WORLD
06/06/2018 9:55 PM AEST | Updated 06/06/2018 10:40 PM AEST

D-Day Beaches Then And Now - Incredible Photographs Bring Past And Present Together

Reuters
The former Juno Beach D-Day landing zone, where Canadian forces once came ashore, in Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer, France. Once a scene of death and destruction, now a tourist's paradise.

On this day 74 years ago the Allied invasion of Europe that would eventually bring about the end of World War 2 and the defeat of Nazism began on the beaches of Normandy in France. 

Today those same stretches of sand are home to sunbathers and tourists and apart from the odd bunker, little evidence remains of the 156,000 soldiers who took part in Operation Overlord, the largest seaborne operation in history.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill described it as: “Undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that has ever taken place.”

Some 10,000 Allied men were killed or wounded on the first day.

Reuters
Tourists walk by where the body of a dead German soldier that once lay in the main square of Place Du Marche in Trevieres after the town was taken by US troops who landed at nearby Omaha Beach in 1944.

It marked the beginning of an 80-day campaign to liberate Normandy which involved three million troops and cost the lives of 250,000 people.

Reuters
Beach goers walk past a captured German bunker overlooking Omaha Beach near Saint Laurent sur Mer.

The original invasion was scheduled for 5 June but adverse weather meant it was postponed by 24 hours. Any further delays could have caused the entire operation to be cancelled as seasonal tides were crucial to the plan.

Reuters
Where Canadian troops once patrolled in 1944 after German forces were dislodged from Caen, shoppers now walk along the rebuilt Rue Saint-Pierre in Caen, which was destroyed following the D-Day landings.

Of the troops that took part in the initial invasion, 61,715 were British, 73,000 American and 21,400 Canadian.

 
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Farmer Raymond Bertot, who was 19 when allied troops came ashore in 1944, stands where US Army troops once made battle plans on his property near the former D-Day landing zone of Utah Beach in Les Dunes de Varreville.

The first stage of the invasion, Operation Neptune, lasted from 6th to 30th June and involved 6,939 vessels.

Reuters
Children walk over the remains of a concrete wall on the former Utah Beach D-Day landing zone, once a vital means of defence for US Army soldiers.

The Allies landed on five different beaches codenamed Juno, Gold, Omaha, Utah, and Sword. 

Reuters
A farm field remains where German prisoners of war, captured after the D-Day landings in Normandy were once guarded by US troops at a camp in Nonant-le-Pin, France.

Within five days 326,547 troops and 104,428 tons of equipment had been brought ashore. Entire harbours and pipes to carry fuel were carried across the English Channel.

Reuters
In 2014, tourists stroll by where the 2nd Battalion US Army Rangers once marched to their landing craft in Weymouth, England June 5, 1944.

Around 20,000 Allied airborne troopers were also sent to France to capture key strategic objectives such as bridges and roads.

Reuters
Where US Army reinforcements once marched on June 18, 1944, tourists now tread the same path to the beach near Colleville sur Mer, France.

A massive deception campaign was launched in the months leading up to D-Day to deceive the Germans into thinking the invasion would take place around the Pas de Calais.

Reuters
Tourists top up their tans where the members of an American landing party once assisted troops whose landing craft was sunk by enemy fire off Omaha beach in 1944.

Around 15,000 French civilians were also killed during the Normandy campaign, both from Allied bombing and combat between Allied and German ground forces.

Reuters
Holidaymakers enjoy the sunshine, while on June 6, 1944 US reinforcements landed on Omaha beach during the Normandy D-Day landings near Vierville sur Mer, France.