Bloody Omaha Beach

Discussions on WW2 in Western Europe & the Atlantic.
Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Bloody Omaha Beach

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 15 Feb 2015 00:42

Nice to see some posts on this thread

Felix C
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Re: Bloody Omaha Beach

Post by Felix C » 18 Feb 2015 01:31

I learned more about Omaha Beach from this site and the links to specialized websites. I mean as far as timelines, movement off the beach,etc.

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Bloody Omaha Beach

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 15 Mar 2015 13:05

Felix. Thank Rich for that. He has the most complete body of research of anyone who posts here.

Delta Tank
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Re: Bloody Omaha Beach

Post by Delta Tank » 12 Jun 2015 17:09

I will be in Normandy 26-29 June 2015. Will be on Omaha Beach on 28 June. I hope the weather is good!

Mike

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Re: Bloody Omaha Beach

Post by RichTO90 » 12 Jun 2015 17:34

Delta Tank wrote:I will be in Normandy 26-29 June 2015. Will be on Omaha Beach on 28 June. I hope the weather is good!

Mike
Mike,

I urge you to read/take with you both Balkoski's OMAHA and John McManus' The Dead and Those About to Die. The latter especially fills in the missing narrative of the 1st Division on D-Day, which has always gotten short shrift since Ryan's Longest Day.

Delta Tank
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Re: Bloody Omaha Beach

Post by Delta Tank » 12 Jun 2015 20:01

Rich,

Rich wrote:
I urge you to read/take with you both Balkoski's OMAHA and John McManus' The Dead and Those About to Die. The latter especially fills in the missing narrative of the 1st Division on D-Day, which has always gotten short shrift since Ryan's Longest Day.
I have read McManus' book and I am taking Balkoski's book on Omaha. Only so much room, weight, space, and then arguing with the wife about weight space, and room!! :D

Thanks for the advice, maybe I will take McManus' book. . . ?

Mike

Delta Tank
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Re: Bloody Omaha Beach

Post by Delta Tank » 12 Jun 2015 20:40

Maybe I should see if they have it in that electronic format and put it on my I-Pad.

Mike

Delta Tank
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Re: Bloody Omaha Beach

Post by Delta Tank » 15 Jun 2015 12:16

Rich,
The day we go to Omaha Beach, my plan is as follows: Park by the Cemetery, visit the graves of BG Roosevelt, LT Monteith, and LT Turnbull, Let everyone look at the statue and the maps on the walls in the open building thingy behind the statue. Then to the overlook, orient them to the terrain, discuss the landing plan briefly, then talk about LT Spalding and CPT Dawson. Walk over to where Spalding and his men took the resistance nest overlooking E-1 Draw. Discuss Dawson's company advance up the bluffs and then onto into Colleville, we may go to Colleville at the end of the day. Then discuss why Dawson did not attack WN 62. Then down the bluffs and over to F-1 Draw and discuss the actions of L Company 16th Infantry and explore WN 60. Of course we will look at the 88mm gun in WN 61 on the way to F-1 Draw. Along the way I will tell some stories that CPT Albert H Smith Jr. (later Major General Smith) told me about his actions on D-Day, where he set up the 1st Bn. 16th Infantry CP, (on D-Day he was the battalion XO) where he almost drowned after crossing the shingle, and his short conversation he had with BG Wyman, "Al are your men using fire and movement?" "Yes Sir, the Germans are firing and we are moving!"

At the end of that it will be time for lunch, lunch at Omaha Beach Cafe which is located in E-3 Draw. I think I have the name of the restaurant correct or close enough.

After lunch, we will discuss the actions of BG Cota, C Company 116th Infantry, 5th Rangers, and then down to D-1 Draw. Explore that area, talk briefly about A Company 116th Infantry, the 88mm gun located there, and then up the bluff to the "Fortified House" and the actions of the company from the 2d Rangers and the one boast section from the 116th Infantry. edited to add, we will go out to Pointe de la Percee. I have a list of all the weapons that were in each resistance nest, and I am taking along Zaloga's little book on D-Day fortifications.

This is all from memory, notes all packed.

That should be a full day.

What do you think? We fly at 1700 today!

Mike

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Re: Bloody Omaha Beach

Post by ShaneW » 25 Sep 2015 00:21

Hey guys! fantastic thread.
Mike, I made my sojourn to Omaha beach this past March. I had very little time so my plan was focused on standing on Dog Red where my grandfather landed with the 5th Rangers. He was part of the FO party for the 58th AFA Bn who came in on the LCAs. I am still looking for the battle plan of the 58th AFA Bn, but based on Gen John Raaen's Intact, Gen Donald Bennett's Honor Untarnished, and Fran Baker's Highways of Hot Steel, and Granddad's verbal accounts, I have pieced together the following.

The plan was for the FO party to land with the 5th Rangers at H-hour (this is from Fran's book and Granddad saying that he landed at H-hour), we know now that that did not happen. Actually the 5th were held by Schneider awaiting word from the 2nd Rangers at the Pointe who landed late due to the cross currents. When the "go" was given, they were rerouted from the original (secondary) location of Dog Green by the Navy beach-master to further left to land on open beach that was covered by the smoke/haze/fog--Dog Red/Dog White.
The obvious mission of my grandfather's party was to establish forward observation and spot for the M7s (105 mm Howitzer Motorcarriage (SP)) of their battalion. Based on the battle plan of the 62nd AFA Bn (Bennett's command) the M7s were planned to land within the first 2 hours, but that did not happen due to the choked beaches, rough seas, and German resistance. Functioning AFA Bns did not form up until much later in the day. The 58th were further handicapped when their CO, Bernard McQuade, http://valor.militarytimes.com/recipien ... ntid=26378 was killed immediately upon disembarking from his landing craft.

The planners also wanted the M7s to lay down cover fire from the LCTs on the approach. How in the world they could do that effectively on a pitching and yawing craft on rough seas is beyond me. Thus the only effective cover fire once the infantry were on the beach came from naval ships. They were spotted by FO parties like my grandfather's.

Granddad made his way with the 5th Rangers over the beach, across the beach road, through the wire, and up the bluffs to the coastal road. There the 5th Rangers began their trek toward the Pointe to relieve the 2nd Rangers. Granddad was examined by the Ranger's medical detachment for his injuries during the landing on the evening of D-Day at the farm house/barn near Vierville where the 5th Rangers made camp. He was sent down to the beach the following morning for evacuation to England ending his time with the 58th. Unfortunately, he was never awarded the Purple Heart because the evacuated wounded of the 58th were not named in the reports, and we have still been unable to obtain any copy of the records of his treatment at the GH back in England. He was only there for 3 months before being reassigned to the 81st FA Bn when they landed in France in September.

It was an unforgettable experience for me to walk where he walked and see what the assault terrain may have looked like. Yet truly understanding the horror of the day is beyond my comprehension.

If anyone has any other info about AFA Bns and their role during the Omaha Beach landings, please point me in that direction.

Thanks!
Shane

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Re: Bloody Omaha Beach

Post by rpcrowe » 17 Jan 2016 18:35

IMO the horrendous casualties experienced on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 can be directly linked to the Army Air Corps cavalier disregard of Close Air Support (CAS) doctrines.

There was no napalm used on the German positions on the ridges overlooking Omaha Beach. There was no close air support by light attack aircraft using rockets and machine guns.

The medium bomber attacks on the ridges were by level bombing with the planes flying at right angles to the ridge line. Therefore in a matter of seconds, the aircraft were inland beyond the ridges where they probably dropped their bombs on some French cows :o

The German positions were in a relatively thin line along the crest of the ridge. This would have been a perfect target for attacks by dive bombers and fighter bombers flying along the line of the crest rather than at right angles to the crest line.

The landings in the Pacific attested to the capabilities of concentrated CAS along with well directed naval gunfire. In fact, in battles like Okinawa, the Japanese commanders did not use the majority of their forces to oppose the initial landing due to capability the CAS and naval gunfire support of the U.S. Forces.

I strongly suspect also, that well coordinated CAS by fighters, fighter bombers and fighters, especially using napalm, would have made the hedgerow fighting easier for U.S, troops.

The allied air power had total control of the air during the Normandy invasion and during the following fight in the hedgerows. If they had used their air power as flying pinpoint artillery, such as the Luftwaffe used the Stukas, both Normandy and the hedgerow battles would have been less costly to the allies.

Finally, I believe that a smoke screen between the crest and the beach at Omaha would have prevented a great number of casualties from machine gun fire.

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Manuferey
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Re: Bloody Omaha Beach

Post by Manuferey » 17 Jan 2016 22:50

rpcrowe wrote:I strongly suspect also, that well coordinated CAS by fighters, fighter bombers and fighters, especially using napalm, would have made the hedgerow fighting easier for U.S, troops.
Hedgerows start inland in Normandy and are not present on the bluffs overlooking the various Omaha Beach exits.

Since many Germans were entrenched in bunkers, napalm might not have done as much harm as one can think (see the napalm bombing of MKB Cézembre in St-Malo later in August 1944), nor would have small bombs or rockets unless able to hit embrasures directly.

A longer naval bombardment could have possibly destroyed more German defenses at Omaha Beach: big shells from cruisers and battleships can do a lot of damage and can be more accurately delivered than big bombs. Several naval projectiles entered German big gun casemates through the embrasures (see at MKB Marcouf and HKB Azeville for instance) and disabled the guns inside.

Also, if you look at Utah Beach, casualties were much lower than at Omaha Beach but there was no CAS there either. B-26 from the US Army Air Forces performed low level saturation bombing parallel to the beach and naval bombardment was also very successful.

Using napalm in the hedgerow fighting could have killed a lot of Allied soldiers since close-combat was the norm and it was difficult to know where exactly the front line was. See how many US casualties happened when the B-17 bombed the front line as the opening of Operation Cobra. I don't think the American public back home would have accepted kindly that their sons had been "mistakenly" burnt with napalm.

Emmanuel

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Re: Bloody Omaha Beach

Post by paulrward » 18 Jan 2016 04:14

Hello All ;

To Mr. RPCrowe: The main reasons for the horific losses at Omaha was the loss of 27 out of 29 of the DD Sherman tanks due to heavy surf. The waves swamped the tanks, sinking them with their crews. As a result, there was no
armor to oppose the German machine gun nests and fortification on the bluff overlooking the beach.

Imagine if you can, the scene from the opening of Saving Private Ryan, if suddenly two dozen Shermans come waddling out of the surf, elevate their guns, and begin blasting the German emplacements with 75mm HE Shells and their 50 and 30 caliber machine guns. I am sure you can see that the losses to the U.S. Infantry would have been far lower.

This is what happened at Utah, and, to a lesser extent, at Gold and Sword Beaches. The result was the German defensive positions were quickly overwhelmed and the landings secured.

At Juno Beach, only a few tanks got ashore, but they were not needed. The German defenses were thinner, and the infantry was able to push past them.

Only at Omaha were the Shermans truly essential, and only at Omaha were they lacking. This is the problem of Combined Arms Warfare. If you lack one of the combination, you can get into trouble very quickly.

Respectfully ;

Paul R. Ward
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Re: Bloody Omaha Beach

Post by Richard Anderson » 18 Jan 2016 07:07

paulrward wrote: To Mr. RPCrowe: The main reasons for the horific losses at Omaha was the loss of 27 out of 29 of the DD Sherman tanks due to heavy surf. The waves swamped the tanks, sinking them with their crews. As a result, there was no
armor to oppose the German machine gun nests and fortification on the bluff overlooking the beach.
No Mr. Ward, I'm afraid you have that incorrect. On OMAHA Beach in the 16th Infantry sector, the 741st Tank Battalion launched 29 of its 32 DD tanks and lost 27. Two managed to land, along with three landed directly. An additional 12 M4 with 6 M4 dozers were landed with the wading tank company, along with later in the morning three from the battalion reserve and three from battalion HQ. So 29 actually landed there. The 116th Infantry had even more land in their sector. There, the DD tanks were all directly landed, the 743d Tank Battalion landed 51, plus 6 more later from the reserve and HQ.

The problem was OMAHA had the greatest concentration of antitank guns and were very effectively placed. Most of the day the 743rd remained trapped in a narrow area of the beach, hemmed in by the 88 in WN72. The Battalion Commander, Lieutenant Colonel John S. Upham, landed at H+90 with the six reserve and headquarters tanks. He was shot in the heart and mortally wounded after dismounting from his tank in an attempt to direct the fire of another tank onto the 88mm gun at WN 72. The tanks from the 741st did yeoman service in suppressing the German guns at the east end of the beach, but by the end of the day only 6 of the 29 landed were still operational. The 743d still had 37 operational at the end of the day, but curiously enough the casualties in the 116th Infantry were about the same as in the 16th.
Imagine if you can, the scene from the opening of Saving Private Ryan, if suddenly two dozen Shermans come waddling out of the surf, elevate their guns, and begin blasting the German emplacements with 75mm HE Shells and their 50 and 30 caliber machine guns. I am sure you can see that the losses to the U.S. Infantry would have been far lower.
Evidently Spielberg didn't want to spring for a mockup DD tank and none of the people contributing real tanks wanted to put them in the surf,
This is what happened at Utah, and, to a lesser extent, at Gold and Sword Beaches. The result was the German defensive positions were quickly overwhelmed and the landings secured.
UTAH was very different for a number of reasons, tanks were one of them, but not the only one. Much less effective defenses, struck providentially because the force was landed at the wrong location, mostly because the Medium bombers flew at much lower altitude, below the cloud cover, but even there it mostly a fluke the bombs were so effective.
At Juno Beach, only a few tanks got ashore, but they were not needed. The German defenses were thinner, and the infantry was able to push past them.and more effective bombing
No, the two regiments of 2 CAB in the assault each had 58 Sherman tanks, including 2 with 17-pdr. So roughly the same allocation in the landing as the American forces. There was no effective bombing on any of the Commonwealth beaches.
Only at Omaha were the Shermans truly essential, and only at Omaha were they lacking. This is the problem of Combined Arms Warfare. If you lack one of the combination, you can get into trouble very quickly.
They weren't "lacking", but more would have been nice. There were many other problems in play, not least of all the terrain and German defenses.
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Re: Bloody Omaha Beach

Post by Sheldrake » 18 Jan 2016 10:47

There is a report in signals log of the 352nd Infantry Division timed at 07.45 hours from IR No 916: near WN 70 that three tanks were rolling up the hill; three tanks had penetrated into NW 66 and that the upper casemate of WN 62 had been put out of action by a direct hit.

This suggests that the 743 made a nuisance of themselves. It is probably that it was a tank round which silenced the 75mm gun in the upper casemate of WN62
352 ID report tanks 0745.jpg
This diagram is from Ian Kershaw's book. WN 70 and WN 66 are on the forward slopew of the "bluffs" and there is around 1500m between the Les Moulins and Vierville draws.

It is also worth noting that some 100 - 200 additional AFVs were landed on the British and Canadian beaches. C 20 flails and AVREs from the armoured engineer squadron and up to 20 from the RMASG Battery landed at H in support of each assaulting Brigade group. There was more opportunity to swamp the defences.
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Richard Anderson
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Re: Bloody Omaha Beach

Post by Richard Anderson » 18 Jan 2016 15:53

Sheldrake wrote:There is a report in signals log of the 352nd Infantry Division timed at 07.45 hours from IR No 916: near WN 70 that three tanks were rolling up the hill; three tanks had penetrated into NW 66 and that the upper casemate of WN 62 had been put out of action by a direct hit.

This suggests that the 743 made a nuisance of themselves. It is probably that it was a tank round which silenced the 75mm gun in the upper casemate of WN62
There were no tanks of the 743rd Tank Battalion "into" WN66 or "rolling up the hill" near WN70 at that hour I'm afraid. Most were concentrated along the bluff between WN 66 and WN 65, east of Les Moulins. They could not negotiate the bluffs and the AT wall at Les Moulins prevented them from getting into the draw (it was actually unreinforced concrete and easily breached, but they did not know that until later in the day). They supported the advance of the 5th Ranger Battalion and elements of the 116th over the bluffs by fire, but their movement was restricted by the arc of fire of the 88mm in WN 72 and the Belgian 75mm in the bunker on the bluff above WN72.

OTOH, yes, one of the two 75mm guns at WN62 was taken out, but by one of the few DD tanks of the 741st landed, but more critically, also the 88mm in the bunker at WN61 was taken out by a Bazooka.
This diagram is from Ian Kershaw's book. WN 70 and WN 66 are on the forward slopew of the "bluffs" and there is around 1500m between the Les Moulins and Vierville draws.
Not the best diagram. If you want to know what happened at OMAHA, get Steve Zaloga's Devil's Garden. It is the book I wanted to write, but he beat me to it.
It is also worth noting that some 100 - 200 additional AFVs were landed on the British and Canadian beaches. C 20 flails and AVREs from the armoured engineer squadron and up to 20 from the RMASG Battery landed at H in support of each assaulting Brigade group. There was more opportunity to swamp the defences.
Given I wrote Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall wherein I detail exactly what was landed where, in my case you are telling me something I already know. :D
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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