The heroism, bravery and sacrifice of the soldiers, sailors and air crews who took part in the D-Day landings are commemorated in a new book being launched this Friday 24 May.

The book D-Day in 80 Objects offers a fresh perspective on the world’s biggest ever seaborne military operation by telling the story of fascinating objects connected to the Normandy landings. The 80 featured objects range from a special suit worn during secret reconnaissance of the landing beaches, to the boots worn by an American Ranger during the assault on Omaha Beach. It will be available to order from The D-Day Story museum website from Friday 24 May here.

In his foreword to the book, Henry Montgomery, 3rd Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, the grandson of General Montgomery who commanded the Allied ground forces, writes:

“It was an amalgamation of bravery and ingenuity, underpinned by colossal logistics to make sure those on the front line had the weapons and supplies they needed for victory on the battlefield.”

The objects in the book highlight the role of the civilian workers who made it all possible by making everything from tanks and ships to bombs and bullets. The impact of D-Day on families in the UK is also remembered.

Amongst the collection is a little girl’s jacket covered with the badges she collected from the troops who passed her home on their way to get on board ships and landing craft.  There’s also a battered flag given by a family to a tank crew who were parked outside their front door.

The D-Day in 80 Objects book has been created by The D-Day Story museum in Portsmouth, run by Portsmouth City Council, and the D-Day Museum Trust, in collaboration with museums across the UK and in the United States.

The Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Councillor Steve Pitt, said:

“This book provides an insight into the epic story of the Normandy landings in a very accessible way and reflects the sheer determination of the war-time generation to liberate occupied Europe.

“It shows how all the Allied countries played a part and the crucial role of places like Portsmouth, the home of the Royal Navy, and one of the places where thousands of troops began their journey to the battlefields.”

Each of the museums involved in the project has selected objects from their collections that help tell the story of the events that unfolded 80 years ago.

Amongst those selected by the Imperial War Museums (IWM) is a ‘biscuit tin radio’ parachuted to the French Resistance. Officially known as the Miniature Communications Receiver, these small secret radios were concealed inside waterproof tins. They enabled Resistance members to listen to messages with secret meanings broadcast to them by the BBC before and after D-Day.

James Taylor, Principal Curator, Public History at IWM said:

“It has been a pleasure to be a part of D-Day in 80 Objects and to showcase some of the incredible objects within IWM’s rich collection which help tell the story of D-Day.”

The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, United States, has provided a helmet used by a welder employed at a factory making landing craft.

The Royal Air Force Museum chose a number of objects, including a Hawker Typhoon aircraft which played a crucial role in the Normandy Campaign.

Dr Harry Raffal, Head of Collections and Research at the RAF Museum, said:

“The RAF Museum is delighted to be able to share objects from our collection to tell the story of how the RAF took its place amongst the vanguard of Allied forces to help secure the liberation of Europe.”

The National Museum of the Royal Navy’s contributions include a type of human torpedo used by the Germans.

Matthew Sheldon, Interim Director General of the NMRN. said:

“It has been a delight to contribute such compelling stories from our collections which can touch on the depth of the Royal Navy’s contribution; and to see these alongside others. From planning at Southwark House, to LCTs for heavy armour, to bombardment, to landings by Royal Marines to directing forces on Juno Beach.”

Amongst the objects selected by The National Army Museum is a medical kit used by a doctor at a casualty clearing station.

Ian Maine, Assistant Director: Collections at the National Army Museum, said:

“I am delighted that objects from the National Army Museum’s collection are part of the inspirational stories shared in this new publication. The medical kit is just one of the millions of pieces of equipment use by the army during the landings in Normandy and the months of hard fighting that immediately followed. It is testament to the service, bravery and sacrifice of soldiers who helped liberate Europe from the tyranny of occupation, and eventually brought peace to Europe.”

The objects from The National D-Day Memorial Foundation in Bedford, Virginia, include a bible carried by a soldier who was killed on Omaha Beach.

The D-Day Story museum in Portsmouth also contributed many of its own objects. Amongst them, Bertie, a ventriloquist’s dummy carried ashore and used to entertain the troops.

The book is written by Steve Humphrey, a reporter with the BBC’s news programme South Today, who has interviewed over 100 D-Day veterans over the past 40 years. Steve said:

“The 80 objects help to tell the story of D-Day. The stories of those who gathered intelligence, made the equipment, the civilians who invited troops into their homes and those who served, on land, sea and in the air.

“The D-Day veterans are always self-effacing about their role. They always say the real heroes were their mates who didn’t come home.”

Cathy Hakes, Head of Museums at Portsmouth City Council, who came up with the D-Day in 80 Objects concept and edited the publication, said:

“Our ambition was to produce a book that helps to explain what happened on D-Day by telling the story behind each of the 80 fascinating objects that we and our partners have carefully selected. We hope it will appeal to people of all ages and help remind them of the bravery and sacrifice of all of those who took part.

“The D-Day in 80 Objects book is dedicated to all of those who took part in the Normandy landings and those that made it possible.”

The new book has been made possible through funding from Wates and Sir Robert McAlpine. Both construction companies built Mulberry Harbours which played a crucial role in the D-Day landings. A company spokesperson said:

“We are proud of the important role played by our family businesses in constructing the Mulberry Harbours that are featured as one of the 80 objects in this book. The Mulberry Harbours played a significant role in the success of the landings and the liberation of Europe. We are therefore delighted to support the publication of this book to help commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day.”