78 years ago the world changed forever with WWII. It was a time that changed nations, changed economies and changed lives forever. It was 1944 and the once peaceful and beautiful beaches of Normandy, France were turned into a living hell. Today things are peaceful again but the landscape still has signs of the great battles that took place. Here is a compilation of pictures from D-Day of the exact same spots today taken from Reuters photographer Chris Helgren. These are some of the most powerful images I have ever seen.
June 6, 1944: A Cromwell tank leads a British Army column from the 4th County of London Yeomanry, 7th Armoured Division, after landing on Gold Beach on D-Day in Ver-sur-Mer, France.
Today: A couple walks along the road from the D-Day landing zone of Gold Beach
June 5, 1944: The 2nd Battalion US Army Rangers march to their landing craft in Weymouth, England. They were given the task of capturing the German coastal defence battery at Pointe du Hoc to the west of the D-Day landing zone of Omaha Beach
Today: Tourists walk along the beach-front in the Dorset holiday town of Weymouth. The port was the departure point for thousands of Allied troops who took part in the D-Day landings
June 6, 1944: US reinforcements land on Omaha beach during the Normandy D-Day landings near Vierville-sur-Mer, France
Today: Vacationers enjoy the sun and surf on the former D-Day landing zone of Omaha beach near Vierville sur Mer, France
June 6, 1944: Members of an American landing party assist troops whose landing craft was sunk by enemy fire off Omaha beach, near Colleville sur Mer, France
Today: A woman carries a bucket of sand and shovel on the former D-Day landing zone of Omaha beach, near Colleville sur Mer, France
June 6, 1944: US Army soldiers of the 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, head over the seawall on Utah Beach after coming ashore in front of a concrete wall near La Madeleine, France
Today: Children walk over the remains of a concrete wall on the former Utah Beach D-Day landing zone near La Madeleine, France
June 1944: A crashed US fighter plane is seen on the waterfront some time after Canadian forces came ashore on a Juno Beach D-Day landing zone in Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer, France
Today: Tourists enjoy the sunshine on the former Juno Beach D-Day landing zone
June 6, 1944: US Army troops make a battle plan in a farmyard next to dead cattle. They were killed by artillery bursts, near the D-Day landing zone of Utah Beach in Les Dunes de Varreville, France
Today: Raymond Bertot is the farmer on the property, he was 19 when allied troops came ashore in 1944. Bertot poses on his property near the former D-Day landing zone of Utah Beach in Les Dunes de Varreville, France
June 18, 1944: US Army reinforcements march up a hill past a German bunker overlooking Omaha Beach after the D-Day landings near Colleville sur Mer, France
Today: Young kids hike up a hill past the same old German bunker overlooking the former D-Day landing zone of Omaha Beach
June 7, 1944: US Army troops meet around a signal post used by engineers on the site of a captured German bunker overlooking Omaha Beach
Today: Tourists walk past the former German bunker overlooking the D-Day landing zone on Omaha Beach near Saint Laurent sur Mer, France
June 8, 1944: A US flag lies as a marker on a destroyed bunker two days after the strategic site overlooking D-Day beaches was captured by US Army Rangers at Pointe du Hoc, France
Today: An Italian tourist views a bunker at a strategic site overlooking the D-Day beaches which had been captured by US Army Rangers at Pointe du Hoc, France
August 21, 1944: German prisoners of war captured after the D-Day landings in Normandy are guarded by US troops at a camp in Nonant-le-Pin, France
Today: A farm field remains where the German prisoners of war were held after the D-Day landings Normandy
July 1944: Canadian troops patrol along the destroyed Rue Saint-Pierre after German forces were removed from Caen
Today: Shoppers walk along the rebuilt Rue Saint-Pierre in Caen
June 6, 1944: US Army paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division drive a captured German Kubelwagen at the junction of Rue Holgate and RN13 in Carentan, France
Today: The junction of Rue Holgate and RN13 today in the Normandy town of Carentan, France
June 6, 1944: German prisoners-of-war march along Juno Beach landing area to a ship taking them to England, after they were captured by Canadian troops at Bernieres Sur Mer, France
Today: A tourist sunbathes on a former Juno Beach landing area where Canadian troops came ashore on D-Day at Bernieres Sur Mer, France
These are absolutely some of the most powerful images I have ever seen. It’s incredible to think what happened on the land they stand on just 78 years earlier.
From all of it we know that life always goes on and people, towns and communities can rebuild. Our history is what defines us. It is something we should never forget and something we should never take for granted.