D-Day, June 6, 1944

An American Army chaplain kneels next to a wounded soldier in order to administer the Eucharist and Last Rites, France, 1944.

The photograph above was taken by Frank Scherschel for Life Magazine, after D-Day. From today’s issue commemorating the landing, the editors at Life share the following,

It’s no mystery why images of unremitting violence spring to mind when one hears the deceptively simple term, “D-Day.” We’ve all seen — in photos, movies, old news reels — what happened on the beaches of Normandy (codenamed Omaha, Utah, Juno, Gold and Sword) as the Allies unleashed an historic assault against German defenses on June 6, 1944.

But in rare color photos taken before and after the invasion, LIFE magazine’s Frank Scherschel captured countless other, lesser-known scenes from the run-up to the onslaught and the heady weeks after: American troops training in small English towns; the French countryside, implausibly lush after the spectral landscape of the beachheads; the reception GIs enjoyed en route to the capital; the jubilant liberation of Paris itself.

As presented here, in masterfully restored color, Scherschel’s pictures — most of which were never published in LIFE — feel at-once profoundly familiar and somehow utterly, vividly new.

And there are 25 more photographs that you will want to see in their piece. For when you see how beautiful the countryside is, it makes the horror of war more vivid. You can see why a poem like this can be so haunting…

Never forget. Read more about the poem “In Flanders Fields.”

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