Before and after D-Day: Color photos from England and France, 1944

It's no mystery why images of unremitting violence spring to mind when one hears the deceptively simple term "D-Day."

We've all seen -- in photos, movies, old news reels -- what happened on the beaches of Normandy (code named Omaha, Utah, Juno, Gold and Sword) as the Allies unleashed an historic assault against German defenses on June 6, 1944.

But in color photos taken before and after the invasion, LIFE magazine's Frank Scherschel captured countless other, lesser-known scenes from the run-up to the onslaught and the heady weeks after:

-- American troops training in small English towns.

-- The French countryside, implausibly lush after the spectral landscape of the beachheads.

-- The reception GIs enjoyed en route to the capital.

-- The jubilant liberation of Paris itself.

    See the entire gallery and read the full story on Life.com.

        D-Day

      • American troops help their injured comrades from a dinghy after their landing craft was fired upon.  There are no official casualty figures for the D-Day invasion.

        For the 70th anniversary of D-Day, it is an opportunity to look at the past in detail and ask how much of what we think we know is true.
      • World War II veteran of the U.S. 29th Infantry Division, Morley Piper, 90, Mass., salutes during a D-Day commemoration, on Omaha Beach in Vierville sur Mer, western France , Friday June 6, 2014.

        WWII veteran Jim "Pee Wee" Martin acted as if he'd been here before, as though jumping from a plane is as easy as falling off a log.
      • Stephen Colbert gets emotional about D-Day

        Stephen Colbert shed his comedic alter ego, stepping out of character to share the story of his uncle, 1st Lt. Andrew Edward Tuck III, and his service on D-Day.
      • Val Lauder

        Four days before the invasion, General Dwight D. Eisenhower was still undecided. If the landings went ahead, casualties would be high.