Leadership and Decision-Making in the D-Day Invasion (Christian Lecture 2015)

Time Period
1925 to Today
Media Type
Military History
Politics & Government
Craig L. Symonds

On May 14, Craig L. Symonds delivered the 2015 Stuart G. Christian, Jr. Lecture entitled “Leadership and Decision-Making in the D-Day Invasion.”

On June 6, 1944, more than six thousand Allied ships carried more than a million soldiers across the English Channel to a fifty-mile-wide strip of the Normandy coast in German-occupied France. It was the greatest sea-borne assault in human history. The code names given to the beaches where the ships landed the soldiers have become immortal: Gold, Juno, Sword, Utah, and especially Omaha, the scene of almost unimaginable human tragedy. The sea of crosses in the cemetery sitting today atop a bluff overlooking the beaches recalls to us its cost. Most accounts of this epic story begin with the landings on the morning of June 6. In fact, however, D-Day was the culmination of months and years of planning and intense debate. Craig L. Symonds now offers the complete story of this Olympian effort. The obstacles to success were many. In addition to divergent strategic views and cultural frictions, Symonds includes vivid portraits of the key decision-makers, from Franklin Roosevelt and Churchill, to Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower, and Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, who commanded the naval element of the invasion.

Craig L. Symonds is Professor of History Emeritus at the United States Naval Academy. He is the author of many books on American naval history, including The Battle of Midway, Lincoln and His Admirals, co-winner of the Lincoln Prize in 2009, and Neptune: The Allied Invasion of Europe and the D-Day Landings.

The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.

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