On 3 June 1944, Stella Rutter, 20, was asked to organise a party to help calm the nerves of military commanders on the eve of the D-Day Landings. At the function, she made sure that all the commanders had enough food, drink and entertainment to keep them busy and take their minds off the impending mission. It was also an opportunity for the commanders to meet each other for the first time. But there was one thing Rutter must not do: mention the war.
General Montgomery gave Rutter this mission because she was the first woman ever employed in the drawing office at Supermarine, and had proved herself not to be a gossip after being taught by her mother to keep quiet about rumours and hearsay.
Questionably, Rutter was informed of every detail about the invasion, including the names of all the commanders, the regiments that were going to be involved, the ships and the codenames for all of the beaches. But she was sworn to secrecy and promised not to reveal anything of Operation Overlord for at least 60 years, not even to her husband. Now aged 91, she has written an autobiography called ‘Tomorrow is D-Day’, which speaks in detail of her mission and career during the Second World War, using the notes and diaries she kept at the time.
In the book, which will be released on 28 May 2014, Rutter claims that at the party, some of the officers were “jittery” with nerves and that “one US officer broke down on the dance floor, and was shuffled out of the room straightaway so that the others didn’t see.”
The mission turned out to be the largest amphibious invasion in history, with more than 160,000 soldiers involved. On the first day alone, around 4,400 Allied troops were killed.
To pre-order the book or find out more information, click here.