D-Day, June 6, 1944, is the day that Allied forces initiated the invasion of Normandy. Operation Overlord was the largest amphibious assault ever planned and executed. D-Day took over one year to plan, involved a surprisingly effective deception plan, included over 5,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes, and more than 150,000 troops. Operation Overlord was a major turning point in World War II on the European front. By the end of August 1944, Paris had been liberated and the Germans no longer occupied northwestern France.
While D-Day saw the Allied forces triumph, the beaches were not won without great human cost. Many of the service members who landed on the beaches of Normandy during the first hours of the invasion were met with an endless barrage of German machine gunfire. The bravery and extraordinary determination of those service members is both amazing and inspiring. However, with bravery and extraordinary determination also comes horrific injury and death. By the time the sun set on June 6, 1944, it is estimated there were over 10,000 Allied casualties.
Civilian war correspondents as well as military photographers captured many historic images in the campaign for Northern Europe. Often their subjects were ordinary soldiers - men like Sergeant Harry Blankenship, killed in the battle for Cherbourg, who rests in Normandy American Cemetery.
American soldiers satisfied their curiosity about German equipment by examining captured enemy weapons, sometimes turning them on their former owners.
By Kevin M. Hymel
A paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division tries out a German half-track motorcycle, known as a kettenkrad, in Carentan, France.
Soldiers from the First Infantry Division examine rifles and Panzerfausts left behind when the Germans were forced out of Schoppen, Belgium in January 1945.
Turning the enemy’s own 88mm gun on them, a soldier loads the notorious weapon with a shell inscribed “Made in Germany” and prepares to fire across the Rhine River.
Americans try out a German antitank weapon in Ceppagna, Italy, in January 1944.
Americans fire a captured German mortar toward enemy positions.
Soldiers of the 5th Armored Division examine a German V-1 suicide bomb.
A soldier repaints a captured German vehicle which will then be used by the U.S. Army’s 28th Division in Saint Manvieu, France.
Three soldiers laden with captured weapons and ammunition head for a pit near Gurzenich, Germany, where they will have an opportunity to test fire the weapons.
Captured German rifles taken by the 11th Armored Division are examined by American soldiers, March 13, 1945, in Andernach, Germany.
Sergeant Oakly M. Rath holds a captured German Sturmgewehr 44 in front of a chateau in Salins, France.
To insure these captured German weapons won’t be used again, a soldier of the 10th Armored Division breaks them against a tree, March 7, 1945.