June 6th, 1944: Operation Overlord

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War is strategy. Did you know that the invasion by Allied forces on the beaches of Normandy actually took years of planning? By that time, Germany had fortified 2,400 miles of France’s coastline with bunkers, landmines, and beach and water obstacles. They also anticipated a U.S. dress rehearsal of the Normandy invasion, and efficiently took out 749 of our troops. These setbacks produced staggering casualties.

But the Allies had successes, too. General George S. Patton- nicknamed “Old Blood & Guts”- a general who was arguably the most feared and respected by the Germans, was placed in command of a Phantom Army, employing a huge decoy campaign complete with inflatable tanks. The plan utilized fictional troops, multiple double agents, and a lot of deceptive radio chatter. And within 5 days of the actual landing on the beaches of Normandy, Allied troops had secured the area in order to unload enough men, vehicles, and supplies to ensure a major turning point in the war.

What do you think? Were the strategies used for the invasion successful? Was the invasion worth it?

History class only begins to tell the story about D-Day, a day we celebrate on June 6 every year. Check out these teen nonfiction titles at Homewood Public Library and gain some new and surprising perspectives. Or, really put yourself in their shoes by diving into one of the WWII historical fiction picks from HPL staff!

D-Day, June 6, 1944 (Days That Shook the World)
by Sean Sheehan

On June 6, 1944, thousands of soldiers waded ashore on to the beaches of Normandy in France. Their mission? To beat back the German army and liberate the Nazi-occupied countries of western Europe. The soldiers knew the risks– German troops were waiting to ambush them as they landed, the beaches and shallows were mined, and hidden snipers could pick them off at any time… But for most of the soldiers, the alternative– the inevitable onward march of Nazism– seemed far worse.

The story of D-Day is a tale of Allied cooperation and extraordinary human courage. And what was the outcome of the invasion? Did it turn the tide of World War II, or end in disaster?

D-Day: The World War II Invasion That Changed History
by Deborah Hopkinson

The WWII invasion known as D-Day was the largest military endeavor in history. D-Day was an invasion not for conquest, but liberation, and required years to plan and total secrecy to keep the advantage of surprise. By June 6, 1944, Hitler and his allies had a strong grip on the European continent, where Nazi Germany was engaged in the mass extermination of the Jewish people. The goal of D-Day was the total defeat of Hitler’s regime, and the defense of free democracies everywhere. Knowing they had to breach the French coast, the US, Great Britain, and Canada planned for the impossible.

Remember D-Day: The Plan, the Invasion, Survivor Stories
by Ronald J. Drez

A companion to Remember Pearl Harbor, Remember D-Day: The Plan, the Invasion, Survivor Stories by Ronald J. Drez recounts the months leading up to and the details of the Allied invasion at Normandy.

The stories from survivors serve as brief quotations alongside the book’s narrative, the dramatic archival photographs and memorabilia, the detailed maps, and the war’s timeline. This book provides valuable insight into the significance of the invasion as well as understanding D-Day in the overall context of the war.

The Lady is a Spy: Virginia Hall, World War II Hero of the Resistance
by Don Mitchell

The Lady Is a Spy is the audacious and riveting true story of Virginia Hall, America’s greatest spy and unsung hero, brought to vivid life by acclaimed author Don Mitchell. When Hitler invaded Poland, Virginia Hall was traveling in Europe. Which was dangerous enough, but as fighting erupted, instead of returning home, she headed to France. In a country divided by freedom and fascism, Virginia was determined to do her part for the Allies. An ordinary woman from Baltimore, Maryland, she dove into the action, first joining a French ambulance unit and later becoming an undercover agent for both the British Office of Strategic Services and the US Office of Strategic Services. Working as a spy in the intelligence network, she made her way to Vichy, coordinating Resistance movements, assisting in Nazi sabotage, and rescuing downed Allies. She passed in plain sight of the enemy and soon found herself being hunted by the Gestapo. But Virginia cleverly evaded discovery and death, often through bold feats and escapes. Her covert operations, efforts with the Resistance, and risky work as a wireless telegraph operator greatly contributed to the Allies’ eventual win.

Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two
by Joseph Bruchac

Throughout World War II, in the conflict fought against Japan, Navajo code talkers were a crucial part of the U.S. effort, sending messages back and forth in an unbreakable code that used their native language. They braved some of the heaviest fighting of the war, and with their code, they saved countless American lives. Yet their story remained classified for more than twenty years.

But now Joseph Bruchac brings their stories to life for young adults through the riveting fictional tale of Ned Begay, a sixteen-year-old Navajo boy who becomes a code talker. His grueling journey is eye-opening and inspiring. This deeply affecting novel honors all of those young men, like Ned, who dared to serve, and it honors the culture and language of the Navajo Indians.

The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak

When Death has a story to tell, you listen.

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist– books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.


Lovely War
by Julie Berry

They are Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette. A classical pianist from London, a British would-be architect-turned-soldier, a Harlem-born ragtime genius in the U.S. Army, and a Belgian orphan with a gorgeous voice and a devastating past. Their story, as told by goddess Aphrodite, who must spin the tale or face judgment on Mount Olympus, is filled with hope and heartbreak, prejudice and passion, and reveals that, though War is a formidable force, it’s no match for the transcendent power of Love.

The Light Between Us: A Novel of World War II
by Andrew Fukuda

In 1935, ten-year-old Alex Maki from Bainbridge Island, Washington is disgusted when he’s forced to become pen pals with Charlie Lévy of Paris, France―a girl. He thought she was a boy. In spite of Alex’s reluctance, their letters continue to fly across the Atlantic―and along with them, the shared hopes and dreams of friendship. Until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the growing Nazi persecution of Jews force them to confront the darkest aspects of human nature.

From the desolation of an internment camp on the plains of Manzanar to the horrors of Auschwitz and the devastation of European battlefields, the only thing they can hold onto are the memories of their letters. But nothing can dispel the light between them.

by Kiku Hughes

A teenager is pulled back in time to witness her grandmother’s experiences in World War II-era Japanese internment camps in this historical graphic novel.

Kiku is on vacation in San Francisco when suddenly she finds herself displaced to the 1940s Japanese-American internment camp that her late grandmother, Ernestina, was forcibly relocated to during World War II.

These displacements keep occurring until Kiku finds herself “stuck” back in time. Living alongside her young grandmother and other Japanese-American citizens in internment camps, Kiku gets the education she never received in history class. She witnesses the lives of Japanese-Americans who were denied their civil liberties and suffered greatly, but managed to cultivate community and commit acts of resistance in order to survive.

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