On June 6, 1944 the largest seaborne invasion in history took place on the coast of Normandy, France. The ‘Normandy landings‘ (codenamed Operation Neptune) would come to be known as D-Day, and the operation began the liberation of German-occupied northwestern Europe from Nazi control, contributing to the Allied victory on the Western Front during World War II. [source]
The amphibious landings were preceded by extensive aerial and naval bombardment and an airborne assault—the landing of 24,000 American, British, and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight. Allied infantry and armoured divisions began landing on the coast of France at 06:30. The target 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast was divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword Beach. [source]
In the chilling photo above we see landing ships putting cargo ashore on Omaha Beach during the first day of the operation. Among identifiable ships present are USS LST‑532 (in the center of the view); USS LST‑262 (third LST from right); USS LST‑310 (second LST from right); USS LST‑533 (partially visible at far right); and USS LST‑524. [source]
In the photo above taken in 2014, we see the same stretch of Normandy coast 70 years later. The contrast is incredible and is one in a series of 21 interactive ‘then and now’ D-Day photos published by The Atlantic’s In Focus.
According to Atlantic editor Alan Taylor, “Getty photographer Peter Macdiarmid and Reuters photographer Chris Helgren gathered archive pictures from the 1944 invasion, tracked down the locations, and photographed them as they appear today.”