Saving Private Ryan

Corrected entry: The Rangers were driven into the beach by US Coastguards driving British landing craft, whereas infantry on Omaha arrived in American craft piloted by RN coxswains.

Correction: All the first wave craft at the Vierville Draw, including the Rangers', were British LCAs, driven by Royal Navy crews. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/ww2/A1929468.

Corrected entry: One American soldier shot into the sight slot on the front of the German "Tiger" tank. This slot was made of a particular glass called "Kinon," at least 15 centimeters thick, and it was almost impossible to break.

Correction: In the movie you can see that this glass was raised above the slot.

Corrected entry: Near the end of the movie at the Alamo rally point when the P-51's show up to blast the German tanks they are referred to as "Tank Busters". P-51's were not usually equipped to do this as a P-47 would be the much more likely aircraft for the job. There was a version of the P-51 called an A-36 equipped for ground attacks, but they were very specific about this being a P-51.

Correction: A-36 may have been the "official" designation but that doesn't mean everyone knew that. And if you're an infantryman on the ground and look up to see the P-51 silhouette you're not going to shout LOOK A-36's. You're gonna call them P-51's, even if they are the tank buster variant.

A-36's were not used in NW Europe. P-47's would have been better, but there was nothing to stop them using Mustangs for ground attack.

Corrected entry: The German troops who attack the village in the film's climatic battle scene must have been either very badly led or very inexperienced. No experienced soldier of any army, let alone the battle-hardened Germans, would attack a village or town by advancing in long files down the middle of the street as the attackers do in this film. In reality, they would have attacked house to house, using the cellars and alleyways to gain access into the village, rather than allow themselves to be mown down like ninepins in the middle of the road.

Correction: Not all the army goes down the middle of the town as some take the side streets. It's also not likely they thought they would encounter resistance. While that plan of attack might be taken if they thought there would be an ambush, but as shown before the troops arrive there was only a handful of soldiers and the Germans might have thought there wouldn't be much problem. Bottom line there is no way to say that line of action would be taken.

Corrected entry: When the SS soldier is killing Private Mellish in the last battle scene you can see a line where the soldier stabs Mellish.

Correction: What line? I've watched this scene carefully and can see no line that strikes me as unusual.

tw_stuart

Corrected entry: Mellish gets stabbed by a German soldier wearing SS insignia. Later, Upham shoots the same soldier, who is now wearing Wehrmacht insignia.

Correction: It's not the same soldier, they look a lot like each other, but they're not the same.

Corrected entry: In the opening battle scene, Tom Hank's makes reference that all of the armour support for the invasion, the 741st and 743rd Tank Battalions, having foundered in the English Channel. While the 741st did lose 30 of the 32 tanks allocated to the 1st Infantry Division's part of Utah Beach, the 743rd successfully landed 32 tanks on the 29th Infantry Division's Omaha Beach, including the Dog Green section.

Correction: Actually there were 29 tanks assigned to Omaha beach, but the American commanders sent the 'floating tanks' away 3 miles off-shore. Only two made it.

Corrected entry: The battle of Normandy was over by nightfall, not in the middle of the day as it is depicted in the film.

Correction: They didn't depict it as being over, they depicted a foothold being established at one sector of the battlefield. The battle may have been over for those soldiers, but not the rest of the invasion force. In all fairness, there should have been, as another poster pointed out, bodies covering the beaches when Tom Hanks' company arrived.

Corrected entry: At the end of the opening battle the Americans use grenades to clear the trench leading to the entrance to the bunker. One of the soldiers removes the pin from a grenade and throws it to another soldier who lobs it into the trench. No well trained soldier would do something so foolish. He might hand on a grenade with the pin still in it but to throw it live to his mate was extremely foolish. If he had dropped it the whole squad would have been wiped out.

Correction: Well, most of the men were not specially trained soldiers, they were just normal guys. The soldiers would have been so pleased not only to still be alive but to have an advantage and were probably just showing off a little.

Corrected entry: When the platoon sergeant is canning the dirt sample from France, the markings on the 3 cans are made with a wide-tipped magic marker. These were not developed until 15 years later. A black grease-pencil was standard issue in those days (1944).

Correction: The first magic marker was actually marketed in 1952 but similar types of pens were already available in the 1940's

tw_stuart

Corrected entry: In the final battle Tom Hanks and Matt Damon run out of ammunition and start throwing mortar rounds that explode on impact. This is impossible as mortar rounds have to spin a certain amount of times to arm themselves (a safety measure) so unless the pair are two all star quarterbacks, nothing would have happened to the rounds when they landed.

Correction: An infantry mortar round is fin-stabilised, and therefore does not spin in flight. A modern mortar round can be set to explode on impact, or on a delay setting (to allow the round to detonate after it passes through trees, etc). For the round to explode on impact, a safety pin would have to be removed from the round detonator on its cap, something that is not present in the film. The safety device described was only ever attached to bombs dropped from aircraft during the war.

Corrected entry: There appear to be multiple mistakes right after Miller decides to release the German rather than execute him. There is much commotion as Rieben and Horvath are arguing, but you can see in the background that Mellish is telling Miller that he has a sixth sense and that Ryan's dead. Right after, Mellish comes running over to Miller and starts repeating himself. Also, whenever Reiben and Horvath are not shown, they can be heard repeating the same words in the same tone as when they are being shown. At one point, I believe I can overhear them arguing even as they are being shown arguing. Also, look at the positions of some of the other actors, they change from shot to shot.

Correction: This is just a simple time lapse. If they went to a split-screen, you would have no idea what was going on, so they showed what went on at one place for a moment, and then what went on during the same moment between different people.

Corrected entry: In the French village where the squad first looks for Private Ryan, soldiers shout "Thunder.", and the reply they get is "Flash." This is totally the opposite. In Europe for identification you shouted out "Flash" to which the countersign was "Thunder".

Correction: The statement is correct, but in the movie's context, both are wrong. The challenge/password was changed every few days. (Flash/Thunder was used from the 101sts landing till the end of June 6th) It was changed repeatedly so the enemy would not be as likely to pick up the reply and have the chance to use it. During the movie time span, the correct challenge/reply would have been Thirsty/Victory, or Weapon/Throat, used from D 1-D 3, and D 4-D 6 respectively. (The true one depends on the movie, if they set out ON D 3, or got the orders, and left the next day).

Corrected entry: Look very close at the M1 Garand cartridge belts. The ten pockets where the 8 rd. clips go are flat. These guys are all going into combat with no ammo! You would at least think they would have put blocks of wood equal to the size of the clips in the belt pockets to make it look like they have ammo in their belts.

Correction: They had already attacked two towns and a german MG nest, this would have taken up a large amount of ammo...

Corrected entry: When they have captured the German machine gun placement, look carefully at the German MG-42 machine gun - its front sight is down, not up. No wonder they missed so much.

Correction: As soon as an MG42's trigger is pulled, the gun is jumping around and putting dust anywhere, enough to make anyone miss. The gun having an aim would make no difference, especially at that range.

Corrected entry: Jackson claims at one point that he could hit Adolph Hitler from a mile away. So why, instead of the squad charging the radar station and losing a man, doesn't he pick off the machine-gunners from a distance, or at least do so while the others charge?

Correction: Jackson is surely a heroic shooter, but he was simply following orders by CPT Miller to charge the German radar site

Corrected entry: In the final battle scene regarding the 'Tiger' tanks. Note the American soldiers running back and forth in front of the 'Tigers'. The tanks are not firing their machine guns at all. This would be highly unlikely (and stupid) since the Tiger had a five man crew and two internally operated machine guns. If they were actually used, the exposed Americans would have been cut to pieces.

Correction: In regard to the 1st Tiger tank (the one disabled by the sticky bombs) it opened fire after the German soldiers were mowed down and also when Upham ran down the staircase to get more ammunition. Maybe later on the Germans ran out of ammunition or their gun could have jammed, which could explain why they didn't open fire then. As for the 2nd Tiger tank it was constantly moving, which would make it difficult to shoot the American soldiers. Also the German tank commander was trying to capture the bridge, so he probably ignored those American soldiers. Soldiers armed with rifles would NOT be much of a threat to a German Tiger tank commander.

Corrected entry: Has anyone else noticed how clean Matt Damon's teeth are? In the final stages of the movie, when the allied soldiers are preparing to defend the bridge, there is a close up of Matt's face which reveals perfect and shiny white teeth. Now I severely doubt that in a war situation a soldier would have teeth this perfect...

Correction: As is shown in Band of Brothers, during downtime you take care of personal hygiene. It was stressed to us many times to take care of our teeth in a combat zone, same as taking care of our feet due to possible trench foot. There would be nothing wrong with someone having good teeth, even in a combat zone.

Corrected entry: In the battle at the village one American soldier gets onto the Tiger, opens the hatch and drops a hand grenade into it. This is not possible since these hatches were locked from inside.

Correction: A German crewman opened the hatch to get out. But he was shot by an American who then stuck his gun into the hatch to stop the lid from closing.

Corrected entry: It is common german military tactics not to drive tiger tanks or tanks of any kind into a urban area until it has been searched by infantry for anti-tank weapons (such as bazooka's and so on). This tactic was most notably learned early in the Russian campaign and therefore known before the D-day landings and the battle for the bridge. The most common tactic would have been to use the infantry to search house by house, and if strong resistence is met, to use the artillary to push them into the open.

Correction: Sometimes mistakes like that do happen. In the book Steel Inferno (written by Michael Reynolds, a retired British officer who is an expert on German panzer tactics) on pages 130-131, Chapter 11, it tells about an incident that took place at Villers-Bocage, France. "On 6/13/1944 at 1300 hours, several Tiger and Mark IV tanks went into the town and were AMBUSHED by British soldiers armed with PIATs (Projector Infantry Anti-Tank, a weapon similar to a bazooka or panzerschrek), sticky bombs, and 6-pounder guns. At least one Tiger and one Mark IV tanks were destroyed by PIATs and sticky bombs dropped from the upper floor windows or thrown from ground floors. The wreckage of six Tiger tanks and two Mark IV tanks were found in the town after the battle."

John Wong

Continuity mistake: When they go to find Private Ryan there are eight of them, when they go to a French town and a soldier picks up the little girl and he gets killed there are seven, right? Wrong. A few scenes later, the camera shows all eight of them marching on to the next town, only in a far away camera shot so it's hard to see. (01:23:11)

More mistakes in Saving Private Ryan

Private Reiben: You wouldn't shoot the kraut and now you're gonna shoot me?
Sergeant Horvath: He's better than you.

More quotes from Saving Private Ryan

Trivia: The pivotal role of "Minnesota Ryan", the Private Ryan that Captain Miller mistakes for the Private Ryan for whom he is searching, is played by a very young and, at the time quasi-unknown, Nathan Fillion.

Cubs Fan
More trivia for Saving Private Ryan

Join the mailing list

Separate from membership, this is to get updates about mistakes in recent releases. Addresses are not passed on to any third party, and are used solely for direct communication from this site. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Check out the mistake & trivia books, on Kindle and in paperback.