On the eve of the 70th anniversary of D-Day, we bring to you a selection of photographs as seen in The Americans on D-Day: A Photographic History of the Normandy Invasion. Author Martin K. A. Morgan brings an unsurpassed critical eye to each photograph in the book. The Americans on D-Day showcases all aspects of the American experience in the lead-up to Operation Overlord, D-Day, and the + days after the invasion began. The photos in this slideshow come with the original caption, so a reader can see for themselves the level of analysis that is put into each photo. Most of the photos are in the public domain through the National Archives and Records Administration, but even if the reader has seen these photos before they are likely to learn something new from the captions. A full review of The Americans on D-Day will be on Defense Media Network on Friday.
The Americans on D-Day | Photos
An M4A3 Sherman medium tank of the 66th Tank Battalion, 2nd Armored Division backs aboard a U.S. Navy Landing Ship, Tank (LST) in England during the embarkation phase that necessarily preceded crossing the English Channel. Note the U.S. Navy officer perched on the upper hinge of the ship's portside bow door. National Archives and Records Administration U.S. Army Rangers from A Company, 5th Ranger Battalion boarding a British LCA in Weymouth Harbor, Dorset, during embarkation for D-Day on June 1, 1944. This memorable photograph, taken on Monday, June 5, 1944, shows a battered Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress from the 100th Bombardment Group (Heavy), Eighth Air Force during a bombing raid over the Forêt Domaniale d'Écault between the beachside communities of Équihen-Plage and Hardelot Plage in the department of Pas-de-Calais. The 2.5-mile-wide stretch of shoreline shown here is 5 miles south of the Gare Maritime on the waterfront in downtown Boulogne. Eighth Air Force heavy bombardment groups, such as the 100th, flew missions in support of the D-Day invasion before, on, and after June 6. These paratroopers from the Headquarters 3rd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division are marching out to the C-47 that will take them to Normandy on the airfield at Exeter in Devonshire on Monday, June 5, 1944. A paratrooper from Headquarters Company, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division has just given two Norman children some chewing gum in the village of Saint-Marcouf north of Utah Beach on June 6, 1944. The presence of a rifle ammunition bandolier indicates that he is armed with the M1 Garand rifle. National Archives and Record Administration/U.S. Army Signal Corps 111-SC-189919 Two U.S. paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division trot northward on the Rue du Cap de Lainé (now known as D974) in Sainte-Mère-Église on Wednesday, June 7, 1944. After being misdropped on D-Day, they commandeered horses to help get them to their assigned assembly point. National Archives and Record Administration/U.S. Army Signal Corps 111-SC-190123 A Douglas C-47 Skytrain (s/n 42-68840) tows a Waco CG-4A glider. The experience of flight in a CG-4A could be harrowing: "It gives a man religion," remembered Brigadier General James M. Gavin of the 82nd Airborne Division. "You name it Boss, we'll hit it." - An inscription chalked onto the top of Turret Two of the battleship USS Arkansas (BB-33). Written atop the turret's 12-inch/50-caliber gun barrels are the words (left) Hitler's and (right) Downfall, which indicate the confidence the crew felt in their gunnery. Also visible here are two lookouts with binoculars by the rangefinder at the right, crewman's working jackets with hoods, and men limbering up with a medicine ball beside Turret One. Official U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives 80-G-244214 The 14-inch/45-caliber main battery of the battleship USS Nevada (BB-36) in action against H.K.B. Azeville/Stützpunkt 133 (the German Army coastal gun battery at Azeville near Utah Beach) on the morning of June 6, 1944. Despite being heavily damaged on December 7, 1941, the Nevada was subsequently repaired and fit to fight on D-Day. Official U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives 80-G-252412 Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division and the 101st Airborne Division packed aboard an LCT on the way to Utah Beach on the afternoon of June 6, 1944. Most of the troops here are wearing the M42 HBT fatigue uniform over their wool shirts and trousers, and a number of M1928 Haversacks are in evidence. The 101st Airborne Division trooper at the left facing the camera is wearing a U.S. Navy Inflatable Invasion Lifebelt and the M7 Assault Gas Mask Bag (worn on his chest), and a 101st Airborne patch can be seen on the left shoulder of his M1941 Field Jacket. The piece of equipment that the men are looking down to the right is an M3A4 Hand Cart carrying a T91E3/M63 Antiaircraft Mount for the Browning M2HB .50 caliber Machine Gun. Official U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives 80-G-59422 The Northhampton-class heavy cruiser USS Augusta (CL-31) dominates the background of the photograph while LCVPs from the Elizabeth C. Stanton-class transport USS Anne Arundel (AR-76) pass in the foreground on their way to Omaha Beach carrying men of the 2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. Lieutenant General Omar N. Bradley, commanding the U.S. First Army, and his staff embarked aboard the Augusta for the landings in Normandy. Official U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives 80-G-45720 LCVPs from the Coast Guard attack transport USS Samuel Chase (APA-26) land assault troops from the 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division on the Easy Red sector of Omaha Beach on D-Day morning. The area in the background is the stretch of bluff between Exit E-1/Wilderstandsnest 64 and Exit E-3/Wilderstandsnest 62. After the war, the Normandy American Cemetery would ultimately be established on top of the plateau seen here. U.S. Coast Guard Collection in the U.S. National Archives 26-G-2337 LST-325 sits high and dry on Utah Beach on Monday, June 12, 1944. In this photo, it is easy to see the roll-on/roll-off capability that made the LST such a versatile and effective weapon. LST-325 survived the war and was ultimately given to the Hellenic Navy in 1964. In early 2001, the ship returned to the United States and is now the LST Ship Memorial in Evansville, Indiana. Official U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives 80-G-252795 Troops from the 5th Engineer Special Brigade wade through the surf in front of the Fox Green sector of Omaha Beach. These men are carrying M2HB .50-caliber machine guns and all of the equipment associated with them. One man carries the weapon's M3 tripod tied to a U.S. Navy M1926 Inflatable Lifebelt while the man closest to the camera carries an M17 Ammunition Chest that contains linked .50 caliber cartridges, also attached to a lifebelt. National Archives and Record Administration/U.S. Army Signal Corps 111-SC-190248 One of the few photographs capturing Rangers in combat at Pointe du Hoc. Probably taken on June 7, the image shows an NCO (top right) firing an M1919A4 .30-caliber Machine Gun from a fighting position at the cliff's edge. By his right foot are six cans of belted ammunition, providing an additional 1,500 rounds of .30-caliber cartridges for the weapon. On his M1936 Pistol Belt are an M1910 Entrenching Tool and an M17 Leather Field Glasses Case. The Ranger to his left wears the canvas assault vest with an M1910 Entrenching Tool attached to it. The Ranger at the far left has an M3 Trench Knife in an M8 Scabbard attached to his M1936 Cartridge Belt. A Ranger officer has his back to the camera at the bottom right. National Archives and Record Administration 111-SC-320894 With a load of walking wounded Rangers from the Pointe du Hoc battle embarked aboard, LCM-81 pulls alongside a transport during the afternoon of June 6, 1944. For the first few days of the invasion, landing craft represented the only way to get supplies into and the wounded off of the point. Official U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives 26-G-2368 On Monday, June 12, 1944, several high-ranking U.S. military leaders landed at the Ruquet Valley from a DUKW for a brief inspection tour of the Omaha Beach area. Here, Adm. Alan G. Kirk (closest to the camera) is letting himself down from the side of the DUKW with U.S. Army Chief of Staff George Marshall right behind him. General Eisenhower has just planted his left foot on the PSP used to provide a stable surface for vehicular traffic driving up Exit E-1. Looking down on General Eisenhower, General Arnold leans over the gunwale of the DUKW. National Archives and Record Administration/U.S. Army Signal Corps 111-SC-190238 These two soldiers have taken up a position in a typical Norman hedgerow and are armed with two of the army's oldest and newest infantry weapons: the M1917A1 .30-caliber water-cooled Heavy Machine Gun and the M3 .45-caliber Submachine Gun, also known as the "Grease Gun" by the troops. The M1917A1 machine gun had been in the service of the U.S. military for over a quarter of a century by the time it fought in Normandy during the summer of 1944. The Grease Gun, on the other hand, was used in combat for the very first time on D-Day. National Archives and Record Administration/U.S. Army Signal Corps 111-SC-191283 The village of Rocquancourt (at the left) is all but lost under a deluge of high explosive as the U.S. Eighth Air Force provides support for ground forces in the area south of the city of Caen. A total of 570 B-24 Liberator heavy bombers from the U.S. Eight Air Force flew during the initial phase of Operation Goodwood from 6:30 to 8:15 a.m. on July 18, 1944. They struck frontline targets including German troop concentrations, transport targets, and command and control locations in the areas of Soliers, Troarn, Frénouville, the Mézidon railroad marshaling yard, Hubert-Folie, and Fontenay-le-Marmion (at the center bottom). National Archives and Record Administration/U.S. Army Signal Corps Two soldiers from the 2nd Armored Division pause to admire a banner decorating the façade of this electrician's business at 45, Route de Balleroy in Le Molay-Littry 8.5 miles south of Omaha Beach. The Norman people abundantly offered expressions of gratitude like this during the summer of 1944. National Archives and Record Administration/U.S. Army Signal Corps 111-SC-191171