Hollywood film director George Stevens was an unlikely passenger of the warship HMS Belfast when she fired the shot that launched the D-Day landings. And we should be thankful that he was allowed onboard, because only Mr. Stevens shot the only known Allied color footage of World War Two and that has just been uncovered in the attic of the late Hollywood director by his son.
Mr. Stevens continued to film the war beyond D-Day and the beaches of Normandy, through the liberation of Paris and France, the unspeakable horrors of the Nazi concentration camps and eventually entering Berlin. Here is a sample of what he captured. (Scroll down for the unique footage.)
1. HMS Belfast fired the opening shots of D-Day in June 6, 1944, signifying the largest amphibious invasion in history.
2. One of ‘Steven’s irregulars’ films the combined American, British and Canadian invasion force that landed on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944.
3. British warships escort their landing craft to the three beaches they and the Canadians were earmarked to invade — Sword, Juno and Gold.
4. Writers, directors and cameramen from the special coverage unit of the Allied expeditionary force fanned out among the Allied armies on D-Day to cover the ‘greatest seaborne invasion in history’.
5. Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery contemplates one of his many victories as Allied forces launched their assault on Nazi forces in Europe.
6. Each town in Northern France that the Allies fought the Germans over came at a great cost — as street-to-street fighting, snipers and land mines took their toll on the liberating forces.
7. Entire swathes of northern France were destroyed during the fighting that expelled the German forces.
8. Rustic French towns lay in ruins after the fierce fighting between Allied and Nazi forces.
9. An army jeep drives through what is left of a French town filmed by the color camera of George Stevens.
10. American soldier are greeted like heroes as they enter Paris in late August, 1944, after months of heavy fighting.
11. America soldier are greeted by Parisian women as they roll their forces into Paris — which spent almost four years under Nazi control.
12. Four years after Nazi forces goose-stepped down the Champs Elysees, American soldiers ride down the Parisian boulevard to a rapturous response from the city folk.
13. General Charles de Gaulle is welcomed to the victory parade in Paris on August 29, 1944.
14. George Stevens then traveled with American troops as they made their way across the heartland of Germany.
15. As they drove further and further into Germany — they were greeted by the flags of the Big Three — Great Britain, The Soviet Union and The United States.
16. He saw first-hand and filmed in color what the Nazi’s had committed as they sought their final solution.
17. Many of the Dachau concentration camp ‘inmates’ were quarantined and sprayed with DDT following a typhus outbreak to prevent further deaths.
18. Following liberation, some of the German troops in Dachau pretended to be Jewish prisoners to avoid arrest and punishment, according to George Stevens’ reports.
19. ‘It was extraordinary to see them all together’: A week after leaving Nordhausen, German Army Group B had been encircled. This was the largest surrender of WWII that had been photographed.
20. The Allies drove eastward: General Bradley’s 12th Army Group made contact with Ukrainian personnel near the German town of Torgau on the banks of the Elbe, linking the Americans and Russian army.
And here is the historic video footage itself:
Via The Daily Mail.
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