Carl Schwamberger wrote:
Of course we are! Silly of you to ask
well, I had to ask, since I've posted bits of pieces here over the years and a large chunk of it is now a copyrighted part of Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall
But here goes...
The actual number of losses that were incurred by the Americans at OMAHA on D-Day is possibly one of the greatest mysteries of that day. Forrest Pogue perhaps said it best,
Casualties for D Day have never been stated officially. Because of confusion of reports and the lack of records it is likely that the total will not be known. Most of the units involved reported losses by the week, beginning 6 June, or by the month of June, thus making it impossible to have exact data. The matter was further complicated because the first reports exaggerated losses as a result of the separation of sections, companies, and battalions of assault troops. Further difficulties arose from the practice of listing men wounded in action in the 6 June report and then listing them as “died of wounds” in the revised report.
Estimates over the years have ranged from the 2,000 given in Cross Channel Attack to the 4,385 given by Balkoski in Omaha Beach. The actual total probably falls between the two extremes.
The 1st Division losses recorded by the V Corps History were 1,190. The initial report by the 1st Division G-1 on 7 June recorded losses for D-Day and D+1 as 88 officers and 1,782 enlisted men. On 8 June in a report to V Corps that figure was revised to 40 officers and 786 enlisted men, but appears as 1,190 in the later V Corps History. The 1st Division After Action Report (AAR) for June revised the figures again, this time to 186 KIA, 620 WIA and 358 MIA, for a total of 1,164 on 6 June, which may have been the basis for the figure in the V Corps History. In that same 1st Division report the number of MIA returned-to-duty in June was given as 70. Internal evidence suggests that the “actual” number MIA on 6 June was about 312. Thus it seems the likely total casualties for the 1st Division on 6 June were 1,118, although the most recent detailed history of OMAHA, by Joseph Balkoski, gives a total of 1,346 for the 1st Division.
Figures for the 29th Division are even more difficult to puzzle out. The 116th Infantry alone reported losses of 49 officers and 2,733 enlisted men to V Corps on 8 June. The report made by the division to V Corps on 10 June reported only WIA: 106 officers and 2,198. The V Corps History recorded 743 total casualties for the Division, while Joseph H. Ewing in the postwar, 29 Let’s Go: A History of the 29th Division reported 390 KIA, 511 WIA, and 27 MIA, for a total of 928. The somewhat fragmentary reports made by units of the division recorded by Pogue give a total of 122 KIA, 565 WIA, and 246 MIA, for a total of 933, while Balkoski gives a total of 1,272.
The V Corps History recorded an additional 441 casualties for the V Corps Troops. However, those reported apparently were only for units assigned to the corps and so did not include many additional casualties suffered on OMAHA by troops attached to the corps by First Army. It appears that most of those were suffered by the 741st and 743rd Tank Battalions, which reported cumulative casualties as of 15 June of 14 KIA, 20 WIA and 154 MIA, with the remainder mostly being incurred by the two Engineer battalions attached to the 1st and 29th Divisions.
The losses of the 5th and 6th Engineer Special Brigade (ESB) and the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions do not appear to have been included as part of the V Corps casualties; technically they were only attached to V Corps, but were assigned to First Army. And yet their losses were substantial. As of 15 June the 5th ESB reported casualties of 13 KIA, 106 WIA and 59 MIA, those of the 6th ESB were 23 KIA, 70 WIA and 111 MIA. The 2nd Rangers incomplete report gave 255 total casualties, while the 5th Rangers reported 30 KIA, 70 WIA and 18 MIA. The 'final' accounting of the casualties in the two Ranger Battalions done in July 1944 reported 98 KIA, 211 WIA and 39 MIA, although it is impossible to tell now how many were lost on 6 June and how many in the few days immediately after D-Day. Unfortunately only the losses of HQ Detachment, D, E, and F of the 2nd Rangers, along with the attached detachments from the 293rd Joint Assault Signal Company (JASCO) and 165th Signal Photo Company, which together made up the Pointe du Hoc force, appear to be firmly established. They suffered 42 KIA (including 1 DOW 14 June), 43 WIA (including both Lieutenant Colonel Rudder and Lieutenant Colonel Trevor, a British Commando attached to the Ranger Force), 22 MIA (all of whom but three survived and rejoined later), and 1 captured. Overall, it appears that as many as 550 additional casualties may have been incurred by the Engineer Special Brigades and Rangers on D-Day.
Finally, the NCDU lost 24 KIA, 32 WIA, and 15 MIA, while the two Naval Beach Battalions attached to the 5th and 6th ESB suffered 41 KIA and 87 WIA.
Overall the highest casualty figure is the 4,385 given by Balkoski. However, it appears that he may have over-counted the divisional casualties by about 572, mainly due to the use of higher missing in action figures, the inclusion of the casualties at Pointe du Hoc with those on OMAHA “proper”, and other possible duplications or overestimates. If so that would still gave a total of 3,686, significantly higher than the losses on any of the Commonwealth beaches and in fact slightly greater than the assumed total of Commonwealth casualties on all three of those beaches as found above, 3,644.
The 4th Division reported 12 KIA, 125 WIA, and 60 MIA, for a total of 197 casualties on D-Day. That figure has long been accepted as indicating how weak the German opposition on UTAH was, but was in fact just the estimated loss report for the day and not the final casualty report. Individual units of the 4th Division reported a total of 311 casualties, including 81 KIA, 166 WIA, 4 MIA (most of those men initially reported MIA were apparently drowned), and about 60 undefined casualties. In addition, the units attached to the VII Corps and 4th Division also suffered significant casualties. The 1st Engineer Special Brigade lost 18 KIA, 96 WIA (three of whom later died), and 3 MIA (all later reported as killed), for a total of 117 casualties. VII Corps Troops lost 38 KIA, 111 WIA, and about 10 other undefined casualties for a total of 159. Finally, elements of the 4th Cavalry Group on the Isles St. Marcouf lost 2 KIA and 17 WIA for a total of 19 casualties (although, like the casualties incurred by the airborne troops, they probably should not be counted towards the total casualties incurred on “the beach”) and the 90th Infantry Division liaison party with the 4th Division suffered one KIA and one WIA.
That is a total of about 608 casualties; including 140 KIA, 391 WIA, 7 MIA, and 70 undefined casualties, which makes UTAH very comparable to the Commonwealth beaches in terms of losses. However, it must be considered that the density of defenses, obstacles, and defenders was probably lower than at any of the other beaches. Furthermore, the only strong defensive position on UTAH, WN 5, was one possibly the only German position that was effectively suppressed before the assault troops landed. But, overall, that appears to indicate that only OMAHA may have been anomalous."
So on OMAHA about 3,686 of the 34,200 landed on 6 June were casualties, a rate of 10.8%, almost eleven times the average expected divisional rate and higher than just about any engagement for the US Army in Northwest Europe. Only the 99th Divisions, 106th Division, and 17th Airborne Division come close. The 608 casualties incurred on UTAH were only 2.9% of the 21,300 landed.
For the Commonwealth, on SWORD there were about 1,304 of 28,800 or 4.5%, on JUNO 1,247 of 21,400 or 5.8%, and on GOLD 1,023 of 24,870 or 4.1%. Note that all of these
percentages are much higher than the 1% daily average expected for divisional-size engagements and all are higher than the roughly 3% expected as an "average" high intensity divisional engagement.