Rare World War II footage is hard to come by these days. While the recent success of the movie Dunkirk has been reigniting people’s interest in the greatest battle the world has ever seen, Hollywood’s rendition could never be as incredible as the real thing. Recently, four reels were discovered by researchers at the Eisenhower Library. The films contained the first ever documentary of the D-Day landings.
This film was quickly produced and initially intended as just a report. The film was screened for military leadership including having been viewed by Winston Churchill. There were even copies sent to President Roosevelt and Russian leader Joe Stalin.
It should come as no surprise that the film was not made public or even consumed on a larger scale within the military considering all that was happening after the D-Day invasion. As such, the film was forgotten, cataloged as separate, non-sequential reels rather than a single production, and filed away into the military’s records.
This lost film was finally discovered and digitized by the US National Archives after having been lost and forgotten for decades. More about the film and it’s discovery can be read on the US National Archive’s blog.
On D-Day, the Allies landed around 156,000 troops in Normandy. The American forces landed numbered 73,000: 23,250 on Utah Beach, 34,250 on Omaha Beach, and 15,500 airborne troops. In the British and Canadian sector, 83,115 troops were landed (61,715 of them British): 24,970 on Gold Beach, 21,400 on Juno Beach, 28,845 on Sword Beach, and 7900 airborne troops.
Over 425,000 Allied and German troops were killed, wounded or went missing during the Battle of Normandy. This figure includes over 209,000 Allied casualties, with nearly 37,000 dead among the ground forces and a further 16,714 deaths among the Allied air forces.
After watching this film, it’s impossible not to feel a swell of pride for the history of our efforts in the second world war. For more intense photos from the D-day invasion, check out this link.
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