By Tom Dare
REMARKABLE FOOTAGE of the D-Day landings which was recorded under the orders of Churchill to be shown to wartime US President Roosevelt and Soviet leader Stalin has come to light this week.
The incredible video shows frontline troops as they arrived at the beaches in Normandy by boat, capturing first-hand footage of the allied assault on the German positions in France.
Other clips show the allied bombing raid in action, with bombs being dropped on railway lines and roads that linked the coastal resort to the mainland. In other footage, allied soldiers can be seen falling on the beaches, while toward the end of the clip German soldiers are rounded up by troops after they successfully took the beach.
The video, which was produced and shown to British leader Winston Churchill just days after the invasion, also had copies flown to President Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin. It had originally been lost in the chaotic aftermath of the invasion, until researchers at the Eisenhower library discovered it in 2014 and helped to restore it to its original state.
The D-Day invasion of mainland France by a combination of allied forces was the largest naval, land and air operation in military history. It saw some 18,000 paratroopers, 14,000 sorties and 7,000 naval vessels carrying approximately 132,000 ground troops transported from Britain to France between June 6 to June 10. By the end of June, approximately 875,000 men had disembarked. Allied forces consisted primarily of American, British and Canadian troops but also included Australian, Belgian, Czech, Dutch, French, Greek, New Zealand, Norwegian, Rhodesian and Polish naval, air or ground support.
The beach landings were spread across six beaches; Omaha, Juno, Utah, Gold, Sword and Pointe Du Hoc. Omaha proved to be the most heavily defended beach, but superior air power coupled with a successful allied counterintelligence strategy saw that the Germans were very ill-prepared for an invasion at Normandy.
The allies suffered heavy losses in their capture of Normandy from the Germans. It is estimated that there were approximately 10,000 casualties on June 6 1944, though several estimates put this figure much higher. At least 2,500 allied soldiers are thought to have died on the beaches that day, though the figure could be as high as 4,200.
However, the successful operation opened up the all-important ‘second front’ in Europe, meaning the Nazis had to fend off both the Soviets and the allied forces. Many see D-Day as the beginning of the end for Hitler and Germany, with the war in Europe being over less than a year later – May 8 1945 was officially Victory in Europe Day.