Thursday, June 03, 2004

The Sixtieth Anniversary of D-Day 

Visit Blackfive for more links about the 60th Anniversary of D-Day. 

"The brave ones were shooting the enemy. The crazy ones were shooting film" Norman Hatch, USMC WWII Combat Photographer

Ever since Englishman Roger Fenton slogged his mobile darkroom through the muddy fields of the Crimean War in 1855, the first war to be photographed, the images photographers capture in battle can help others to understand the true value of peace.

The combat photographer had to be crazy, and brave; at least as brave as the infantryman he caught on film. He followed the infantry wherever they went, taking pictures of what they did. He captured history on film, as it happened. He insured that future generations got a first hand look at war. Human memory has a tendency to fade, but an image captured on film remains the same for eternity. It seizes the grim reality of the event before our eyes without the need for embellishment.

Gathering the events of WWII on film did not have the point and click convenience of today. The cameras used in WWII were not as user friendly as today's cameras. They were totally manual. The photographer had to adjust the shutter speed and exposure for every shot, manually. The film had to be advanced after each photo, manually. He had to block out fear and the destruction going on around him in order to capture the moment on film. With the reflexes of the infantryman with his rifle, the cameraman also had to be ready at all times with his camera, for anything might happen. Missed opportunities were great. When shooting live action there was no time to experiment with taking the same shot at different settings. The war waited for no man. http://www.102ndinfantrydivision.homestead.com/combatphotography.html

U.S. COAST GUARD/ART GREEN. United States Coast Guard photographer Art Green was able to use bulky cameras equipment of the time to take compelling photographs of the war at sea.

Tec/5 Joseph Carr and his weapon of choice.

The images we see today taken during the D-Day landings, of soldiers in the water and on the beach, some alive, some not, remind us of the great sacrifice these men made. Imagine being there armed only with a camera.

The cliffs of Pointe du Hoc, rising 100 feet (30 metres) above the English Channel, as pictured from a photoreconnaissance airplane before D-Day
U.S. Air Force/National Archives

Gen Dwight D Eisenhower gives the order of the Day. "Full victory - nothing else" to paratroopers in England, just before they board their airplanes to participate in the first assault in the invasion of the continent of Europe.

American assault troops in a landing craft huddle behind the protective front of the craft as it nears a beachhead, on the Northern Coast of France. Smoke in the background is Naval gunfire supporting the land. 6 June 1944.

Assault landing. One of the first waves at Omaha. The Coast Guard caption identifies the unit as Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.

Members of an American landing party lend helping hands to other members of their organization whose landing craft was sunk be enemy action of the coast of France. These survivors reached Omaha Beach, by using a life raft. Photographer: Weintraub, 6 June 1944.

We salute the brave soldiers who participated in D-Day and to all who fought in World War II. To those who “gave the last full measure of devotion” we remember your sacrifice. And to the combat photographers of World War II we thank you for your life changing images you captured.


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