German soldiers are captured following the assault on the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc by U.S. Army Rangers during the D-Day invasion June 8, 1944 in Cricqueville en Bessin, France. American Assault troops of the 3rd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment - the first regiment ot have gained the comparative safety of the chalk cliffs at their back. Mediadrumimages / Royston Leonard

By Mark McConville


THE HEROES of D-Day have been brought back to life in a touching tribute after images of their heroics were expertly colourised.

The incredible images show US Army medics giving a blood transfusion on a Normandy beach, troops and landing craft occupying the beach after the D-Day landing and US soldiers wading through surf towards the beachhead several days after the invasions to replace troops that have moved inland.

Mediadrumimages / Royston Leonard

Other stunning shots show Royal Marine Commandos moving inland from Sword Beach and American troops packed into a landing craft on its way to a beachhead at the northern coast of France during the Allied invasion.

The original black and white photographs were painstakingly colourised by electrician Royston Leonard (55), from Cardiff, Wales, with each snap taking between four and five hours to complete.

“As time goes by I find I am doing more World War Two pictures and giving them a bit of colour helps the younger generation to connect and not just see them as something that happened long ago,” he said.

Mediadrumimages / Royston Leonard

“In the images I see a world that has gone mad and men and women pulled from their lives to sort out the mess.

“World War Two shows people at their best and at their worst. We must look and learn and not let it happen again.”

The Normandy landings were the landing operations on Tuesday, June 6, 1944 of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. Codenamed Operation Neptune and often referred to as D-Day, it was the largest seaborne invasion in history.

The operation began the liberation of German-occupied northwestern Europe from Nazi control, and laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front.

Sword beach. Mediadrumimages / Royston Leonard

The amphibious landings were preceded by extensive aerial and naval bombardment and an airborne assault—the landing of 24,000 American, British and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight.

Allied infantry and armoured divisions began landing on the coast of France at 6.30am. The target 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast was divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. Strong winds blew the landing craft east of their intended positions, particularly at Utah and Omaha.

The men landed under heavy fire from gun emplacements overlooking the beaches, and the shore was mined and covered with obstacles such as wooden stakes, metal tripods, and barbed wire, making the work of the beach-clearing teams difficult and dangerous.

Mediadrumimages / Royston Leonard

Casualties were heaviest at Omaha, with its high cliffs. At Gold, Juno, and Sword, several fortified towns were cleared in house-to-house fighting, and two major gun emplacements at Gold were disabled, using specialised tanks.

The Allies failed to achieve any of their goals on the first day. Carentan, St. Lô, and Bayeux remained in German hands, and Caen, a major objective, was not captured until July, 21.

Only two of the beaches (Juno and Gold) were linked on the first day, and all five beachheads were not connected until June, 12, however, the operation gained a foothold which the Allies gradually expanded over the coming months.

German casualties on D-Day have been estimated at 4,000 to 9,000 men. Allied casualties were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead.