Cine coverage of D-Day landing in WW2 – the saga continues

D-Day Landing at Berniere sur Mer, France

Toronto.  The story of the cine coverage of the D-Day Landings in France has taken a final twist.  Editor of Photographic Canadiana, Robert Lansdale, has confirmed that video images are from three boats and by automatic cameras mounted on the LCA landing craft. Little is ever mentioned that film clips, seen in newsreels and videos, are by the Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit and the men seen disembarking are Canadians soldiers.

It been long believed that the film was by one photographer, Sgt. Bill Grant, who came ashore with the Queen’s Own Rifles. Other cameramen had their cameras drowned or made inoperable with sand.  American coverage was destroyed when the boat carrying it to England was swamped.

John Eckersley of Vancouver, a military history buff, has long contended that films show three boats – not one.

Dan Conlin in his book “War Through the Lens: The Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit” now mentions that 15 automatic cine cameras were borrowed from the American  Army and mounted as “stick-on cameras” to the gunnels of the landing craft.

Lansdale’s analyses of single frames plucked from the videos confirms that the coverage was from three distinct boats and all three cameras were mounted on the side gunnel.
Army film editors would grab the sharpest or steadiest images. So we can’t say that coverage was not retrieved from photographers on board. Their hand-held films would have the “jitters”. 16mm release prints were rushed to New York as newsreels. Only these survive today as all original negatives were destroyed in a fire later in Montreal.

If you would care to read the whole story as it appears in Photographic Canadiana 43-2 , click here.

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