D-Day – 15 Stunning Photos & Footage of Allied Airborne Forces

6th June 1944, Operation Overlord, D-Day and Airborne Landings

Today is the 72nd anniversary of D-Day. On this day, more than half a century ago, Operation Overlord began, marking the beginning of Europe’s liberation from Nazi control.

A year of planning and preparations finally came to a head.

Over 13,000 Paratroopers, almost 4,000 glider troops and 6,000 USAAF crew made their way to France on 6th June. Soon after midnight the first paratroopers were dropped and gliders landed all over Normandy.

Here are 15 amazing pictures from that fateful day.

A Day Earlier

Dwight Eisenhower meets with 1st Lieutenant Wallace C. Strobel and men of Company E, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment prior to their night jump into Normandy (Image)
Dwight Eisenhower meets with 1st Lieutenant Wallace C. Strobel and men of Company E, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment prior to their night jump into Normandy (Image)
Preinvasion bombing of Pointe du Hoe (Image).
Preinvasion bombing of Pointe du Hoc (Image).
Private Ware applies last second war paint to Private Plaudo in England, June 1944 (Image)
Private Ware applies last second war paint to Private Plaudo in England, June 1944 (Image)
Fully Equipped paratrooper armed with a Thompson submachine gun M1, climbing into a transport plane to go to France as the invasion of Normandy gets under way. At approximately 0200, 6 June 1944, men of two U. S. airborne divisions, as well as elements of a British airborne division, were dropped in vital areas to the rear of German coastal defenses guarding the Normandy beaches from Cherbourg to Caen. By dawn 1,136 heavy bombers of the RAF Bomber Command had dropped 5,853 tons of bombs on selected coastal batteries lining the Bay of the Seine between Cherbourg and Le Havre. Image and caption credit: Center of Military History. U.S. Army (Image)
Fully Equipped paratrooper armed with a Thompson submachine gun M1, climbing into a transport plane to go to France as the invasion of Normandy gets under way. (Image. Credit: Center of Military History. U.S. Army)

A few minutes after midnight, over Normandy

Parachute troops line the inside of a Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle.
Parachute troops line the inside of a Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle.
Airborne troops prepare for the descent on Europe of D-Day invasion June 6, 1944. View from interior of a glider (Image).
Airborne troops prepare for the descent on Europe of D-Day invasion June 6, 1944. View from interior of a glider (Image).
C-47 Skytrain transport aircraft in route to Normandy. After delivery of paratroopers, the planes returned to tow glider serials. The air eventually became congested with 2-way air traffic. Photo is a still frame from the movie Normandy: The Airborne Invasion of Fortress Europe, by the U.S. Army Air Forces (Image)
C-47 Skytrain transport aircraft in route to Normandy. After delivery of paratroopers, the planes returned to tow glider serials (Image).
A Halifax towing a Hamilcar glider on the 6th June. Copyright: Museum of Army Flying.
A Halifax towing a Hamilcar glider on the 6th June. Credit: Museum of Army Flying.
C-47s of the 9th Air Force Troop Carrier Command tow reinforcements in CG-4 gliders across the Normandy beaches on June 6, 1944 (Image).
C-47s of the 9th Air Force Troop Carrier Command tow reinforcements in CG-4 gliders across the Normandy beaches on June 6, 1944 (Image. Credit: National Archives and Record Administration).

Finally at their target – Airborne Landings!

Airborne paratroopers jump from a C-47 in a training exercise. A year of intense training could not fully prepare these soldiers for what they would see in Normandy. (Courtesy of U.S. National Archives)
Airborne paratroopers jump from a C-47 in a training exercise. A year of intense training could not fully prepare these soldiers for what they would see in Normandy (Courtesy of U.S. National Archives).
Gliders are delivered to the Cotentin Peninsula by Douglas C-47 Skytrains. 6 June 1944 (Image).
Gliders are delivered to the Cotentin Peninsula by Douglas C-47 Skytrains. 6 June 1944 (Image).
Airspeed Horsa gliders on Landing Zone 'N', 7 June 1944 (Image).
Airspeed Horsa gliders on Landing Zone ‘N’, 7 June 1944 (Image).
82nd Airborne Troops by church in Sainte-Mère-Église Normandy. The same church where John Steele was caught on the spire (Image).
82nd Airborne Troops by the church in Sainte-Mère-Église Normandy. The same church where John Steele was caught on the spire (Image).
American paratrooper, among the first to make successful landings on the continent, holds a Nazi flag captured in a village assault. Utah Beach, St. Marcouf, France. 8 June 1944 (Image).
American paratrooper, among the first to make successful landings on the continent, holds a Nazi flag captured in a village assault. Utah Beach, St. Marcouf, France. 8 June 1944 (Image).
Situation map for 24:00, 6 June 1944 (Image).
Situation map for 24:00, 6 June 1944 (Image).

 

To compliment the photographs above, here is real footage from the day itself.