Normandy Invasion - DIGGING IN; FIGHTING ON

D-Day - Hammered by Surf along the Normandy Shore World War II

As Allied troops reached the Normandy shore, their landing efforts were hampered by heavy-surf conditions. The U.S. Army Center for Military History describes this picture: “Three Rhino barges and a petrol barge are being hammered by surf somewhere along the coast of France. Photographer: Bacon. SC 193920.” Click on the image for a better view.


With the English Channel behind them, Allied troops stormed the beaches and dug in for the fight. In addition to military photographs (and a movie like Saving Private Ryan), poignant paintings and drawings by on-the-scene artists (like Alexander P. Russo and Mitchell Jamieson) help us to at least superficially contemplate what these soldiers went through.

  • Germans shot at invading Allied troops from inside their pillboxes: smaller machine-gun positions protected by steel-reinforced concrete.  (Mitchell Jamieson)
  • Pillboxes and artillery bunkers were scattered through the hills, facing the beaches and giving the Germans a commanding view with interlocking firing power. They were often protected with obstacles. (Alexander P. Russo)
  • Other man-made structures (built of cement, stone and steel) dotted French farm fields. Some were covered with foliage; others were built into the contours of sloping hills. Inside were protected Germans who took aim at advancing Allied troops. (Russo)
  • Allied soldiers in beach fox holes tried to get whatever sleep they could. Some died from friendly anti-aircraft fire. (Russo)
  • Thousands of men sought protection (drawing by Russo) in the first rise in terrain off Omaha Beach. Some men never made it that far. Exhaustion was a constant companion.
  • Some of the men storming the beaches died within the first few minutes of the assault. Others, who were wounded, were brought to transport ships for treatment.
  • The same LSTs which brought the troops to Normandy returned many of the wounded to England. (Mitchell Jamieson. June, 1944.)

Invading forces were not the only ones who suffered casualties during D-Day and its aftermath. Nearby French towns and villages, like Caen and Verville-Sur-Mer, were also damaged.

By June 10th, life in Verville-Sur-Mer (whose road led to Omaha Beach) was getting back on track. Barrage balloons, visible from the village,  were intended to prevent low-flying German aircraft from strafing the beaches.

Exhausted Allied troops took brief periods of rest in the quaint, heavily damaged Norman town. They still had a long road ahead of them ... to Paris and a battle to liberate the capital of France.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: May 01, 2004

Updated Last Revision: May 06, 2019

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"DIGGING IN; FIGHTING ON" AwesomeStories.com. May 01, 2004. Jan 26, 2021.
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