Naval Demolition Troops Prepare to Destroy an Obstacle on Omaha Beach

June 6, 1944 Photograph

Once ashore, the important task of clearing the beaches fell to the men of the Naval Combat Demolition Units. These units were vital in clearing the beaches of mines and obstacles for following waves of landing craft. Facing the same deadly fire as the infantry, men of the Combat Demolition Units initially used explosives to blow up the obstacles at both beaches. Once a foothold had been established, these same units used bulldozers and other heavy equipment to move obstacles off of the beach, clearing the way for additional landing craft to come ashore.

Steel and concrete obstacles, put up by the Germans to trap invasion craft, didn't stop Allied assault troops going ashore during the invasion of the French coast. To the contrary, these obstacles served as cover against enemy fire. Here, U.S. and British troops huddle against one of the "traps" as protection against enemy machine gun fire.