History GCSE: Planning D-Day

Historian Dan Snow and numerous British and American survivors tell the story of how the D-Day landings were planned.

Following the disastrous attempt to attack Dieppe in 1942, the Allies realised only meticulous planning would allow them to get through the Nazi Atlantic Wall defences of mainland Europe.

Aerial photos taken from Spitfires of the entire coast of France allowed analysts at RAF Medmenham to find a weak point in the defences on the beaches of Normandy.

British Commandos and US Rangers took part in stringent training in stealth raids and amphibious attacks, so that they could lead the invasion of 156,000 men.

Former Commandos recall their emotions the night before the attack on 6th June 1944, knowing it would would mean death and injury to thousands.

This short film is from the BBC series, D-Day: The Last Heroes.

PLEASE NOTE: This short film contains scenes which some viewers may find upsetting. Teacher review is recommended prior to use in class.

Teacher Notes

This short film is a useful introduction to the detailed planning of the D-Day landings.

Students could watch this short film and then discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the landing sites chosen by the analysts at RAF Medmenham.

Students could also use the knowledge they gain from this short film to predict whether they think the D-Day landings were ‘successful’, deciding first what they think ‘success’ would look like.

Curriculum Notes

This short film will be relevant for teaching history at GCSE and above in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 4/5 and above in Scotland.

More from D-Day: The Last Heroes

The Battle for Omaha
Winning D-Day - The Sword Beach landings