PhotosNormandie brings thousands of historical WWII photos from the Battle of Normandy to light


posted Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 1:18 PM EDT


The Invasion of Normandy in 1944 was one of the most important battlefronts in WWII and made an indelible mark on the history of the United States. The D-Day invasion and the following weeks saw hundreds of thousands of both the Axis and Allied forces killed during the action in what was a crucial military action. Thousands of images from that period have been released into the Public Domain, and PhotosNormandie is a project devoted to making sure that they're all in one place with the correct information and metadata attached.

Many of the images originally come from the National Archives of the United States and Library and Archives Canada, and were housed online at the Archives Normandie 1939-1945 website by the Regional Council of Lower Normandy. But two people, Michel Le Querrec and Patrick Peccatte, noticed that the descriptions were often inaccurate and inconsistent, and so decided to correct them, and put them in a more easily accessible location. As they describe it on the English language area of the photoset:

"In 2006, Michel Le Querrec and Patrick Peccatte decided to improve the descriptions of the photos using the collaborative possibilities of Flickr. The purpose was both to make these photos better known by exposing them on a popular platform and to attempt to correct and supplement their existing descriptions through a collaborative process. The collection has been active on Flickr since January of 2007. For our project we use the Flickr platform to redistribute these images via our own photostream, PhotosNormandie."

Not only did they correct as much of the information as possible and upload it all to Flickr, but they embedded all the information in the IPTC/IIM metadata, so that it will stay with the photos regardless of where and how they're used. The idea is that it will encourage more people to share the images without worrying about the identifying information becoming detached.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of the collection is only described in French, with just a few translated into English. However, even just using a bit of Google Translate, you can get something of an understanding of what the photos are portraying.

These images offer an incredible insight into the events around the Normandy Invasion, and include everything from official photographs (including a few in color) to more observational work, and even some which are a bit less grim. Historical photography lovers will enjoy this shot, which includes the famed combat photographer Robert Capa changing film in his camera.

See a selection of some of the images below and more at PhotosNormandie.


(via MetaFilter)