If you think you’ve seen every photo from D-Day, think again.
USO Senior Digital Archivist Michael Case combed through National Archives files and hand-selected some rare photographs in honor of the anniversary of D-Day.
On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops – including about 73,000 Americans – landed along a 50-mile stretch of French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. By day’s end, Allied forces gained a foothold in Continental Europe, but the cost in lives was high. According to the National D-Day Memorial Foundation, nearly 10,000 Allied personnel were killed or wounded, but their sacrifices allowed the slow, hard slog across Europe to begin.
Gen. Dwight Eisenhower speaks to paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division before the start of Operation Overlord.
The resolute faces of paratroopers are on display just before they take off for the initial assault of D-Day. The unnamed paratrooper in the foreground has just read Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s message of good luck and clasps his bazooka in determination.
This is the last roll call for the men before they board landing craft for the big assault on the European continent.
American troops march through the streets of a British port town on their way to the docks, where they will be loaded into landing craft for D-Day.
Jeeps drive onto an LCT at a port in Britain in preparation for D-Day.
Helmeted American soldiers crouch, tightly packed, behind the bulwarks of a Coast Guard landing barge in the historic sweep across the English Channel to the shores of Normandy. Minutes later, they dashed up the beach under fire from the Nazi defenders. These Coast Guard barges rode back and forth through D-Day bringing wave upon wave of reinforcements to the beachhead.
Landing craft filled with assault troops approach Omaha Beach, comprising the first wave to set foot on French soil.
Coast Guard landing barges hit the French coast with the first wave of American troops under heavy fire from Nazi beach nests. This photo, taken from a landing barge by a Coast Guard combat photographer, shows the troops waist deep as they wade ashore. These landing barges shuttled back and forth from their assault transports to the beach carrying troops throughout D-Day.
A group of American assault troops who, although wounded, stormed the beachhead and gained the comparative safety of the chalk cliffs at their backs. Food and cigarettes were available to lend comfort to the men.
American medics render first aid to troops in the initial landing on Utah Beach. In the background, other members of the landing parties dig into the soft sand of the beach.
Left: A hand-drawn sketch of the exit path of first troops on Omaha Beach during D-Day operations. USS LCI(L) 84, a Coast Guard vessel that landed troops during the invasion and was damaged and later repaired, appears at the bottom of the map. Right: The USS LCI(L) 84, top center, is docked in England prior to D-Day.