Written by James Harrison
Sunday, 02 June 2024

As we approach the 80-year anniversary of the D-Day landings, we look back to the night of the 5th June 1944, when boys at the College witnessed at first hand the start of the Allied invasion of Normandy.

Pupils in the Junior School dormitory were awoken that night by a noise that was becoming louder and louder. Risking detection by the Junior School Head Master, one of the boys got out of bed and opened a window. 

All they could see overhead were aircraft flying; some were towing gliders laden with troops and equipment, while others were Spitfires and Hurricanes, weaving in and out as they escorted the other planes. According to one of the boys, ‘it just went on and on and on.’

The next day the geography master came into class, looked at the boys and proclaimed: ‘Gentlemen. The Allies have invaded Normandy and they have a foothold. You have the day off.’  

Upon reaching the playground, the boys noticed that the Canadian Army tanks that had been parked on the pavement next to it had all disappeared – they had taken part in the assault on Juno Beach earlier that day. 

This wonderful story, told in Brighton College: A History, provides a wonderful insight into the lives of our pupils during the Second World War, alongside our archival images and records, and oral history interviews.

Perhaps you or someone you know has records from your time at Brighton College that are in need of a new home? The College Archive always appreciates being able to add extra details to our School’s long and colourful story. If you are interested in donating materials to the archive, you can contact our archivist using the email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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