This photograph was taken three days after the Normandy beachhead was established, on June 9th, 1944, and shows the colossal scale of the operation to transport men and material for the liberation of Europe. The largest single-day amphibious invasion of all time, with 160,000 troops, 195,700 naval and merchant navy personnel and 5,000 ships being transplanted from the other side of the English Channel. Large concrete blocks, nicknamed Mulberry harbors, were sailed across the channel and used as portable docks. The landings took place along a 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast between Caen and Valognes, divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.
The picture tells a different story about the last phase of the Second World War. It conveys not the heroism of individual–as Capa was busy reporting in Omaha–but the efficacy of the vast military machine that backed them up. It is the picture of the collective effort that won the war. “The history of war does not show any such undertaking so broad in concept, so grandiose in scale, so masterly in execution,” Stalin congratulated Churchill.