Members of the 101st Airborne Division Loaded in a C-47 on the Evening of June 5

June 5, 1944 Photograph

The paratroopers’ mission on D-Day was to capture vital causeways and villages that would allow them to hold off German reinforcements and protect the flanks of the amphibious landings. In order to accomplish this task, the men carried an assortment of weapons and munitions — usually a pistol, a rifle or sub-machine gun, mortars and anti-tank guns, grenades and mines — in addition to food, radios, personal effects, and most importantly their parachutes. All loaded up, most paratroopers carried more than their own weight in equipment. These images highlight how loaded down allied paratroopers were when they boarded C-47s for the trip to France. Note the paratrooper holding General Eisenhower’s order of the day.

National Archives and Records Administration

Resolute faces of paratroopers just before they took off for the initial assault of D-Day.

Prepping for Normandy jump