Original World War Two photograph of US troops as they approach Omaha Beach on the morning of June 6 1944.
My Dad was a member of the 1st Infantry Division and was in the first wave landing on Omaha Beach. After seeing Private Ryan I asked him if he thought he'd live to see the next morning and he said "no". When I asked him how he survived he said "nothing hit me". He also said anyone who was there and says they weren't scared shitless, didn't cry like a baby and didn't piss in their pants was a liar. He went on to fight at St Lo, Aachen and the Battle of the Bulge.
His squad took a direct mortar hit during the fighting in the Ardennes. Of the 8 men in his squad he was the only survivor but spent 2 years in an Army hospital. He was awarded a Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Croix de Guerre. Dad passed away last June 8th an hour and 15 minutes short of his 90th birthday.
Running into the Beach
Omaha Beach, D-Day, 10:30am, 2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st (US) Infantry Division, Le Ruquet, Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, Normandy.
D-Day Beaches, June 6 1944
US troops and equipment come ashore from landing craft during D-Day on June 6 1944.
Troops from the US 1st Infantry Division (the Big Red One) land on Omaha Beach (Bloody Omaha) during the morning of D-Day, June 6 1944. This photograph was taken by Robert F. Sargent.
My grandfather landed on Omaha Beach the morning of June 6 1944, but sadly he didn’t make it. His best friend told my grandmother that they could hear machine gun fire hitting the front of the boats, then when the ramp went down the bullets poured in and killed about two thirds of the men in the boat [including my grandfather]. I’m happy he served, god bless him and all the other brave men of World War 2.
Dillon Jacques, 2012
Panzer IV in Normandy
A photograph of a knocked-out German Panzer IV during the Normandy campaign 1944.
D-Day Landings, June 6 1944
My Dad followed the Rangers, 175th, 29 Infantry Division, Dog Green Sector, Omaha Beach, but he did not have a company as he was following the Rangers. On my Dad's boat when it stopped he took off his pack, and hit the beach with nothing. He picked up a rifle on the way. He was hit on the fourth day by a tank mortar with shrapnel in both legs. My Dad is 88 years young and remembers this as if it were yesterday.
The little green friend, 2012
The body of a US soldier lays by a beach obstacle following the D-Day assault on the Normandy coast.
A landing craft packed full of US infantrymen makes ready to head towards the D-Day beaches.
Omaha Beach secured. A panoramic view of the Omaha beachhead after it was secured, sometime around mid-June 1944, at low tide. The Coast Guard-manned LST-262 is the third beached LST (landing ship tank) from the right, one of 10 Coast Guard-manned LSTs that participated in the invasion of Normandy, France, in June, 1944.
The U. S. Coast Guard at Normandy by Scott T. Price.
Surgery on the Frontline
Surgeons perform an operation on a severely wounded US soldier during the Normandy campaign, summer 1944.
An Allied warship shells the Normandy coastline in support of the beach landings, June 6 1944. The invasion fleet was drawn from eight different navies, comprising 6,939 vessels: 1,213 warships, 4,126 landing craft of various types, 736 ancillary craft, and 864 merchant ships.
Portsmouth Museum Services.
The Honey in Action
A US infantryman dashes for cover supported by an American M3 Stuart light tank somewhere in Normandy, 1944. The British called the Stuart tank the “Honey” because it was very reliable.
On and after D-Day American forces often found themselves involved in bitter street fighting for small Norman towns and villages such as Sainte-Mère-Église.
101st Airborne Division - Screaming Eagles
Paratroopers from the famous 101st Airborne Division ready to drop into German occupied Normandy from a Douglas C-47 Skytrain military transport aircraft, night 5/6 June 1944.
Photograph of a US infantryman seeking cover during the Battle for Normandy, 1944. The soldier is armed with the famous M1 Garand .30-06 semi-automatic rifle.
M4 Sherman Medium Tank
The workhorse of the Allied armies during WWII, the iconic American M4 Sherman medium tank. Around 50,000 Shermans were produced between 1942 and 1945. I think this photograph is actually an M4A1 Sherman armed with the slightly larger 76mm long barrelled main gun rather than the standard 75mm. Watch our video on the M4 Sherman to learn more.
Ju-87 Stuka Dive Bomber
A very effective ground attack weapon, the Junkers Ju-87 "Stuka" dive bomber became a symbol of Nazi terror from 1936 when it saw service in the Spanish Civil War. The Stuka was was easily recognisable by its inverted gull wings and fixed spatted undercarriage. However, it was the Stuka's famous " trumpets of Jericho" siren that made it such a powerful weapon of terror and propaganda. Watch our video on the infamous Stuka to learn more.
Battle of Okinawa
A US Marine from the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines on Wana Ridge provides covering fire with his Thompson submachine gun, 18 May 1945. To learn more about the Battle of Okinawa visit Wikipedia.
Battle of the Bulge
The last major German offensive of World War Two, codenamed Watch on the Rhine, the Battle of the Ardennes or Battle of the Bulge was supposed to split British and American forces. The attack was a costly failure that changed nothing on the Western Front for the Germans. Watch our video on the Battle of Bulge now.
Battle for Iwo Jima
110,000 men of the US 3rd, 4th and 5th Marine Divisions involved in the Battle for Iwo Jima against Japanese forces. The battle is probably best known for the "Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima" photograph taken on the summit of Mount Suribachi 23 February 1945 by Joe Rosenthal.
US Marines put Japanese positions under fire during the Battle for Iwo Jima, 19 February – 26 March 1945.
4 Days of Hell: Battle of Tarawa
The Battle of Tarawa was the first American offensive in the critical central Pacific region during World War Two. It was also the first time that the United States had faced serious Japanese opposition to an amphibious landing. Nearly 6,400 Japanese, Koreans and Americans died during the fighting. Only 17 Japanese defenders were captured alive. Watch the Oscar-winning documentary film With the Marines on Tarawa now.
The German Panther (Panzer V) was considered by many to be one of the best tanks produced during World War Two. It possessed excellent firepower with its 75mm main gun and good protective armour. However, mechanical reliability was an issue.
See more of the Panther medium tank on The War Years video channel now.
A Soviet junior political officer armed with a Tokarev TT-33 Service Pistol urges Soviet troops forward against German positions during World War II. The picture is allegedly of political officer Alexey Gordeevich Yeremenko, who is said to have been killed within minutes of this photograph being taken.
British Firefly in Namur, 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge. Based on the US M4 Sherman tank, the Firefly was fitted with the powerful British 17-pounder anti-tank gun as its main weapon. The Firefly was originally conceived as a stopgap until new British tank designs came into service.
German Tiger II - Panzer VI Königstiger
On 15 October 1944, the 503rd Heavy Panzer Battalion tanks supported Otto Skorzeny’s troops in taking Budapest (Operation Panzerfaust), to ensure the country stayed with the Axis until the end of the war. Later on, the unit took part in the Battle of Debrecen and stayed on the Hungarian front for 166 days, claiming 121 Soviet tanks, 244 anti-tank guns and artillery pieces, five aircraft and a train for the loss of 25 Tiger IIs. Ten of which had been knocked out by Soviet troops and thirteen were blown up after breaking down, to prevent their capture.
Visit Tanks Encyclopedia
The most feared and respected tank of World War II was unarguably the German Panzerkampfwagen VI or Tiger I. The Tiger tank quickly gained a reputation in Soviet Russia during 1943 and 1944. The fearsome 88mm gun gave the Tiger a clear reach advantage over its Soviet opponents. Often faced by inferior equipment and poorly trained men, German tank crews and individual tank commanders were able to amass impressive combat scores, numbering hundreds of “kills”. The concept of the “Tank Ace” was born and ruthlessly exploited for propaganda purposes. Occasionally just the sight of a German Tiger would make Soviet tanks withdraw.
The largest ship in the Royal Navy during the 1920s and 1930s, HMS Hood was the ultimate symbol of British power across the globe. The German battleship Bismarck sank the Hood in 1941. A shell from the Bismarck hit one of the Hood's ammunition magazines causing a massive explosion. The ship went down in just 3 minutes, killing over 1400 souls on board. There were just 3 survivors. A few days later the Bismarck was also destroyed with an even greater loss of life.
Watch our short video about HMS Hood and see archive footage of this great ship on our YouTube channel.
US 4th Infantry Division, Utah Beach, D-Day
Selected as one of the spearhead amphibious divisions for the D-Day landings on the Normandy coast of France, the 4th Infantry Division was led ashore by the 8th Infantry Regiment onto Utah Beach. The division made the landing slightly ahead of the 06.30am schedule and in the wrong place. Realising the location error, Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. famously said: "Okay, we'll start the war from here."
Gold Beach, D-Day, June 6 1944
British No. 47 Commando landing on Gold Beach near La Rivière, Normandy, France, June 6 1944.
Juno Beach, D-Day
Canadian troops approach Juno Beach in a British built LCA (Landing Craft Assault).
Taking Juno Beach was the responsibility of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, and Royal Marines Commandos under the British I Corps.
The beach was defended by two battalions of the German 716th Infantry Division, with elements of the 21st Panzer Division held in reserve near Caen.
The landings initially encountered heavy resistance from the German 716th Division. Several assault companies, notably those of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles and The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, took heavy casualties. However, the Canadians won the day and moved inland within hours of landing.
Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk XIIs of 41 Squadron in April 1944.
The Spitfire was designed as a short-range, high-performance interceptor aircraft by R. J. Mitchell, chief designer at Supermarine Aviation Works.
During the Battle of Britain, from July to October 1940, the Spitfire was perceived by the public to be the RAF fighter, although the more numerous Hawker Hurricane actually shouldered more of the burden against the Luftwaffe.
Today, the Spitfire remains a beloved British icon. Visit The War Years YouTube channel to see the Spitfire in flight and listen to the famous Merlin engine.
Battle of Stalingrad
The German offensive to capture Stalingrad began in late summer 1942, using the 6th Army and elements of the 4th Panzer Army. The attack was supported by intensive Luftwaffe bombing that reduced much of the city to rubble.
In November 1942 the Red Army launched Operation Uranus, a two-pronged counterattack that eventually surrounded the 6th Army. By February 1943 the exhausted remnants of the 6th Army surrendered.
The Soviet Red Army smashed the perception of German invincibility at Stalingrad. The battle cost millions of casualties but is widely regarded as the turning point of World War Two.
The War Years photographic gallery commemorates the many brutal realities of World War Two, captured as they happened by those who were there, camera in hand.