other uses of D-Day

Posted on: 11 June 2004 by Ron Goldstein

Hi all
With ref to D day and H Hour,
just thought I'd quote my infamous diary (see article (A2352647))

April 9th 1945:
Moved to other side of Traversare. Dug in and have bivvie to myself. D day and H hour have started. One rocket landed fairly near. Leaflets dropped.

It's funny, but at the time we didn't stop to think that 59 years later people would be asking 'Why D Day and why H Hour?

And by the way Frank, I think your Grandson is more than capable of looking after himself!

Regards to all


Message 8 - other uses of D-Day

Posted on: 12 June 2004 by John de Mansfield AbsolonResearcher 238443

Hallo everyone.
I always thought D-day stood for the day you got your De-mob suit. We had a bloke that walked around looking for something and saying "I can't find it I can't find it" "I know it's about here somewhere" when asked he said "my de-mob papers" after persisting for several months he got them but I think he ended up down a coal mine. Thank you somebody for remembering "The forgotten army". The 14th Army had it's D-days all tropical beaches palm trees and dusky maidens. At least the water in the slit trenches wasn't frozen. My D-day is 17 June Heathrow.
Yours Aye
p s Frank I suggested to Phil that you worked better when lubricated.

Message 9 - other uses of D-Day

Posted on: 12 June 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Frank et al -

Funny thing about the letter "D" all the Tanks in our squadron had names starting with the letter "D" - mine was Decisive ( of course) there was also Defender - Diogenes -Dauntless - and even - Deserter ! we were always surrounded by D day when maintenance was required before handing over to REME to sort them out ! Phil will do ok ... as long as he keeps paying for the drinks !

Message 10 - other uses of D-Day

Posted on: 12 June 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Ah, the very man! Can you assist here A2731330, Tom? :-D

Message 11 - other uses of D-Day

Posted on: 12 June 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Petr -
I have just answered in a most erudite manner.

Message 12 - other uses of D-Day

Posted on: 13 June 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Peter -
I have also just sent my apologies to "the commando"

Message 13 - other uses of D-Day

Posted on: 13 June 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Sorry to have got you involved Tom, but the question struck me as being very funny. It was asked at the Royal Navy Research Desk, so presumably he is seeking the names of naval guns.

Interestingly (well, to me anyway) the very word 'gun' is derived from giving engines of war names, several 14th century ones were called 'Domina Gunilda' (Lady Gunilda, whence 'gun') a tradition that went back several centuries before gunpowder when early Scandinavians called their ballistiae 'Gunhildr' a word meaning 'war'. Favourite swords, too, were usually given a name.

'Artillery' originally was the term used to describe engines of war such as Roman ballistae, catapults, etc, from the term 'artum' meaning skill, hence the medieval Latin word 'artillaria'.

'Tank' has a long meandering genesis. It came from India, from a Gujurati word 'tankh' meaning 'cistern' ('tankard' has a similar history). Then in 1915 as parts of the innovative military tracked combat vehicle were being moved around the country under canvas they were labled, for security, 'Portable Water Tanks', ostensibly for use in the desert, and crates were stencilled with 'TANK'. By pure chance this code name stuck.

Message 14 - other uses of D-Day

Posted on: 14 June 2004 by Frank Mee Researcher 241911

Phil is too young to pay for drinks yet but his time will come.
We got those machines with a "D" for dead and sent them back to you with a "D" for deadly. (Well not you probably your children) That was of course if you could get the old engine we fitted to start. We sold the good ones to the Civvy's after all we had to get our booze from some where.
Were you among the Canadian group at the "D" Day celebration or your old team. I thought you said you were coming over for it but could be wrong.
I doff my cap to you all, you did a great job for which I for one will always thank you.
Regards Frank.

Message 15 - other uses of D-Day

Posted on: 14 June 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Frank -
can't wait for your grandson to grow up and start contributing to our downfall - no I was not a member of the Canadian D Day team as I am one of those people who STILL dodges that particular D day - however I am still planning a trip to Italy in September when I shall try to finally honour all my friends who did not survive any more D Days - as we used to sing -
to "Lili Marlene" --
"Look around the Mountains, in the wind and rain;
To see all the crosses, some which have no name;
Heartache,toil and suffering gone;The men beneath them slumber on;
For they are the D Day Dodgers, who stayed in Italy" !

That said - we only lost 14% of our Brigade K.I.A.; I was among the 40% wounded, in the month it took to conquer the Gothic Line - There was a lot of dead Tanks. Many other Brigades lost much more, particularly the Infantry !

It's only fair that we remember them
as well as the lads in Burma !

Message 16 - other uses of D-Day

Posted on: 14 June 2004 by Frank Mee Researcher 241911

Hello Tom,
Phil is the future you lads helped preserve.
I sang those verses as I played them many a party night. Mainly because a lot of our local lads dodged "D" Day with you including my Mothers Brother. They got little of the accolades handed out later and were quite bitter about it, I dont blame them.
We also had a lot of local lads in the East, the 14th Army was truly forgotten that is why I read the stories by John and Len avidly, it is an education to me.
Some day Tom your turn will come you will get the kudo's you all deserve because you kept an awful lot of Germans employed who could have made things nasty on "D" Day.
Regards Frank.

Message 17 - other uses of D-Day

Posted on: 14 June 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Frank -
That is exactly the point - we kept 36 German Divisions away from both the Russian and NW Europe fronts, this has always been mis-understood - particularly by the Americans who denuded(seven Divisions) our front when we might have been in a position to halt the Eastward trek of Communism into Europe for the following 40 years.
When Monty was halted along with his 35 Divisions only three weeks from Berlin - then I knew that the Americans wanted Communism into Europe. No one has been able to change my mind on that ! I have always held the opinion that Hitler killed off the wrong race !And I do mean the money changers of New York !

Message 18 - other uses for D day

Posted on: 14 June 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Frank -
that is exactly right as we kept 36 German Divisions away from both the Russian and the N.W.Europe fronts, this strategy was mis-understood by some of our Allies and we were weakened by the landings in the South of France when we could have been of more assistance to the final outcome. The strategy at times was confusing and I am thinking of the halting of Monty's charge towards Berlin. It appeared that some of our allies had a hidden agenda, but we must not say such a thing as the house rules are against it !

Message 19 - other uses for D day

Posted on: 15 June 2004 by Frank Mee Researcher 241911

That is why your stories are needed on this site, they put the facts right.
Even the best Historians gloss over certain aspects of the war they are not researching and concentrtate on the main events to their minds.
To some one getting his head shot off in Italy during "D" Day in Normandy, that was the main event. Her Ladyship who shall be nameless in case the staff take umbrage gave you lads a bad name and it stuck. It was her who originally dubbed you the "D" Day Dodgers or that was my impression.
I would also guess Peter stuck in Northern Italy was hoping you would be reinforced so you could get up there quickly.
I never fathomed out why the landing took place in the South of France, it smelled of politics to me, I think some of the French and Americans did not want a certain tall French General taking over. They got their noses stuffed into the smelly stuff over it all, those troops could have been put to better use.
We were only soldiers Tom, what do we know? the wise politicians rule our lives dont they.
Regards Frank.

Message 20 - other uses for D day

Posted on: 15 June 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Frank -
that "Lady" (sic) also made a scurrilous remark about us wearing a yellow arm band to denote that we had served in Italy and must be carrying V.D. - to warn all the girls that they too might be infected ! She was something else but not a Lady !
I think that remark was prompted by the fact that one of her relatives had been made pregnant by an 8th Army Officer and Gentleman - so it was defensive ploy - we didn't take too much notice as after all - she was American born !
Your idea that politics was why the South of France landing took place - is half right - but not the tall Frenchman but rather the big guy from the east with the big mustache. Had the 8th and 5th been at full strength - it was poosible we would have driven a wedge into Poland and stopped his 40 years cold war in the heart of Europe - it was also why Monty was stopped just three weeks from Berlin. It is incomprehensible that the horrors we fought against have been increasinly legistlated FOR by ALL politician since 1945 ! Now - THAT is politics. We have here in Canada - a series of so-called "Catholic" Prime Ministers who have consistently legislated for all the evils - Abortion - Euthanasia - hom*osex - and now same sex "unions" with pension "rights" etc. The last one even legislated that in public services the names of God nor His Son must be mentioned ! Now we see a simlar madness infecting some Americans who have removed the Cross from the Californian coat of arms ! Now they want to remove all cities names which has the word "San" as a suffix - so God only knows what they will call San Fransisco or Los Angeles ? I suppose they will have to leave their hearts somwhere else ?
they will more than likely call S.F - Fatsamsdisco !

Message 21 - other uses for D day

Posted on: 15 June 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Frank -
on the last two messages when I revealed much of the truth regarding our forces in Italy being denuded of strength to allow the landings of the South of France nonsense... it would appear that I have run afoul of the house rules ... or someone takes a different view of the truth than I do,so - get in touch with me by e-mail
if you so wish - I wondered why i was having so much trouble of late in signing in - now I'm getting a clue !
This too smells of politics !

Message 22 - other uses for D day

Posted on: 16 June 2004 by Frank Mee Researcher 241911

Let an old WO1 tell you the ropes.
You write what you wish then check it over and remove names and references that could make them pull the story.
You then allegorize saying the same thing in a round about way so they can not pin you down but every one knows who and of what you speak.
Note my reply yesterday and the reference to a certain Lady of whom we all know.
Believe me Tom when I tell you it is good fun pulling the wool over the eye's of those young whipper snapper Staffers.
I do know of what you speak having done some research on Italy and listened to my Uncle who was also very bitter at the way they were denuded of everything for the South of France Landing.
It was all politics. We all know of the American General who turned and ran for Rome instead of standing and fighting the troops holding our boys up. He got his come uppance with Medals and promotion then relieved to become latrine inspector for the State Side Troops.
Even now we have two army's in the field and each going their separate ways in Iraq, it will always be so.
Do not give up Tom, outwit them is the way forward. They have a job to do making sure the BBC does not fall into lawsuits you cannot blame them but I often ask "Free Speech"? "What Free Speech"? Free speech is now in the possession of the minority groups, they can say what they wish we have to zip our mouths up.
Thats progress.
Regards Frank. :)

Message 23 - other uses for D day

Posted on: 16 June 2004 by Penelope

Dear Tom and Frank

It is very worrying how easily miss-understandings can happen.

When the moderation team hide a message, an automated email goes out stating which of the House Rules have been broken. Unfortunately it does not say which part of the hidden message is unacceptable. Reading your messages I realise that this has led to us misleading you.

We love it when veterans start discussing the war; it brings out many points that might have been overlooked. It is also understandable that within conversations modern day issues will be mentioned.

We are not removing messages because of the opinions within them! It is the words selected to express these opinions that are breaking the House Rules, and in some cases, putting contributors in danger of having legal action taken against them.

Libel. You cannot libel the dead — but are you sure the person you are making allegations about is dead? You can attack officials for their public decisions - but you must be wary of making the comments personal. There is a subtle difference between saying you 'think something' and saying 'something is true'. Remember — we don't check you have got your facts right. And, no, you don't get around it by not using someone's name; if the person is recognisable then they can take a lawsuit out — against you.

Offensive. If someone disagrees with a comment you have made they may be upset, this cannot be avoided. But the way that the opinion is expressed is vital — is it reasoned debate or is it inflammatory? And, of course, there are also certain blanket statements that are illegal and you would need to phrase your thoughts very carefully if you wished to discuss these topics.

Having a conversation on a website is a slightly artificial exercise as anyone can listen in and so you have to be more considerate than you might be when chatting privately. And I think I tend to be stricter with old hands like you as you are setting a model for others to follow!

So please read the <./>HouseRules</.> again and especially the explanation of defamation links

All the best, Penelope

Message 24 - other uses for D day

Posted on: 16 June 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Penelope! This is a surprise! I thought you had been transferred. When you get a moment could you possibly go over to Feedback? Questions, comments, suggestions, etc, have been piling up there for weeks unanswered.

All the best,


Message 25 - other uses for D day

Posted on: 16 June 2004 by Penelope

Hi Peter

I'm mostly behind the scenes double checking the moderation decisions which is how I came across this discussion.

I am sorry that the feedback has been deserted. We take weekly turns but sometimes this clashes with other responsibilities on the main history site so there is a delay in the responses. I'll go and check it out now.

Regards, Penelope

Message 26 - other uses for D day

Posted on: 16 June 2004 by Frank Mee Researcher 241911

The older Vets like Tom Len Harold and Ron thought they were fighting towards a free land with free speech.
I was younger and thought the same. It all went well until suddenly we have minority groups coming out with to us stupid things that make the freedom of saying what you think a lawsuit.
The large Corporations as yours is, are so afraid of falling foul of those minority groups, you walk backwards and as happened in our day you reverse your tanks over your own men.
People can call me a White B****** I am not allowed to reverse that! is that the meaning of free speech? I think not.
A level playing field would be nice and yes I have sneaked round your rules without you catching on and will again if required.
Tom states a 60 year old truth, something we all know to be true but modern trends will not allow him to state the truth.
If that is the freedom the modern generation want Tom and his ilk lost, they may as well never have done what they did to earn the right to say it.
Ok we are generations apart and you think differently but a time will come when you realise how you have been slowly repressed from telling the truth as it is.
Regards Frank.

Message 27 - other uses for D day

Posted on: 16 June 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Frank -
I couldn't have said that better myself... the British fought a total
war.....some of our most venerable allies fought an entirely different war.... and we are STILL paying the price for that folly.
If someone can explain to me the real reason - in non defamation/libel/slander/ type of language why we were denuded of our seven divisions ( approx 100,000 men)
to land them - unnecessarily on a beach in the South of France to no purpose - plus taking away 14 divisions of the 12 US army from Monty when he was three weeks from Berlin.... in order to appease another Ally who then was able to enter Europe for the following 40 years to our cost......then I shall be more than pleased to listen to him/her !
But the fact remains we fought for freedom - which is being denied our children !

Message 28 - other uses for D day

Posted on: 16 June 2004 by Frank Mee Researcher 241911

They speak a language we know nothing of, it is called "Politically Correct Speak" and I hate it.
You need a forked tongue and a good knowledge of disdaining anything we hold dear.
Correct speak is the way a minority can down the majority who sit back and let it happen.
Is it any wonder that far right groups with leanings towards the system you helped stifle are suddenly gaining ground. A lot of people are becoming aware of their lessening rights to say what they think.
The government and large company's like BBC dare not utter a word without consulting lawers, is that the world you fought for? never.
I heard a politician on the TV the other night moaning about the mistrust the public show them. If the public like me believe those politicians have sold them down the road what can they expect.
My hope is in the grandchildren finding out they are being oppressed by stealth and do something about it or we may have to resurect those "D"'s of yours and give them one up the rear.
Regards Frank.

Message 29 - other uses for D day

Posted on: 17 June 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Penelope & Frank -
Now that I have read and digested the House Rules regarding Defamation - Libel - Slander - and other legal eagle stuff. I can now see where we D Day Dodgers make a grave error, instead of composing a song which had both comedy and tragedy, we should have composed a legal brief for a class action suit against the Hon. Lady for all three legal bits....I wonder if it is too late but then probably the period ran out five minutes after she implied, inferred, or even said that we were cowards !
Next time.....

Message 30 - other uses for D day

Posted on: 17 June 2004 by Frank Mee Researcher 241911

Read your "Rules of engagement"! We born on English soil cannot sue any one especially those of the ruling class or said Lady who "nemine Contradicente" blackened the names of you and your peers.
The only people allowed to sue are Burglars or muggers caught in the act by an old soldier and given a thrashing.
While said old soldier is serving time for injuring said burglar or mugger on said soldiers own premises. Said mugger or burglar can sue "in curia" for injuries recieved.
If in open company you happen to commit an "obiter dictum" and a bystander thinks it Politically incorrect speak, you will "fragrante delicto" without even knowing about it.
I am sure you must have had all this in mind when trying to remove a tyranny we all thought obscene but now looks quite mild compared with what they can do to us today.
The answer is to go back to the Latin we learnt at school and as those old languages are not taught now we can converse to our hearts content on any subject we wish without bringing down the heavy hand of "Censorship" which is what it is.
Straight talk and having a firm opinion on any subject are now banned for the wiffle waffle speak of today all "pro bono publico"
Carpe diem Tom,
Regards Frank.

Message 31 - other uses for D day

Posted on: 17 June 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Franciscus -
Placeat tibi,Franciscus,obsequium servitutis mea - Benedicat vos omnipotens Deus,Pater,et Filius +,et Spiritus Sanctis.
Requiescant in pace Lady Astor !

Message 32 - other uses for D day

Posted on: 17 June 2004 by Frank Mee Researcher 241911

I suppose all this "Sturm und Drang" is bouncing off our Patron we appear to be the only ones that care.
Patron of course means "Commonly a wretch who supports with insolence and is repaid well with flattery" about right.
We are searchers for truth and the need to tell it, "Harmless drudges tracing the original significance of our experience then not allowed to tell it as it was" Hmmm.
Dr Johnson in his definitions said "OATS" a grain which in England is given to Horses but in Scotland supports the People.
We interpret the freedom of speech one way but there are others who think differently "ex officio", the twain shall never meet.
Regards Frank.

Message 33 - other uses for D day

Posted on: 17 June 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Frank -
I would say that you are correct however the challenge is still to keep searching for and uncovering
what we can recognise as the Truth.

I gave up on Truth in the U.K. a few months ago when his Eminence Cormac Card. Murphy-O'Conner stated in a speech to graduates of one of the finest Catholic Colleges in the U.K. - Downside - "that Unity was more important than Truth "!
Astonishing remark to make, and I wonder how his own brother - Patrick (my old friend who unfortunately supports Southampton F.C.)thinks about that !
Probably yet another case of mis reporting and taken out of context waffle !

Cheers Tomcan

Message 34 - other uses for D day

Posted on: 18 June 2004 by Frank Mee Researcher 241911

Go to FEEDBACK and read the "Allied Landings in Italy" plus comments, you will find it interesting.
Regards Frank.

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