When We Arrived in Normandy, June 1944: Lawrence Ferlinghetti Photographs
Thursday September 5, 2019
3:00 PM - 9:30 PM
As commanding officer in the Navy in World War II, the 25 year old Ferlinghetti was at the helm of a submarine chaser, SC 1308, in the D–Day landing on the coast of Normandy in 1944. Later, after the atomic bomb obliterated Nagasaki, he witnessed firsthand the horrific ruins of the city. This experience was the origin of his lifelong antiwar stance.

The photos in this exhibition have never been shown. They were taken, developed and printed by Ferlinghetti with a Navy issue camera in a small lab on board the SC 1308 that he commanded.

One set begins with the converging of troops in England, images of the young crew that the young Ferlinghetti was responsible for, D–Day dawn on June 6, 1944, and some of the ship traffic off the coast that he was assigned to protect.

In a storm on June 19, Ferlinghetti saved the sub chaser from running aground and took the ship back to England for repairs. After returning to Normandy, Cherbourg had been liberated and Ferlinghetti and the crew were allowed ashore.

The second set of photos, all taken in September 1944, shows the city, opera house turned headquarters, the bombed out harbor and submarine pens where the German U–boats had been hiding.

We wish to offer a very special Thank You to the Harvey Milk Photo Center staff, for the incredible work and presentation with Lawrence’s photos. The quality of the prints, matting, and respect for the integrity of the originals. (by not retouching, and retaining the beautiful effects of the passage of time on these contact prints, discovered in two small boxes hidden in Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s roll-top desk…)

Curated by Dave Christensen, Director of Harvey Milk Photo Center, and Maria Gilardin, Radio Producer/Journalist.

Photo: Dawn, D–Day, June 6, 1944, Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Harvey Milk Photo Center
50 Scott St, San Francisco [map]