D-Day +71 Years, The Invasion In Color

Allied ships, boats and barrage balloons off Omaha Beach after the successful D-Day invasion, near Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France on June 9, 1944.  (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

Allied ships, boats and barrage balloons off Omaha Beach after the successful D-Day invasion, near Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France on June 9, 1944. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

This time last year, the Denver Post collected a series of color images taken during the D-Day landings that occured 71 years ago today. Some of the images are reproduced below, but our readers are strongly urged to click through and take a look at every one:

United States Rangers from E Company, 5th Ranger Battalion, on board a landing craft assault vessel (LCA) in Weymouth harbor, Dorset, on June 4, 1944. The ship is bound for the D-Day landing on Omaha Beach in Normandy. Clockwise, from far left: First Sergeant Sandy Martin, who was killed during the landing, Technician Fifth Grade Joseph Markovich, Corporal John Loshiavo and Private First Class Frank E. Lockwood. They are holding a 60mm mortar, a Bazooka, a Garand rifle and a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes.  (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

Original caption: “United States Rangers from E Company, 5th Ranger Battalion, on board a landing craft assault vessel (LCA) in Weymouth harbor, Dorset, on June 4, 1944. The ship is bound for the D-Day landing on Omaha Beach in Normandy. Clockwise, from far left: First Sergeant Sandy Martin, who was killed during the landing, Technician Fifth Grade Joseph Markovich, Corporal John Loshiavo and Private First Class Frank E. Lockwood. They are holding a 60mm mortar, a Bazooka, a Garand rifle and a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)”

From left, Chief of the Imperial General Staff Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and commander of the 21st Army Group, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery in Normandy on June 12, 1944, six days after the D-Day landings during Operation Overlord Normandy in World War II.  (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

Original caption: “From left, Chief of the Imperial General Staff Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and commander of the 21st Army Group, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery in Normandy on June 12, 1944, six days after the D-Day landings during Operation Overlord Normandy in World War II. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)”

Troops from the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division landing at Juno Beach on the outskirts of Bernieres-sur-Mer on D-Day, June 6, 1944. 14,000 Canadian soldiers were put ashore and 340 lost their lives in the battles for the beachhead.  (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

Original caption: “Troops from the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division landing at Juno Beach on the outskirts of Bernieres-sur-Mer on D-Day, June 6, 1944. 14,000 Canadian soldiers were put ashore and 340 lost their lives in the battles for the beachhead. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)” The Canadian troops are armed with the improved No. 4 Mk. I rifles, a development of the famous SMLE.

British Navy Landing Crafts (LCA-1377) carry United States Army Rangers to a ship near Weymouth in Southern England on June 1, 1944. British soldiers can be seen in the conning station. For safety measures, U.S. Rangers remained consigned on board English ships for five days prior to the invasion of Normandy, France.  (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

Original caption: “British Navy Landing Crafts (LCA-1377) carry United States Army Rangers to a ship near Weymouth in Southern England on June 1, 1944. British soldiers can be seen in the conning station. For safety measures, U.S. Rangers remained consigned on board English ships for five days prior to the invasion of Normandy, France. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)” Visible are the muzzles of both an M1 Carbine and M1 Garand rifle.

Some of the first American soldiers to attack the German defenses in Higgins Boats (LCVPs) approach Omaha Beach near Normandy, France on June 6, 1944. Plastic covers protect the soldier's weapons against from the water.  (Photo by Robert F. Sargent, U.S. Coast Guard/Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

Original caption: “Some of the first American soldiers to attack the German defenses in Higgins Boats (LCVPs) approach Omaha Beach near Normandy, France on June 6, 1944. Plastic covers protect the soldier’s weapons against from the water. (Photo by Robert F. Sargent, U.S. Coast Guard/Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)” The M1 Garand was found to be sensitive to sand and salt spray in the extremely harsh USMC San Diego tests of late 1940. The plastic weapon covers used in the D-Day invasion protected the action from spray and sand ingress, greatly reducing the weapon’s chance of failure during the landings.

U.S. troops on the Esplanade at Weymouth, Dorset, on their way to ships bound for Omaha Beach for the D-Day landings in Normandy in June of 1944.  (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

Original caption: “U.S. troops on the Esplanade at Weymouth, Dorset, on their way to ships bound for Omaha Beach for the D-Day landings in Normandy in June of 1944. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)”

Allied ships, boats and barrage balloons off Omaha Beach after the successful D-Day invasion, near Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France on June 9, 1944.  (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

Original caption: “Allied ships, boats and barrage balloons off Omaha Beach after the successful D-Day invasion, near Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France on June 9, 1944. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)”

Private Clyde Peacock, 1st Military Police (MP) Platoon of the 1st Infantry Division of the United States Army in June 1944 in Dorset, United Kingdom. The 1st Division was one of the two divisions that stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day suffering high casualties. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

Original caption: “Private Clyde Peacock, 1st Military Police (MP) Platoon of the 1st Infantry Division of the United States Army in June 1944 in Dorset, United Kingdom. The 1st Division was one of the two divisions that stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day suffering high casualties. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)” An M1 with its plastic cover is retained in a scabbard attached to the windscreen of the Truck, 1/4 Ton, 4×4, better known as a Willys MB Jeep. Also visible is the M7 Grenade Launcher attachment for the M1 rifle.

 

The success landings spelled the end of Nazi Germany, and the beginning of the liberation of Western Europe. In concert with the Soviet Union, the Western Allies took the fight to Germany, eventually forcing the collapse of Adolf Hitler’s regime on April 30, 1945, and the capitulation and unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany 8 days later, on May 8, 1945.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • yallan

    Pretty impressive those sixties war movies were actually very realistic looking. They look more realistic than Saving Private Ryan.

    • SirOliverHumperdink

      Saving Private Ryan forgot the air cover.

    • iksnilol

      Not really surprising, it wasn’t that hard to find a WW2 vet in the sixties.

  • ghost

    Back when a war was fought to win.

    • TheSmellofNapalm

      Yeah, what a shame we aren’t allowed to nuke entire cities anymore….

      • Zach

        Good Lord, you’re one of those……

        • Those two nuclear weapons saved about 700,000 American soldiers lives by not having to invade Japan. It also saved over 1,000,000 Japanese lives that would have been lost with a conventional invasion.

          • iksnilol

            For anyone trying to
            justify the use of the Atomic bomb, read “Mandate for Change” by
            Eisenhower.

            Choice extract :

            (The Survey = The
            U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey group, commissioned by President Truman)

            “Based on a
            detailed investigation of all the facts and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945 and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped,
            even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.”

            the book also
            contains an interesting testimony by American Admiral William Leheay :

            “It is my
            opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the
            successful bombing with conventional weapons.”

            And many more
            interesting points, like the fact that even General McArthur Disapproved the
            use of the Atomic Bomb.

          • Wrong theater, wrong year, guys.

          • Dan

            Silly Nathaniel, thinking we would stay on the subject of the article without veering off course. We’re like a bunch of kids with A.D.D.

          • uisconfruzed

            Squirrel!!

          • Zebra Dun

            FORD!

          • Zebra Dun

            Can’t tell him squat he just goes on and on, sorry for the OT.

          • skusmc

            Did you see the pictures of St. Lo? Hiroshima and Nagasaki were nothing special, destruction wise, in World War Two. Every single Japanese village would have looked like St. Lo had we invaded.

          • More Japanese were killed in Curtis LeMay’s firebombing than the total losses from both nukes.

          • Cornelius Carroll

            From a cursory search I’m getting 140-240k dead for Hiroshima+Nagasaki and ~100k dead for the firebombing of Tokyo.

          • The numbers have varied a great deal over the decades since the war. Some numbers for American casualties in a conventional invasion were estimated as high as 1,000,000.
            The numbers varied a good deal on the deaths from the firebombing raids on Tokyo and other cities. I don’t think anyone could ever know but I have heard estimates as high as 300,000 in those raids. The Japanese didn’t keep very good records of the population of Tokyo during the war.

          • You have to use the best info available at the time: judging what was done based on information that could not have been known is not only unfair but stupid.

          • iksnilol

            That’s exactly the problem. They did have the info yet they still dropped “The Big One”.

          • ghost

            Bottom line, the US had “The Bomb”. Japan was handy to test two of them on, real life. As I recall, more were killed in the firebombing. I was born in 1944, so I really have no first hand knowledge of the events. Now we have “era’s”, as in “Vietnam Era”. Sounds so much better than “war”.

          • iksnilol

            More weren’t killed in the firebombing. Just checking the records (takes less than 2 minutes) disproves that. About 100k dead from firebombing, about 250k dead from nukes.

          • ghost

            Ok, my memory is rusty on history, and more than a few other things. I had two minutes, but, I forgot where I put them.

          • Zebra Dun

            Who…Cares?

          • If McArthur was against the bomb why did he politic with Truman in Korea to use it on China.

          • Dan K

            Completely different strategic and tactical situations.

          • Vitsaus

            Communism was a bigger threat than militaristic monarchy? Reds should be vaporized? Hindsight has shown us who was truly more dangerous to the world.

          • Cornelius Carroll

            “Experience is the teacher of all things.”-Julius Ceaser

            The flip side is that there’s a decent chance that dropping those bombs was a contributing factor to the Cold War not being a hot war. It’s one thing to test nuclear warheads in the middle of nowhere but it’s another altogether to see the devastation they’re capable of in the real world. Policy makers on both sides saw that in Japan and instantly the stakes were raised so high that peace was the defacto choice. Sure, build the weapons, but now that you’ve seen crude versions of them wipe entire cities off the map you know that to pull the trigger is to, essentially, end the world.

          • Zebra Dun

            Hindsight is always 20/20, the bombs got dropped and people fried you cannot go back in time and stop it so quit whining about it.

          • iksnilol

            No, I cannot go back in time. But if you think it is completely okay of anyone to A) firebomb civilians and B) to drop a (unecessary) nuke on civilians then you are more f***** in the head than I am. You are kinda like one of those nazi apologists who claim the Holocaust never happened or that only criminals were in the concentration camps.

          • Zebra Dun

            Quit whining Dude it’s less manly.
            Man up boy and grow some balls.

            The introduction of the comparison of a poster to a NAZI means you already lost the argument.

            The usage of name calling shows lack of maturity and again means you automatically lost the argument.

            I believe in a total war, dropping atomic bombs on the enemy is not a war crime. Nor is firebombing civilians who are illegally on or near a military target.
            The A bombs were dropped after tons of leaflets were dropped warning of the strike, all who stayed got what was coming to them for Nanking, Manila, and other war crimes prior to the fact.
            The Japanese bombed us first. The US bombed them last. end of story.
            Semper Fidelis Mac.

          • iksnilol

            Uh, it is you questioning your own masuclinity here. Not me. Also, it is you mentioning nazis, I mentioned nazi apologists. Two different brands of animals, both need to be shot, but different nonetheless.

          • Zebra Dun

            Bubba I did four years straight up in the United States Marines I was an Anti-Tank Assault man, I joined when I was seventeen.
            My masculinity is a tad higher than your little weenie.
            Not shut up and quit crying over things that happened before you were born.
            And get off my yard.

          • iksnilol

            Again with the masculinity. “Ooooorah, I WAS KILLING GOOKS AND RAGHEADS BEFORE YOU WERE A SPARKLE IN YOUR DADDYS EYES. NOW RESPECT ME!”

            Not winning any points with that spiel. While we are bragging I should mention I was a door gunner on the space shuttle.

            Like I said, I don’t really care how manly or not you are since that has nothing to do with war crimes and whatnot. Which is what I was discussing.

            Also, for some reason I doubt you really have a yard.

          • Zebra Dun

            No need to make racist remarks Bubba.

            See my Avatar?
            That’s horse Manure.
            Guess where it comes from?
            My Horses.
            Now, it needs dumping Spunky and “GET THE HELL OFF MY YARD.”

          • iksnilol

            So you have horses? That’s nice, a fellow farmer?

          • iksnilol

            The Japanese bombed a completely legit millitary target. The US dropped nukes on cities, not millitary bases.

            So go home, calm down, and come back with an actual argument.

          • I really hope you don’t mean Pearl Harbour.

          • iksnilol

            Yes, Pearl Harbor.

            While there were civilians there it wasn’t a civilian location. Out of the almost two and a half thousand dead people less than 70 were civilians. Pearl Harbor was and is a millitary base, not a city filled with civilians.

          • So a sneak attack on a country not at war is ok! You need to check and see how many civilians were killed in that attack.

          • iksnilol

            No, it isn’t ok. That’s also the reason it was ruled a war crime (not because of any civilian casualties, though there were some they are very few. Less than 10% of killed in Pearl Harbor were civilians).

            Still, it was a legitimate millitary target. Claiming Nagasaki, Hiroshima or Tokyo were legitimate millitary targets becomes stupid when you see the numbers. Also, contrary to popular belief there was no warning before the nukes (it was done like that to increase psychological effect of the bombs). The warning leaflets were only dropped before regular bombings.

            So, from a moral perspective I would say one sneak attack on a millitary base is better than two sneak nuclear attacks on non-millitary targets.

          • guest

            Boo hoo hoo “sneack attack”.

            That’s the f*cking problem with american logic: “big bad sneak attack” (a well executed suprise attack on a military target) is bad. Murdering hundreds of thousands of civilians in both theatres with nukes, firebombs etc – deliberate attacks on civilian areas – perfectly fine, “shortens war, saves US servicemen lives” ad nauseum.
            What an absolutely savage, inhumate, irrational line of thought and what pathetic apologetics for acts of mass murder and terror.

            No wonder such education – and it has to be education, I don’t believe you invented this widely accepted opinion on your own – produces echoes in modern foreign policy where erosion of rights, wars without declaration of war, acts of targetet assasination etc are accepted ad good practice.

            This kind of ISIS mentality (yes, it’s that bad!) makes me sick. Show your fellow man some respect, and actually TRY to live up to at least SOME humanitarian values, you degenerate.

          • Zebra Dun

            A sneak attack while suing for peace in D. C. was humanitarian?

          • Zebra Dun

            Between 55 and 60 civilians were killed and 35 wounded by the IJN at Pearl Harbor.
            Streets were shot up and bombed a school for Japanese students was bombed.
            You forget the Navy base was situated right outside Honolulu.
            There is a picture found easily on the web of an automobile with a dead civilian sitting in it and it had been strafed by the Japanese.
            Now STFU and STFD Boy.

          • iksnilol

            Are you really trying to tell me that 50 American civilians are worth more than 300 000+ Japanese civilians?

            Also, here’s a list of the civilians who died at Pearl Harbor: http://www.nps.gov/valr/learn/historyculture/civilian-casualties.htm

            About 2500 people died there, about 50 of those were civilians. If you know math, that comes out to 2%. Compared to Nagasaki which had about 3.42% soldiers (9k out of 263k). Also, the Hiroshima bomb was dropped right on a surgical clinic. Yet you still try to claim you have the moral high ground here.

            You can STFU and STFD, old man.

          • Zebra Dun

            Well, Yes at the time it was that way.
            They were in a total war, and the Japanese started it, therefore they should and did suffer most as per real life.
            I. Do. Not. Care. How. Many Japanese died in that war or the way they died, fire, bullet, bomb or choked to death.
            Old man?
            This old man can pedal a road bike 48 miles, ride a horse all day and put crocodiles too sleep just with a slow country song ;^)

          • Zebra Dun

            Just so you know I’d have nuked them three times and glassed Tokyo.

          • iksnilol

            And people like you are the reason I still have guns. Have a good day.

          • micmac80

            Yes and then you wake up from a wet dream ,that is just a story for kids that has been well nurtured. The japanese view points to much greater fear from the Soviets that steamrolled trough their Manchuria (size of western Europe) in 11days barely breaking a sweat in proces shredding the Kwantung army to pieces

          • guest

            Following your nonsense, 9/11, London bombings etc are also “life-saving” attempts that failed, because the offended countries failed to be scared by the acts.
            A country and a a government that views intended mass murder of civilians as an effective way to save lives of military personnel is a country of war crimes and terror.
            And by the way the nukes didn’t do even one yota of the damage that the firebombing campaigs against cities both in Japan and Germany caused.

          • DAN V.

            Read that Japan was on the verge of surrender prior to “you dropped a bomb on me, baby!”

        • TheSmellofNapalm

          Guess no one taught you about sarcasm

          • Jack Webb

            Perhaps you should learn to use it better. Tool.

    • iksnilol

      Uh, you haven’t considered that things have changed. Nowadays you don’t have a clear cut enemy. + one is also busy creating (potential) new enemies through proxy wars.

  • nirvana

    judging by the third world hellhole that Europe is becoming people might want to reconsider if the “right side” won the war.

    • Given the choices, and the fact that there hasn’t been a war between the major European powers since… Yes, I nod my head vigorously, the right side definitely won the war.

      • Dan

        I would never have even considered that a question. It would take a lot of bad things to happen for me to say “You know maybe that hitler guy was on to something”

  • I think we as Westerners should allow the psychological wounds of WW2 to heal. A lot of our crazy politics are perceived corrections to the aftermath of that war.

  • DAN V.

    Quick, somebody photoshop a picture of seal team six posted next year to hitler’s dead body.

    • Dan

      That hasn’t been declassified yet. The White House is still trying to figure out how to give our fearless leader the credit for that.

  • John McPherson

    I was luck enough to visit Normandy last year, and found it a very beautiful place. The beaches must be seen to understand what went on there. Omaha was a dreadful place to land, with the bluffs rising right at the beach. Go there and thank God you are allowed to be there. And thank all of those at the American and British burial grounds, you owe it to them.

    • You bet we owe them a debt we can never pay.

    • PGConley

      I was able to go a couple of years ago. It was absolutely stunning and surreal. I went there in College for a History class specifically to follow the path from the beaches inward, and our tour guide was a British expat living in France, and he was absolutely fantastic, he showed us a lot of various things like Pointe du Hoc and a bunch of other stuff. All of it was so surreal, you couldn’t help but feel proud and give thanks to those who gave their all. And the cemeteries were stunning to be at.

  • RPK

    We, the children of the greatest generation of Americans, can not allow the sacrifices of these brave men to be forgotten and lost in history. It is our sacred duty to remember what they did for us in order to free the world from tyranny and oppression, that we might have the opportunites afforded us in the decades which followed because of combat actions in far away lands. I am PROUD of my father’s military service in the 30th Infantry Division (Old Hickory) in the European Theater. He would be 96 today if still living. At his request, he was buried with his V.F.W. campaign garrison cap. To me, that says a lot in itself. Of all the personal experiences faced in his life, he literally took this one with him to the grave. We owe his generation a debt which can NEVER be re-paid or forgotten. The same applies to our WWI Veterans who went “over there”. My respect and gratitude to ALL former combat Veterans, regardless of conflict served in or rank attained. Whenever our Flag passes you by…stand tall, take your hat off (if wearing one), place you hand over your heart (or Veterans have the option to salute) AND REMEMBER THE FALLEN.
    (DS 91′ Veteran and 20+ years military retiree)