Covering the D-Day


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It was not the biggest seaborne invasion in history. Nor was it the biggest maritime invasion of World War II. (That honor goes to the 1943 invasion of Sicily). However, it was the Last Hurrah of the conventional warfare, or as Time Magazine called it, the last Great Crusade. In the future, with the invention of the atomic weapons, no single invasion fleet or military force would be so concentrated.

The most famous images of that momentous day were made by Robert Capa. When a LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) from the U.S. Coast Guard-manned USS Samuel Chase disembarked troops of the 16th Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division on the morning of June 6, 1944 (D-Day) at Omaha Beach, Capa, in the employ of LIFE magazine, was among them. He took four rolls of photos that day, but all but eleven of Capa’s negatives were spoiled by an overly eager darkroom worker in the London office of Time Inc. who turned up the heat in the drying cabinet too high in his rush to meet the deadline for the next issue of Life magazine.

When LIFE published the photographs, a caption disingenously explained that the ‘immense excitement of moment made photographer Capa move his camera and blur picture’. Thus it was with this irony that man must bear the movie Saving Private Ryan, where the director Steven Spielberg went to great lengths to reproduce the look of Capa blur in his D-Day landing sequence, even stripping the coating from his camera lenses to echo Capa’s notorious shots.


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