Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Discussions on WW2 in Western Europe & the Atlantic.
Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 7387
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 18 Jan 2011 15:08

Got past the various distractions and made it through the various bits I have on the initial Naval Gun fire preperation for the beaches. Its not remotely clear if many of the concrete installations overlooking the beaches were destroyed or nuetralized by the preperatory fires. There are a lot of photos of destroyed gun and observation bunker, but little reliable indication if they were destroyed before the landing or after. The handfull of German accounts I've seen indicate some personnel casualties from near or direct hits, but they also imply the overall position was intact & able to fight as the first landing wave came in. Sorting through the fragment of the fire plan I have, and recalling some USN officer descriptions it would seem the bulk of the preperatory fire for Omaha beach was shot at 'suspected' positions, rather than at the precise actual locations. Add in the expected error from aim point for cannon projectiles @ 5000+ meters range, the defilade most of the bunkers were in, you cant expect the necessary direct hits in the short preperatory fires on these targets.

Judging from the German accounts the NGF preperation did suppress the defenders. >While They Were Under Fire<. As soon as the fire ceased recovery started & on at least Omaha beach and possiblly on Sword Beach the Germans had the necessary 10+ minutes to recover & stand to the guns after the preperatory fire ceased. On Omaha beach the air and rocket strike flaking out aggravated this.

At this point I seem to have a complete list of the ships avaialble for NGF, perhaps even some extras. Am checking the gun caliber for each with internet sources. If anyone can recomend a good quality source for these ships I'd appreciate it. Types like the destroyers and light cruisers seem to be tougher than the well known BB.

Thanks

User avatar
LWD
Member
Posts: 8584
Joined: 21 Sep 2005 21:46
Location: Michigan

Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by LWD » 18 Jan 2011 16:54

I think wiki is actually a pretty good source for this.
For USN look at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Un ... Navy_ships
For Destroyers see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_de ... tates_Navy
Cruisers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Un ... y_cruisers
Caliber of main armemanet should be very accurate. Numbers may change as will AA armament but they may include details on the individual ship or class pages.

RichTO90
Member
Posts: 4238
Joined: 22 Dec 2003 18:03

Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by RichTO90 » 18 Jan 2011 19:13

Carl Schwamberger wrote:At this point I seem to have a complete list of the ships avaialble for NGF, perhaps even some extras.
UTAH

Support Craft Group (TF 125.7), Lt. Comdr. L.E. Hart, USNR
LCH: LCI (L) 209 (F)
Gunfire Support Group TARE GREEN: LCT (A) 2310 (dmg), 2402 (snk), 2454 (dmg), and 2478
(dmg)
Gunfire Support Group UNCLE RED: LCT (A) 2282 (dmg), 2301 (snk), 2309 (dmg), and 2488
(dmg)
LCG (L): 5, 6, 7, and 893
LCT (R): 368, 425, 439, 448, and 481
LCF: 18, 22, 27, and 31
(12 LCS (S), 16 LCP (L))
Bombardment Group A (TF 125.8), R.Adm. Morton L. Deyo, USN
CA: USS Tuscaloosa (F), Quincy, and HMS Hawkins
BB: USS Nevada
MB: HMS Erebus
CL: HMS Black Prince and Enterprise
Sloop: HNMS Soemba
DD:
DESDIV 20: Forrest (DF), Fitch, Corry (snk), and Hobson
DESDIV 34: Butler (DF), Gherardi, Herndon, and Shubrick
DE: USS Bates and Rich (snk 8 June)

OMAHA

Gunfire Support Group (TF 124.8) (-), Captain Sabin, USN
LCH: LCI (L)-520 (F)
LCT (R)-483
(28 LCP (L) as assigned)
Gunfire Support Group O-2
LCT (A): 2124 (dmg), 2227, 2273 (snk), 2275; LCT (HE): 2050, 2075, 2229, 2307, and 2297
LCT (R): 450, 464, 473, and 482
LCG: 424, 426, 449, and 687
LCF: 3 and 5
Gunfire Support Group O-1
LCT (A): 2008, 2037, 2043, 2228; LCT (A-HE): 2049, 2287, 2339, 2425, and 2487
LCT (R): 366, 423, 447, and 452
LCG: 811
LCF: 6, 7, 9, 11, and 12
Bombardment Group C (TF 124.9), Rear-Admiral Bryant, USN
BB: USS Texas (F), Arkansas
CL: HMS Glasgow, FFN Montcalm and Georges Leygues
DD:
DESRON 18:
Division 35: USS Frankford (SF), Carmick, Doyle, Endicott, and McCook
Division 36: USS Baldwin (DF), Harding, Satterlee, and Thompson
DE (Hunt Class): HMS Tanatside, Talybont and Melbreak

Note that the DD's rotated between screening and bombardment duties...there were actually more present than shown here, but these are the ones primarily engaged in gunfire support on D-Day.

Cheers!
Richard Anderson
Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall: the 1st Assault Brigade Royal Engineers on D-Day
Stackpole Books, 2009.

Delta Tank
Member
Posts: 2245
Joined: 16 Aug 2004 01:51
Location: Pennsylvania

Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by Delta Tank » 26 Jan 2011 14:36

RichTO90,

What does the (F) mean from your post above:
BB: USS Texas (F), Arkansas
I was reading the number of BBs that we had available for fire support at Normandy and I was wondering how many did we have for the Makin Island operation? I thought that a huge number was up there at Makin for a regimental attack, whether we used them all for shore bombardment, I can't recall. But, why didn't the US Navy send more capital ships (CAs and BBs) for the initial bombardment? Was our plan to rely primarily on air bombardment?

Mike
PS Heavy Cruisers are capital ships??

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 7387
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 26 Jan 2011 18:57

Makin island was believed to be less well defended (which was correct).

Betio Island was understood to be the tough one: Without checking I'll say there were two BB. I think those were withdrawn after the preperatory fires, to wait on the expected Japanese air & naval counter attack. The preperatory fires lasted approx. four hours, but I dont remember how much ammo was fired. Will try to check these items tonight. Post landing the support fires were from some destroyers & posibilly a cruiser. On the second day a battalion of 75mm howitzers was set up on a adjacent island and added fire support.

"PS Heavy Cruisers are capital ships??" calbier of the guns is my consideration here. 6" are not, 10" are, 8" are borderline in the case of NGF onto shore targets.

Alexander identifies frequent references to "skipping" or ricochette projectiles. The two BB were firing a bit to close a range & there are many eyewitness references to projectiles skipping off the island without exploding. From school and field experience know that when the angle of fall is 15 degrees or less the probability of skipped rounds increases dramatically. It was a serious safety consideration when training on small firing ranges.

Five years ago I talked to a individual who had cross checked the preinvasion intel photos and maps of Betio against the post battle survey. He judged the bombardment plan to not have been accurate enough to actually destroy many bunkers. That is to few direct hits & penetrations of the structures. If this is correct then it is similar to what I am seeing on the Normandy beaches. The preperatory fires were not aimed accurately enough, due to camoflage, defilade, dummy, haze... to destroy a significant number of bunkers/gun positions. Direct hits are required to nuetralize these structures & there were not enough of them.

" But, why didn't the US Navy send more capital ships (CAs and BBs) for the initial bombardment? Was our plan to rely primarily on air bombardment?"

The Central Pacific offensive was at full throttle & King was not going to reduce that to add ships for a couple days work for Op. Neptune. At least thats the simple version. I've seen all sorts of technical explinations that go far beyond that. And, yes it was expected air bombardment, rocket barges, DD tanks, and Funnies, would fill in with decisive fire support. While it is not the entire difference there is a clear difference in the ease of the assualt between Omaha where the air bombardment failed & Utah where it more or less succeded. German eyewitness accounts describe on Omaha defenders that were barely suppressed by the naval gunfire. On Utah a significant part of the defending soldiers were still 'stunned' when the first wave came ashore & the overall defense might be described as 'very suppressed' or perhaps 'nuetralized'. That does not cover all the differences, but it is the first important fire support effect on both beaches.

RichTO90
Member
Posts: 4238
Joined: 22 Dec 2003 18:03

Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by RichTO90 » 26 Jan 2011 23:53

Delta Tank wrote:RichTO90,

What does the (F) mean from your post above:
BB: USS Texas (F), Arkansas
Task Force, Task Group, Squadron, Flotilla, or Division Flag.
But, why didn't the US Navy send more capital ships (CAs and BBs) for the initial bombardment? Was our plan to rely primarily on air bombardment?
Time, space, and availability considerations? The desire to not shut down operations in the Med and Pacific? Why do you think more would have made a difference?

Cheers!
Richard Anderson
Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall: the 1st Assault Brigade Royal Engineers on D-Day
Stackpole Books, 2009.

User avatar
Takao
Member
Posts: 2990
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 19:27
Location: Reading, Pa

Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by Takao » 27 Jan 2011 02:13

For the Makin Island invasion the bombardment Forces consisted of:

TG 52.2 - Fire Support Group
CTG RAdm Giffen

TU 52.2.1 - Fire Support Unit 1
CTU RAdm Giffen
BB Pennsylvania/FF,GF, Idaho
CA Minneapolis/UF, San Francisco (till 11/26)
DD DesDiv1: Dewey, Hull

TU 52.2.2 - Fire Support Unit 2
CTU RAdm Robert M. Griffin (ComBatDiv3)
BB BatDiv3: New Mexico/UF, Mississippi
CA New Orleans, Baltimore
DD Gridley, Maury

TU 52.2.3 - Fire Support Unit 3
CTU Cap R. E. Libby (ComDesRon1)
DD Phelps/UF, MacDonough
http://pacific.valka.cz/forces/tf52.htm#4304
with close air support provided by the CVEs; Liscombe Bay, Coral Sea, and Corregidor.

Just to the south, for the invasion of Tarawa, the bombardment force consisted of:

TG 53.4 - Fire Support Group
CTG RAdm H.F. Kingman

TU 53.4.1 - Fire Support Section 1
CTG RAdm H.F. Kingman
BB Tennessee
DD Bailey, Frazier

TU 53.4.2 - Fire Support Section 2
CTU RAdm Laurece T. DuBose
BB Maryland/FF
CL Santa Fe
DD Gansevoort, Meade

TU 53.4.3 - Fire Support Section 3
CTU Cap W. Grant
BB Colorado
CA Portland
DD Anderson, Russell

TU 53.4.4 - Fire Support Section 4
CTU Cdr Henry Crommelin (ComDesDiv50)
DD Ringgold/UF, Dashiel

TU 53.4.5 - Fire Support Section 5
CTU Cap E.R. Johnson
CA Indianapolis/FltF
DD Schroeder (till 11/24)
http://pacific.valka.cz/forces/tf53.htm#galvan
With close air support provide by the CVEs; Sangamon, Suwannee, and Chenango.

As to why there were less major warships at D-Day. Let's face facts. The war in Europe was not going to be a naval war, thus the extra warships are just not needed. Once he shores of France are secured, the warships are "out of business". To which, all of the US battleships at D-Day ended up, at the start of 1945, in the Pacific. Also, I strongly doubt that the success of the Normandy invasion will turn on an extra battleship or two, and if it did, well then, the troops most likely should not be invading.

Delta Tank
Member
Posts: 2245
Joined: 16 Aug 2004 01:51
Location: Pennsylvania

Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by Delta Tank » 27 Jan 2011 16:20

Takao,

What does this mean?
BB Pennsylvania/FF,GF, Idaho
FF? GF? (general fires??)
CA Minneapolis/UF
UF??

Takao wrote:
As to why there were less major warships at D-Day. Let's face facts. The war in Europe was not going to be a naval war, thus the extra warships are just not needed. Once he shores of France are secured, the warships are "out of business". To which, all of the US battleships at D-Day ended up, at the start of 1945, in the Pacific. Also, I strongly doubt that the success of the Normandy invasion will turn on an extra battleship or two, and if it did, well then, the troops most likely should not be invading.
I agree, but I always wondered if with a couple of more BBs and some additional CAs at Omaha Beach the fight might of been a little different. This was the main effort, in the decisisve theater, and the US Navy sent three!!!! BB's and at Makin we had 4 BBs for a regimental attack!! It just does not make sense to me. The BB's could be used in the Normandy Campaign for about two or so months and then they could back to "Ernie King's Ocean". :D

Mike

User avatar
Takao
Member
Posts: 2990
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 19:27
Location: Reading, Pa

Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by Takao » 27 Jan 2011 17:23

I can't find the original source material that the website used. But the USS Pennsylvania was the flagship, so, I am guessing that FF is "Force Flagship", but I know GF is "Group Flagship" and UF is "Unit Flagship".

Such as the Pennsylvania was both the Force Flagship for Task Force 52 and the Group Flagship for Task Group 52.2, and the USS Minneapolis was the Unit Flagship for TU 52.2.1 - Fire Support Unit 1(even though she was in the same unit as the FF/GF USS Pennsylvania).

Delta Tank
Member
Posts: 2245
Joined: 16 Aug 2004 01:51
Location: Pennsylvania

Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by Delta Tank » 27 Jan 2011 18:20

Thanks! I probably would of never figured that out on my own.

Mike

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 7387
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 27 Jan 2011 21:38

Alexander 'Utmost Savagery' explains the larger group near Makin Island as having the primary mission of intercepting Japanese surface forces. It was thought that was closer to the most likely direction they would come from. Attacking Makin with the BB & cruisers was apparently a secondary mission. The BB attacking Betio Island had orders to reserve one third of their ammunition for surface action, Alexander does not indicate if the order to TG 52.2 set aside the same ammount, or a larger quantity. Neither does he indicate if all the ships of TG 52.2 were used against Makin Island.

The list for TG 53.4 leaves out two destroyer minesweepers which also fired on Betio island.

Delta Tank
Member
Posts: 2245
Joined: 16 Aug 2004 01:51
Location: Pennsylvania

Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by Delta Tank » 27 Jan 2011 23:03

Carl Schwamberger wrote:Alexander 'Utmost Savagery' explains the larger group near Makin Island as having the primary mission of intercepting Japanese surface forces. It was thought that was closer to the most likely direction they would come from. Attacking Makin with the BB & cruisers was apparently a secondary mission. The BB attacking Betio Island had orders to reserve one third of their ammunition for surface action, Alexander does not indicate if the order to TG 52.2 set aside the same ammount, or a larger quantity. Neither does he indicate if all the ships of TG 52.2 were used against Makin Island.

The list for TG 53.4 leaves out two destroyer minesweepers which also fired on Betio island.
Carl,

I read that book and you are correct, from my memory bank, they had more BBs up there just in case Japanese surface units attempted to intercept/disrupt the landings. But, still the largest amphibious invasion in history, where there were not going to be any re-do's and the US Navy sent a very small bombardment force. And if you believe Carlo D'Este in his book "Decision Normandy" the US Navy was not going to send what they did, until they were basically "shamed" into it.

Mike

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 7387
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 27 Jan 2011 23:21

My gun count of the Normandy fire support is not complete, but just glancing at the OB Rich gave us for the Utah Beach fire support group & comparing to the Betio Island FSG it looks like the Utah force is near equal in large guns and heavier in the medium & light naval guns. I'd have to look at assualts like Huskey, Avalance, Shingle, Dragoon to judge if it were comparatively small.

In terms of the over all task and the other unproven preperatory fire techniques the NGF preperation does look a bit lite. While more big guns would be really nice to have there are also important problems in target identification, duration, timing, communication, command and control. It is correct more big gun NGF ships were not critical to the ultimate outcome. But, it is clear the Allied advance across & off the beaches was hampered by a anemic NGF preperation

Delta Tank
Member
Posts: 2245
Joined: 16 Aug 2004 01:51
Location: Pennsylvania

Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by Delta Tank » 28 Jan 2011 01:17

Carl Schwamberger wrote:My gun count of the Normandy fire support is not complete, but just glancing at the OB Rich gave us for the Utah Beach fire support group & comparing to the Betio Island FSG it looks like the Utah force is near equal in large guns and heavier in the medium & light naval guns. I'd have to look at assualts like Huskey, Avalance, Shingle, Dragoon to judge if it were comparatively small.

In terms of the over all task and the other unproven preperatory fire techniques the NGF preperation does look a bit lite. While more big guns would be really nice to have there are also important problems in target identification, duration, timing, communication, command and control. It is correct more big gun NGF ships were not critical to the ultimate outcome. But, it is clear the Allied advance across & off the beaches was hampered by a anemic NGF preperation
Carl,

It was anemic because we were landing on a continent versus landing on an island that had been isolated. A one or two day preparation of the Normandy beaches would of tipped our hand, but beating up an island in the Pacific for three or four days that has been isolated by the US Navy, also tips our hand, but so what! :D But, if we had more NGF ships for that short bombardment period, it may of helped, just can't tell from here. I guess if the Army Air Corps would of flown low over Omaha Beach and parallel to the beach, like they did at Utah, that would of helped big time!

Mike

User avatar
Takao
Member
Posts: 2990
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 19:27
Location: Reading, Pa

Re: Fire Support Battle In Normandy

Post by Takao » 28 Jan 2011 01:52

I feel that your "crying over spilt milk," because the Royal Navy, at first, only used three battleships(HMS Ramillies, HMS Rodney, and HMS Warspite) and two monitors(HMS Erebus and HMS Roberts). The British also had a fourth battleship, HMS Nelson, held in reserve, which would not go into action until June 10th, 1944.

Also, there was the full weight of the RAF and US Eighth Air Force that could be brought to bear on the German forces. Whereas, in the week prior to Tarawa & Makin, 7th Air Force B-24s flew some 150 sorties(With the largest mission consisting of only 31 B-24s, and that struck both Tarawa and Makin). Of course, this does not include the carrier planes, but still, there was a far greater amount of airpower that could be brought to bear on the Normandy beaches, as opposed to that for Makin & Tarawa.

Now for a question, as it has been some time since I read up on the Normandy invasion. The US Navy was using CVEs to provide close air support for the invasions, but did the US Army have anything comparable for the Normandy invasions?

Return to “WW2 in Western Europe & the Atlantic”