14 Iconic Photos that Tell the Story of D-Day
An American A-20 from the 416th Bomb Group making a bomb run on D-Day.The bombing campaign of the Allied, codenamed Operation Pointblank, preceded the land invasion. They bombed bridges and supply lines, to isolate the Germans on the coast and limit their ability to counterattack. On D-Day alone, the Allied aircraft flew 14,674 sorties, and 127 were lost.
HMS Warspite bombing German positions. Naval bombardment preceded the amphibious invasion; they target obstacles and defences on the beach. The efforts weren’t too successful as many fortifications were left unscathed.
A group of US Army Pathfinders and C-47 flight crew posing just before D-Day. Over 13,000 paratroopers were dropped over occupied territories during the early darkness of June 6 1944. They were to disrupt the German communications and supply networks. Many miss their destination due to strong winds, and the opportunity to surprise the Germans was lost as forces regrouped.
Beach defences in Pas-de-Calais. The Atlantic Wall stretch 1,670 miles along the European coastline, and was most heavily fortified in the Pas-de-Calais region, since it seemed the most likely area for a seabourne invasion.
Into the Jaws of Death, an iconic photo of the landing at Omaha Beach by Robert F. Sargent.Unknown to the Allies Omaha was the most heavily defended beach and had been assigned to the 1st Infantry Division. They were only expecting to battle against a single regiment but had to unexpectedly face the German 352nd Infantry Division. Many of the landing craft ran aground on sandbars and the allied troops had to wade 50 – 100 yards in water up to their necks while under fire just to get to the beach. Once on the beach they were exposed to machine gun-fire with little to no cover.
Casualties being assisted on Omaha Beach. The Allied troops at Omaha faced stiff resistance. Casualties were around 2,000, although the chaos of the landing precluded making an accurate judgement.
Supplies arriving at Omaha Beach. By the end of 11 June, 326,547 troops, 54,186 vehicles and 104,428 tons of supplies had been landed on the beaches.
US Forces near Utah Beach.By coincidence the US forces at Utah Beach were driven down-shore of their planned destination by strong currents. They landed on a beach less fortified than the original and landed 21,000 troops at the cost of only 197 casualties.
Canadian Forces landing at Juno Beach. In contrast to Omaha, the landing at Juno was much less chaotic. By nightfall, the contiguous Juno and Gold beachheads covered an area 12 miles wide and 7 miles deep. Casualties at Juno were 961 men.
British forces with captured German track mines. A lot of factors contributed to the slow progress of the Allied. The intended invasion plans include the capture of Carentan, St Lo, Caen, and Bayeux on the first day, with all the beaches (other than the Utah beach) linked with a front line 6 to 10 miles from the beaches; none of these were achieved. Caen would not be captured until 21 July.
Dwight Eisenhower addresses troops: “Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.”
Wounded troops at Omaha Beach.About 160,000 Allied troops crossed the English Channel on D-Day, with 87,000 men disembarking by the end of June. On the first day, the Allied had at least 12,000 casualties, with 4,414 confirmed dead. The Germans lost approximately 10,000 men.
Mulberry Harbour. The Allies constructed this portable, two-part temporary harbour to facilitate the rapid offloading of cargo during the invasion.
British soldiers from the Royal Berkshire Regiment guarding prisoners at Juno Beach. The exact prisoner figures are difficult to obtain because of the chaos of the invasion and the term ‘casualty’ being applied to both wounded, dead and imprisoned soldiers.