60+ Powerful Photos of War That’ll Leave You Speechless


The life of a soldier is impossible to describe in words, harrowing to experience live. Here are some photos which capture some aspects of the challenging life these unsung heroes lead in the military.

US troops wade through fierce waters on D-Day – June 6, 1944 in Normandy.


During World War II, D-Day will forever go down in history as the day Allied troops invaded France, which was currently occupied by Nazi Germany. This amphibious invasion included troops from Canada, the United States, Britain and areas of France.

The invasion technically began the evening before, while parachutes landed and air attacks were orchestrated. Early the next morning, boats landed on five different beaches, with the codenames of Omaha, Sword, Utah, Juno and Gold. Landings of this nature during war had not occurred by crossing the English Channel in over eight centuries.

The defeat of the Germans was one of the largest during the entire war, and the invasion of Normandy lessened the German’s hold on a large portion of France, along with assisting the Soviets on their battlefront.

The Normandy beaches are still referred to by their codenames used during the invasion, and the streets are named after the units that fought in the area.

A soldier reunites with her daughter after 7 months of service in Iraq.


It is difficult to imagine what anyone must go through when deployed to serve their country on foreign shores. While not only dealing with the reality of being face-to-face daily with dangers that could often end in life-and-death situations, soldiers must also attempt to find ways to cope with the separation from their loved ones. While the emotional stress must be incredibly difficult for anyone overseas, it is hard to think about what it must be like for a mother or a father who have left her children behind to serve their country.

However, when parents are deployed, communication is key. Thanks to the technology of Skype, the video call service allows children to actually see their parents, as well as have conversations with them. Children can also work through their emotions by preparing care packages and writing letters.

And as wonderful as all of these methods of communication are when there are very few methods of contact available, nothing is quite like that moment when parents can once again hold their children in their arms.

Heinrich Himmler is confronted by POW Horace Greasley with unflinching defiance during a camp inspection.


During World War II, one of the most well-known atrocities utilized by the Nazi regime was their use of concentration camps. While these camps were used primarily for the imprisonment and eventual extermination of the Jewish people, camps were also used to hold other prisoners. Prisoners of war were often kept in labor camps, where they battled through terrible conditions, including malnutrition, back-breaking work and little protection from the elements.

However, we all know that it takes more than harsh adversity to dampen the spirits of the American people, as Horace Greasley illustrates as he bravely faces Heinrich Himmler, the Reich leader of the SS, Adolf Hitler’s secret service. Himmler often conducted visits and inspections from one concentration camp to the next, ensuring that everything was running as planned. Prisoners who disobeyed or showed signs of disrespect to Nazi officers were often immediately shot and killed on the spot.

A navy chaplain performs last rites of a soldier victim to a sniper’s bullet during a revolt in Venezuela.



Venezuela was a very dangerous place to be in 1958. President Marcos Perez Jimenez had been thrown from power for his extravagant spending patterns, mistreatment of law enforcement and overall personal corruption. On January 1, 1958, airplanes bombed Caracas, the capital city. Perez Jimenez’s forces still managed to hold control of the city, although there was much destruction and loss of life.
On January 21, 1958, there was a strike in Caracas, which literally brought life throughout the entire city screeching to a halt. Two days later, the military joined the strike, and Perez Jimenez, left with no options, fled to Miami with a vast fortune.
Once in the United States, he served five years in jail. Upon his release, he went to Spain, only visiting Caracas once in 1972, when riots broke out in the city. Perez Jimenez once again returned to Spain.
In the wake of the revolt against him, over 300 died and more than 1,000 were wounded.

The son of a soldier from the British Columbian Army reaches out to his father as the military procession marches to a waiting train in 1940.


On Saturday August 26, 1939, the Canadian capital called the Regimental Adjutant to send the BC regiment to action. Soon after, the Parliament of Canada declared war against Germany, in direct result to their invasion of Poland.
Taken by Claude P. Dettloff on October 1, 1940, this photograph depicts young Warren “Whitey” Bernard, who was five years old, running toward his father, Private Jack Bernard, as the British Columbia Regiment marches down Eighth Street in New Westminster, Canada. This picture became a symbol of hope to the city, and at the end of World War II, Jack Bernard returned safely home to his family.
A bronze statue was commissioned to honor the photograph, and it was placed in Hyack Square. On Saturday August 26, 1939, the Canadian capital called the Regimental Adjutant to send the BC regiment to action. Soon after, the Parliament of Canada declared war against Germany, in direct result to their invasion of Poland.
Taken by Claude P. Dettloff on October 1, 1940, this photograp depicts young Warren “Whitey” Bernard, who was five years old, running toward his father, Private Jack Bernard, as the British Columbis Regiment marches down Eighth Street in New Westminster, Canada. This picture became a symbol of hope to the city, and at the end of World War II, Jack Bernard returned safely home to his family.
A bronze statue was commissioned to honor the photograph, and it was placed in Hyack Square. It as unveiled on October 4, 2014.

A weeping Russian veteran foregrounded by the tank he spent the war in which is now a monument.


There are moments during war that change a soldier’s life forever, and attachments are often made to weapons, vehicles and even good luck charms that carried them through the atrocities that they faced. Occasionally, a story comes to light that perfectly illustrates the emotions that a soldier must experience when face-to-face with reminders of those bitter days.
A 78-year-old Russian veteran from World War II tearfully fell to his knees as he saw his T34 tank forty years after the war, erected in a square as monument. Laden with medals bestowed to him during the war efforts, he reached out to touch the vehicle that assuredly saved his life on many occasions.

A protester planting a flower on the bayonets of military personnel guarding the Pentagon during anti-Vietcong war protests in October 1967.



The Vietnam War raged for nearly twenty years, and it is the longest war that the United States has ever been involved in. Due to its length and the implementation of the draft, countless American citizens actively protested the war.
Jan Rose Kasmir was one of many young protesters that was calling out for peace. On October 26, 1967, she marched to the Pentagon with several thousand other activists to hold a demonstration to protest the Vietnam War. Marc Riboud, a French photographer, captured the 17-year-old girl just at the moment in which she placed a chrysanthemum on one of the soldier’s bayonets.
Riboud later took another such photograph of Kasmir when she was protesting the Iraq War. Kasmir later went on to attend the New York College of Health Professionals, where she became a licensed massage therapist and moved to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Daughter unites with her father who was a German POW during the WWII, when released by the Soviet Union.


During World War II, the Axis and the Allied powers all had camps where prisoners of war were sent. Some camps were labor camps, and some were devised mainly to hold the prisoners until the outcome of the war.

The Soviet Union captured over 3 million German prisoners, who were held temporarily even after the war was over. Initially, very few prisoners were placed in the camps, but after the Battle of Moscow, which ultimately led to the retreat of German forces, the number of German POWs dramatically increased. After the German army surrendered in the Battle of Stalingrad, almost 200,000 prisoners were taken after that battle alone. Many of these prisoners were convicted of war crimes and became an integral part of the Soviet Union’s manpower in labor projects. Many prisoners in British and French camps were also sent to those in the Soviet Union. By 1956, all of the prisoners of war had either been released or transferred to prisons to serve sentences for crimes committed during the war.

An eight-year-old accepts the flag for his father who was a Marine serving in Iraq, shot dead just a few days short of his scheduled return.


Families who have loved ones serving during times of war are faced with many emotional circumstances. Not only must they deal with the separation when a family member is deployed, but they must also mentally prepare themselves for the possibility that they may be injured or sacrifice their very lives for their country.
For those who have loved ones in the Marines, they also face the stigma of typically being considered the most dangerous branch of the military. Whether this is consistently backed up with supporting data may be in question, but the thought it always there, often causing more emotional turmoil for family members back at home during times of deployment.
However, the most heartbreaking events occur when a soldier is killed just before his scheduled return home, which is depicted in this image of a young boy accepting the flag of the United States to honor his father.

An emotional moment for a soldier of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army on the eve of South Sudan’s independence from Sudan.



The Republic of South Sudan won their independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011, after a vote to free them from the rule of Sudan. However, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army fought for much more than a simple vote.

The SPLA began in 1983 as a simple guerilla force led by John Garang de Mabior, and they were an ever dominating force in the Second Sudanese Civil War. By the 1990s, the vast majority of South Sudan was either directly or indirectly under the complete control of the SPLA. In 2005, Salva Kiir Mayardit stepped into the void left by John Garang de Mabior as commander-in-chief of the SPLA, which went on to became a part of the Ministry of Defence later in 2007.

Once South Sudan became independent from Sudan, the SPLA retired their revolutionary methods and became the republic’s official army, amidst a huge celebration and heightened emotions.

A soldier at the Vietnam War gives the simplest account of the experience of war.


The Vietnam War raged for approximately twenty years in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The United States stepped into the war to attempt to stop the communist takeover of South Vietnam by its northern counterpart, and North Vietnam and the Viet Cong were fighting to unify Vietnam under their control. What ensued was an exhausting, horrific war that many Americans protested avidly.

The draft was imposed by the United States during the Vietnam War, further angering a large population of the American public. Young soldiers fighting in the war could hardly be trained to deal with the unfamiliar and unknown terrain, adding even more frustration to the usual tribulations of war.

President Nixon declared on December 8, 1969, that America’s involvement in the Vietnam War would end. However, even though a large number of troops were withdrawn and the southern troops were thought better equipped to fight for their independence, fighting did not cease until over five years later.

Amidst the death and destruction of the Korean War, a soldier nurses a two-weeks’ old kitten to health.


In any war, soldiers are faced with their daily duties and continuous brushes with death. Anything to bring even a mere glimmer of hope to these unsettling circumstances is often embraced. This is illustrated perfectly in this image of a soldier nursing a young kitten back to life during the Korean War.
The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, and it ended over three years later. The tremors of war began after the division of Korea after World War II, and the United States and the United Nations assisted South Korea, while China and the Soviet Union came to defend the side of the North.
The fighting came to an end on July 27, 1953, when an agreement was signed creating a separation of North and South Korea, known as the Korean Demilitarized Zone. However, there was no peace treaty, and the situation between the North and the South is still highly unresolved.

A captured suspect is marched to his destiny at gunpoint, led by a South Vietnamese soldier.



The Vietnam War was a particularly brutal and bloody war. Fought in surroundings that often made it difficult for soldiers to identify the enemy, many prisoners were taken unexpectedly, often exposed to severe punishments, long incarcerations, and even instant death.
The South Vietnamese were infamous for their war camps that were devised to contain prisoners, starkly different than those later seen in World War I and World War II. These camps were typically located deep in the jungle in an area barely cleared enough to provide space for simple, thatched huts and bamboo platforms used as large, flat beds. The camps were not always stationary, and they were often moved closer to the military action to attempt to collect even more prisoners.
The prisoners at these camps not only dealt with terrible treatment, including difficult labor, malnutrition and both physical and mental abuse, but they were also in constant threat and fear of being bombed, perhaps even accidentally by forces from their own side.

The crash of a US Army helicopter in the background with its crewman fleeing away for dear life.


Soldiers are constantly placed in the very center of extreme, dangerous situations that can easily end in life-and-death matters. The job of a soldier is difficult enough when everything goes according to plan, but when things go awry, the downward spiral can begin very quickly, often ending in certain disaster.
In this image, a soldier in the U.S. Army runs from a helicopter that has crashed. Thankfully, the crewman made it out alive, but that is only half of the battle. When accidents occur in enemy territory, the danger of being captured and taken as a prisoner of war is great. Those who are able to survive the crash must literally run for their lives, hoping to escape detection when enemy forces inevitably arrive to investigate.

A US Army crewchief surveying the enemy land where he has been sent to wreak havoc.


When the United States Army is preparing to attack an area or run an operation, crewchiefs are often sent ahead to survey the marked zone and attempt to gain additional information that may assist with the planning process. While every soldier is highly trained and has had plenty of experience in conducting such investigative work, emotions must surely run high. It is also definitely increasingly difficult if attacks are occurring near areas with a large number of civilians. Fortunately, crewchiefs are trained to execute missions in a way to avoid loss of civilian life.
It is standard procedure to conduct several surveys before an attack, but helicopters will also be sent out to assess the damage after a mission. At this time, assessments are also made regarding humanitarian efforts.

An aircraft spraying concentrated defoliant over a forested area where enemy camps were expected to be concentrated.



A soldier comforting his injured comrade in what is quite likely a hopeless cause.


A civilian holds up the body of his dead child for the army to peruse – the very army that was responsible for his death.


A forest camp where soldiers wait for the next ambush by the enemy, enjoying the rare moment of inactivity in the interim.



Machine gun fire from American helicopters let loose into the forested areas of Vietcong to target the guerrilla fighters.


Soldiers dashing down from a US helicopter, rushing to take cover in the nooks and crannies of a paddy field.


A US sergeant deep in thought, perhaps contemplating the futility of the war.



Supply trucks of the South Vietnamese force make their way around a destroyed bridge.


Evacuation of wounded US troops from a battlefield by a helicopter crew.


A press photographer at work in the Vietnamese battlefield, looking to capture some of the fighting of the Vietnamese war.



Soldiers hoist their weapons, ammunition and supplies over their head to protect it from the river-water they are wading through.


A military evacuation in progress with soldiers helping their wounded comrades reach the rescue helicopter.


The US Air Force dropping 750-pounds heavy bombs on the coastal regions of Vietnam in November 1965.



Last rites being performed for a female war correspondent and photographer who was killed along with several marines due to a landmine explosion in the Vietnam War.


US soldiers forced to flee for cover as a napalm strike erupts near them.


A young British soldier carting away shells as he serves in Belgium during WWI.



An exhausted soldier getting some shuteye in a standing position due to lack of space in bunkers.


German soldiers enjoying a moment of peace by indulging in some sporty fun behind the lines during Christmas 1915.


British soldiers peeping out of a cramped dugout bunker having barely any space to move.



A WWI photo of French troops pelting German soldiers with soldiers with stones from their hillside trench.


A picture capturing the huge number of German POW, captured after the Allied Forces’ successful offensive in 1918 in the Amiens region.


A group of soldiers attending a session of Christian mass organized in a field.



British lancers in action, charging at their German enemy in 1916 at a French locale.


German troops wearing gas masks which had been introduced during WWI to mitigate losses during chemical warfare.


A soldier listening for the approach of enemy troops by laying his head to the ground.



Soldiers fortified against poisonous gas which was a widely used means of obliterating the enemy in WWI.


German airplanes flying over London on the first day of the Blitz – September 7, 1940.


The state of Coventry in the aftermath of an air raid by the Germans in 1940.



Dead soldiers lie half-buried in the sand at the seaside.


An American soldier holds up a half-dead infant found buried under a rock in the caves of Saipan, Japan, 1944.


A wounded soldier undergoing treatment winces as medics attend to his numerous injuries.



A snapshot of debris and destruction after a grueling land battle between American and Japanese troops on a small island in the pacific.


A military crew attempting to manoeuvre a very heavy piece of war machinery.


Two soldiers chatting nonchalantly in front of the corpse of an enemy soldier.



US troops stationed in the Philippines rejoice as news of the Japanese surrender arrives in August 1945.


A US soldier moves away from the bank he lit on fire as part of the “Scorched Earth” mission against the Vietcong.


Women and children taking refuge in a muddy dugout to avoid enemy fire from the Vietcong in Saigon.



Helicopters of the US Air Force flying in to provide support to the ground troops.


Two tired and wounded soldiers surrounded by debris from a land battle.


An apathetic scene of US soldiers confronted by the supplies-bearing helicopter that got shot to the ground by enemy forces.



Craters caused by B-52 bombings perpetrated by the US over the rice paddies and orchards of North Vietnam.


A soldier crawling through muddy paddy fields to gain cover against enemy fire.


A wounded soldier is airlifted by a US helicopter during an operation in March 1966 called Operation Silver City.



Soldiers carrying their wounded comrade to the medical camp.


A supplies-helicopter up in flames, mid-air, after having been shot by the enemy forces.


The empty artillery cartilages pile up as the US-Vietnam War continues ceaselessly.



Soldiers sleep atop boxes carrying ammunition during a lull in fighting.


A heavily wounded soldier being loaded up a rescue military helicopter somewhere in the paddy fields of Vietnam.



A paramedic attempting to revive a soldier using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.



Vietnamese Navy Boats embark upon a search mission as guerrilla warriors shoot at them from the underbrush at the shores.


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