The horrific scene during the D-Day landings in 1944 was captured in some truly amazing film footage, as British and American troops, carrying weapons and supplies, maneuvered through enemy fire.
Many are seen not only narrowly escaping death, but pushing forward, wading through the rough water and crawling up the beaches to liberate France from the Nazis. The remarkable footage also shows the efforts of armored tanks, the tragedy of those carrying wounded soldiers, as well as images of German soldiers surrendering.
The D-Day documentary footage, filmed by the Public Relations Division of Supreme Headquarter Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF) and headed by General Eisenhower, was taken in hopes that it would raise morale back home. The footage was archived at the Eisenhower Library and later restored by researchers.
A card on the reels described the footage as “a compilation of some of the action that took place from D Day to Day Plus 3, 6-9 June 1944” and was taken by directors who carried bulky 35mm motion picture film cameras among the conflict.
According to the YouTube video description of the documentary, “Operation Overlord was the code name for the invasion of Normandy, the Allied operation that launched the successful invasion of German-occupied Western Europe in 1944. The operation commenced on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings (Operation Neptune, commonly known as D-Day). A 1,200-plane airborne invasion preceded the amphibious landing involving more than 5,000 vessels. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on 6 June, and more than three million allied troops were in France by the end of August.”
The description further adds: “The Normandy coast was chosen as the site of the invasion, with the Americans assigned to land at Utah and Omaha Beaches, the British at Sword and Gold Beaches, and Canadians at Juno Beach… The Allies failed to reach their goals for the first day, but gained a tenuous foothold that they gradually expanded as they captured the port at Cherbourg on 26 June and the city of Caen on 21 July. A failed counteraction by German forces on 8 August led to 50,000 soldiers of the German 7th Army and the Fifth Panzer Army being encircled by the Allies in the Falaise pocket. The Allies launched an invasion of southern France (Operation Dragoon) on 15 August, and the Liberation of Paris followed on 25 August. German forces retreated across the Seine on 30 August 1944, marking the close of Operation Overlord.”
One commenter on the YouTube video asked for further clarification and got quite a response after questioning: “The three main commanders under Eisenhower on D-Day, that is the commander of all naval forces, the commander of all air forces and the commander of all land forces were all British, please tell me why?”
Another commenter offered this explanation: “Because British commanders had the most relevant experience, Britain was supplying 79% of the warships 68% of the landing craft, over half of the land forces and half of the aircraft. Virtually all of the intelligence gathering, the dominant role in the organization of espionage activities, meteorological services, air sea rescue services, two artificial harbors, underwater fuel pipes, most of the medical services and the base for launching the operation, amongst other things.”