France, June 1944
The Atlantic Wall has been penetrated. There, after the first assault, the Allies clung precariously to a few beaches. But now they have a solid foothold on Fortress Europa. Men and materiel have poured on to the newly won beachheads with every favorable tide, and on some unfavorable ones. The Allied command has announced that the battle of the beaches is complete. The tremendous offensive was bitterly contested. The Nazis knew that each passing hour diminished their chances of throwing the Allies back in to the sea. But the American, British, and Canadian troops pressed forward firmly on to the soil of France. This was no pushover, driving the Germans back. Some of our troops dropped within yards of the water's edge. There were two enemies: the Germans, and the heavy seas. German prisoners were taken almost at once. With the beaches free of enemy fire, the Allies streamed heavy equipment ashore. Lumbering bulldozers set about clearing the way for vital air landing strips. The blast of Allied shells left shattered German defenses and many dead German defenders. Survivors were given prompt attention by medical-corps men. Some were grateful, many bewildered by the smashing Allied blow.
Massive Allied landings of air- and sea-borne forces on five Normandy beaches (codenamed Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword) began on June 6, 1944 (D-Day). The purpose of the invasion was to establish a bridgehead from which Allied forces could break out and liberate France. By the end of the operation's first day, some 150,000 troops were ashore in Normandy. This footage shows Allied forces landing on the Normandy beaches.
National Archives - Film