Cheesefoot Head, a natural amphitheatre just outside Winchester, was the site of an famous speech by Dwight Eisenhower before D-Day in 1944.

Later to be the 34th president of the United States, Dwight D Eisenhower had been promoted to the position of Supreme Allied Commander in 1944 and was put in overall command of the planning for Operation Overlord, the allied invasion of Nazi occupied Europe.

From here, Eisenhower found himself on the south coast where he could oversee preparations in person, setting up headquarters at Southwick House outside Portsmouth.

Cheesefoot Head had been a meeting point for US and British soldiers stationed in Winchester and surrounding villages and was used to stage boxing events for soldiers’ entertainment. The banks had been filled when the then current boxing champion, Joe Louis, a US army physical education teacher, showed off his talents at a US army boxing tournament.

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And it was here in June 1944, Eisenhower chose to address thousands of servicemen with his order of the day, a speech that would go down in history.

“Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force.

“You are about to embark upon the great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months.

“The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.

“In company with our brave allies and brothers-in-arms on other fronts you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

“Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped, and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.

“But this is the year 1944. Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned. The free men of the world are marching together to victory.

“I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory.

“Good luck. And let us all beseech the blessing of almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”

This speech, which Eisenhower had been drafting and redrafting since February 1944 became synonymous with D-Day. Every allied serviceman involved in Operation Overlord across southern England was played a recorded version of this speech before final preparations were made for disembarkation. It has gone down in history as one of the most recognisable and most listened to speeches.

A recorded version of this speech is available below:

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