Saving Private Ryan (1998) Poster


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  • Given how this has no bearing on the plot and is never mentioned; it can be assumed the characters were the same age as the actors playing them. Edit

  • It means its a sign of serious infection, at that point it would need to be surgically debrided along with antibiotics. Given the timeframe and their location, he'd probably be looking at amputation or death, which is why Reiben nods his head yes to Wade, indicating that the soldiers leg has gone bad. Edit

  • He was praying in Latin, The Act of Contrition which translated in English means; "Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for the sins that I committed and I detest all of my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell, but most of all because they offend You, my God, who are all good and deserving of all of my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life. Amen". Edit

  • When Miller tells Ryan that his brothers were killed in combat, Ryan says "on the level?" he means if Miller is being sincere and honest and isn't attempting to deceive him, to which Miller responds, "Yeah, I'm afraid so." It's an old expression from the period the story's set in. It's essentially another expression for "No kidding?" and the like. Edit

  • It was a silent order to Horvath and he was mirroring the order down the line to his squad. It's following the chain officer giving the order to him and he's giving it to the men.

    It is a wedge formation signal. The wedge formation is the basic formation for a team or squad like this one for open terrain because it allows the leader to maintain control while allowing the unit the flexibility to bring about its full fire capability in any direction quickly. Edit

  • The Army would often utilize nets to used to attach scrim (camouflage) such as pieces of tree bark, leaves, or fabric. Another advantage was that the nets also reduced the shine of the helmet when it was wet. Many soldiers would also use nets for less essential purposes, such as storing packets of cigarettes underneath them.

    Netting was not officially issued by the US Army - as a result, the majority of nets used by US troops were acquired from British or Canadian Army stocks or cut from larger camouflage nets. There is no specific reason why Capt. Miller, Sgt. Horvath, Caparzo and Wade would not wear nets and the others would as it was simply down to personal choice. For example, Pvt. Jackson would benefit more than the others by using netting since he is a sniper and would be engaging the enemy from a position of concealment - therefore he would benefit from using netting to attach scrim in order to better conceal his position. Edit

  • They were all part of the same company under Captain Miller's command. When Miller was given the assignment of locating Private Ryan, he was told to take the "pick of the litter" and the rest of the company would get folded in to Baker (company). So Miller tells Horvath to get Rieben on B.A.R. (Browning Automatic Rifle), Jackson (a skilled sniper), Wade (a medic), Beasley (a translator) and Caparzo (a rifleman). When Horvath informs Miller that Beasley is dead, he picks Mellish instead and then recruits Upham as their translator. Edit

  • When three of the four Ryan brothers are killed in action in World War II, Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) is ordered to take a squad of soldiers from the 2nd Ranger Batalion to find the fourth brother, Private James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon), and return him to his mother. Although the current whereabouts of Pvt Ryan are unknown, it is known that he was dropped near Neuville, Normandy behind enemy lines, so that's where the rescue team must go the risk of their own lives. Edit

  • Saving Private Ryan is based on a script by American screenwriter Robert Rodat. The premise is very loosely based on the real-life case of Sgt. Frederick Niland, who was sent back to New York after it was thought that his three brothers were all killed in World War II. Edit

  • Besides Cpt Miller, there is Sergeant Mike Horvath (Tom Sizemore), Privates Melllish (Adam Goldberg), Caparzo (Vin Diesel), Reiben (Edward Burns), and Jackson (Barry Pepper), translator Corporal Timothy Upham (Jeremy Davies), and medic Irwin Wade (Giovanni Ribisi). Edit

  • It was filmed at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial near Colleville-sur-Mer, France. Edit

  • It was code-named "Omaha Beach" for one of the principal landing points of the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France, during the Normandy landings of June 6th, 1944. The beaches at Normandy were further divided into "sectors" for specific units to approach; Miller and his team land at "Dog Green" Sector where some of the fiercest fighting occurred. Edit

  • He was talking about the opening at the front of the amphibious vehicle that would be formed when the landing ramp dropped. As we see several times during the landing, the German soldiers were given an easy target when the ramps opened. As a result, many of the men, Miller included, tried to exit the vehicle by jumping over the sides and into the water.

    He actually says "clear those motor holds" which is the steal structures that a lot of the soldiers hide behind on the beach. Captain Miller has an argument with a navy solder that insists on destroying one on the beach. Edit

  • He says this because, when sending Jackson to fire on the machine gun nest, Miller distracts the gunners by temporarily exposing himself and shouting an order to draw the machine-gunner's fire. Edit

  • Mellish is Jewish (this is evidenced by the fact that he has a Star of David attached to his dog tags throughout the movie and in a later scene where Mellish shows this Star of David to a line of captured Nazis and repeats "Juden" (German for "Jews") over and over. While the war has not been mainly about the wholesale murder of his people but the aggressive expansion of Germany, the Jews were the ones who have suffered the most (in combined terms of quantity, severity and degradation of standards of living). He has just been through a horrific, bloody battle in which his friends and allies were being killed all around him. He breaks down and cries after Caparzo gives him a Hitler Youth Knife taken off the dead body of a very young German soldier. The words uttered by Mellish after he receives the knife are: "And now it's a Shabbat Challah cutter (a Jewish bread knife), right?" Edit

  • On November 13th, 1942, the American heavy cruiser USS Juneau was sunk in the naval Battle of Guadalcanal in the Pacific War, killing nearly all of the 700-man crew, including five brothers from the same family, the Sullivans, who had contrived to serve together on the same ship. After this incident, the US military introduced the "sole survivor" policy whereby family members were forbidden to serve together in order to avoid such a tragedy ever occurring again. The scene where Miller tells Ryan his brothers are dead and Ryan asks, "Which ones?", only to be told that they have all been killed is taken almost word for word from the real life incident when the Sullivans were told of their sons' deaths. Edit

  • It's an acronym: Fucked Up Beyond all Recognition, Reason or Repair. It was a common euphemism used by American troops during the war. Another popular euphemism from World War II that's actually an acronym was "SNAFU" ("sna-foo") which stood for "Situation Normal: All Fucked/Fouled Up". Edit

  • It's the clip that held the cartridges popping out of the rifle's breech. The rifle used by the American infantry during World War II was the Garand M1. It featured a new type of loading system that consisted of a metal "clip" that held eight rounds. The M1 was designed to be faster to load and fire during combat in "semi-automatic" fashion, compared with older "bolt action" rifles that had to be cycled for every shot, like the Karabiner 98k that we see the German soldiers using. With the M1, the rifle could be loaded and shot faster because the bolt cycled automatically. When Mellish or Caparzo had fired all eight shots, the clip would spring out instantly. Many GIs liked the rifle for its semi-automatic action, faster loading, and target accuracy but disliked this specific feature because it provided the enemy, by the noise and sight of the clip flying out, with the knowledge that an American soldier had emptied their rifle, meaning that the enemy could charge them. More info on the M1 can be read here.

    Due to the pinging sound many soldiers would carry a spare empty clip. And after firing a few shots would throw or 'twang' the empty clip. Axis soldiers would think that they could safely emerge to shoot the US soldier, who was reloading, and then would be shot. Edit

  • Upham was the "new guy", someone who was not only unfamiliar with the other men but also combat-inexperienced-this type of attitude was very common in every war the fought by the United States. Replacement soldiers, being inexperienced, were often killed in combat, therefore the experienced men would avoid forming friendships with them. All the other men of Miller's squad had been through extensive combat prior to landing at Normandy and meeting Upham, and they considered him to be a weak addition to the unit despite his higher rank and his importance as a translator, which they plainly disregard. He does eventually earn more respect from the squad as we see right before the final battle when they joke around with him while preparing and listening to Edith Piaf on the phonograph. Edit

  • Pvt. Jackson shooting the German sniper through the scope of his rifle is a reference to Vietnam War sniper Carlos Hathcock, who did the same thing to an enemy sniper. The enemy's rifle was recovered, and was photographed, and the bullet did go straight through the scope. However, because it was a one-in-a-million shot, it has been debated if this actually happened or if it's even possible. MythBusters tested the myth, and initially called the myth "busted", but because of the lack of authenticity, they tested the myth again under more precise conditions, recreating the incident using the same rifle and bullet Hathcock used and the same scope the soldier he killed used. They found that the bullets Hathcock claimed to have used couldn't completely clear the scope, but found that an armor-piercing bullet could completely penetrate the scope; the bullet went 2 inches into their dummy's head, which would easily kill the sniper. After the retest, they changed their conclusion from "busted" to "plausible" because, although their tests could easily have called it busted, they still didn't know the exact conditions of Hathcock's shot. Of course, we don't have any idea what kind of bullets Jackson used, so his amazing shot in the film is entirely plausible. Also it could be said that Jackson wasn't actually aiming for the sniper's scope, but simply for the sniper's head and happened to hit him in the eye through the scope. Mythbusters also determined that even if a bullet did not go through the scope, shooting at it could be effective as it would ruin the enemy's scope and potentially cause them serious head wounds from the scope being driven back into their eye as well as flying pieces of metal and glass. Edit

  • Yes. While ranks were usually omitted from helmets to avoid making officers targets (likely removed on the battlefield, but put on when on base) photos from D-Day show some officers wearing insignias. Also, there is an urban legend that uniforms are labelled incorrectly because this helps keep the actors from breaking the law against "impersonating military personnel". If their uniforms have a few deliberate inaccuracies on them, it isn't considered breaking the law. However, this isn't against the law for motion pictures in the U.S.A. It may also be a choice on part of the filmmakers to not have actors in proper military outfits, or it could be ignorance on part of the consultants or costume department. Edit

  • It has been speculated by some viewers to be one or more of several things such as extreme anxiety, severe stress and worry, or PTSD. Given his breakdown after Wade dies, this is likely. Another possibility is that it is the early onset of Parkinson's Disease. Horvath asks Miller about his hand tremor in the church, to which Miller says he doesn't fully understand how or why his hand twitches. Later, at the rally camp, it twitches without him even realizing it as the members of the squad all observe it. Edit

  • Reiben, Jackson, Mellish, and even Capt. Miller took a rather callous and disrespectful approach to sorting through the tags, both to the dead soldiers and the other Airborne soldiers marching by. They were too casually tossing them aside and, like Wade suggested, treating them as one would treat "poker chips" in a card game. Additionally, their chatter while doing so was also callous and was overheard by at least some of the passing paratroopers. What's interesting is that Captain Miller, obviously a fair and moral officer, didn't realize this himself and even laughed at some of the jokes that Rieben, Mellish and Jackson were making. This may have been intentional by the filmmakers to show that even moral men like Miller can become desensitized and cold to the deaths of others during a war. The writers gave the responsibility to Wade of pointing this out to the others, at which point Miller seems to snap out of it and even shows some regret when looking at the paratroopers passing by. Miller then puts an end to searching through the tags. Edit

  • Miller had a hard time finding interpreters. He had had one interpreter who spoke French and another who spoke German, both of whom were killed on D-Day. He lucked out finding Upham who spoke both languages fluently. Also Upham had never been in combat, therefore wouldn't be much good in a frontal assault on a machine gun nest and would likely get himself or someone else killed. Wade went in on the attack as he was the medic, so he would be right there in the firefight in case someone got hit. Unfortunately Wade was the one who got hit. The German soldiers may not have realised he was a medic or he was hit accidentally. Edit

  • At the time, the Geneva Conventions (the rules settled upon by both sides in the war) stipulated that if Medics were not to be fired upon during combat then they were not permitted to carry any sort of weapon, and Wade as Medic was simply applying/following the particular principle. Edit

  • Because of the Geneva Conventions which prohibit the summary execution of prisoners of war without a fair trial. According to the agreement, Willy can't be executed by Miller's squad simply because they believe he is the one who killed Wade and the other men from the 82nd Airborne lying dead in the field near the radar outpost. Of course, Spielberg and his writer, Robert Rodat, show a few scenes during the beach landings that clearly show American GIs callously killing German soldiers who are surrendering. Following the squad's attack on the radar post and Wade's death in his squad's collective arms, Miller's men are not only enraged enough to beat on Willy but also incredibly distraught over Wade, who was obviously well-liked by them all. Therefore, their mistreatment of Willy is already a violation, however, Miller realizes that executing Willy will not bring back Wade and would be a flagrant violation of the Geneva Conventions. And because the squad was already on a mission, taking Willy along was not an option as he would have slowed down their progress and/or could have jumped them when least expected, possibly killing more of the squad. So Miller lets Willy go, enraging his men further. Unfortunately, his act of mercy has the most serious of ramifications later on when Willy shoots Miller in the final battle-like Reiben says, Willy is found by another German unit and put back into circulation. To put it simply; Miller justifies his merciful act by saying "Just know that every man I kill, the farther away from home I feel.". Edit

  • No, there isn't a town in France called Ramelle. It's a fictional name made up by the writers. However, the Merderet River is real and winds through Normandy to the English Channel. Edit

  • No! This is an extremely common misconception. The soldier who has the melee fight with Mellish in the upstairs part of the restaurant is not Steamboat Willie, although they do look similar. What actually happened is that the bayonet soldier was another soldier entirely who gets in a fight with Mellish and wins. When leaving the room, the bayonet soldier sees Upham, frozen with fear and sobbing. Upham even takes his hand off his rifle to show he was of no threat. The bayonet soldier decides to spare Upham as he posed no threat and it wasn't necessary to kill him. Later on we see Steamboat Willie in the same battle where he shoots Miller. This was witnessed by Upham, so Upham finally gained the will to pull the trigger on Willie while he was unarmed and surrendered, mirroring the earlier scene in which he defended a captured Willie against execution by Miller's squad. Edit

  • As the German soldier stabs Mellish to death, he says: "Gib' auf, du hast keine Chance! Lass' es uns beenden! Es ist einfacher für dich, viel einfacher. Du wirst sehen, es ist gleich vorbei." Translation: "Give up, you don't stand a chance! Let's end this here! It will be easier for you, much easier. You'll see it will be over quickly." Edit

  • Sgt Horvath was probably trying to incapacitate, not destroy, the turret on the Tiger tank. Allied forces familiar with the Panzer VI "Tiger", a 60-ton Main Battle Tank during the war knew that the armor is very tough and, even with support fire from a friendly tank, the odds of destroying a Tiger tank with a bazooka like Horvath's are pretty small. From the infantry perspective, techniques that were developed and employed in order to combat heavy Tiger tanks focused mainly on disabling the tank rather than destroying it. Anti-tank weapons of the era, such as the bazooka, were ineffective against most areas of the Tiger's armor, so specific weak points in the design were the focus. Hitting the Tiger in the tracks, suspension, engine compartment, observation slits, and in the joint between the main body and turret were some of the common weak points. Tiger tanks could only be destroyed head-on or from the sides by land mines, or direct hits by heavy artillery shells, or bombs dropped from aircraft. In the film, the first Tiger is disabled by taking out the tracks with "sticky bombs" followed by grenades thrown in the turret hatch. When Horvath fires at the second Tiger, both shots are clearly placed on the joint between the body and the turret, the idea most likely being to hinder or incapacitate the turret's ability to swivel left or right. As the war went on, the Allies developed better strategies for disabling Tigers. One example involved British Cromwell or US Sherman tanks trying to "flank" a Tiger by working in squadrons or columns. One or more tanks would act as a diversion to keep the Tiger's crew focused in front of it while another tank would maneuver behind the Tiger and hit it in the rear section where its armor was the weakest.

    There is also what some people call the "Rattle Effect", basically blunting the effectiveness of the crew by making them concerned that the next shell could find a weak spot. Additionally, making the crew keep hatches closed reduces their ability to see their surroundings so leaves them open to flanking attacks &c. Edit

  • Because this man is the same prisoner of war that was released earlier in the film by Captain Miller himself. Known as "Steamboat Willie," this German soldier stumbles away from the main characters while many of the men complain that Miller just let the enemy simply walk away. He rejoins the ranks of the German army and (if by mere coincidence or planning?) encounters Miller's men during this particular battle. Whether Steamboat Willie knows that he is shooting Miller is debatable, but it is a sad and ironic twist of fate that Miller is shot by the man towards whom he showed so much mercy. Edit

  • Although he pleaded for Willie's life earlier in the movie, Upham saw Willie back on the front with his comrades, and they were all shooting to kill. Some viewers say that Upham kills Willie because he witnesses Willie killing Miller. That is unlikely, however, given Upham's position in relation to the German's fire. All the rifleman were shooting simultaneously. Without sharing their line of sight, it would be almost impossible to deduce whose bullet targeted who. After Miller is shot, the camera does pan back to Upham's bewildered face, implying that he witnessed Miller's death. Consequently, the most likely reason Upham executes Willie is because seeing Willie again with his fellow riflemen revealed Willie's lack of honor, contrary to the qualities that Upham claimed when he was trying to spare Willie's execution, and for the first time, Upham is able to fire on the enemy, Edit

  • He's lining up the primer ends of the rounds in the magazine. When he raps them on his helmet, they are forced flush against the interior of that wall of the magazine. When they're all lined up, there's less of a chance that they'll jam in the breech of the rifle (a Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) M1918A2 in this case), forcing the operator to stop shooting and clear the jammed round from the breech, costing valuable seconds or minutes during combat. There are a couple of similar moments in Full Metal Jacket. Edit

  • If you listen closely you can hear fragments of the grenades hitting the interior walls of the tank, the sound effect used is very similar to the sound effect of certain gunshots used in the film, so it is easily missed. You wouldn't naturally see smoke anyway due to them closing the hatch, which is roughly 2 inches of thick metal, as is the exterior of the tank turret itself. Typically, grenades used in combat are fragmentation grenades. A charge is ignited inside the grenade causing it to explode and project shrapnel. The familiar sight of a grenade causing a fiery explosion is most often for dramatic or FX purposes. After the grenade goes off, the hatch isn't opened again so we don't see any smoke escaping the tank. By then, the perspective of the battle has shifted away from the tank. Edit

  • As the P-51 Mustang fighters zoom in to bomb the German tanks, Reiben and Ryan rush to Miller's side. Reiben calls for a medic while Ryan sits with Miller. Miller whispers in his ear, "Earn this...earn it." As more American troops swarm the bridge, General Marshall is heard reading a letter to Ryan's mother in which he informs her that James is on his way home. He concludes the letter by quoting a passage written by President Abraham Lincoln: I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement and leave you only with the cherished memory of the loved and lost and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom. The scene then cuts to the cemetery as shown in at the beginning of the movie, and the audience learns that the elderly man is James Ryan and that he is visiting the grave site of Captain Miller. With tears in his eyes, he tells Miller that he hopes he's earned what Miller and others did for him, and his wife assures him that he's a good man. In the final scene, Ryan salutes Miller's grave, and the screen is filled with the American flag gently flapping in the breeze. Edit

  • There are two scenes in which the American characters come into close contact with German soldiers. In both of those scenes, the Germans are portrayed simply as soldiers fighting for their country and their families. While it is understandable that those of German heritage, who likely had a relative fight for their country during World War II, might be displeased with films in which the Germans are portrayed as the antagonists, they should also understand that Saving Private Ryan is filmed to look like a documentary from the Allied perspective. For the most part, the German soldiers are shown as "the enemy in the distance", as it would appear if a documentary is being shot from within the ranks of the Allies. See also: Das Boot (1981) (1981), which shows the war from the German perspective and does not portray the Allied soldiers as evil monsters, simply as "the enemy in the distance." One should remember that the Germans were fighting a war of aggression that their leaders started, and they were in fact occupying a foreign country. The argument could be made that the common, non-Waffen-SS German soldiers were only following orders and were not involved in the politics, and though that's true, it's also true that many of them had been indoctrinated into believing that what they were being ordered to do was right. The truth is that some ordinary German soldiers committed atrocities (predominantly mutilation and murder) against captured Allied soldiers in Normandy, and many Allied soldiers retaliated in kind. It's difficult to unfairly portray soldiers of an aggressor, occupying army. Edit

  • No. While the invasion of Omaha Beach did happen, it wasn't taken in 25 minutes as the film depicts. This movie is fiction based on true events, and is not intended to be an educational documentary. It seems that Tom Hanks character claiming "first wave ineffective" would be an attempt to suggest that his landing wave was the second with the first being almost completely annihilated, which would keep with reality though there is no apparent carnage on the beach as the second wave approaches. However, when the soldiers are jumping into the water, we see the ocean floor is completely covered with crates, bodies and helmets. We only see a few men jump into the water, which may imply that this was from the first wave. Also Miller says, "All the armour is floundering in the channel!", which suggests that transports carrying tanks had been sunk prior to their arrival. Other dramatic license is the fictional town portrayed at the end of the movie. The battle that took place has been criticized for it's lack of realism in planning and tactics. However, it could be argued that the director wanted to keep the details of the battle as simple as possible for the sake of the viewer. SS units were not in Normandy at the time of the landings. They had been moved further eastward towards the Pas de Calais where Hitler thought the landings would take place. It wasn't until a month after D-Day that SS units were sent to Normandy, but they were fighting British and Canadian troops further east. Furthermore, as we see in the climactic battle at Ramelle, soldiers of the 101st Airborne are depicted defending a strategic bridge on the Merderet River. However, the objective of securing the Merderet River to stave off German reinforcements from the west was not an objective of the 101st, but rather the 82nd Airborne Division.

    Perhaps a more notable inaccuracy of the film was the use of American soldiers stationed at Omaha beach to search for a paratrooper, when the area of operations for American paratroopers was 20 miles west of Omaha Beach, further inland from Utah Beach. Miller was given his mission three days after D-Day, on June 9. However, American troops from Utah and Omaha Beaches did not link up until at least a week after D-Day, and such a mission would have been given to a unit stationed at Utah Beach; Americans units that landed on Utah Beach had already established contact with some paratroop units on D-Day. Compared to Omaha Beach, American troops at Utah Beach encountered lighter German resistance and, subsequently, suffered fewer casualties. However, to provide the audience with a much more dramatic depiction of D-Day, the landings at Omaha Beach were depicted instead. Edit

  • They're called barrage balloons, commonly used during the war. They are used to stop low-level bombing and low-level fly-bys by enemy fighter planes. The cables attached to the balloons are designed to cut through the wings of the aircraft and to bring them down. Any pilot would have to fly above them, and the balloons would also restrict the view from above. Edit

  • There's no tree-cover to the left. Whoever goes that way will likely be spotted and targeted before the others and get gunned down, but it's their best chance that one of them will make it into grenade range of the nest before they're all killed even as Miller says about the gunner "changes out his barrels". it's not a job anyone sane would volunteer for, and the captain's trying to get someone to volunteer so he doesn't have to potentially order two men to their deaths on a mission that all of them, including himself, think isn't worthwhile. Also most people are not ambidextrous (ability to use both hands equally well) so running left means you'll have shoot left or use the right shoulder to shoot as you're running left which is much harder to do, try this out. Edit

  • They weren't plastic bags, but bags made from a substance known as pliofilm, a rubber-based clear (and later dark green) material developed in 1934 by the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company and used by American soldiers at Normandy, The bags were meant to keep sand and water out of their weapons and magazines as long as possible in order to prevent gun jamming and wet gunpowder,before they needed to be used in combat, as Captain Miller comments "Keep the sand out of your weapons, keep those actions clear, I'll see you on the beach". Edit

  • it's an American Military slang for a kilometer. Edit

  • Yes, there were actual sticky bombs used during World War II. Developed by the British, they were nitroglycerin-filled glass spheres, coated with a sticky adhesive-like axle grease and covered by a protective metal sheathing that was stripped away before being thrown. Designed as anti-tank weapons, the bombs were often more dangerous to the user than to the tank, occasionally getting stuck to the person who was throwing it or even igniting while being handled or during transport. In addition, Britain trained their Home Guard units in the making of improvised sticky bombs, the most common being glass containers of nitroglycerin inside a bag soaked in the glue compound, and dropped onto enemy tanks from rooftops. The G.I. may have learned of the improvised method, as actual sticky grenades only made it into the hands of very few combat units. Edit

  • A V-mail letter to his father. He wanted it recopied so his father wouldn't see all the blood on the letter. V-mail was free mail home for the GIs. Caparzo's father wouldn't have received the original blood-stained letter in any case. To save valuable cargo space, the V-mail letters were microfilmed and then reproduced back in the United States. Edit

  • Those obstacles were part of the German defenses and were intended to rip out the bottom of Allied landing craft. Rommel and his staff assumed the Allies would attempt to land at high tide, reducing the amount of open beach the Allied troops would have to cover. If the Allies had landed at high tide, those metal obstacles would have been effective, however, Allied planners elected to land at low tide to expose the obstacles they were nicknamed "Czech Hedgehogs". Once the hedgehogs were placed on the sand, the tide would wash against them and they'd sink into the sand, making them very difficult to remove.

    There was a 2nd type of obstacle placed on the beach: a simple structure consisting of two logs attached at an angle and pointing out to sea. They'd likely have the same effect. Edit

  • Because of concern about hitting Allied troops, Allied bombers were ordered to delay their drop point a couple of seconds inland. All their bombs fell well behind the German defenses. The naval bombardment was curtailed in attempt to preserve the element of surprise. however, the key element of the US troops getting off the beach at Omaha where the US Navy destroyers that closed on the shore until there were literally only a couple of inches of water beneath their keel. at point-blank range they dueled with the German gun emplacements and cleared exits from the beach. Edit

  • Yes. Of the six regiments of American paratroopers launched into Normandy, Only two got their men to the right drop zones. Ironically, one of those regiments was the 506th which is Private Ryan's regiment. German anti-aircraft cannons were much more effective and numerous than the Allies thought they'd be, causing many aircraft to be shot down or forced off course. The scattering is an occurrence that's shown in more detail in Spielberg and Hanks' 2001 miniseries about the 506th, Band of Brothers. Edit

  • They were M-4 Sherman tanks designed to float into the beach, the DD means duplex drive, meaning they had a drive mechanism to propel them through the water as well as on land. The tanks were also equipped with an inflatable skirt to provide buoyancy. These floating tanks had a very low freeboard, however and could swamp easily in rough seas. That's exactly what happened at D-Day. most of the DD Sherman's went straight to the bottom when launched, drowning their crews. One battalion, on orders from Rear Admiral Kirk rode their LCT's right to the beach and unloaded it without any difficulty. Of the 29 launched 5000m offshore only two made it to the beach. Edit

  • The defense plan called for Mellish and Henderson to fire and displace or "shoot and scoot" or fire for a few minutes from one location then fall back to another location and fire for another few minutes. It would have the effect of being able to target the enemy from different angles and also create a harder target for the Germans.

    Mellish mentioned to Upham they would be falling back like crazy. Despite its name, a light machine gun and all it's accessories isn't all that light to carry. The M1919 already weighed 31 pounds and when loaded with an ammo belt it would weigh even more. Plus, operating the gun was a two-man procedure, with one aiming and firing while the other would carry belts of ammo and replace the belts when they ran out. The last thing Mellish and Henderson wanted to be burdened with while they're bugging out is carrying extra ammunition. it made sense to keep it at a rearward location and have Upham distribute it as needed. Edit

  • Some viewers thought he was saying CADAFF CADAFF, but he was actually saying C.A.T.F. which is Commander Amphibious Task Force. Edit

  • That is the division patch of the 29th Infantry Division, a National Guard Division with troops from Virginia, Maryland and D.C. it was known as the Blue-Gray Division because it had regiments with ties to both the Confederate and Union armies. All U.S. soldiers wear their division patch on their left shoulder. Edit

  • The coxswains unloading their troops too far out caused some of this. In many cases, however there were deep pools of water caused by exploding Naval shells that had fallen short. these deep holes couldn't be seen from the landing craft and so troops who thought they were unloading into shallow water stepped off into water that was 30 ft deep in some cases. Edit

  • "Solitude" by Duke Ellington. Edit

  • "Tu Es Partout" (You are Everywhere). Edit

  • They were doing triage which is the process of prioritizing medical care when resources are not available to treat all patients equally. Medics and doctors on Omaha Beach had little in the way of supplies in order to treat wounded and, in many cases, had to suffice with little more than sulfa powder, morphine, and bandages. Edit

  • It is eiderdown that blows into the air when they get hit by a bullet. They used eiderdown because it was a very warm filling for their assault jackets. Eider is still rarely used in the manufacture of some sleeping pillows and quilts. Edit

  • "Comp" is short for Composition B, an explosive its used as a burster in rockets, land mines and projectiles, its a mixture of RDX and TNT. The chemical composition of the compound made it a more stable explosive than TNT so it could be carried by soldiers and demo experts without the fear of it suddenly exploding like sticks of TNT might when jostled too heavily. Edit

  • The World War II M1A1 Bangalore Torpedo was a pipe-shaped Class V anti-personnel mine-clearing charge capable of blasting a ten- to 20-foot wide path through a minefield or section of barbed wire. It was typically filled with TNT. Short connecting sleeves were used to attach the threaded ends of two or more tubes in order to create a longer explosive device. A rounded nose sleeve was placed on the leading end of a tube in order to push the tube through obstacles. The torpedo was set off by placing a blasting cap in the recessed end cap well and igniting it with a time-delayed (electric or non-electric) fuse, it was designed in 1912 by Captain McClintock, an engineer who worked for Bengal, Bombay and Madras Sappers and Miners. Developed in Bangalore, India, the original design was not intended for warfare, but to clear pre-existing barbed-wire obstacles leftover from the Boer War and Russo-Japanese War. Edit

  • They were chewing tobacco. Edit

  • It is protection from hostile observation and fire provided by an obstacle such as a hill, ridge, or bank. Edit

  • The Allies arbitrarily divided the beaches into sectors and assigned letters of the phonetic alphabet to them. In the alphabet of the time, A was Able, B was Baker, C was Charlie, D was Dog, E was Easy, and so on. Omaha sectors were Able through George while Utah Beach had Peter through William. Each sector was further subdivided into three colors, Green, White, and Red (West to East). Not all the sectors would be used. Omaha, for instance, was only going to use Charlie through Fox. Easy Sector on Omaha was only divided into Red and Green. The 29th Infantry Division, 5th Rangers and Charlie Company, 2nd Rangers were to land on Dog Green. The 1st Infantry Division landed at Easy Red and Green. Edit

  • The Rangers are elite infantry of the U.S. Army. The U.S. Marines did not fight in Europe during World War II. The Rangers were hand-picked volunteers from other U.S. infantry divisions and were modeled upon the British commandos. Their motto, "Rangers Lead the Way" was earned on Omaha Beach. The name Rangers was taken from Rodger's Rangers, the special American scouting force that served the British Army during the French-and-Indians War. Their job was to "range" ahead of the main army and locate the enemy. Kenneth Roberts' book "Northwest Passage" was about the Rodger's Rangers. Edit

  • With the exception of paratroopers, American infantrymen, including the Rangers, wore the puttees. However, paratroopers, did not. They bloused their trousers over the top of their jump boots. It led to the distinction of non-Airborne soldiers being known as "straight-leg" or "leg" infantry. In the scene at the gliders when the airborne troops are filing past Miller's men, some of the troops are wearing puttees while others have their trousers bloused over their boots. The ones with the puttees are glider troops. Even though they were in an airborne division, glider infantrymen were not accorded the "privilege" of blousing their trousers. In fact, the poor glider troops were not even given the jump pay that their parachuting comrades received, even though going to war in a flimsy glider was probably just as dangerous and more terrifying than dropping in via parachute. Edit

  • The U.S. Army was segregated during World War II. Although black units did see combat during the war, the only black units that landed on D-Day were part of the 320th Barrage Balloon (the silvery-balloons flying above the beach) Battalion.

    During WWII, Black americans were not allowed to be part of the "regular" Army or Airborne divisions, although they served in many other capacities to help US win the war. Edit

  • Unfortunately, yes. This happened on all sides of the conflict and isn't all that unusual for soldiers who have been in deadly combat seeing their best friend killed to want to take revenge. Also, since soldiers are trained to hate their enemy and see them simply as "things" that want to kill them, it wasn't uncommon for soldiers to take that too far with surrendering enemies. Edit

  • The Battle of Kasserine Pass was a battle of the Tunisia Campaign of World War II that took place in February 1943. Kasserine Pass is a 2-mile-wide gap in the Grand Dorsal chain of the Atlas Mountains in west central Tunisia Edit

  • In the book, he was awarded it posthumously. In the film, however, he wasn't given the Medal of Honor. At the Omaha Beach cemetery, the winners of the Medal of Honor have the name on their cross highlighted with gold lettering. Miller's cross wasn't. Edit

  • Wearing your chinstrap in combat wasn't a good idea, the concussion from an exploding artillery round could blow your helmet off with such force, that if your chinstrap was fastened it would take your head, or at very least your jaw, with it. Edit

  • No, not really. There is no evidence of any such mission. While the U.S. military does have a policy of excusing the last remaining members of a family from combat after their siblings have been killed-known as the Sole Survivor Policy, officially implemented in 1948 but followed de facto before then - they never sent a unit into enemy territory to "save" anyone. The real soldier upon which the film is based, Frederick Niland, was simply taken out of active duty and sent home when it was learned that his three brothers were dead (though his eldest brother, Edward, was later revealed to be alive in a Japanese POW camp and ended up outliving Frederick) Edit

  • Jackson could simply have been slightly wounded, or even missed completely, and was simply knocked to the floor by those around him who were hit. He could even have just hit the deck when the guns opened up Edit

  • Sniping needs stability - the movement of the waves under the lCVP would disrupt their aim so badly that they wouldn't have much hope of hitting anything. Edit

  • A runner was a military courier, a foot soldier responsible for carrying messages during war. Runners were very important to military communications, before telecommunications became commonplace. It could be very dangerous work, as we see when the runner is shot to death in the crossfire. Edit

  • The 8.8 cm Flak gun 18/36/37/41 was a German 88 mm anti-aircraft and anti-tank artillery gun from World War II. It was widely used by Germany throughout the war, and was one of the most recognized German weapons of that conflict development of the original model led to a wide variety of guns. Edit

  • The MG-42 (shortened from German: Maschinengewehr 42, or "machine gun 42) is a 7.92×57mm Mauser general purpose machine gun designed in Nazi Germany and used extensively by the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS during the second half of World War II. It was intended to replace the earlier MG 34, which was more expensive and took much longer to produce, but both weapons were produced until the end of the war.

    The gun was widely used throughout Europe by the Germans and had a distinctive sound when fired. It also featured a mechanism that allowed the barrel to be switched out quickly -- when the barrel would get to hot from sustained fire, a cooled barrel could be inserted to allow for longer fire on the enemy.

    Right before the raid on the radar outpost, Miller tells the men to advance slowly and carefully until the operators of the MG42 have to change out their barrels. While operating the '42, changing out the barrel could take several seconds where the man firing the gun can't shoot. Miller was telling them all to take advantage of that if the opportunity presented itself. Edit

  • Before they find Ryan, Miller and his squad encounter a Half-Track. A half-track or The Sd.Kfz. 251 (Sonderkraftfahrzeug 251) half-track was a WW2 German armored fighting vehicle designed by the Hanomag company, based on its earlier, unarmored Sd.Kfz. 11 vehicle. The Sd.Kfz. 251 was designed to transport the panzergrenadiers (German mechanized infantry) into battle. Sd.Kfz. 251s were the most widely produced German half-tracks of the war, with at least 15,252 vehicles and variants produced by various manufacturers, and were commonly referred to simply as "Hanomags" by both German and Allied soldiers. Edit



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