Does This Photo Show D-Day Paratroopers in 1944 and Today?

Similarities abound, but not exactly in the fashion outlined in a popular meme.

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Claim

A photograph shows paratroopers who dropped in France in 1944 along with modern images of them in the same airplane.

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Origin

A popular social media image purports to show a contemporaneous photograph of paratroopers about to drop into France on D-Day (June 6) as part of the Operation Overlord invasion of Europe by Allied troops in 1944, contrasted with a modern photograph of the same men in the same plane some 65 years later: 

Although these two images are somewhat related, they don’t quite bear as close a relationship as the caption that accompanies them states.

The first photograph shows paratroops of 1st (British) Airborne Division inside a C-47 transport aircraft on their way to drop into Holland to take part in Operation Market Garden in September 1944, three months after D-Day (although some of pictured men may also have taken part in the earlier operation in France):

paratroopers

The color photograph captures 25 veterans from the East Anglia branch of the Parachute Regimental Association taking a tour of a restored World War II airplane while visiting Colchester’s Merville Barracks in 2011:

Paratroopers past and present were given a tour of a restored Second World War plane which holds a special place in the hearts of all airborne forces.

The Dakota has been given pride of place by the front gate at Colchester Garrison.

Some 25 veterans from the East Anglia branch of the Parachute Regimental Association visited Colchester’s Merville Barracks to look around the Dakota, which is the type most paratroopers jumped from during the D-Day and Arnhem operations in the Second World War.

Although some of the men in this second photograph may indeed have parachuted into France on D-Day, they’re not the very same group captured in the first picture above. They hailed from a variety of different units, and at least some of them served in the Pacific rather than the European theater during World War II. And although the same type of airplane is shown in these two photographs (the C-47 Skytrain, also known as the Dakota), it is extremely unlikely that the very same aircraft is pictured in both photos.