The Invasion of Normandy: Wreckage
The flotsam and jetsam of battle lay strewed about the battlefield. During the Normandy landings, German beach obstacles and defenses destroyed numerous Allied landing craft and vehicles in the approaches or on the beaches themselves. These twisted hulks were prominent reminders of the price paid for the successful invasion.
It once held life. It was the staunch craft in which men were trained in landings on many practice beaches. It finally met its fate with its crew on a Normandy beach on D-Day.
This is typical of some of the gutted wrecks along this most tragic of beaches. It had mobile anti-aircraft vehicles aboard and had been so completely ravaged by flame after being hit that its agonies had left it with a look somehow permanent and fixed in rigidity, as though suffering rigor mortis, in a way like a human corpse. A smashed LCIL is in the surf beyond the pontoon barge and an LCVP, or the remains of it, is in left foreground.
Study for #228a.
This was an American "Sherman" tank, fitted out for amphibious operations.
Wrecked landing craft, hit by the fire of German guns as they came ashore, litter the British invasion beaches. Such wreckage was scattered the length and breadth of the American, British and Canadian beaches at Normandy, and is the signature of a beach over which an amphibious landing encountered fierce resistance.
Pillboxes were smaller machine-gun positions protected by hardened fortifications of steel-reinforced concrete. These pillboxes and larger artillery bunkers were positioned to command wide swaths of beach in zones of interlocking fire.
Once conquered, German concrete bunkers and pillboxes were used to protect Allied troops from German artillery fire and air raids.
This burnt-out General Sherman tank was evidently hit by a German "88" [a high-velocity 88mm anti-aircraft artillery gun which was also used as an effective anti-tank weapon] and set afire. It was then partly covered with sand, probably by our bulldozers clearing an exit from the beach. A little further back from the water, a tank ditch extended for a considerable length. Part of the tanks amphibious air-intake duct, which allowed the tank to be driven through shallow water from ship to shore, was broken off . To the right, a group of African-American troops, amphibious "duck" [DUKW a type of wheeled land and water vehicle] drivers, gathered around a fire.
This is one of the many pillboxes scattered through the hills facing the beaches. The field in the foreground is spiked with posts to prevent glider landings. Such pillboxes were put to good use by Allied troops as hardened shelters for first aid dressing stations and communications set-ups.
Farm fields held many of these man-made terrain features - structures of cement, stone and steel that belched death and destruction against advancing troops. Some fitted snugly into contours of a hill slope in order better to escape air detection. Others stood boldly in fields, seemingly defiant, with only a casual horizontal cover of foliage. Some were taken while in process of construction. All had one purpose and one common design, which was to hurl out a message of death.