On June 6, 1944, a fleet of more than 800 C-47 Skytrain (Dakota) aircraft flew from England to Normandy, France in the first wave of the fateful D-Day Allied invasion. The lead aircraft of the main airborne invasion was piloted by Lt. Col. John M. Donalson, who chose the aircraft’s name–“That’s All, Brother”–as a message to Hitler that, with the invasion, the war would soon be over.
In the pre-dawn hours, the planes navigated through clouds and darkness, dropping thousands of paratroopers behind enemy lines in what would be the largest seaborne invasion in history. By the end of the day, approximately 156,000 Americans, British and Canadian troops stormed Normandy’s beaches and began a campaign that led to the eventual liberation of Western Europe from Nazi control.
Seventy-five years after that fateful day, “That’s All, Brother” has been fully restored to airworthy condition. It is returning to Normandy along with dozens of other vintage aircraft from around the world to commemorate the historic Allied battle in a flyover event dubbed Daks Over Normandy. The event will honor the citizen soldiers of World War II, whose bravery during the invasion changed the course of history and marked the beginning of the end of the devastating war.
The Daks Over Normandy event will culminate in a recreation of the journey across the English Channel, in which more than 30 C-47 Skytrains will take off from Duxford airfield, retrace the 1944 route across the English Channel, and drop hundreds of paratroopers into the historic drop zones of Normandy. The paratroopers will be dressed in WWII-style uniforms and use authentic round-canopy parachutes.
Daks Over Normandy was organized by volunteers and funded through crowdsourcing and industry partners. The historic tribute is expected to be the last large gathering of the D-Day invasion to include D-Day veterans, as most of those who took part in the invasion are now in their 90s. Along with honoring veterans, Daks Over Normandy intends to educate the public, especially younger generations, on the D-Day invasion. Before and after the flyover event, attendees can get an up-close look at historic planes on display and have their questions answered by volunteers and crew members.
While hundreds of visitors are expected to attend the gathering in Normandy, the flyover will also be streamed live so viewers around the world can witness the historic event. More information is available on the Daks Over Normandy website.