Corrected entry: In the movie, the paratrooper who was dangling from the cathedral tower in Ste. Mere Eglise ended up surviving the attack. Unfortunately, the real paratrooper who landed on the cathedral tower was caught by the Germans and was killed on top of the tower.
Correction: Wrong. Red Buttons plays Private John Steele, and what you see is almost exactly what happened. Steele was a paratrooper with the 82nd airborne and he DID end up dangling from the roof of St Mere Egliese cathedral when his parachute got hung up on the spire. He played dead for fourteen hours despite being shot in the foot and deafened by the cathedral bells - and both events are correctly depicted in the film. He survived his ordeal and was taken prisoner immediately afterwards rather than being reunited with his unit as the film shows. He escaped three days later, and survived the war.
Corrected entry: During the assault on Point du Hoc, a German defender, with light colored epaulets on his tunic, is shown cutting loose an American grappling hook. The scene shifts to other action, then returns to the German, who this time is wearing dark epaulets.
Correction: There are three scenes showing wire being cut - the first one shows 2 German soldiers, one with dark and one with white epaulets. Then a shot of the rangers, then a cut to another German soldier wearing white epaulets running up to the wire to cut it. There's a shot of Robert Wagner trying to climb, and a shot of the first German cutting the wire releasing the grappling hook. So the first and third shot of a German cutting the wire are the same person, the 2nd shot is of a different German running to a different hook.
Corrected entry: When the multiple gliders land next to the bridge to be "held until relieved", they land within yards of the German bridge / guards. Regardless of how quiet the gliders are in the air, the landings would have been noticeably loud as the film depicts. However the German guards at the bridge and especially the ones behind the sandbags do not move weaponry into place, or look toward the event until shots are fired. Having the soldiers getting off planes that just crash landed behaving in silent whisper mode does not match the reality of landing multiple planes in such close proximity.
Correction: Historical fact can't be a plot hole! Operation Deadstick, the airborne mission to capture Pegasus Bridge took place on June 6th 1944, one of the very first actions on D-Day. Six Airspeed Horsa gliders carrying troops from 'D' Company, 2nd (Airborne) Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, part of the 6th Airborne Division, landed just forty metres from the bridge. Bizarrely, the Germans knew the vital importance of the bridge but had left just two sentries on guard overnight. They did not hear the gliders landing and their first indication that something was amiss was the first gunshot fired on D-Day - which was fired at them.
Corrected entry: In the final scene Brig. Gen. Norman Cota (Robert Mitchum) takes out a new cigar and proceeds to smoke it, but in order to smoke a cigar the end must be cut and the end to his cigar is visible the entire time.
Correction: Cigars do not have to be cut in order to be smoked. Soldiers do not carry cutters in the field and cutting with a knife will ruin the wrapper. However, punching a small hole in the end will do the job. I.g. Winston Churchill carried a cigar cutter but always preferred using the end of his match stick to punch a hole in the cigar end to smoke. Cigars can even be bought with a hole already in the end ready to be lit and it would appear to be an uncut cigar. The cigar will not stay lit long if air is not drawn through to get it started after toasting the foot.
Corrected entry: As the Americans hit the beach at Omaha, you can see a number of individual African-American troops scattered among them. Unfortunately the U.S. military was not yet integrated; black troops fought in separate segregated units at the time.
Correction: African American soldiers, while serving in segregated units, were in fact on the beaches at Omaha, serving in Medical, Supply and Barrage Balloon units.
Corrected entry: As the soldiers leave the water and start up the beach, you can see the shadow of the camera.
Correction: I thought so at first but then as the scene progresses it becomes clear that the shadow is of soldiers just out of shot who then come slowly into view.
Corrected entry: Beachmaster Colin Maude was, in fact, a Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander, but he was wearing the badges of rank of a Royal Navy Captain....two ranks higher.
Correction: Colin Maud was not a Lt Cdr. He was promoted to Cdr on 31 December 1942, and for the landings was an acting captain - thus making his 4 stripes in the film completely correct. For the evidence, see the SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 14 November 1944 (http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/36794/supplements/5214/page.pdf) which shows him as an acting captain for the bar to his DSO.
Corrected entry: This is a general error in the film (and in Cornelius Ryan's book): no mention is made of Operation Fortitude, the plan to fool the Germans into thinking the invasion would be in the Pas-de-Calais and not in Normandy. In the whole film, it's implied that Germans aren't too bright and think that Normandy isn't the real objective - but it was Operation Fortitude that made them think so. Also, at one point, two allied commanders in the Ops room comment on the Normandy map, saying, "I cannot understand why Jerry hasn't brought his heavy armour into play yet." Allied commanders knew why - Operation Fortitude.
Correction: Making no reference to a particular part of the campaign is not a mistake. The focus of the film itself is the invasion, not the distractions taking place elsewhere and, even in a film of this length, not everything that took place on D-Day can be covered. The Germans had an armoured reserve within range of the beaches, which remained undeployed until late in the day, despite the pleas of their commanders; even allowing for the effects of Operation Fortitude, the continued absence of German armour as the day progressed was a source of considerable surprise among the Allied commanders.
Corrected entry: In the scene at the end of the movie, when the Rangers have stormed the bunkers at Omaha beach, a medic is attending to someone's wound. Suddenly, some Germans appear, with their hands up, shouting "bitte, bitte" (please, please) in German, which for an English speaking person sounds like "beatte, beatte". The medic shoots them, and says,"I wonder what 'bitte, bitte' means", PRONOUNCED in English. He should have said, "I wonder what 'beatte, beatte' means". The actor apparently just read the line from the script and spoke what he read, not what he heard.
Correction: You've missed the subtle brutality of the scene. The medic speaks German and understands the men are trying to surrender but kills them anyway - he is taking no prisoners. His accented pronounciation of 'bitte' shows that.
Corrected entry: The part of Bill Millin, Lord Lovat's bag-piper, was played by the real-life Bill Millin himself, but his appearance has remained uncredited.
Correction: This is a common misconception. The piper was Pipe-Major Leslie de Laspee. See http://www.pegasusarchive.org/normandy/bill_millin.htm and http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=81509.
Corrected entry: During the final scenes of the movie, when an American General is taken up "Omaha" Beach, it is actually Juno Beach, where the Canadians landed.
Correction: If you mean that there are Canadian troops about the place, by the time the General Staff came ashore the beaches had been secured and Canadian troops were stationed on Omaha. If you mean that is really Juno Beach being used as a location, you are wrong. The scenes on Omaha Beach were shot in Corsica.
Corrected entry: One of the reasons why the Omaha landing turned out to be so disastrous was that the U.S. Army decided to use tanks modified for amphibian landings for the campaign. In the rough seas of D-Day Normandy, all but two tanks bogged down before they reached Omaha Beach, depriving the G.I.s of both protective armor and close-range artillery power. These tanks (even the two that made it) do not appear throughout the entire movie.
Correction: If they had included every incident which occurred on each of the five beaches film would be too long to sit through. Important though the loss of the amphibious tanks was, it was one of many, many incidents on D-Day that got dropped.
Corrected entry: Shortly before the landings take place, there is a shot of the massive Allied fleet approaching the Normandy beaches. A flight of fighter aircraft are seen flying overhead. The aircraft are Grumman Bearcats, a type that did not enter service until late 1945, more than a year after D-Day.
Correction: The aircrafts are Douglas Skyraiders, not Grumman Bearcats. They were also in service post-WW2
Corrected entry: The shots that kill Pvt. Martini occur too quickly in succession to have been fired from the indicated bolt-action rifle.
Correction: Depending on the soldier, it is possible to fire a bolt-action rifle in rapid succession. During WWI, the British trained their riflemen to fire the SMLE bolt action rifle at a rate of forty rounds per minute (this includes reloading a 5 round clip, so firing 5 rounds with 5 moves of the bolt and reloading a clip would take altogether 8.5 seconds at most, given the rifle was loaded first, and the seven reloads) and woe behold any german company that faced such a trained squad. So great was the rate of fire from the British trenches that German troops believed they were facing massed machine guns. Perhaps the German was a veteran of one of these run-ins, and honed his skill like thus.