The Invasion of Normandy: Beach Activity
Studies of Allied naval vessels.
The expected occurs as small boat crews returned after a busy day at landing men and supplies on Omaha Beach. Yellow-white flares dropped by German planes lighted the skies and ships, and their weird forms contrasted strangely against the pattern of tracer bullets fired into the thick foreboding clouds.
This craft was waiting for the signal from the beach which denoted a place for landing and unloading - a highly organized activity in which timing and discipline moved the right ships at the right time to the right place to unload the right cargo needed by troops onshore. The ship's crew and Army personnel watched the unloading activity from the forward starboard deck.
These Navy men set up a beach communications station between ships and shore - using the semaphore light (able to be seen from afar) and Morse code to pass messages from land commanders to ships offshore. The signalman with the telescope read the ships' semaphore signals and passed them on.
On Omaha beachhead the wreckage of assault was thrust aside and reinforcements poured from LSTs lined up to spew forth their mobile cargo. It was not an uncommon sight to see thirty LSTs "dry out" and discharge their load on one ebb [low] tide, and float away on the flood [high tide]. The tide was 20 feet. With this sight repeated on Utah Beach and the British and Canadian beaches, the "lift" carried by various amphibious craft was enormous. The great offensive that broke out at St. Lo, swept through Avranches to Brittany, and swung for Paris was mounted with men and material that came in over the beaches. The "Ducks" [DUKW amphibious wheeled vehicles] were bringing cargo from a ship offshore; while members of the U.S. Navy's 7th Beach Battalion, which landed with the assault, are sandbagging the shelter of their signal station.