A fisherman named his son Dee-Day for the historic military operation after welcoming the baby boy into the world on June 6, 1944.
Dee-Day Rodney White is set to turn 75 on Thursday, the anniversary of the Normandy invasion.
His father, Bert, decided on the unique moniker after hearing the phrase repeatedly on the news.
Staff at the registry office weren’t as keen on the name as he was, initially telling him he could not use it – but Bert had the dutch courage to put up a fight, having visited a number of pubs on the way, and eventually convinced them.
Now an antiques dealer, Dee-Day has told of his father’s decision and how the unusual name has affected his life – including how he named his own son Dee-Day too.
Dee-Day Rodney White was born on June 6, 1944, and was named after the Normandy invasion when his fisherman father Bert struggled to get the phrase out of his head
Dee-Day, pictured with his wife Beverley, has visited Normandy 10 times over his lifetime but will not be visiting this year for the 75th anniversary. But he says he will be thinking of our heroes, saying: ‘I’ve visited Normandy and Dunkirk so many times and, after spending a lot of time with the veterans, you could not imagine what they went through’
Dee-Day said: ‘My mother, May, told my father on June 5 not to go out the next day because she thought she would be going into labour.
‘At 3.40am on June 6, I was born and she asked my father to have my birth registered in the morning. He kept hearing “D-Day” on the news and couldn’t get it out of his head.
‘He visited a number of pubs along the way to the registry office – fishermen were big drinkers – and kept hearing “D-Day”.
‘So he told the registrar he wanted to call me D-Day – but they said no, that’s not a real name – that’s impossible. It’s a secret codeword. So he left.
‘He told my mother about it and she said she just wanted her baby to have a name.
Staff at the registry office initially told Bert he could not name his son after the military operation as it was a ‘secret codeword’. Pictured: Dee-Day as a toddler
‘So he went back the next day with a copy of a newspaper and told them “it’s not a secret anymore, those Germans know all about it”.
‘He cleverly told them he wanted to spell it “Dee-Day” and eventually they let him.’
He has always worn the name as a badge of honour, visiting Normandy on his birthday 10 times in total to be a part of D-Day celebrations.
But at times, the name has hindered him.
Dee-Day said: ‘When I was a teenager, I couldn’t lie about my age – everyone knew when D-Day was.
‘So if I was at the pub trying to get served while underage, they knew. And if I was trying to chat up an older girl, they’d know my age because of the name!
‘And if I had been out with my friends causing trouble, policemen and other people would always remember me because of the name – not any of my friends.
‘Other than that, I’ve never had any problems with it. Everyone knows me in the town and it’s just been accepted by everyone.
‘Everyone knows me as Dee-Day. I think some people have thought my surname is Day and the “D” is the initial of my first name.
‘Whenever I tell anyone my name, I do always end up having to tell them the story of how I got it as well.’
His middle name, Rodney, is after HMS Rodney – the Royal Navy battleship his uncle Tom served on during the war.
Dee-Day, from Hastings in East Sussex, first visited Normandy aged 18, and his last visit was two years ago.
During those visits, he has proved popular among veterans because of his name.
He said: ‘There was an ex-paratrooper there one year who was selling a book about his story.
‘People buying his book saw me being interviewed on French television because of my name and they started asking me to sign their books.
When Bert told his wife May, pictured together, about his suggestion she said she ‘just wanted her baby to have a name’
For the most part, Dee-Day has had no name-related issues – except when attempting to buy a drink underage, as everyone knew exactly how old he was. Pictured: Dee-Day’s brother Kenny, now 87, mother May, Dee-Day, father Bert, and brother Bertie
‘Eventually, the man came over and even asked me to sign a copy for him with my name, date of birth and Hastings – then joked for me to go as people weren’t asking for his signature!’
His last trip to Normandy in 2017 was with his son – who he also named Dee-Day – and only grandchild Aaron, 24.
Dee-Day Jr, 54, went on to serve as a Corporal in the Royal Green Jackets for six years.
On choosing his eldest child’s name, father-of-three Dee-Day said: ‘If I wasn’t going to call him Dee-Day, somebody else was.
‘No one ever really questioned his name growing up. I know so many people in the town so they all understood why he was called that.
‘When he decided to join the Army, I asked him if he wanted to change his name but he said no.
‘They all get nicknames in there anyway, and when he came back from training I asked him “what are you called now then?”
‘He was going to be called Chalky White, but because of what his name meant, everyone called him Dee-Day anyway.’
Dee-Day’s daughter Avaline, 53, also served for six years as a Lance Corporal within the security and intelligence of the Army.
He will have the D-Day heroes in his mind on Thursday, but will not be making the trip over the Channel – instead enjoying a meal with family.
Dee-Day added: ‘I’m lucky just to be alive now, as so many of my friends and people I’ve known all my life have died, so I need to spend my birthday with my family.
He said: ‘Everyone knows me as Dee-Day. I think some people have thought my surname is Day and the “D” is the initial of my first name.’ Pictured, Dee-Day as a teenager
Dee-Day even named his own son Dee-Day – who went on to serve as a Corporal in the Royal Green Jackets for six years. Pictured: left, Bert, right, May
He has lived in Hastings all his life, and has been running his antiques shop – a stone’s throw from his parents’ old home – for the past 32 years. Pictured: Dee-Day as a child.
‘But I will be thinking of our heroes. I’ve visited Normandy and Dunkirk so many times and, after spending a lot of time with the veterans, you could not imagine what they went through.
‘When you know the damage a gun can do, to fire it at someone must have been so tough. It must have been unbearable for them.’
Dee-Day’s parents’ home in Hastings had been bombed by German forces just days before the D-Day landings, and so they had to move into another home in which May gave birth to him.
He has lived in Hastings all his life, and has been running his antiques shop – a stone’s throw from his parents’ old home – for the past 32 years.
Dee-Day runs the shop alongside Beverley, 63, his wife of seven years.
May was a ‘scrubber’ who cleaned people’s houses in Hastings Old Town, a poor area of the seaside town.
Bert was relieved of National Service because of his job as a fisherman, and he also formed part of the local lifeboat crew.
He was the head boat launcher and worked on the Cyril and Lilian Bishop – which was used in the Dunkirk evacuations in 1940.
Dee-Day has invested much of his time – and around £40,000 – in getting the lifeboat back to its home Paris three years ago.
The boat is thought to have helped save thousands of British and ally troops from the beaches.
Dee-Day said: ‘That boat is so special. It carries a lot of meaning for me because of its history.
‘Because the naval ships were too big to get ashore, lifeboats were used to take troops from shore to the vessels. They carried around 50 people a time. She would have saved thousands of lives.’
Dee-Day has also held a keen interest in collecting military gear including badges, uniforms and weapons.
He added: ‘I’ve always had an interest in the military, but I think more so because of my name and the story behind it.’