June 6, 1944: the landing

June 6, 1944: the landing

American move up in Normandy.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Château de Blérancourt) / Gérard Blot

Publication date: April 2013

Historical context

The Landing in pictures

Established in 1942 by American authorities, the U.S. For this propaganda purpose, “documentary” photography showing the various battles plays a crucial role: many soldiers are thus responsible for taking pictures which bear witness to Allied successes and disseminate them on a large scale.

Constituting militarily as symbolically one of the most important episodes of the Second World War, the Allied landings of June 6, 1944 and "the Battle of Normandy" which immediately follows are no exception to the rule and are the subject of several thousands of photographs. Thus, "American move up in Normandy", taken in June 1944 by an anonymous soldier and present on the spot, she reports to the funds of the U.S. Office of War Information.

Beyond its value of testimony concerning military operations, and like many other representations of the event, “American move up in Normandy” also aims to anchor the image of the irremediable advance of the American troops, bearer of liberation and herald of a new world.

Image Analysis

"Move up"

Presumably taken from the top of a dune, "American move up in Normandy" presents a rather vast panorama of the movements of American troops of D-Day. The shot is organized along two axes, which correspond to the topography of the place.

The first vertical axis represents (to the left of the image) two lines of soldiers. In Jeep, on a truck or on foot, they follow the sand paths along a dune below, which emerges on our right. The second, more horizontal, shows other soldiers, fewer in number, who climb this same relief on foot.

Witness the scene of recent fighting where enemies are now absent, a few wrecks of overturned vehicles in ditches, or the remains of a destroyed wooden building (center).

In the background are other hills, while an airship flies over the operations, passing over the dune (right) on which a motor vehicle and a group of men are already enthroned.


Operation Overlord

"American move up in Normandy" first tells us about the progress of Operation Overlord, launched on the beaches of Normandy by the Allies on June 6, 1944 at 6.30 am.

Episode and piece of this gigantic military maneuver, the photograph must date from the same day (or the next day), since the scene still takes place on the sand, near the dunes and among the vegetation, both characteristics of the region of the first fights .

If we can only guess at the relative importance of the troops and the resources involved here, "American move up in Normandy", on the other hand, clearly figures the advance of the troops. Victorious, they gradually took possession of the land, after having driven out the German occupiers (invisible here, already withdrawn). Almost symbolically climbing the first hills, the soldiers are already stationed at their summits, before resuming their march.

Organized and mobile, the troops thus took over land and air control of the area. The airship also seems to "reign" as a suzerain (overlord) on the stage, protecting the soldiers and already prospecting, on the horizon beyond this first dune, for new victories, new difficulties, new climbs (literally and figuratively), new reconquests.

  • Normandy landing
  • War of 39-45
  • Liberation (war)
  • propaganda
  • hurry
  • radio
  • cinema
  • beach


Jean-Pierre AZÉMA, New history of contemporary France, volume XIV “From Munich to the Liberation, 1938-1944”, Paris, Le Seuil, coll. “Points Histoire”, 1979, new. ed. 2002.

John MAN, Atlas of the landing and the Battle of Normandy, June 6-August 24, 1944, Paris, Éditions Autrement, 1994.

Olivier WIEVORKA, History of the Normandy landings. From the origins to the Liberation of Paris (1941-1944), Paris, Le Seuil, coll. “Points Histoire”, 2007.

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, "June 6, 1944: the landing"

Video: D-Day, Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944, Volume I