American combat engineer soldiers eating meals atop boxes
rare photos

Rare Color Photos of D-Day

The Invasion of Normandy, an event forever pictured in black and white, presented here in color.

It was part of Operation Overlord and codenamed Operation Neptune, but we know it as D-Day. On June 6, 1944, more than 156,000 Allied troops launched an intensive amphibious assault on five beaches in Northern France — the largest invasion by sea in history — which, ultimately, led to the liberation of Paris two months later and marked a turning point in the fight against Nazi Germany.

Most of the photographs of D-Day — the pictures showing the courage of the troops landing amid relentless enemy fire — are black and white. These grainy images are, of course, dramatic, but they remain vaguely unrelatable for viewers raised in a color — not to mention filterable — world. Which is just one reason why this rare handful of restored color pictures, taken during the extraordinary landings as well as in the exhilarating days before and after, matters more than ever.

Pictured above: American soldiers eat atop boxes of ammunition stockpiled for the impending D-Day invasion of France on May 1, 1944 in Stratford-on-Avon, England.

MARCHING ALONG Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images MARCHING ALONG U.S. troops on their way to board ships in Weymouth, Dorset bound for Omaha Beach for the D-Day landings. READY FOR THE WORST Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images READY FOR THE WORST A U.S. Army ambulance jeep enters a Landing Craft Transport in Southern England on June 1, before the ship departs for Normandy. It's estimated that 10,000 Allied soldiers were killed, wounded, or went missing during the assault, including 6,603 Americans, 2,700 British, and 946 Canadians.

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READY FOR ANYTHING PhotoQuest/Getty Images READY FOR ANYTHING American soldiers wait for the signal to begin the invasion on June 5, after loading equipment and supplies onto a Landing Ship Tank in Southern England. The invasions — which were originally planned for June 4 — was postponed due to bad weather. On the eve of June 5, after receiving the command, all of the 156,000 troops crossed the English Channel overnight. BOMBS AWAY Frank Scherschel/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images BOMBS AWAY An American soldier eats his dinner atop an ammunition stockpile. WAITING Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images WAITING A landing craft approaches Omaha Beach in Normandy. The assault phase, which began on June 6, when this picture was taken, didn't end until June 30th, an incredibly long time to be in battle. MOMENTS BEFORE LANDING Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images MOMENTS BEFORE LANDING Soldiers, outfitted in life vests and prepared for their watery landing, sit in a U.S. landing craft approaching the French coast. A QUIET MOMENT Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images A QUIET MOMENT Three American soldiers from the First Engineer Special Brigade look at photos from home on the beach of Omaha. TAKING BACK NORMANDY Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images TAKING BACK NORMANDY After the landings and the hard-fought victory, U.S. Army trucks and jeeps enter a town in Normandy. COLLATERAL DAMAGE Frank Scherschel/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images COLLATERAL DAMAGE Soldiers walk through the rubble-strewn garden of a ruined home in Normandy. MARCHING THROUGH RUINS Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images MARCHING THROUGH RUINS The intense fighting took its toll on the surrounding towns and villages. Here, U.S. Army trucks and jeeps roll through the ruins of Saint-Lô in July. A WELCOME FOR HEROES Frank Scherschel/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images A WELCOME FOR HEROES French civilians line the streets of their town to wave to arriving Allied forces in Normandy on August 1. THE END IN SIGHT Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images THE END IN SIGHT Two French children, sitting amid downed trees and homes, watch as an American Army jeep drives through what remains of Saint-Lô, France in August of 1944.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Operation Overlord as Operation Overload, and Stratford-on-Avon as Stradford-on-avon. This article has also been updated to clarify the relationship between Operation Overlord and Operation Neptune.

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