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1918, "date set for the beginning of a military operation," with D as an abbreviation of day, cf. H-hour, also from the same military order of Sept. 7, 1918:
The First Army will attack at H-Hour on D-Day with the object of forcing the evacuation of the St. Mihiel salient. [Field Order No. 8, First Army, A.E.F.]"They designate the day and hour of the operation when the day and hour have not yet been determined, or where secrecy is essential" [U.S. Army Center of Military History Web site]. Now almost exclusively of June 6, 1944.
The code name for the first day of a military attack, especially the American and British invasion of German-occupied France during World War II on June 6, 1944 (see invasion of Normandy). This marked the beginning of the victory of the Allies in Europe. Germany surrendered less than a year later.