On this date in 1944, troops from the United States, Great Britain, Canada and Free French forces invaded the Normandy coast of German-occupied France. 11 months later, what was left of Germany surrendered unconditionally to the Allies.
Getting ashore with enough troops, equipment and supplies to effectively continue the fight was a challenge that is still unparalleled in its scope. As in every war, mistakes were made that increased the loss of life. Both soldiers and civilians perished in the invasion. Yet the landings were successful, paving the way for Nazi Germany’s destruction and the rebuilding of war-ravaged Europe.
65 years later, there are few alive who remember the events of this day. Let us always remember and respect the sacrifice so many have made, and continue to make, for others’ freedom.
I had the privilege of visiting the beach areas in 2004. Here are some of my photos from that trip.
The top of the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc, still showing the effect of the aerial and naval bombardments. U.S. Rangers, under fire, scaled the beach cliffs, took this ground by frontal assault and held it against several counter-attacks over the next 2 days. They suffered heavy casualties. Out of 225 Rangers, 90 came out still able to fight.
The remains of a German bunker in a massive crater on Pointe du Hoc, near "Omaha" Beach. The rubble remains undisturbed since that time.
"Pegasus" Bridge, site of the first D-Day assault. British glider troops landed nearby and captured the bridge intact before the beach assaults. The bridge in this photo is a replacement, but the original sits nearby. The building on the other side was there in 1944, and was the first café to be liberated in occupied France.
"Utah" Beach, which was assaulted by U.S. troops from the 4th Infantry Division.