June 6, 2011 --
Sixty-seven years ago today, 160,000 Allied troops constituted principally of American soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, in an effort to dislodge the Nazi occupation that had gripped France and ultimately accelerate the conclusion of World War II. This 50-mile stretch of French coastline would set the stage for what was one of the most consequential days of the entire Allied offensive on Germany: D-Day. On the anniversary of this historic occasion, take a look at some rare color photos of the events leading up to D-Day and its immediate aftermath. In this photo, American troops march in an English park prior to the D-Day assault. Allied troops mustered in the United Kingdom and crossed the English Channel on June 6 to launch Operation Neptune, the largest amphibious invasion in world history, which was part of Operation Overlord, the name of the campaign to dislodge Germany from Western Europe.
Although the Allies had stormed the beaches with overwhelming force, that doesn't mean they weren't met with a fierce resistance. An abandoned German machine gun appears in this photo.
The first wave of American troops landed at dawn on June 6. The weather had been poor for the past few days, which worked to the Allies' advantage. Believing that the weather conditions reduced the chances of an imminent invasion, some German officers had even taken leave the weekend prior. With German forces at reduced strength, the Allies attacked, gaining a foothold along the French coast. The ruins of the Palais de Justice in St. Lo, a town further inland in France, appears here. The remains of a red fire engine rest in the foreground.
As Allied forces pushed their way further into occupied territory, they captured Nazi soldiers at a rate of 30,000 per month. A contingent of Nazi P.O.W.'s appears in this photo.
After the Allies overwhelmed German forces along the coastline, northern France was turned into a combat zone. A maintenance worker services an American P-47 Thunderbolt in a makeshift airfield in the French countryside.
Allied victory was met with support and gratitude from the occupied French civilians. In August 1944, Paris was liberated. Celebrations ensue in this photo.
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