Past & Present: D-Day At Home
Although not exactly an original idea, we thought it would be an interesting exercise to lay some wartime archive photos side-by-side with modern day shots. Simply drag the slider to the left or right to compare the images. We've tried to capture the current photos from as close to the original location as possible, although this isn't always achievable without standing in someone's garden or hanging off an eroded cliff. These images are from around Normandy, but you can also see our Then & Now: Normandy gallery with scenes following the Allied invasion in France and the Battle of Normandy.
In 1939 Brixham was a small coastal fishing port with a population of around 8,000. Like many similar places along the south coast of England, Brixham saw construction of ramps and piers in the build up to D-Day from which landing vessels could embark their cargo.
Brixham hosted a large refugee population during the war, mainly refugees from occupied Belgium. The Americans also arrived in great numbers from 1943 onwards as the South West had been chosen as the practice ground for the US Forces to prepare for the invasion of France. The 4th Infantry Division departed from Brixham destined for Utah Beach on D-Day.
The area around Portland in Dorset was a marshalling area for American troops. Elements of the 1st Infantry Division and 29th Infantry Division boarded ships here destined for Omaha Beach on D-Day. Over 400,000 men and almost 150,000 vehicles would embark at Castletown between 5th June 1944 and 7th May 1945.
Today, just along from the hard pictured here, there is an excellent small museum called the Castletown D-Day Centre. Read our review of the Castletown D-Day Centre. Please note, despite the similarity in names, this website is not affiliated with the museum.
Known as "Area C" Southampton and the surrounding area was on the front line in preparations for the Normandy Landings. It also played an important role in the aftermath of the invasion as reinforcements, supplies and equipment were transported to continent to further the Allied advances - not to mention returning casualties and German POWs.
More than a quarter of a million vehicles were shipped from Southampton and over three and a half million men between D-Day and the end of the war.
The 2nd Battalion U.S. Army Rangers, the unit tasked with capturing the German coastal defence battery at Pointe-du-Hoc between Omaha and Utah beaches, can be seen marching along the Esplanade towards their landing craft on 5th June 1944. Commanded by Lt. Colonel James E. Rudder, the Rangers would suffer heavy casualties as the scaled a near vertical cliff to take the battery. When they finally overran the defenders, the casemates were found to be empty.
Weymouth and Portland were the main ports of embarkation for the troops destined for Omaha Beach, and the county of Dorset was a temporary home for thousands of American GI's, including the 1st Infantry Division (known as the Big Red One). The first American troops arrived in Weymouth in 1942.