US Low Level Photo Recon surprises Germans

Low level reconnaissance of a beach in northern France, with original dated record of 6th May 1944.

Detail from the above image showing construction workers who have been surprised by the approach of the aircraft.

At the beginning of May 1944, the planned date for D-Day was a closely guarded secret, known only to Eisenhower and a few senior commanders. Yet everyone knew that it was coming soon. In Britain civilians all along the south coast had their movements curtailed. They knew too much about the arms and supply dumps now growing dramatically alongside almost every road leading to the southern ports. They knew about the transit camps for the invasion troops that were now being completed in the same areas.

In France the the Germans were reaching a new state of readiness, the invasion must come in the spring or summer. The Kriegsmarine had even suggested that the tides looked favourable for an invasion on the 5th-6th June, although this intelligence analysis was dismissed by the Nazi High Command.

At the urging of Rommel efforts counted to build beach defences on any scrap of beach where the Allies might land. Obstacles topped with land mines were thrust into the sand and shingle, designed to rip out the bottom of any landing craft approaching the shore.

At the same time Allied photo reconnaissance was daily keeping track of all this work. On the 6th May 1944 one US pilot got in for a really low level look. The reconnaissance programme covered the entire coast, so that by itself it did not suggest where the Allies had a particular interest or where the invasion might come.

Another beach photographed on the same day.

Detail from the above image, again showing surprised workers.

A third beach in a more remote location backed by sand dunes. A horse being used by construction workers is identifiable.

It would be interesting to know if anyone can identify these locations.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sean May 6, 2019 at 11:36 pm

Looks like the cliffs west of Ault, which is east of Dieppe (and Tréport). Gmaps has some user pix and one in particular images the same area. The first four photos are of the same beach. The fifth is somewhere else (no clue).
Rgds,
Sean
p.s. I can send a screen shot of the picture of interest if you send me a good address.

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