Danish Sailors on the Beaches of Normandy

Several hundred Danish sailors were among the Allied forces during the invasion of the Normandy beaches in the Second World War, but had not been honored in any official capacity. This recently changed, as these men were finally made a part of the commemoration ceremonies on the seventieth anniversary of the landings. Somewhere around eight hundred of these Danish sailors were officially recognized as a part of the invasion force which helped turn the tide of the war.

Denmark had not been considered an Allied nation, largely due to their initial alliance with the Third Reich. It was actually a small movement who stood in defiance of the fascist regime that helped lead to this being changed. These men, along with the many Danish sailors who stormed the beaches with the Allies, proved that the whole of Denmark was not in allegiance with the Nazis. Confusion on this matter has finally been set aside to honor the men who stood by the Allied forces as they took the beach.

Since it has been seventy years since D-Day occurred, many of these resistance fighters will never see themselves honored as Allies. Nonetheless, the recent anniversary ceremonies recognized their service in the Second World War, and some of the surviving Danish sailors were able to attend the commemoration events at Normandy on the sixth of June. Important officials from Denmark were present as well.

These men were not just honored on the anniversary of D-Day, but will be honored on Bastille Day as well. Aside from a handful of those who served on D-Day, there will be other important names in attendance. For instance, standing alongside the Danish sailors will be Queen Margrethe II. Also in attendance will be Nicolai Wammen, Denmark’s Minister of Defense. In addition to these attendees, their flag will fly high in the Parisian parade, The CopenHagen Post reports.

The eight hundred Danish sailors who stormed the beaches of Normandy during Operation Overlord were but a drop in the hat when compared to the larger number of Denmark troopers who aided the war effort. Over six thousand such men pledged their allegiance to the Allied forces and fought for liberty from fascism at the hands of the National Socialist party. While it is true that many also fought for the Axis as well, that does not change that Danish sailors and other fighters from Denmark gave a great helping hand to the Allies toward the end of the war, when such help was most valuable.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE