vintage, nostalgia and memories


March 8, 2017

Soldier taking cover at Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6th 1944

Robert Capa had made a name for himself as a war photographer that had covered the Spanish civil war and the Second Sino-Japanese War. To escape the Nazi’s he moved to New York where he became a photographer for the Allies.


On D-Day June 6, 1944 the Allies started their much anticipated invasion of mainland Europe. Hitting the beaches with American troops Capa, while dodging intense German fire, was able to take 106 pictures before returning to London to develop his photos. Unfortunately an incident in the London photo development labs caused all but 11 of his 106 pictures to be destroyed. This shot of a soldier in the water is considered the best and shows the true nature of the Normandy invasion. Steven Spielberg was so inspired by this shot that for the Saving Private Ryan movie he tried to duplicate the conditions shown in the photo.

The soldier in this case was Private First Class Huston Riley, who after the Nazis shelled his landing craft jumped into water so deep that he had to walk along the bottom until he could hold his breath no more. When he activated his Navy M-26 belt life preservers and floated to the surface, Riley became a target for the guns and artillery shells mowing down his comrades. Struck several times, the 22-year-old soldier took about half an hour to reach the Normandy shore. Capa took this photo of him in the surf and then with the assistance of a sergeant helped Riley, who later recalled thinking, “What the hell is this guy doing here? I can’t believe it. Here’s a cameraman on the shore.”




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