Your guide to coins commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day

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04 June 2019
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In a special feature on new coins, we take a look at the range of different designs that have been issued recently to mark the D-Day anniversary, many of which feature poignant designs and prompt us to reflect on the incredible events that unfolded in 1944

On 6 June 1944, the Allies invaded Normandy in the largest amphibious assault in history. With a huge invasion force the Allies stormed five beaches code named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.

Overcoming a series of defences known as the Atlantic Wall, the Allies were able to secure a foothold on the continent and begin the liberation of occupied Europe. The landings were a crucial turning point in the Second World War and were pivotal in the eventual Allied victory.

Now, 75 years on, a series of coins have been issued by mints around the world, recalling the historic day, its significance in the war effort and the bravery and sacrifice of those involved.

Commemorative D-Day £2 coin

The Royal Mint marked the anniversary with a special new £2 commemorative coin, designed by The Royal Mint’s graphic designer Stephen Taylor. The coin, which will not be entered into general circulation, takes inspiration from military maps to depict the strategy taken by the Allies to land on the five Normandy beaches. The coin represents the huge and unprecedented scale of the operation, which was an all‐out assault by land, sea and air. The coin was designed as a tribute to those who planned and participated in the epic feat.

Designer Stephen Taylor said:

‘I started by researching period artwork, before moving on to military maps… The fonts are inspired by markings on US, Canadian and British landing craft, capturing the spirit of international cooperation.’

Nicola Howell, Director of the Consumer Division at The Royal Mint, commented:

‘The D‐Day landings is one of the most significant events in our nation’s history, and it’s important that we remember the instrumental impact that the landings had on the outcome of the Second World War. 75 years on, our commemorative £2 coin is a fitting tribute to the significance and scale of the operation, and is an important recognition of the bravery of those that made D‐Day possible.’

Created in association with Imperial War Museums, The Royal Mint’s 2019 D‐Day commemorative coin is available to purchase from www.royalmint.com, and a donation from every D-Day coin purchased from The Royal Mint goes to IWM to help them continue their important work.

There are four versions of the design: a limited edition £2 gold proof coin, £2 Silver Proof Piedford coin, £2 Silver Proof coin, and £2 Brilliant uncirculated coin.

Two £5 coins from Guernsey also recall the Normandy landings. The first of the proof £5 pieces features an image of British troops landing at Sword and Gold beaches, with the second showing the three vehicles used so effectively during the landings – the Cromwell Mk IV tank, an Airspeed Horsa glider and Royal Navy landing craft.

A little earlier in the year, three Isle of Man £2 coins were issued by Tower Mint, each honouring a figure involved in the war effort, namely Winston Churchill, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery and King George VI.

Pobjoy Mint coins marking D-Day

Pobjoy Mint have also produced special coinage to mark the anniversary. A special 50p coin has been issued on behalf of the Government of Gibraltar, showing the coastline of Normandy with the five beaches involved in the invasion indicated on the land.

The three national flags of the Allied Forces (United States of America, United Kingdom and Canada) are shown below the wording ‘1944-2019 D-DAY’ is shown below the outline of a Second World War ship indicating the anniversary. The 50p coin is limited to 7,500 copies.

Pobjoy also issued a new addition to their British Virgin Islands Pegasus coins collection, introducing a special Privy Mark to commemorate the 75th anniversary featured on just 1,944 coins. The Privy Mark shows a Paratrooper parachuting down towards Pegasus to symbolise those paratroopers who risked their lives to take Pegasus Bridge during World War II. Originally named the Benouville Bridge, it was renamed Pegasus Bridge on 26 June 1944 in honour of being the first objective taken by the airborne troops in the Normandy campaign. 

Like many, the Pobjoy family have a direct link to the events of 1944; Derek Pobjoy’s Uncle Dennis parachuted into enemy territory at the very start of ‘the longest day’.

Canadian D-Day coins 

Among the 150,000 Allied troops that came ashore on 6 June 1944 were 14,000 Canadians who secured their beachhead (Juno) before moving to capture German positions further inland. On D-Day alone, 359 Canadians lost their lives, and by the time Paris was liberated on 25 August, more than 5,000 Canadians had made the ultimate sacrifice to regain critical ground for the Allies in Western Europe.

The Royal Canadian Mint marked the anniversary of the landings with a series of coins, most notably by issuing three million $2 coins (of which two million feature a colour design) into circulation. The coin features a design with appropriate poignancy.

‘What thoughts go through a soldier’s mind in the moments before battle?’ the Mint’s coin description asks. ‘This riveting coin takes you aboard a landing craft where Canadian soldiers are peering over the ramp as they approach the coast of Normandy (France) on D-Day. Their mission: to establish a beachhead at Juno Beach.’ 

The Canadian dollar coin is no less striking, bearing an image recreating a real-life moment seen in original film footage; ‘a young soldier’s apprehension and a simple gesture remind us of the courage of those who carried the weight of history with them that day.’ The coin features a sequence of dots and dashes, representing the letter V for ‘Victory’ in Morse code, and the dates ‘1944’ and ‘2019’. 

Finally, the Mint has issued a ¼ oz. fine silver collector coin with a $3 denomination featuring the lone imprint of a soldier’s boot on the sands of Juno Beach, ‘its deep indentation and crisp lines conveying the weight of the soldier’s resolve as he moves towards his objective’.

Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence said:

‘By issuing a circulation coin honouring the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the Mint is helping all of us remember brave Canadians who risked everything, or made the ultimate sacrifice, so that the Allied landing on the beaches of Normandy in June 1944 could succeed and help end the Second World War.’

Go back further… and more coins to come

Go back a little further and it’s no surprise that mint’s have previously marked D-Day and the events of the Second World War with special coins. The US Mint issued a series of coins marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Second World War in the 1990s, including a $1 coin recalling D-Day which featured the image of a soldier in action on the obverse and a quote from Eisenhower on the reverse.

France too, marked an earlier anniversary, with a €2 coin in 2014 marking seventy years since the dramatic scenes unfolded on the nation’s shores. The coin shows footprints left by the boots of the Allied soldiers disappearing in the sand, washed away by a wave, with the poignant words from a poem by Verlaine.

The commemorations are set to continue this year and France will issue a €10 coin to mark D-Day later this year, with the bold design to include the words ‘D DAY’ with an array of vehicles and soldiers depicted around the letters. Of course, we also mark the eightieth anniversary of the start of the Second World War this year.

Already, Pobjoy Mint have issued a cupro-nickel 1 Crown coin on behalf of Ascension Islands which features a depiction of soldiers at the forefront of the battleground with a representation of all the vehicles used in the war such as the warships, tanks and Lancaster planes. It’s set to be one of many more coins recalling the events of 1939 to 1945, giving collectors the chance to look back on this incredible period of our history.