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Photographs from D-Day and the Normandy campaign in vivid colour 1

a colour photo of two soldiers against a blue sky holding winding gear

April 1944 Two men of a Royal Air Force Combined Operations balloon crew with the winch and tackle used for hauling in small barrage balloons of the type used in the Normandy Landings. Royal Air Force official photographer. © IWM (TR 1780)

These photographs from the collection of Imperial War Museums show the build up and aftermath of the Normandy landings of June 1944 in vivid color

Most of the British images we know from the Normandy campaign of June 1944 were taken on black and white film stock, which allows us to only see the past in black and white.

But in the photographic archive of the Imperial War Museum are these treasures of early colour war and combat photography taken in the run up to and during the Normandy campaign.

For the most part they were not taken by press men but rather by members of the War Office and RAF and Army Film and Photographic Units.

a photo of soldiers hauling in a balloon

April 1944, Royal Air Force Combined Operations balloon crew hauling in a small barrage balloon of the type used during the D-Day landings. Royal Air Force official photographer. © IWM (TR 1781)

a photo of people packing parachutes in a warehouse type building

May 1944 Royal Air Force parachute packers on an RAF glider station folding coloured parachutes for use by airborne troops during the Normandy invasion. Royal Air Force official photographer. © IWM (TR 1782)

a photo of seated soldiers inside a fuselage

April 22 1944, British paratroopers sitting in the fuselage of an aircraft while awaiting their order to jump. © IWM (TR 1662)

This was a time when colour film was still a novelty and the first batches, which were supplied by Kodak, were hard to find. But the few vivid colour photos that were taken by British photographers throughout WWII offer a stunning visual insight into the lives of the people who experienced the war.

One of the most prolific colour photographers during the Normandy campaign was Edward G. Malindine (1906 – 1970) who before the war had worked as a staff photographer for the Daily Herald newspaper. After the outbreak he became an official photographer for the war office.

Commissioned as a Captain, Malindine went on to serve with No 5 Section, Army Film and Photographic Unit and was present in Normandy where, as Officer Commanding, Stills, he was tasked with covering the landings and operations in North West Europe.

a colur photo of generals seated together at a table

Meeting of the Supreme Command Allied Expeditionary Force London February 1 1944. War Office official photographer © IWM (TR 1630).

a photo of two soldiers measuring at a plotting table

July 1944. Left to right: T L Plewman of Dublin and Bdr O Seman of London, of 53 Heavy Regiment, Royal Artillery at the plotting table in their dugout. Photo Malindine E G (Capt), No 5 Army Film and Photographic Unit © IWM (TR 2059)

a photo of a camouflaged gun firing at night

July 1944. A camouflaged 155mm gun of 53 Heavy Regiment, Royal Artillery firing during the barrage. The 155mm was an American gun often manned by British troops on the Normandy front. Malindine E G (Capt) No 5 Army Film and Photographic Unit. © IWM (TR 2057)

a night time photograph capturing the moment British soldiers load a large artillery piece

July 1944, a gun crew of 53 Heavy Regiment, Royal Artillery loading a 155mm gun under camouflage netting. The 155mm gun was an American gun, often manned by British troops on the Normandy front. Malindine E G (Capt) No 5 Army Film and Photographic Unit. © IWM (TR 2052)

Captain Malindine photographed numerous key events of the war, including D-Day, the liberation of Paris, the campaigns in Belgium and Holland and was present inside Field Marshall Montgomery’s tent on Lüneburg Heath for the German surrender. He was also present at the Potsdam conference.

But his photographs of the liberation of Belsen concentration camp, perhaps mercifully taken in black and white, are some of the most hauntingly recognisable images to come out of the conflict. It is said Malandine played a key role in ensuring these photographs were published uncensored.

No.5 AFPU was originally formed during 1943 under the command of Major Hugh Stewart with an initial intake comprised of 36 regular soldiers from a variety of units. Training took place at Pinewood Film Studios in Buckinghamshire. Pinewood was busy during the war, also functioning as a base for the RAF Film Unit and the Crown Film Unit who produced the propaganda films for the Ministry of Information.

The training comprised of lectures on all aspects of both stills and cine camera work, together with one hour of drill each day. A programme of toughening up as guests of the Scots Guards at Chelsea Barracks finished off the training regime.

a photo of three men in various unifrom guises in a filed next to various canvas draped army vehicles

Winston Churchill flanked by the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke and General Sir Bernard Montgomery, commanding 21st Army Group, at Monty’s mobile headquarters in Normandy, 12 June 1944.Malindine E G (Capt) No 5 Army Film and Photographic Unit © IWM (TR 1838)

a photo of Winston Churchill in his Navy style uniform addressing a large group of laughing soldiers in battledress

The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, with men of 50th (Northumbrian) Division who took part in the D-Day landings. Behind the Prime Minister is General Sir Bernard Montgomery, Normandy, 22 July 1944. Copyright: © IWM (TR 2044)

a photo of a crowd of soldiers in tin hats around the car of Winston Churchill who stands up to address them

The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, standing in a staff car and talking to British and Canadian troops at the ‘Winston’ bridge over the River Orne, 22 July 1944. With the Prime Minister is the commander of British Second Army, Lieutenant General Sir Miles Dempsey. Malindine E G (Capt), No 5 Army Film and Photographic Unit. © IWM (TR 2049)

a colour photo of the wreckage of a plane in a filed with two farm workers

The wreckage of a Ju-88 purported to have been shot down by the Canadian Spitfires of Johnny Johnson’s Wing lies not far from airstrip B-7 at Matragny, Normandy. The two French farmers are plaiting straw to bind clover bundles. © IWM (TR 2107)

Malindine’s experiments with the fledgling colour photography in Normandy allowed him to vividly capture the visits of Winston Churchill to Normandy on June 12 and later in July, but also scenes away from the business of war – like the Bastille Day ceremony at Courseulles War Memorial.

He also made a tender series of photos of Abbe Saint Jean baptising newly born babies in the thirteenth century chapel of Benouville Maternity Home. At the time of the ceremony the home was in the front line and the chapel windows were rattling as a result of the nearby artillery duel between German and Allied forces.

Interestingly Captain Malindine’s brother, William, also served with him in the AFPU in Normandy and Northwest Europe. Also a professional press photographer with the Daily Express, L/Sgt Malindine served as a darkroom developer and processor with No 1 AFPU in North Africa before taking a role as one of the senior NCOs running the AFPU mobile darkrooms in Normandy.

a photo of children and adults standing together at a ceremony

July 14 1944. The ceremony at the Courseulles War Memorial to celebrate Bastille Day. Malindine E G (Capt), No 5 Army Film and Photographic Unit. © IWM (TR 2001)

a colour photo of two young children laying wreaths

Two children, a brother and sister, laying flowers on the War Memorial during the ceremony to celebrate Bastille Day. Courseulles was the first town to be liberated by the Allies. Copyright: Photo Malindine E G (Capt), No 5 Army Film and Photographic Unit. © IWM (TR 2004)

a colour photo of a child being baptised

The Cure of Blainville (Calvados), Abbe Saint Jean baptising a newly born baby in the thirteenth century chapel of Benouville Maternity Home. The baby is held by another mother because its own was still unable to leave her bed. Photo Malindine E G (Capt), No 5 Army Film and Photographic Unit. © IWM (TR 2154)

The Malindines are the only brothers known to have served together in the Army Film and Photographic Unit during the Second World War.

One of the most experienced photographers to serve with the AFPU, Captain Malindine returned to his job at the Herald after the war.

a photo of a man in light khaki and beret in a field surrounded by seated soldiers

General Sir Bernard Montgomery addressing the men of 50th Division before decorating them for gallantry during the Normandy landings. Malindine E G (Capt). No 5 Army Film and Photographic Unit. © IWM (TR 2012)

a photo of General Montgomery pinning a decoration on a soldier's chest

17 July 1944 (TR 2011) Lance Corporal R W Bennett, from Leicester, of the Royal Signals receives a Bar to the Military Medal, which he was awarded at Tripoli, for gallantry during the Normandy landings. © IWM (TR 2011)

a photo of a nurse with red cape and white nurse's hat

Nursing: Half length portrait of a nursing sister of Queen Alexandra?s Imperial Military Nursing Service outside a field hospital in France. Malindine E G (Capt), No 5 Army Film and Photographic Unit. © IWM. (TR 2162)

See more incredible colour photos from the Second World War on the IWM blog and explore the Imperial War Museums’ collections online at www.iwm.org.uk/collections/

One comment on “Photographs from D-Day and the Normandy campaign in vivid colour

  1. Richard Pursehouse on

    Medals are not ‘won’ they are awarded or received.

    At least the photos don’t claim we were fighting the Nazis, rather than Germans, like the BC and current newspapers keep stating.

    Reply

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