THE NEPTUNE ASSAULTS
CONDITIONS FOR THE ASSAULT
A. Reasons for Success of NEPTUNE Operation
- The assaults were launched within the elaborate framework of defense and support described in the two preceding Chapters. But although these defenses materially reduced the hazards of assault and eased the difficulties inherent in establishing a bridgehead ashore, the attack was bitterly contested and the success of the invasion was achieved primarily by the determined gallantry of the assaulting forces, particularly the soldiers. On the Naval side, the assault movement and the landing went fundamentally according to plan, "not necessarily because it was a good plan", said Admiral Ramsay, "but because every single individual taking part had confidence in it and was determined to achieve his objective".1 Only a few matters of general interest, apart from the particular adventures of the Task and Assault Forces stood out: a - the weather, b - effect of surprise, and c - the immunity of Allied shipping from attack.
The weather was bad, both for the passage and for
Despite the bad weather, however, nearly all
vessels made the crossing in time. All the assaults hit the
beach within a few minutes of scheduled time. "In general
the weather had the following effect upon the assaults:
- Many of the troops suffered severely from sea-sickness.
- Some L.C.T.s, either through engine trouble or overloading, were forced to drop astern of their groups. In particular the L.C.T. (Armoured) were badly affected, many of them failing to carry out their role in the close fire support plan.
- Difficulty was experienced in the lowering of L.C.A., and L.C.V.P., and some had a most unpleasant passage ashore, a few failing to arrive.
- Considerable damage was inflicted on the smaller types of landing craft, some of which "broached to" on beaching.
- The operation of DD Tanks did not go according to plan.
- Many of the small craft, such as the L.C.A. (H.R.) and Rhino tows, which were forced to rely on towing, failed to arrive."1
B. The Effect of Surprise
Almost complete surprise was achieved. Admiral Ramsay has described
this unexpected success as follows:
"There was an air of unreality during the passage of the assault forces across the Channel curiously similar to that on D minus 1 in HUSKY as our forces approached Sicily. The achievement of strategical surprise was always hoped for in NEPTUNE but was by no means certain, whereas that of tactical surprise had always seemed extremely unlikely. As our forces approached the French coast without a murmur from the enemy or from their own radio, the realization that once again almost complete tactical surprise had been achieved slowly dawned. This astonishing feat cannot be explained by any single factor and must be attributed in part to all of the following: the cover and deception plan; the high degree of air superiority attained by our Air Forces, which drastically reduced the enemy's air reconnaissance; the bad weather which caused the enemy to withdraw his E-boat patrols to Cherbourg; and finally the radio counter-measures employed by our forces,
But whatever were the causes, the Germans were
certainly surprised. On the night of 5/6 June nothing
particularly disturbed the normal routine of the German
Naval Group Commander West, Admiral Krancke, until well
after midnight. At about 1 a.m. on the morning of the
6th, he was informed that the B.B.C. had broadcast an
announcement on the European Service that the invasion
would be launched very soon. Admiral Krancke assumed
that it was "hardly likely that the invasion would be
announced in advance over the radio", and made no further
special dispositions of his forces. At 0130 the paratroop
landings near the Orne were reported to him. This induced
him to put his MTB's and his Western Defense Forces on
notice, but still did not consider a large scale landing
probable. At 0209 large vessels were reported to seaward
This, together with further reports
of airborne landings, at last persuaded Admiral Krancke
that a sizeable operation was in progress. But the resources
at his disposal to arrest the avalanche descending
upon him were pitifully small. He issued the following instructions:
- Vessels of West Defence Force to patrol coastal waters;
- "Landwirt" Submarines3 to be in immediate readiness;
- 8th Destroyer Flotilla (Narviks) to move from Royan to Brest;
- 5th Torpedo Boat Flotilla from Le Havre, to reconnoitre in Port-en-Bassin to Grand Camp Area; This was later changed to the Orne estuary;
which coupled with the diversions against the Pas de Calais and Cap D'Antifer, left the enemy in doubt as to the points at which we would land even when he had become aware that the invasion was in progress."1
- 5th and 9th Motor Torpedo Boat Flotillas from Cherbourg to patrol off Cap Barfleur and west of Cap de la Hague respectively.1
- The next day the German Naval Staff excused its unreadiness for the landings by reporting: "By beginning the invasion in such unsuitable weather, the enemy overthrew all calculations."2
C. The Normandy Landings
"Perhaps one of the most noticeable features of the
assault phase was", according to Admiral Ramsay,3
"the inability of the enemy to disturb the tranquility of our shipping lying in the anchorages either by coastal batteries or by air bombardment. This was mainly due to the effectiveness of our counter-battery fire and the pre-H hour bombardment, and perhaps in part to the poor quality of the troops, who manned the C.D. batteries. On the other hand, there was no doubt of the quality of the enemy field troops who stubbornly manned various strongpoints and the mobile field batteries which were sited to dominate the beaches themselves. The siting of these positions so as to be invisible from seaward, prevented them, however from effectively attacking approaching shipping, or being themselves satisfactorily engaged by direct
- From the naval point of view, under water beach obstacles turned out to be "the greatest enemy in the assault".2 The combination of bad weather, obstacles and teller mines attached to obstacles, accounted for an estimated 50% of the casualties to landing vessels. This in turn adversely effected LCT and LCI availability for the build up.3 The leading elements of all forces touched down within 15 minutes of scheduled time. But "from H hour onward the landing of the Assault and Reserve Brigades fell behind schedule. This was due to our inability to gain exits.4 ... There was some delay in getting the beach signs up on Force G and Force S beaches (whilst the battle which raged on OMAHA beach made any form of control almost impracticable), and hence craft often had little idea where to beach. In general, partly by recourse to drying out; LCT and LCI(L) of the Assault Forces were cleared by 1500. The unloading of LST, however, did not proceed so expeditiously. The loss
fire from seaward."1
of Rhino tows on passage, and the difficulty of marrying
Rhino to LST in the bad weather, were mainly responsible;
but some casualties did also occur to the Rhinos on
- A birds eye review of the operation might perhaps give the impression that the landings were easy and unopposed assaults. But this impression would be far from true. In point of fact, the crossings were difficult and dangerous. The attacks themselves were met with determined opposition, on every beach, except possibly at UTAH. A detailed account of the assaults by the Western Task Force follows in the next section, and a description of those by the Eastern Task Force, as recounted by an Admiralty Historian, is given in Section 4, chapter IX.
WESTERN TASK FORCE: FORCE U
A. General Situation, Western Task Force
The Western (US) Task Force had, on the whole, a
more difficult time in NEPTUNE than did the Eastern. Several
factors contributed to this:
- The bad weather and the postponement severely affected the W.T.F., especially Force U, both because it had a longer journey to make, and because many of its convoys were at sea when the postponement order was given;
- The transport areas of the W.T.F. were located several miles further to seaward, than those of the E.T.F.;
- Beach obstacles were particularly difficult at OMAHA Beach;
- The terrain at OMAHA beach was more difficult than elsewhere;
- The pre H-hour air bombardment scheduled for the OMAHA sector, was not delivered.
- By mischance, and unknown to allied intelligence, a first class German Field Division was conducting manoeuvres in the OMAHA area at the time of the landings, and its pressure greatly impeded the advance of the "O" landing force.
B. Assault Force U.: Organization and Assembly
Force U's assault, which had been expected to be
the most bitterly contested landing of all,1
turned out to be the least opposed and most successful. Force U's part in
the invasion was characterized by:
- an exceedingly difficult crossing;
- the achievement of complete surprise;
- a lightly opposed and highly successful landing; and
- considerable trouble with minefields.
- The task of the Assault Force U was to land elements of the VII Corps, U.S. Army, in the Madeline sector of the coast of Normandy, to support the landing and subsequent army operations. This was achieved by Naval gunfire, by establishing and operating a Ferry Service to unload ships and craft of follow up convoys and by coordinating the siting and construction of a craft shelter off the beach. To accomplish this task, Commander Assault Force U, Rear Admiral D.F. Moon, U.S.N., had under his command approximately 865 ships and craft.1
Assault Force U was organized in 16 Task Groups, as follows:
(a) Landing Force 125.1 Major General Collins, U.S. Army VII Corps, Major General Barton, U.S. Army 4th Infantry Division and attached units. (b) Shore Party 125.2 1st Engineer Special Brigade - Brigadier General Wharton U.S. Army. (c) Force Flagship 125.3 U.S.S. Bayfield, Capt. Lynden Spencer, USCG. (d) Green Assault Group 125.4 Cmdr. A.L. Warburton, USN in LCH 530. 1 APA, 1 LSI(L), 15 LST, 23 LCI(L), 1 LCH, 69 LCT, 26 LCM, 3 RHF, 1 PC, 2 LCG. (e) Red Assault Group 125.5 Comdr. E.W. Wilson, USNR, in LCH 10. 2 APA, 15 LST, 22 LCI(L), 1 LCH, 83 LCT, 25 LCM, 2 RHF, 1 PC, 2 LCG. (f) Escorts 125.6 7 D.D. 3 A/S Trawlers, 2 Corvettes, 7 PC, 7 SC, 4 ML, 3 970 ML's. (g) Support Craft Group 125.7 Lt. Comdr. L.E. Hart, USNR, in LCH 209, 4 LCG(L), 5 LCT(R), 12 LCS(S), 4 LCS, 8 LCT(A), 16 LCP(L). (h) Bombardment Group 125.8 R.Adm. M.L. Deyo, USN, in USS Tuscaloosa, 2 CA, 1 OBB, 1 BM, 2 CL, 1 OCA, 1 PG, 8 DD. (i) Minesweeper Group 125.9 Comdr. M.H. Brown, RN, (in HMS Shippigan), 16 MS, 11 AM, 18 YMS, 9 MHS, 8 ML, 8 Danlayers, 3 HDML Miscellaneous units as assigned. (j) Far Shore Service Group (NOIC-UTAH) 125.10 Capt. J.R. Arnold USNR, 2 LHK, 14 Pontoon Causeways, 8 Blisters, 2 Warping Tugs, 1 Repair Barge, 1 LCH, 6 RHF, 22 LCM(3), 36 LBV (2) 1 ARL, 8 LBE, 5 Fueling Trawlers, 20 LBO, 3 LBW.
- The Landing Force consisted of the reinforced 4th Infantry Division (Major General R.O. Barton, U.S. Army, Commanding) of the VII Corps U.S. Army (Major General J. Lawton Collins, U.S. Army, Commanding). This Force was supported by a Shore Party consisting of 1st Engineer Special Brigade (Brigadier General Wharton, U.S. Army, Commanding), to which the 2nd U.S. Naval Beach Battalion (Comdr. J.F. Curtin, USNR) was attached. The assault plan provided for the 4th Division to land, in column of regiments of a two battalion front; the 1st Battalion, of the 8th Infantry Regiment, landing on Tare Green Beach; and the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry, on Uncle Red Beach. At the same time, Rangers were to storm the Isles de St. Marcouf and to capture the heavy batteries which were thought to be located there; which, by reason of their very close proximity to the U approach channels, transport area, boat lanes and anchorages, might have caused serious loss to the force.
- Force U was loaded and assembled at nine different ports: Salcombe, Dartmouth, Brixham, Yarmouth, Portland-Weymouth, Poole, Torbay-Torquay, and Belfast. Loading and assembly was completed by the evening of 2 June. LST's, LCIs and virtually all escort craft had to be employed continually during the ten days prior to the sortie for towing and escorting to assembly ports, a great number of barges and other tows needed in the assault, and for escorting craft to loading ports. Despite this additional burden and the late arrival of craft, only two British LCT's of all the craft assigned Force U were unable to load and sail.
|(k) Sea Rescue Group||125.11||Comdr. Stewart, USCG, T5 10 Coast Guard Cutters.|
|(l) Follow-up Convoy Group||125.12||Comdr. W.S. Blair, USNR. 25 LST.|
|(m) P.T. Boats||125.13||R.R. Reed, USNR. 13 P.T.|
|(n) Special Task Groups||125.14||Lt.Comdr. H.M. Ness, RNVR. 7 HDML|
|(o) Combat Salvage and Fire Fighting Unit "U"||122.3.2||Lt.Comdr. M.L. McClung, USNR. 2 AT, 1 ATR.|
|(p) Causeway Construction Unit||125.15||Lt.Comdr. Bains, USNR|
- For the movement from the assembly point to the Assault area, Force U was organized into twelve convoys. Most of these were made up of three or four sections which sortied from different ports and were required to make a precise rendezvous at sea. Since the disposition of each ship in every convoy was based on the beach it was to reach, and on its position in the sequence of landing, convoys had to be re-arranged at sea after making rendezvous.1
- Force U was required to steam much further from sortie ports to the Assault Area than other Assault Forces.
This necessitated sailing slow convoys as early as H minus
34 hours. The three sections of U-2 accordingly put to
sea between 1500 and 2100 on June 3rd. It was not until
0415 on the 4th that the Supreme Commander decided that
the operation would be postponed, nor until 0515 that the
information was transmitted to forces at sea. All convoys,
except U-2A, received the postponement order and reversed
course in accordance with the postponement plan. U-2A,
however, continued vigorously in the direction of France.
By 0900 on the 4th it was about 25 miles south of St.
Catherines Point. Admiral Moon despatched U.S.S. Forrest,
a destroyer, and CinC Portsmouth a Walrus aeroplane to turn
U-2A back. Had this not been done, it was possible that
the Force would shortly have been detected by the enemy's
radar and this would most probably have increased his vigilance
for the next few days.
- The postponement necessitated back tracking the three U-2 convoys for 12 hours. About 250 LCT's, Gunfire Support craft and other small vessels which would have become dangerously short of fuel had they remained at sea for another 24 hours, were diverted into Weymouth Bay. Throughout 4th June, great anxiety was felt as to whether Force U could reform and be in a fit state to go forward with the operation, should the decision be taken to assault on June 6. Of the U.S. Naval Commanders, only Rear Admiral Hall was at the scene of difficulty (Portland-Weymouth Bay) and his flagship, U.S.S. Ancon, alone remained on the telephone. U.S.S. Augusta, (flagship of Rear Admiral Kirk), U.S.S. Bayfield, (flagship of force commander, Rear Admiral Moon) and U.S.S. Achernar (H.Q. ship of General Bradley) were in Plymouth Sound ready to sail. This made inter communication impossible. The senior Army and Navy officers held meetings ashore in Plymouth during the day. It was thought that Force U would have to return to Devonshire to reform, but, "when it was pointed out that this would almost certainly result in the postponement of the Operation to the next moon period, Rear Admiral Kirk, with characteristic verve announced his readiness to proceed".1
- The decision to carry on with the operation was telephoned through to Plymouth at 2130, June 4. "Admiral Kirk
and the Generals returned to their ships, but
Admiral Moon and his Chief of Staff were faced
with the frightening knowledge that about two
hundred and fifty gunfire support craft, LCT
and other smaller craft were still entering
Weymouth Bay after their abortive sortie from
ports in the Plymouth Command the day before,
that some had to be refuelled, that all had to
restart for the operation the same night, and that
these small craft would have to cross the track of
the convoys of Force 'O' leaving Portland at about
the same time. Fortunately Admiral Hall in the U.S.S.
Ancon was still on the telephone and he and the
staff of the Flag Officer-in-Charge, Portland somehow
achieved the impossible, with the result that
Force 'U' made their assault at the right time."1
- The little craft of convoy U-2 began their sortie from Weymouth Bay at about 0100 on June the 5th, some 4 hours after they had entered. Miraculously they had been refuelled and reformed. Only 8 or 9 vessels failed to proceed in station on the new schedule. By the time they reached Normandy they had been at sea continuously for over 70 hours. At 0930, Rear Admiral Moon in U.S.S. Bayfield and the Plymouth sections of Convoy U-1A cleared Plymouth, with the U.S.S. Augusta and U.S.S. Achenar in company. As they passed down the British coastal channels, they were joined by the Belfast section (bombardment group), and by the Dartmouth, Torbay, Weymouth and Poole sections. The passage to the assault area was uneventful. Swept Channel No. 1 which was found to be well marked, was entered with little difficulty at 2245. At 0229 June 6th Bayfield anchored with the rest of the convoy in the assault area, 22,500 yards off Utah Beach. By 0430 only one hour behind schedule, all sections of Convoy U-2 had arrived and taken up their assault stations.
D. The Assault on UTAH Beach
- The position of Force U on the westernmost of the assault forces, had caused it prior to arrival in the assault area to suffer most from the bad westerly weather; the same fact (viz, being on the extreme west) had the result that, during the assault, Force U suffered least from the heavy weather, as it was then in the lee of the Cotentin Peninsula.
At the time of the deployment for assault, the wind was
at 18 knots from the west, with a moderate sea, good
visibility, a high cloud ceiling and the sky only slightly
overcast. For the development, assault LST's towing RHF's
were phased to arrive at the Transport Area simultaneously
with transports, but by different channels. The early
arrival of LST's was based upon two considerations:
- Navy Demolition Units and their munitions, which were to hit the beach in the earliest waves, were brought over in LST's, to be landed in LCVP's, from the LST's;
additional LCVP's, from LST's, were required
for lift of Assault elements from APA's.
Immediately astern of the LST's were
- the LCT's carrying DD tanks,
- the Fire Support Craft and
- the LCM's, part under tow, the rest under their own power.
The next unit to arrive was the convoy of LCT's organized in tow sections, one for RED beach and the other for GREEN beach. These anchored immediately to seaward of LST's, with units assigned to early waves nearest LST's. The final Assault Units to arrive were the LCI(L)'s which arrived at H-hour, those for RED beach anchoring to S.E. of APA's, those for GREEN beach to N.W. of APA's.
reliable means of beach identification, the situation
might have become very serious. At this juncture Green
Primary Control (PC 1176) observing the situation in the
Red sector, detailed her own Secondary Control (LCC 60)
to shepherd the Red assault waves in.
- The pre-assault naval and air bombardment was delivered according to plan. Naval gunfire was so successfully placed on targets threatening the landing that only a few craft were lost from hostile shelling.1 Active enemy batteries were destroyed or neutralized by effective naval gunfire which was later controlled by observers who landed with the early Assault Waves. The drenching fire of the rockets of the LCT(R)'s and the fire of the LCO's and LCS effectively played their part in the initial landings.
- In conjunction with the pre-H-hour bombardment, Rangers attached to Force U stormed the Isles de St. Marcouf, which were thought to contain heavy batteries and which, due to their position (about 3,000 yards on the flank of the approach route and transport area), could have greatly handicapped the landing had they been hotly defended. Fortunately, the Rangers met no opposition and both islands were in their hands by 0725 (H plus 55 minutes).
As originally planned, the order of landing of the
initial assault waves was to be as follows:
- two waves of infantry in LCVP's.
- Wave 1A of DD Tanks,
- Wave 3 of LCT(A)'s, and
- Demolition Units in LCVP's and LCM's landing with Wave 4 at H plus 17.
Because of the urgency of the earliest possible attack upon the substantial beach obstacles, a late decision was made to move up 4 LCVP's with Navy Demolition Units, on each beach, from Wave 4 to Wave 2, thereby starting demolition work 12 minutes earlier . As a result Wave 2 on each beach totaled 15 LCVP's. As this number of craft was believed to [be] more than could be effectively controlled by a single Wave Commander, this wave was organized as two boat divisions. Whether because of the excessive numbers, or for other reasons, the actual number of
craft landing with Wave 2 on each beach was only 7 or 8.
Other units from Wave 2 landed with later Waves.
- The early loss of the RED primary and secondary control vessels combined with smoke and dust produced by the pre-H-hour bombardment so obscured the shore line that the landing was made about 1,000 yards to the south-east of the scheduled landing place. This proved to be fortunate. The obstacles found were less formidable than those farther to the north. Nor were the hostile shore defenses as strong as those opposite the intended landing beaches. The waves had been trained to expect the possible loss of control vessels. Consequently the landings on RED beach carried on even though the control vessels were not functioning. The task of the Army and Naval demolition parties was successfully carried out. As the landing was made at a time when the tide left all obstacles dry, they were cleared off before they interfered with the landings.
- The D.D. Tanks, which were scheduled to land at H-hour, simultaneously with Wave 1 or as soon thereafter as practicable, did not actually land until H-plus-20. This was due to late arrival in the Transport Area, inability to make up time because of slow speed, and the loss of one Primary Control vessel, it had been recognized in advance that precise timing of these units was uncertain and hence that no reliance could be placed upon their ability to land at any specified time. Their tardy arrival was therefore not seriously felt. Though late, nearly all of the D.D. Tanks were discharged and landed successfully. They supported the infantry with marked success. The landings on both beaches were orderly and according to schedule. The overwhelming fire power on the beach, prior to landings, had been so effective that losses of men and material on UTAH Beach were small. After the initial landings, debarkation proceeded rapidly and without serious incident. By 0730 (H-plus-60 minutes) the Isles St. Marcouf and St. Martin de Varreville were captured and cleared. By 0945, 15 waves had landed and the beaches had been cleared of obstacles. By 1030, the three transports scheduled for immediate return to England were unloaded and under way. By late afternoon, the 4th division was completely ashore, and the Follow Up Forces were being landed. By 6 o'clock in the evening, 21,328 men, 1,742 vehicles and 1,695 tons of stores had been landed.
- While the assault was less difficult than had been anticipated, D-day for Force U was not altogether free of trouble. Enemy batteries, on the flanks of the UTAH area, which had remained very inactive during the landings, came to
life during the forenoon of D-day. From then until they were
overrun by the army, they intermittently subjected the beaches
and the Isles St. Marcouf to heavy shelling. This "frequent
shelling of the beachhead was effectively neutralized by assigning
each (bombardment) ship to probable targets and systematically
delivering fire on them. As it was impossible to
determine the location of the firing enemy batteries, this
proved the best means of halting enemy fire against our own
Unloading was disturbed by enemy shellfire but not
substantially delayed. Only one ship was lost to enemy gunfire.2
- Minefields were Force U's greatest enemy. As D-day advanced, it became obvious that an unsuspected mine field located in the Cardonet Shoals lay right across the boat lanes. As has been seen, it claimed the PC 1261 in the early morning. During the next few hours it sank LCT's 362, 592, and 777, and LCF 31. U.S.S. Corry (DD) struck a mine in the field at 0710 and sank at 0735. Shortly afterward the same fate overtook U.S.S. Tide (AM). On the 8th, U.S.S. Meredith and Glennon (both DD's) were sunk by mines. U.S.S. Rich (DE), which was despatched to the rescue of Glennon, struck two mines and sank
Throughout the remainder of the month, Force U
continued to lose ships and craft to mines, which thus
proved to be the most difficult of the enemy imposed obstacles
with which Force U had to contend.2
During the first
18 days, 144 ground mines and 77 moored mines were detonated
or cut in the U area.3
- By midnight of D-day, the U landing force had made contact with the first contingents of the 101st Airborne division and was rapidly advancing toward St. Mere Eglise to join the 82nd Airborne division. Force U's invasion, which had started out in the wretched Channel weather as the most difficult and hazardous of all, had turned out, on the Madeleine beaches, to be the least opposed and most successful of the 5 Amphibious landings.1
WESTERN TASK FORCE ASSAULT FORCE O
A. Organization and Assembly
- The experiences of Assault Force O were quite the opposite from those of Force U. The cross channel passage of Force U was seriously deranged by the weather and postponement; Force O crossed the channel with little difficulty. U's landings were protected from the weather, by the lee of the Cotentin Peninsula; O's landings were seriously hampered by the heavy seas. The enemy interposed little resistance to U's landing but bitterly and efficiently contested O's. U suffered heavily from enemy mines, but very little from enemy shell fire; O was almost immune from mine damage, but heavily engaged by gunfire on and near the beaches.
- No better description of Force O's operations can be given than that contained in the report of the Assault Force Commander, Rear Admiral J.L. Hall, USN.1 "The task of Assault Force O was to land assigned elements of the V Corps U.S. Army, in the Vierville-Colleville Sector of the coast of Normandy, and to support the landing and subsequent Army operations by Naval gunfire, by establishing and operating a Ferry Service to unload ships and craft of follow-up convoys, by coordinating the siting and construction of port facilities off the beaches, and by exploiting the facilities of small ports in the CARENTAN Estuary. To accomplish this task the Command Assault Force O had under his command.... (approximately 1,500) ships and craft....2
The ships and craft together with the Army
forces assigned to Assault Force O, were organized
into.....(thirteen) Task Groups.... as follows:
a. Landing Force 124.1 Major General Huebner, USA
1st U.S. Inf. Div. (less 26th RCT., plus 115th & 116th RCTs of the 29th Inf. Div., plus 2nd & 5th Ranger Batts) Reinforced.
b. Shore Party 124.2 Brigadier General Hoge, USA
2/3ds 5th Engr. Special Brigade; 2/3ds 6th U.S. Naval Beach Batt; 1/3ds 6th Engr. Special Brigade; 1/3d 7th U.S. Naval Beach Batt.
c. Assault Group O-1 124.3 Capt. Fritzsche, USCG.
2 APAs; 1 LCH; 1 LSI(L); 6 LSTs; 5 LCI(L)s; 53 LCTs; 18 LCM(3)s; 2 PCs; 2 SCs; 2 MLs; 2 LCCs.
d. Assault Group O-2 124.4 Capt. Bailey, USN.
2 APAs; 1 LCH; 1 LSI(L); 6 LSTs; 17 LCI(L)s; 54 LCTs; 18 LCM(3)s; 4 PCs; 2 MLs; 4 SCs; 3 LCGs.
e. Assault Group O-3 124.5 Captain Schulten, USN.
3 XAPs; 1 LCH; 12 LSTs; 11 LCI(L)s; 39 LCTs; 1 LSD; 3 PCs; 2 MLs; 3 LSI(S)s; 3 LSI(H)s; 1 LCT(5); 2 MLs.
f. Escorts 124.6 Captain Sanders, USN.
12 US DDs; 3 Hunt DDs; 3 US DE; 2 OODs; 6 SGBs; 2 Frigates; 3 A/S Trawlers; 9 PCs; 6 SCs; 5 MLs (970); 7 MLs; 2 HDMLs; 7 MTBs.
- "The Landing Force was composed of elements of the V Corps, U.S. Army (Major General Gerrow, U.S. Army commanding) and included the First U.S. Infantry Division, Reinforced, less the 126th Regimental Combat Team, plus the 116th Regimental Combat Team, the 115th Regimental Combat Team, and the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions. This Force was supported by a Shore Party consisting of two thirds of the 5th Engineer Special Brigade, one third of the 6th Engineer
|g. Gunfire Support Craft||124.8||
Captain Sabin, USN|
1 LCH; 7LCFs; 5 LCG(L)s; 9 LCT(R)s; 28 LCP(L)s; 8 LCT(A)s; 10 LCT(HE)s.
|h. Bombardment Group||124.9||
Rear-Admiral Bryant, USN|
2 BBs; 3 CLs; 9 US DDs; 3 Hunt DDs
|i. Sweeper Group||124.10||
Commander Cochrane, RN.,|
9 MS; 3 Danlayers; 4 MLs; 8 BYMHs; 9 MMs.
|j. Far Shore Service Group OMAHA||1 Accom. Ship; 1 ARL; 12 LCMs; 8 LCI(L)s; 4 LCH; 72 LCT(5) and (6)s; 20 RHFs; 139 LCM(3)s; 72 LBV(2)s; 172 LCVPs; 9 Fuel Trawlers; 16 LBEs; 26 LBCs; 5 LBWs; 2 LBKs; 1 Pont Drydock.|
|k. Dispatch Boats||124.12||1 US PT; 9 Disp. Boats.|
|l. Rescue Vessels||124.13||15 USCG Cutters.|
Special Brigade, and the Provisional Engineer Special
Brigade Group Commander and Staff. Also included in the
Shore Party were two-thirds of the 6th Naval Beach
Battalion and one-third of the 7th Naval Beach Battalion.
The remainder of the V Corps, and the remainder of the
Engineer Special Brigade Group, and of the 6th and 7th
Naval Beach Battalions comprised the Landing Force and
Shore Party of Force B, which landed on the same beach as
Force O. - - - - - - -"
B. OMAHA Beach: Plan for the Assault
- The terrain1 in the area where Force O landed was of great natural defensive strength, augmented by the addition of many strongly protected and cleverly concealed gun emplacements, machine gun nests, and pillboxes. Slit trenches were dug for defending rifleman, and tank traps and anti-tank ditches intervened between beaches and road exits. In addition, there had been installed in the tidal area, between high and low water, several rows of underwater obstacles consisting of hedgehogs, tetrahedrons, Element "C", and pole ramps all inter-connected by barbed wire and thickly sown with mines. The obstacles actually encountered were much more numerous than Intelligence Reports had indicated. The artillery and machine guns were
generally sited for enfilading fire along the beaches. In
some cases they were completely concealed from a direct
view from seaward by concrete walls covered with earth which
extended well beyond the muzzle of the gun. This acted as
a blast screen and prevented them from being located by the
dust raised near their muzzles, so that when used with
flashless, smokeless, powder, and without tracer bullets, as
they were in defense of OMAHA Beaches, they were exceedingly
difficult to detect. These walls, of course, restricted the
arc of train of the pieces, but apparently the defenders had
accepted this in order to obtain concealment. As a result
of this arrangement of gun positions nearly all of the
defensive fire was delivered on the beaches themselves or
on craft within some two thousand yards of the beach.
Several officers noted the fact that craft inshore might
be under heavy fire, but those further out were comparatively
free from molestation and scarcely a shot fell more than
four thousand yards from the beach. The presence of
construction materials and more barbed wire indicated that
improvement in the defense was in progress. From prisoners
captured it appeared that there were four regiments either
actually manning these defenses or taking part in the
defense of the beach area. One of them was a coastal defense
regiment of the type rated only fair in combat efficiency.
The other three, however, belonged to the 362nd Field
Division of the German Army, and such troops are generally
rated among the best in the world.
To overcome these defenses.....the Landing Attack
was as follows:
"The 16th RCT attacked on the left on beaches FOX GREEN and EASY RED with two Battalions in assault and one following. The 116th RCT attacked on the right with two battalions in assault and one following, on Beaches EASY GREEN, DOG RED and DOG WHITE; the other landed three companies in column on Beach DOG GREEN. Nine of the twelve companies of the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions landed on Beach DOG GREEN, while the remaining three Ranger companies landed on the POINTE DU HOE in Sector CHARLIE to capture an enemy battery located there which threatened the Transport Area. The 16th RCT landed immediately
after the 16th RCT on the same Beaches. The Rifle Companies of the 115th embarked in LCI(L)s were to land on call on the same beaches as the 116th unless otherwise directed.
The landing was preceded by a 40-minute Naval bombardment at previously designated targets. 1 A bombing attack was scheduled for delivery between H-30 minutes and H-Hour. This, however, failed to materialize. In addition to the bombardment by naval gunfire from supporting ships and craft, tanks embarked in LCT(A)s fired on targets of opportunity during the last 3,000 yards of their approach to the beach, and 105 mm. SP artillery embarked in LCTs likewise fired during their passage through the boat lanes. LCT(R)s and LCS(S)s were scheduled to deliver a full discharge of rockets immediately prior to the "touchdown" of the infantry. The fire of the gunfire support craft, and of the destroyers close inshore where they could observe the actual landings, was to continue until such time as the advancing troops were actually endangered by it, instead of being lifted at a pre-arranged clock time. In general, no equipment or troops were scheduled to land between the arrival of the demolition parties at H plus 3 minutes and H plus 30 minutes. The whole plan of assault, therefore, might be described as follows:
"to destroy enemy defenses and cover the shoreward progress of the landing assault waves and air bombardment; to land a wave of infantry preceded and supported by tanks to storm the enemy beach defenses, and cover the operations of the combat demolition parties while the latter were engaged in clearing lanes through the obstacles in the tidal area; and as soon as the lanes were open, to follow through with successive waves of infantry, artillery, motorized equipment and stores, in order to reduce the remaining enemy defenses and seize the beachhead."
C. Assault Force O: Organization and Assembly
- Force O was assembled at five ports: PORTLAND, POOLE, EXMOUTH, FALMOUTH and BELFAST. With the exception of the escort and control vessels and some of the minor landing craft destined for POOLE, the assembly was completed 30 May 1944.1
All ships and craft were loaded at the assembly ports
indicated above, except 12 LCI(L)s carrying Rifle
Companies of the 115th Regimental Combat Team, which
were loaded in PLYMOUTH, but sailed from PORTLAND, and
16 LCTs carrying DD tanks, which were loaded at TORCROSS
in START BAY, but likewise sailed from PORTLAND. The
loading was smooth and uneventful except for the
necessity to make several substitutions involving a
shift of loads in LCTs. This was occasioned by casualties
to the craft, two of which were due to enemy action. They
were the result of damage from mines dropped in the harbor
during an air raid on the night of 27-28 May. All loading
was completed by the evening of 3 June.
- For the movement from the assembly port to the Assault Area, Force O was organized into five convoys, designated Convoy Group O-1, O-2, O-3, O-4, and O-5, respectively. Convoy Groups O-1 and O-2 were Assault convoys, O-3, O-4 and O-5 follow-ups. 5th June was originally designated as D-Day. On the night of 3-4 June, the weather was clear, but with a rising wind. Convoy O-2 got away from the PORTLAND-WEYMOUTH area, and from POOLE shortly after midnight as planned. After it had been underway for several hours, orders were received postponing D-Day 24 hours. Immediately the pre-arranged postponement signal was sent to the Convoy Commander by radio, and in addition, destroyers were dispatched to notify him in case he failed to receive the message. Upon receipt of the delaying order, Convoy O-2 reversed course and returned to port. A large landing craft convoy of Force U, which had likewise started for the Assault area, was unable to beat its way back to westward against the wind, which had reached near gale force, and was forced to take refuge in PORTLAND HARBOR and WEYMOUTH ROAD. From the arrival of these ships and craft of Force U until their departure the following morning, the efforts of this Command were chiefly absorbed in getting them re-organized and underway on time. The only sheltered berths available were so located as to require their crossing the track of Convoy O-2, which had to sortie at about the same time. This resulted in some interference with Convoy O-2 in the sortie during darkness, but not enough to cause serious delay.
D. Assault Force O: The Channel Passage
- Convoy Group O-1 cleared PORTLAND HARBOR on the afternoon of 5 June. The Ancon, guide, passed through the breakwater at 1400. Unfortunately, the transports of the convoy were headed away from the harbor entrance
riding to the fresh westerly wind, and they had trouble
in turning inside the harbor and getting headed out.
This delayed their taking station in the convoy formation,
and it was not until 2000 that all of them were in position.
- The movement of Convoy O-1 and O-2 to the Assault area was comparatively uneventful. In Convoy O-2, several of the LCP(L)s being towed had to be cast adrift and abandoned, and two LCT(A)s foundered, but the crews were removed in all cases. Convoy Group O-1 encountered one floating mine during daylight, which was avoided by an emergency turn signal. Four times between the entry into the approach channel and the arrival at the Transport area the guide had to reduce speed or stop entirely. Two of these delays were occasioned by interference from landing craft from Force U, which had been set to the eastward by the strong tidal currents, and were crossing Channel 3 from east to west in an attempt to regain position in their own approach channel. On both occasions the Ancon was forced out of the swept channel in order to avoid running through the craft convoys. The other two delays were caused by stopping of the Bombardment Group, which was immediately ahead of Convoy O-1. The second time this occurred, no further delay could be accepted, and Convoy Group O-1 passed the Bombardment Group and continued into the Transport area, where the Ancon anchored in position, 49° 29' N., 00° 42' W., at 0251 D-day.1 The remaining ships of Convoy Group O-1 and the landing craft of Convoy Group O-2 followed rapidly into their proper positions.
- The weather at this time was unfavourable, but landing operations were possible. The sea was choppy with wind Force 5 from the south-west. The sky was partially overcast with visibility about 10 miles. Due to the wind and sea, debarkation from transports into L.C.V.P.s was difficult. Fortunately, plans had been made to rail-load boats whenever possible, and those which could not be rail-loaded were loaded despite the unfavourable conditions. The trip of the L.C.V.P.s from the Transport Area 10 miles off shore into the line of departure in the face of fresh wind and choppy sea was neither easy nor pleasant. Nevertheless, they arrived at the line of departure in fairly good order. Due to the darkness and confusion in the Transport Area, the L.C.T. with demolition parties straggled considerably in their approach toward the line of departure. Two L.C.T.(A)s foundered before reaching the Transport Area. One L.C.T.(A) strayed to the Force U area and did not return until several hours later. Two more L.C.T.(A)s had gone so far to the eastward that they could not get back in time for their part in the initial assault wave. Thus, five of the 16 L.C.T.(A)s scheduled for the first wave were missing.
E. The Assault on OMAHA Beach:
- The pre-landing naval bombardment was carried out in accordance with the plan, but the air bombardment scheduled for delivery on OMAHA Beaches between H minus 30 minutes and H-hour did not materialize for reasons unknown to the Force Commander. Its absence was felt severely when the landing commenced. During the naval bombardment the enemy made no reply of any kind. Several competent observers have stated that during this entire period only one shot was fired from enemy batteries ashore and this missed.
- The order of landing of the first four waves on all beaches was: DD tanks between H minus 10 and H minus 5 minutes; L.C.T.(A)s carrying tanks and tank dozers for obstacle clearance at H-hour; a wave of infantry at H plus 1 minute; and demolition parties at H plus 3 minutes. DD tanks were to be launched from the L.C.T.s in which they were embarked approximately 6,000 yards off shore unless weather conditions prohibited, and were to proceed in their assigned beaches from that point under their own power. The decision whether to launch at 6,000 yards or to close the beaches was left to the senior army tank officer and senior naval officer in the L.C.T.s of the two assault groups. Those on the left flank in Assault Group O-1, preceding the 16th R.C.T., were launched as planned. The sea conditions, however, were such that all but two or three of them foundered before they reached the shore. The
responsible officers on the right gauged the sea conditions
more accurately and took their L.C.T.s in to a
point where the DD tanks grounded as soon as they were
launched. Therefore, all the DD tanks preceding the
assault troops of the 116th R.C.T. reached the shore.
- Information is not available as to the exact time of landing or the order of landing waves on all of the beaches. The first landings on EASY RED and DOG GREEN were made at 06351 and it is believed that the leading waves landed on the other beaches at approximately the same time. Due to the state of the sea, the loss of the DD tanks, the absence of five L.C.T.(A)s and damage to other by enemy gunfire, the order of landing was somewhat mixed. Simultaneously with the landing and the cessation of the naval gunfire bombardment, the enemy commenced firing. This fire from artillery, mortars, machine guns and small arms was heavy and accurate and casualties were numerous. Many of the tanks which had reached the shore line were knocked out and losses to the infantry advancing shoreward through the obstacles, and to the demolition parties trying to clear lanes through them, were severe. A considerable portion of the equipment of the demolition parties was lost in the landing due to the surf. The limited time for working on the obstacles before they were covered by the rapidly rising tide and the devastating effect of the defensive fire further reduced the effectiveness of the demolition parties. Only five gaps were cleared all the way into the beach and three part way in, instead of the 16 planned. Most of these were inadequately marked. The result was that during the high tide immediately following the assault the only opening through the obstacles that was in use for a considerable period was one lane on EASY RED beach. 2
- At the request of the Commanding General, V-Corps, the Commander, Assault Group O-2, was directed at the H-hour to land troops of the 115th R.C.T. at H-plus 4 hours. Thus all the landing force embarked in Force O were committed from the beginning of the assault. After the initial waves, landing continued throughout the forenoon and afternoon of D-day. Due to the failure of the demolition parties to clear and mark gaps through the underwater obstacles, and to the heavy enemy fire, great difficulty was experienced in getting anyone or anything ashore. Some craft carrying infantry and elements of the shore party managed to land their personnel, but the bulk of the craft proceeding shoreward was stopped between the seaward row obstacles and the line of departure. With the strong tide, fresh wind and choppy sea this soon resulted in a mass of craft in which all semblance of wave organization was lost until the Deputy Assault Group Commanders arrived on the scene, took charge of the situation, moved the craft to seaward to give them more room, and reformed the waves as best they could.
- In the meanwhile, most of the tanks which had reached the shore had been knocked out by enemy artillery fire or by mines, or were caught in the obstacles and flooded by the rising tide, and the personnel, both the assault troops and the shore party, were pinned on the beaches just above high water by enemy fire; few, if any, troops actually crossed the beach during the early hours of the forenoon. The supporting destroyers1 and gunfire
support craft stood in as close to the beach as the
depth of the water would allow and engaged all the
defensive installations which they could locate. Despite
this, however, little progress had been made prior to
1100 when there was still considerable machine gun fire,
sniping, artillery, and mortar fire, on the beaches
between the exits, the condition was critical. A number
of enemy string points in the beach were still holding
out and our troops were not able to move inland.2
- The first encouraging news came at 1100 from a message to Commander, Transport Division THREE, intercepted by the Force Commander, to the effect that German defenders were leaving their posts and surrendering to U.S. troops. Shortly after that another message from a member of the V-Corps staff embarked in a DUKW near the shore line stated that the troops were advancing up the western slope of the exit from Sector EASY. By 1300 COLLEVILLE was taken, and by 1330 a general advance began up slopes of EASY RED and FOX GREEN beaches. By 1340 the beaches of Sectors EASY and DOG were clear of opposition except for artillery and mortar fire. At 1400 the Commanding Officer of the Engineer Special Brigade Group left the Ancon to set up headquarters on the beach.
- Early in the forenoon reports had been received from the minesweepers stating that the sweep of the Transport Area and the channels for the Bombardment Group from the Transport Area to the 10-fathom curve had been completed with negative results. Because of this the Force Commander felt that the transports could close the beaches if necessary. However, in view of their prospective early departure from the Assault Area, it was decided that the delay caused by the movement of the ships would result in a net loss rather than a gain, and they were left in the Transport Area until they completed unloading and departed.
- Landing of personnel and vehicles from transports and L.S.T.s continued throughout the afternoon of D-day. During this time the beaches were subject to enemy artillery and mortar fire which, while neither heavy nor sustained, was deadly accurate. The fire was obviously observed because enemy batteries would be silent until craft beached, when there would be a few quick salvos, usually right on the target. This artillery fire caused considerable loss and was doubly disturbing because neither enemy observers nor batteries could be located.1 In fact, repeated requests
for U.S. vessels to cease firing on the beaches were made
by personnel ashore and observers to seaward, who thought
that it was our own ships firing into our own troops.
Actually no U.S. ships were firing at the time the
requests were made, and when they did fire they were firing
at targets inland rather than on the beach. About 1430,
Commander, Force B, with Convoy B-2, consisting principally
of L.C.I.(L)s and H.M.S. Oceanway, stood into the Assault
Area. Anchorages close to the beaches were assigned to this
convoy and Commander, Force B, was directed to land the
troops embarked in accordance with plan, using L.C.V.(P)s as
necessary to unload L.C.I.(L)s. At the same time the
Deputy Commanders of Assault Groups O-1, O-2, and O-3, were
ordered to provide small landing craft to assist in landing
of Force B.
- Meanwhile the L.S.I.(S)s and L.S.T.(H)s which had carried the Ranger Battalions were sailed to the ISLE OF WIGHT, and information was received that the transports of Assault Groups O-1, O-2, and O-3, would complete unloading and be ready to sail by 1700. They sailed about 1800. By 1530, advance elements of the First Division and Twenty-Ninth Division staffs were setting up command posts ashore near the beach exits from Sectors EASY and DOG respectively, and ST. LAURIENT was partially occupied in addition to the capture of COLLEVILLE. At 1540 the Oceanway was directed to close FOX GREEN beach and discharge her twenty (20) L.C.M.s carrying M.4 tanks, these tanks to be attached to the 16th R.C.T. This was completed by 1715. Convoy Groups O-3 and B-1 arrived together about 1600. Although information as to the actual loss of landing craft was meagre at this time indications were that a considerable number was sunk or badly damaged, and at 1700 the Force Commander requested the Commander, Service Force, to sail ARL-4 to the OMAHA Assault Area as soon as practicable. At 1715 the Commanding General, First Division and his staff left the Ancon to establish their headquarters on the beach. By 1730, except for sniping and the recurring artillery and mortar fire, hostile action against the Beach Area had ceased and the work of organizing the beaches for further unloading was progressing in orderly fashion.
- In accordance with the request of the Commanding General, First Division, the 26th R.C.T. was landed in the early evening. All rifle companies of the regiment were ashore by 2100. Between 2320 and 2340 the air attack which had been anticipated all day was finally delivered. There were no radar warnings of the approach of the hostile planes and the first information of the impending attack was the sight and sound of an enemy plane which passed over the Flagship at low altitude. Only a few more planes came over, however, of which three were shot down. Several bombs were dropped in the Transport Area but caused no damage. This ended D-day....."1
F. The Battle on OMAHA Beach:
- In conjunction with the main assaults on OMAHA Beach, three companies of the 2nd Ranger Infantry Battalion attacked a German battery position on Points du Hoe in the Charlie Sector. This battery which was thought to contain guns of the heaviest caliber (six 155 mm. guns) was located on a high cliff dominating OMAHA Beach, the boat lanes, anchorages and approach channels. The assault was initiated by an especially heavy bombardment from the battleship U.S.S. Texas, between H minus 45 minutes and H minus 5 minutes. The Rangers were scheduled to land at Force "O"'s H-hour, (0630). The control vessel for the expedition, however, made an error in navigation, mistaking the Raz de la Parce for Pointe du Hoc, with the result that the Rangers were 35 minutes late in hitting their assigned beach. By the time they had landed (0705) the numbing effect of the bombardment had worn off and the enemy was alert and in position. 1 Scaling the cliff proved to be a very difficult enterprise. Scaling ropes had got wet and many rockets failed to carry over the cliff. Many more did not anchor. The men scaling the few ropes which did hold were subject to incessant fire from enemy riflemen, machine guns and hand grenades.
- The attack was in this precarious position, when U.S.S. Satterlee (DD) closed the Beach to 1500 yards and took the enemy under direct fire. With this assistance the Rangers gained the summit at 0930. In the course of the morning they fought their way through to the Vierville - Grandcamp Road, where they established a defense line. Here they remained until D plus 2, when at "about 1100 the 5th Ranger Battalion, which had landed on DOG GREEN Beach with the 116th Infantry and had been fighting its way steadily westward along the shore line, established contact with the survivors of the three Ranger Companies which had landed on the POINTE DU HOE to knock out the enemy batteries there. The latter had accomplished their mission, but had been hemmed in within a small area near the tip of the point where they had been under constant enemy attack for more than 48 hours. Repeated requests had been received from them for boats to evacuate wounded, additional ammunition and reinforcements. These requests had been passed to the Commanding General, V Corps, and boats to carry the reinforcements were offered. Gunfire support ships1 were doing their best to help by delivering supporting fire as requested by the Liaison Officer with the Rangers, but their situation was desperate. Finally, on the afternoon of D plus 1, two boats from the Flagship with 25 additional Rangers, plus small arms ammunition, food, and medical supplies, landed on the POINTE DU HOE and delivered them to the group besieged there. On their way out, the boats evacuated the wounded."2
- The enemy battery upon which all this heroism was expended was found to be empty. Allied Air and Naval Bombardment had destroyed one AA and three 155 mm. gun emplacements. It later developed that four other guns had been moved and emplaced in a lodge lane about a mile further south. Texas, using air spot, knocked out the new position during the morning of D-day.1
- While D-day ended with the Rangers in a perilous and besieged position, the situation on the principal OMAHA Beach was very much better than could have been predicted from the unpromising beginning in the morning. By six o'clock in the evening, 18,772 men, and 1,033 vehicles had been landed. The army had gained the tops of the cliffs and captured Colleville. Shortly after midnight (0045 of D plus 1) "the Commanding General, V Corps, informed the Force Commander that his line was generally along the road from Vierville through St. Laurient to about a mile south of Colleville, and that he intended to attack with the beachhead line as his objective." By noon on D plus 1, the Vth Corps had reached Bayeux-Carentan Road, its D-day objective, and advanced beyond it. The next day they advanced another three miles inland, and by D plus 3 they had established contact with the British 50th Division of Force G. On D plus 4, they made contact with the VII Corps from the U Sector.
- Throughout the assault and build-up, Assault Force O was singularly immune from losses to German minefields. Though intelligence indicated that the approach channels and the transport areas lay in the middle of a mine field, and though both Force U to the west and Force G to the east suffered heavily from mine damage, "up to the time of the departure of the Force Commander....on D plus 22, no mines had been swept in the OMAHA area, and no ships had been mined there".1 Except along the beaches, and the waters close in shore, Force O was equally immune from shell fire. By 1600 on D-day, losses to
ships and craft in Force O were:
- sunk: LCT 294, and Despatch Boats 350;
damaged LST 375; LCI's 487, 553, 85;
LCT's 2043, 210, 25, 2041, 2037,
538,2307; Despatch Boats 320;
LCA's 25, 418;
and an unknown number of LCVP's.1
Naval personnel casualties, dead, wounded, and missing,
in Force O were 624.1
- Although by the end of D-day the spearhead at OMAHA Beach was well established, the battle fought to accomplish that result was much the most difficult of all the five assaults. The cumulative effect of many adverse factors had conspired to defeat or nullify the plans and preparations which had proved so successful on the other beaches. "The air bombardment of the beaches was not delivered, presumably because of the low cloud ceiling over the beach area just before H-hour. Sea conditions caused the loss of a considerable portion of the tanks and many of those that did manage to reach the beach were soon knocked out by enemy artillery and mines. The obstacles were more numerous than had been anticipated and casualties from enemy fire were heavy - so that demolition parties, despite a gallant effort, failed to breach the obstacles as planned. All of these reduced the assault to the most elementary form of amphibious attack; Infantry landing and attacking supported by Naval gunfire. A Deputy Assault Group Commander, in his report, attributed the success of the landing to three factors; (1) the gallantry of the crews of the landing craft who took the Army personnel into the beach; (2) the stark courage of the soldiers who worked their way shoreward through obstacles and enemy fire from artillery, mortars, machine guns, and rifles; and, (3) to the support provided by the Naval gunfire. These are fundamental factors which will always determine whether the assault succeeds or fails against strong resistance. All the rest are "trimmings", schemes of one sort or another to make it easier for the attacking riflemen, but in the last analysis, it is he and the floating batteries supporting him who win or lose the battle."1
An accurate and comprehensive narrative
of the action of the Eastern Task Force
is being prepared at the Admiralty. The
following accounts of the adventures of
the Eastern Task Force are extracts from
a draft of this narrative.1
EASTERN TASK FORCE
A. The Channel Passage:
- For the passage each British Assault Force was organized in 16 or 18 convoys or groups, the composition and numbering of the groups being based on the time of arrival at "the other side". A program was worked out in great detail, times of sailings of the various convoys being adjusted to the widely varying speeds and seagoing capacities of the heterogeneous collection of shipping of which the Assault Forces were composed. The problem was not eased by the necessity for steaming dead across the Channel stream running at times up to 2½ knots1 and, in the event, the heavy weather conditions added a further complication.- - -
- At 0900, 5th June, the first groups of Landing Craft sailed from the Portsmouth area, and from then on there was a constant stream of ships passing the Needles and the Nab Tower. Force G proceeded through the Needles Channel; Force J and those portions of Force S in this area - Assault Groups S.1, and S.3. - used the Spithead and Lumps Fort entrances. The sailing of the Assault Forces from the crowded anchorages proceeded smoothly. As the first convoy left Spithead the signal "Good Luck; Drive On" was hoisted in the Largs, Rear-Admiral Talbot's Headquarters Ship - which was anchored at the eastern end of the Force S line of L.S.T., - and kept flying until her own departure at 2145. The wind was west, Force 5, slackening to Force 3 to 4, and veering to W.N.W. in the evening; the sea was 4, swell 1. These conditions were unexpectedly severe and imposed a high test on the landing
Their spirit and seamanship alike rose
to meet the greatness of this hour, and they pressed
forward..... in high heart and resolution; there was no
faltering, and many of the smaller landing craft were
driven on till they foundered.2
- The Reserve Group of Force S, - Assault Group S.2, (S.O. Captain Gatto, R.N.) - which sailed from Newhaven, had a steady beat of 33 miles into a head sea, and was hard put to it to keep to its program. Similar difficulties, enhanced by a strong flood stream, were experienced by the landing craft of Force G in getting clear of the Needles. At 1630, 5th June, H.M.S. Scylla, wearing the flag of Rear-Admiral Sir Philip Vian, sailed and closed various groups of landing craft in the vicinity of position E. Once the groups had turned to the southward, it appeared that the major landing craft would not have serious difficulty in keeping to their time table, but conditions were much harder for the L.C.P.(L) and L.C.A. (H.R.) which were in company or being towed.- - - The leading groups of the Assault Forces arrived in Area Z without incident during the afternoon and headed for the entrances to the channels across the German mine barrier.- - -
- The Assault Forces found little difficulty, generally speaking, in locating the entrance of the swept channels. A few mistakes naturally occurred, but these were of no great moment. For example, four groups of Force J and one of Force S proceeded down the wrong channels, all to the westward of their correct ones, without serious inconvenience to the proper users. These errors were realized before reaching the end of the channels, but the loss of time involved in making to the eastward could not in the case of the L.C.T. (AVRE) of Assault Group J.1 be made up. The leading group of Assault Group G.1, which should have used Channel 5, was jostled out of it and to the eastward by a group belonging to Force O, whose tail had drifted down-wind tide. After midnight the tide turned, the tail wagged the other way and the leading group of G.1 was able to enter its correct channel, only to be forced out of it again by overtaking Infantry Landing ships and light cruisers; this group only spent one hour in swept waters.
- Divergences such as the foregoing were only to be expected in view of the difficulty in the navigation of slow moving craft in a cross stream, accentuated by heavy weather. Casualties on passage were almost entirely due to the weather, only two being caused by enemy action, - H.M.S. Wrestler1 which was mined at 0545, 6th June, in latitude 49° 36' N, while a cable to the eastward of Channel No. 7 - and later on 1 L.S.T. of Follow-up Force L. The total casualties on passage in the Eastern Task Force are shown in the following Table:
In the Eastern Task Force Area, Forces G and J arrived
at the Lowering positions without the slightest molestation, the
Bulolo (Naval Commander, Force G) and leading L.C.I.s anchoring
at about 0535 and the Hilary (Naval Commander, Force J) at 0558.
The only opposition at this stage consisted of a torpedo
attack on Force S which developed from the eastern flank just
as the leading ships were arriving at the lowering position.
This attack, as well as the conditions obtaining at the time, is
best described in the words of Rear-Admiral Talbot's report. - - -
"As H.M.S. Largs, bringing up the rear of the L.S.I. convoy, approached the coast of France, the sense that we had achieved a large measure of tactical surprise became apparent. No air attacks, no E-boat attacks, no Radar or W/T jamming worth mentioning. The air plot showed enemy aircraft on patrol away to the eastward in the Pas de Calais area. A glance to starboard showed the assault convoys on time as far as could be judged. The operation was proceeding with unreal precision...."
|Ship or Craft||Force|
|L.C.T.||-||1||-||-||Sank in tow.|
|Rhino Ferry||1||1||1||-||Sank on passage|
|Rhino Tugs||7||7||3||-||Sank on passage|
|L.C.P.(L)||1||-||1||-||Sank on passage|
|L.C.A.(R.N.)||8||8||7||-||12 sank in tow;|
2 broke down and
towed to base
- As we approached the lowering position, HMS Warspite, HMS Ramillies, HMS Roberts and HMS Arethusa, were already anchored in their bombarding positions to port of us, down the extension of Channel 10 swept by the 40th M.S.F., H.M.S. Scylla, H.M.S. Mauritius, H.M.S. Danae, O.P.P. Dragon, and H.M.S. Frobisher, disposed at anchor along the swept "Loop" channel joining the lowering position to the southern extremity of Channel 10 extension. The bombarding squadron had opened fire, but were only being engaged by the enemy in a desultory fashion, few shots falling anywhere near them. The bombarding destroyers, under the command of Captain (D) 23rd Flotilla (Captain P.G.L. Cazelet, D.S.C., R.N.) in H.M.S. Saumarez were waiting, as ordered, clear of the swept channels where they merged, to be swept into their inshore positions by the 165th B.Y.M.S. The "D.D." L.C.T. Convoy was just coming up to the lowering position - on time, but the L.C.T.(A) convoy was obviously late. Such was the picture at 0519 as we ran down from the knuckle to join channel 9.
- Then events started to move swiftly. In accordance with plan, our own aircraft streaked low across the eastern flank at about this time and laid a most effective smoke screen to shield the Force from the heavy batteries at Havre. Unfortunately, three German torpedo boats took advantage of this to carry out a torpedo attack, and though engaged by the bombarding squadron, were able to make good their escape in the smoke.1 Two torpedoes passed between H.M.S. Warspite and H.M.S. Ramillies, and at 0530 one hit H.Nor.M.S. Svenner close on the port beam of H.M.S. Largs. Another torpedo was seen approaching H.M.S. Largs; her engines were put emergency full astern and the torpedo passed a few feet ahead of her. It then came to rest and sank just short of H.M.S. Virago. She had, however, seen H.Nor M.S. Svenner's signal "TORPEDO PORT", and with the remainder of the starboard division of bombarding destroyers waiting stopped in a group, went emergency full ahead.2
The Svenner had apparently been hit immediately under
her boiler room. There was a burst of steam amidships
and her funnel fell aft as the whole ship lifted out of
the water. She broke her back and sank rapidly; the
greater part of her ship's company were picked up.
- The Warspite followed the enemy in by Radar and opened fire at 14,000 yards; she reported one torpedo boat sunk. The Mauritius, Ramillies and Arethusa also opened fire, the former claiming one trawler sunk and one damaged.1 After this mauvaise quart d'heure things quieted down; the L.S.I. of Force S anchored in the lowering positions in accordance with plan, and the convoys began to arrive.2
- The fire from the enemy's coast batteries was singularly ineffective. In "GOLD" area, Longues battery opened fire on Bulolo at 0557; no hits were obtained, and the battery was silenced by the Ajax by 0620.3 The two main batteries opposing Force J were neutralized during the assault and subsequently captured before they could interfere with the shipping. In "SWORD" area the fire from the
batteries east of the Orne was directed mainly against
the bombarding ships; the Warspite shifted berth after
being straddled by shells from the Benerville battery,
but received no damage.1
By 0930 the main enemy batteries
had been silenced, though they required periodic attention
throughout the day; the Ramillies, for example, carried
out eleven shoots at Benerville with considerable observed
success. The cruisers of Force D fired on the batteries
assigned to them as occasion demanded. As the day wore on,
the beaches and anchorages were subjected to an increasing
fire from mobile guns in the woods south of Franceville
which proved most difficult to locate and engage -----.
- Meanwhile, the Assaulting Flotillas had started on their passage to the beaches. The weather at the Lowering position - wind W.N.W., Force 4, with a short steep sea - somewhat impeded the lowering and loading of the landing craft, but despite this the "marriage" of the minor craft from the L.S.T. with their various major craft was completed successfully, and in general the flotillas got away on time. The detailed organization of the Assault Groups varied in the several Assault Forces, depending as it did on the type of assault intended, the physical characteristics of the beaches, the nature of the defenses, and so forth.----- Destroyers proceeded in on the flanks of the first wave of the assaults, giving direct close support fire, while B.Y.M.S. swept the waters ahead of them. The "Hunts" closed the beaches as near as possible, while the "Fleets" anchored between three and four thousand yards to seaward. Pre-arranged targets were engaged accurately and effectively till the landing craft had touched down, after which fire was shifted to strong points on the flanks and inland as opportunity offered. In "SWORD" area, Rear-Admiral Sir Philip Vian in the Scylla - after engaging pre-arranged targets in Ouistreham till 0705 - closed to within 5,500 yards of the beach and intensified the fire on the beach defenses till a minute before the touchdown.
- The deployment and approach of the flotillas was admittedly not conducted with the precision of the later rehearsals. The weather allowed craft but little margin of speed to adjust the errors of timing which had inevitably crept in during the night cross-channel passage; nevertheless, the landings all took place within 15 minutes of the scheduled times1 and except in "UTAH" Area at the correct positions on the beaches, which in most cases were identified without difficulty.2 In area "SWORD" and "JUNO" the lights of submarines X.23 and X.20 - which had up to that time spent 64 hours dived out of 76 hours at sea - were readily picked up by the approaching flotillas and provided a useful check on their position. The leading groups approached the beaches unopposed until about 3,000 yards off shore. Even then fire was desultory and inaccurate, except in "SWORD" area, where Landing Craft sustained damage from mortar fire.- - - -
B. The Assaults - General Narrative
- From the naval point of view the assault was carried out in every main essential as planned. Contrary to expectation, tactical surprise was achieved in every sector save one, thereby greatly easing the problem of getting ashore. This phase of the operation was further facilitated by the strange immunity enjoyed by the Allied shipping lying in the anchorages from interference either by coastal batteries or air attack.3
- To this extent the operation proved easier than had been expected, but it would be a great mistake to suppose on that account that the assaults were easy or unopposed landings. The enemy troops manning the coast defense batteries may have been of inferior quality, but there was no doubt as to the quality of the field troops manning the various strong points and the mobile field batteries which dominated the beaches. These put up a most stubborn resistance; their fire, in combination with a heavy surf on the beaches and extensive obstacles called for endurance and seamanship of the highest order in the handling of the landing craft, and the exits from the beaches were only secured by the assaulting troops after a desperate struggle.1
- The weather conditions were on the border line for "swimming" DD - tanks;2 the decisions as to launching them varied in different sectors, but in all cases they arrived on shore late and after the first landing craft
had touched down.1
After beaching, they met with
varying success; for example, in the SWORD and UTAH
areas they were of great value; on OMAHA beaches they
were quickly knocked out.2
The initial landings were
made by the Americans in the Western area at about
0630, the British landings in the Eastern area following
about an hour to an hour and a half later. On most
beaches obstacle clearance presented greater difficulties
than had been anticipated. The weather preceding D-day
had tended to build up the tide, and the surf and the
large number of landing craft arriving on the beaches
prevented work in the water. Except in the UTAH beaches
but little clearance could be effected during the initial
assaults. Major craft smashed their way through the
obstacles at high speed, while the L.C.A. threaded their
way between them.3
- By the end of the forenoon all the beaches in the Eastern area had been secured with the exception of one in GOLD area, and the landing of the Assault and Reserve Brigades other than elements arriving in L.S.T. had been completed by about 1500.4 The first of the return convoys of empty landing craft were sailed from area "JUNO" at about 1300 and from then onwards there was a steady stream of landing craft sailing from all areas.5 Some account of how each assault force fared will be found in the ensuing Sections.-----
C. Force G.1 GOLD Area
- GOLD Area - the western area of the British assault area - extended from Port en Bessin to the mouth of the River de Provence. It was divided into 4 sectors, the two eastern most - JIG and KING - being chosen for the initial assaults. Port en Bessin and the western sectors were to be dealt with later.
- H-hour for Force G was 0725 - 55 minutes after the planned time of the American assault in OMAHA sector to the westward and 10 minutes before that of Force J's assault to the eastward. Assault Group G.1., commanded by Captain Farquhar, R.N., in HMS Nith, landed the 231st Infantry Brigade (Brig. Sir A. Stanier, Bt.) on JIG Green beach, east of Asnelles, and Group G.2., commanded by Captain Ballance, R.N., in HMS Kingsmill, the 69th Infantry Brigade (Brig.Knox) on beaches KING, RED and GREEN, opposite Ver-sur-Mer. Following them, Group G.3, commanded by Act. Captain G.V.M. Dolphin, R.N., in HMS Albrighton carried the Reserve, consisting of the 56th Infantry Brigade (Brig. Pepper) and the 151st Infantry Brigade (Brig. Senier). The decision as to when and where the Reserve Brigades should land was retained by the G.O.C., Northumbrian Division embarked in HMS Bulolo.
- The timing of the assaults in both sectors was extremely accurate.1 Both Deputy S.O.A.C.s, in consultation with the military officers embarked, decided that the weather was too rough for the successful launching of their DD tanks2 and their L.C.T. were beached just after the L.C.T. (AVRE). The obstacle clearance units were thus the first to set foot on shore, where they worked for a time virtually unsupported. The obstacles were considerably thicker and heavier than had been expected and the tide was higher; in consequence, little clearance could be effected at this time.
- Considerable damage to landing craft was sustained from mines fixed at the top and bottom of posts. In addition, there was reluctance in the heat of the assault to use Kedge anchors, and this in the surf, caused many craft to broach, fill with water and so encumber the beaches. Strong resistance was met with at Le Hamel and La Riviere, both which had enfilading positions covering the beaches. The former kept up its fire on JIG sector till late afternoon and it was not until about 1600 after a concentrated close range bombardment by L.C.G., L.C.F, and destroyers, that the village was captured by the 1st Hants., attacking from the west.3
- No. 47 R.M. Commando landed on JIG Sector at 0930 and in doing so lost all but two of their L.C.A. and much equipment including all their wireless sets. This did not deter them from achieving their object - the capture of Port en Bessin - but all contact was lost with them till the afternoon of the following day. Shortly before the landing of No. 47 Commando, the Scylla, wearing the flag of the Naval Commander, Eastern Task Force, arrived in "GOLD" area. After giving direct support to the assault in "SWORD" area, Admiral Vian had proceeded along the front keeping about two miles from the shore in order to judge the progress of the landings. Finding fighting on the "GOLD" beaches still going on, the Scylla fired 40 rounds at Arromanches at a range of about 8,000 yards between 0924 and 0931, being herself intermittently - and ineffectually - engaged by shore batteries; she then returned to the eastward and anchored in the "SWORD" area. The Reserve Brigades were sent in at 1050 and 1120, and the G.O.C. of the Division landed at 1205. Later in the day the G.O.C. 30th Corps arrived in the Beagle and boarded the Bulolo about 1900. He went ashore later in an L.C.F. (P), though there was a heavy sea then running in the anchorage.
D. Force J:1 JUNO Area
- Force J, operating in JUNO area to the east of Force G, attacked in sectors Mike and Nan in the neighborhood of Courseulles, Group J.1. (Captain Pugsley, RN, in H.M.S. Lawford) landing the 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade in the three western beaches (Mike Green and Red, and Nan Green) and Group J.2. (Captain Otway-Ruthven, RN, in H.M.S. Waveney) the 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade on Nan White and Red beaches. Group J.3 (Captain Fanshawe, RN, in H.M.S. Royal Ulsterman) followed with the Reserves consisting of the 9th Canadian Brigade.
- In order to ensure clearance over the outlying rocks of Nan sector,1 H-hour for Group J.2 had been fixed as 20 minutes later than for Assault Forces G and S; for Group J.1 it was 10 minutes earlier than for Group J.2. Owing to the heavy weather and to several groups using the wrong channels...... the Assault Group commanders found it necessary to retard these times by ten minutes, bringing them to 0755 and 0745 respectively. As a result of these progressive postponements the assault craft beached amongst the obstacles instead of short of them. Despite strenuous efforts by the obstacle clearance units, clearance of the outer obstacles2 was not practicable until the tide had fallen and considerable loss or damage was sustained from them and from the Teller mines, etc., attached to them. Nevertheless, the landing of the Assault Brigades was achieved with relatively light casualties, "thanks to the determination shown by the Commanding Officers and Coxwains of craft, to the clockwork precision of the supporting fire from H.M. ships, S.P. artillery, rocket craft, etc., and to the unexpectedly feeble effort of the enemy coast and beach defences.3
- Submarine X.20 successfully marked the launching position for the DD tanks and provided a useful check on the positions of the leading flotillas.1 Actually, so far as the DD tanks were concerned she was not needed as the Deputy S.O.A.C.s of both groups decided not to attempt to "swim" the DD tanks in the existing weather and to beach them in their L.C.T.s with the AVRE groups. This was adhered to by Group J.2, where the AVRE touched down at 0805, followed by the Infantry at 0811 and the DD tanks a few minutes later, but in Group J.1, the Senior Officer of the DD tank group revised the decision and when about 1000 yards from the beach decided to launch the DD tanks. Some confusion ensued and they touched down between 0759 and 0810, and the AVRE - which had gone astray in the night ...... arrived six minutes after the Infantry, 30 minutes late on their deferred time.2
- Very little shooting apart from some inaccurate mortar fire was directed on craft before the touch down. On the left, on Group J.2's beaches, it was not until the L.C.A. (H.R.) had fired their bombs that the defenses began to shoot at the craft. The opposition encountered on the beaches was moderate to heavy and included shell and mortar fire, close range weapons and small arms fire. Generally speaking opposition was heaviest in the center in Mike Red and Nan Green beaches. Sniping from the dunes and from buildings and churches close inshore continued throughout D-day and the night of D-day plus 1. Great credit is given by Commodore Oliver to the work of the bombarding forces, which proceeded "in complete accordance with the assault fire plan".3
- The batteries at Beny-sur-Mere and behind Nan White were engaged by the Diadem and Kempenfelt. On the right the destroyers, Venus, Faulknor, Fury, Stevenstone and La Combattante engaged beach sector targets on Mike and Nan Green with direct fire at ranges down to 3000 yards; on the left Nan White and Red beaches were similarly dealt with by the Vigilant, Algonquin, Sioux, Bleasdale and Glaisdale. Seven L.C.G. (mounting 14 - 4.7" guns between them) and 8 L.C. Flak, gave close support with direct fire on the beaches at ranges down to 1000 yards, while four regiments of S.P. Artillery (who overcame the difficult weather conditions and carried out their shoots with remarkable accuracy) engaged pre-arranged strong point targets from ranges between 9000 and 1000 yards during the run in; these strong points were finally engaged by 8 L.C.T. Rockets - 4 per brigade front - during the touch down; the Rocket craft all covered their targets well. Unfortunately, a passing Typhoon met a pattern in mid-air and was destroyed.
- Nine L.C.A. (H.R.) were assigned to each assault group. Of those belonging to Group J.1., all except one foundered or had to be cut adrift, apparently through being towed at too great a speed in the prevailing weather. On the left, all nine L.C.A. (H.R.) of Group J.2 reached their firing positions on time, - a fine performance, to return to the beaches. At about 0830, (H plus 45) No.48 R.M. Commando had landed on Nan Red from L.C.I. (S), whose wooden hulls suffered widespread damage from the beach obstacles by this time mostly submerged. Heavy casualties were suffered by the Commando from machine gun and mortar fire, as the Assaulting Infantry had passed straight through the beach without pausing to mop up, and some of the defenses sited to give cross fire were then beginning to come to life again.
- Though the Infantry had got across the beaches quickly, there was some delay before exits were established. At 0941 Mike Red reported that the landing of the 7th Brigades' vehicles was held up by lack of exits and flooding inland; gradually one exit was got working satisfactorily by 1112. The 8th Brigade had less difficulty; the seawall was bridged on Nan White at 0650 and though congestion occurred periodically, two exits were in use on Nan Red and three on Nan White by 1040. An hour later (1140) the N.O.I.C. JUNO (Captain Maud, RN) landed on Nan Green beach and set
up his advance Headquarters close east of Courseulles
at about 1330. Advanced beach signal stations had
been established promptly after the landings and were
- By 1100, the leading army elements were reported to be half way to the divisional intermediate objectives; twenty minutes later the 8th Brigade reported that Tailleville, Banville and St. Croix-sur-Mer had been captured and that they were advancing. No. 48 R.M. Commando had by this time taken the Langrune coastal strip. The first craft of the Reserve Brigade group beached on Nan White and Red at 1133 and by 1150 the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade was on shore. The G.O.C. Canadian Infantry Division landed on Nan White beach at 1310, and by 1400 the landing of second flight troops from the L.S.I. had been completed.
- The first 12 L.S.T. had arrived at 1120 with the good news that all Rhinos had survived the bad towing conditions on passages,2 but no beaches were ready to receive them till 1445. A limited number of L.C.T. started discharging where gaps existed in the beach obstacles at noon. Most of the beaches were heavily littered with stranded landing craft, but a flow of discharge could be maintained. At 1500 the D/S O.A.G., "Mike" Red, decided to beach the maximum possible number of L.C.T. on the falling tide and leave them to dry out; these had finished unloading by 1615. At 1715 H.M.S. Hilary and other ships and craft shifted inshore and took up berths in accordance with the prearranged berthing plan. - - - -. At the same time, the Naval Commander, Eastern Task Force - who had been touring the beaches in a U.S. coast guard cutter during the afternoon - arrived in the Scylla and anchored in "JUNO" area in order to be centrally placed for a meeting of Flag Officers and Commodores which took place at 1800.3 The Scylla remained in "JUNO" area till 2200, when she returned to "SWORD" area for the night.
- Group L.1 of follow-up Force L, with a further 13 L.S.T.1 carrying the 51st Highland Division, and 21st Army Group headquarters; H.M.S. Northway, loaded with DUKWs; and 4 pre-loaded stores coasters had arrived as planned during the afternoon, but in spite of the growing accumulation of vessels, there was no sign of enemy air activity - apart from a few Red warnings - and in fact no air action took place over "JUNO" area till 0150 next morning (7 June).
E. Force S2 - SWORD Area
- SWORD Area - the easternmost in the British Assault area - had been considered the most vulnerable to enemy attack, both from the heavy batteries in the vicinity of Havre and from light craft based on that port. For this reason very powerful bombarding forces had been stationed on its eastern flank. Actually, these forebodings proved groundless in the early stages; beyond the loss of H.Nor, M.S. Svenner and one L.C.I.(S), which was hit by shell fire and blazing from stem to stern, the opening stages of the assault were unbelievably unopposed. The air was full of our bombers and fighters and the noise and smoke of our bombardment. The enemy was obviously stunned by the sheer weight of support we were meting out.3
- The assault of Force S differed from the other assaults in that the 3rd Division was landed on a one-brigade front, whereas in the case of Force J and G each division was landed on a two-brigade front. The points chosen for the assault were in Queen Sector, northeast of Colleville-sur-Orne. Assault Group S.3, under Captain Bush, R.N., in H.M.S. Goatland was responsible for the initial landing of the 8th Infantry Brigade (Brigadier Cass) on beaches Queen White and Red. Group S.2 (Captain Gotto, R.N., in H.M.S. Dacres) - the intermediate group - with the 185th Infantry Brigade (Brigadier Smith) closely followed Group S.3, and Group S.1 (Captain Leggatt, R.N. in H.M.S. Locust) with the 9th Brigade (Brigadier Cunningham) formed the Reserve.
- Weather conditions were recognized as being unsuitable for swimming DD tanks, but it was decided to launch them at 5000 yards.1 This decision was justified by events; of the 40 tanks embarked, 34 were successfully launched.2 Two sank immediately and one was rammed by an overtaking L.C.T. (A.V.R.E.) the remaining 31 DDs touched down at about 0730 and did valuable work. Many of these had their engines swamped as their trim changed on beaching, but they maintained their fire until the rising tide drowned them, when the crews took to their dinghies and paddled ashore. It is estimated that the DD tanks knocked out three of four 75 mm. guns, four or five 50 mm and many 20 mm. These guns were completely defiladed from the sea, and destroyers were reporting them as neutralized or destroyed - since no flashes were visible - while in fact they were very much alive and only waiting for the first craft on which they could bear..... Aimed fire from enemy guns actually on the beaches, other than sniping from houses, is reputed to have ceased by H plus 20 (0745). Brigadier Prior-Palmer, commanding 27th Armoured Brigade, who was in the Headquarters craft of the leaving group of Assault Group S.3. reported that 23 of the DD tanks survived the beach battle.
- The L.C.T. (AVRE) reduced speed to avoid overrunning the DD tanks, but they were almost immediately ordered by Captain Bush to proceed through them, and reached the beach just after H-hour (0725); all the AVRE tanks were landed by 0730, with the exception of those in L.C.T. 947 in which one Flail was hit by a mortar shell which detonated the bangalore torpedoes which it carried, killing Lt. Col. A.D. Cooks, the Commander of the 5th Assault Regiment, R.N., and putting two other tanks out of action. The Infantry touched down within 5 minutes of the AVRE. Opposition was slight and all troops were landed in knee-deep water at the correct place and with few casualties.
The obstacles were much as had been expected, and
in general consisted of:
- Two staggered rows of Hedgehogs, 150 yards from the back of the beach.
- Two irregular rows of stakes, 200 yards from the back of the beach.
- Clusters of ramps, 250 yards from the back of the beach.
Teller mines or shells were attached to all of the above. These devices were not as great an obstacle to the assault as had been anticipated but "they most certainly would have been if all craft had not been... instructed to drive their craft in at full speed for the last mile of the approach."1
- The L.C.T.(A) and L.C.T.(C.B.) had been late in leaving the lowering position, but made up time on the run in, and touched down on the flanks only five minutes after H-hour. Their tanks were landed successfully and expeditiously but two L.C.T.(A) on Red Beach were so severely hit that they became total losses. All craft fired in support during the final approaches; no opposition was met till about 3000 yards from the beaches, when those on the eastern flank came under fairly heavy mortar and machine gun fire. Only one L.C.T. Hedgerow survived the passage; she hit the beach almost immediately after firing her outfit, and her Commanding Officer reported that her pattern extended right up the beach, setting fire to one of the houses behind it.
- On the beaches, considerable opposition was encountered, particularly by the East Yorke on Red Beach. At 0750 the Free French and A.O.4 Commandos touched down; these suffered casualties from anti-tank guns and mortar fire before they got ashore. By 0906 two exits had been secured on White Beach , but there was considerable congestion due to shelling, wrecked vehicles and soft sand. The landing, however, was going well and the last groups of the Assault Brigade touched down at 0943 - only 18 minutes late on schedule. The Intermediate Brigade followed; but the last groups of the Reserve Brigade had to be held up to seaward for about 3 hours while the congestion on the beaches was dealt with and did not get ashore till about 1600.
- Meanwhile the landing craft had suffered considerably. Although Captain Bush was able to report at 1153 "only 7 major craft destroyed so far" - a much greater number was crippled and "only got off by dint of grim determination and good seamanship. Indeed, the spirit in which these crews endeavoured to save their damaged craft in great difficulties of weather, obstacles, mines, mortar fire and crowded foreshore makes good reading. Many were caught by the tide and dried out but they continued firing their guns at snipers in the houses and at enemy planes which were now beginning to bomb and strafe the beaches in sneak raids through the low clouds."1 These craft that succeeded in unbeaching stood by those less fortunate and a large number was hauled off, thanks to devotion to duty.
- At 0930 H.M.S. Largs had shifted berth close inshore and at 1535 Rear-Admiral Talbot landed to see for himself how things were going. As he set foot on shore, seven Ju.88's attacked the beaches; mortar fire was continuous. More than 24 major landing craft were stranded. There was still much congestion at the beach exits - mainly caused by traffic blocks in the Ouistreham - Lion-sur-Mer lateral road at the back of the beaches; the resulting lack of transport had brought the unloading of ammunition from four dried out stores L.C.T. to a standstill. The Admiral remarked that "people were obviously rather dazed and shaken. They were also very exhausted. But the N.O.I.C. (Captain Legatt, R.N.) and the Commander, 101 Beach Sub-Area, (Colonel Montgomery) who had landed at H plus 4 (1125) were competing bravely".1
- On his return to the Largs, Rear-Admiral Talbot arranged for Commander T.I.S. Bell, at that time Naval Commander, Operations "Frog" and "Deer"2 to become Chief Principal Beachmaster, and for Fleet working parties to be sent ashore the following day to assist in clearing up the beaches. Shortly before 2100, 6th June, the first 300 troop-carriers and towed gliders, lifting reinforcements to the 6th Airborne Division started coming over Area "SWORD", and landing on the right bank of the Orne some four miles south of Ouistreham. A further contingent flew over some 20 minutes later - "a most impressive spectacle." At 2250 orders were given to smoke out the anchorage in anticipation of a dusk air attack, which in fact developed half an hour later. Most unfortunately this attack occurred immediately prior to the arrival of the third and last wave of airborne troops.
- Here was precisely the contingency foreseen by Admiral Ramsay - - -. Light ack-ack ashore opened up on some of the transport planes; certain merchant ships and L.S.T. in the anchorage joined in and, despite repeated signals to cease fire, at least two of the British aircraft were shot down. The Flagship of the Naval Commander, Eastern Task Force, which was at anchor in "SWORD" area at the time, was herself involved in this incident. Admiral Vian records that at one moment a Ju.88 passed down the side of the Scylla at masthead height; two minutes later two Dakotas passed over at 1000 feet. Visibility was good with a full moon and fortunately they were recognized; but, on the request of the Naval Commander, Eastern Task Force, 1 airborne operations of this nature were in future confined to daylight hours.2
THE ASSAULT ENDS: THE SITUATION AT H PLUS 24 HOURS
By the close of D-day the five Allied spearheads
were all successfully established on their respective
beach heads. In every area, reinforcements were
being landed apace. The forces ashore were being
braced against the expected enemy counter attack. The
Allied situation in Normandy at H plus 24 hours (0630
7th June) was as follows:
- In the S Sector, the British 3rd Division had been completely landed and had pushed inland to a depth of 4 miles, capturing Ouistreham and making contact with the British 6th Airborne Division. The latter had landed on the east banks of the river Orne and secured intact the Benouville bridges over the Orne River and Caen Canal.1 The British 3rd Division had also made contact with the Canadian 3rd to the westward, and held the line Perriers - Benouville.
- The Canadian 3rd Division of Force J had pushed up to 5 miles inland toward Caen, established contact with the British 3rd on their left and the British 50th on their right, and held a line running from Benny to Cruelly.
- In the G sector the British 50th Division had advanced inland about 5 miles to a point just east of Bayeux, and held a line from there eastward to the J Sector where they were in contact with the Canadians. It was not until the 8th (D plus 2) that Bayeux was taken nor until the 9th that contact was made with the U.S. V-Corps from OMAHA Beach.
- By nightfall on D-day, the V-Corps had advanced scarcely a mile off the OMAHA Beach. With the cliffs behind them they made substantial progress during the night and by mid-day on the 7th (D plus 1) they had reached the Bayeux-Caranten road, some 4 miles inland. They made contact with the British 50th Division to the eastward on the 9th and with the VII Corps to the westward on the 10th (D plus 4) after a desperate resistance by the Germans in the vicinity of the Vire Estuary.
- The VII Corps in the UTAH Sector had rapidly consolidated a beach head 4000 yards long, driven inland some 5 miles and joined the 101 airborne division by nightfall of D-day. By H plus 24 hours, they had also made contact with the 82nd Airborne Division in the St. Mere Eglise area. These two Airborne Divisions, which had been landed over a period of 24 hours beginning at about H minus 4 to 5 hours, had successfully, though at considerable expense, accomplished their mission. They had captured the crossing of the Douvre River, prevented the flooding of the Vire marshes and had assisted the seabourne landing on UTAH beach.1
In the air the enemy were equally unsuccessful
in disturbing the process of invasion. Between 3 o'clock
on D-day, when the first air attack against shipping was
made, until H plus 24 hours, only 85 aircraft, most of them
mine layers, were sent against the Allied forces in the
Bay of the Seine. Fifteen of these were destroyed.
Naval actions during the first 24 hours prospered
equally. By nightfall on D-day, the minesweepers had
completed the sweeping of the inner anchorages, shipping
was moved close inshore, and the area screen set. The
night passed quietly with only two small air raids and a half
hearted E/R boat attack on the eastern flank at 0336 o'clock.
This was beaten off with two German craft destroyed and no
injury to Allied vessels.1
The enemy also launched an E-boat
attack against the east wall of the Spour, but this too was
turned back, with the loss of two German craft and no loss
to the Allies.2
- Summarizing the events of D-day, Admiral Ramsay said: "The outstanding fact, from the Naval point of view, was that, despite the unfavourable weather, in every main essential the plan was carried out as written. Tactical surprise, which had not been expected, was achieved and greatly eased the problem of getting ashore in every sector except at OMAHA. Losses of ships and landing craft of all types were much lower than had been expected, but damage to L.C.T. and smaller craft, aggravated by rough weather conditions was higher than had been allowed for.- - - - - By the end of D-day immediate anxiety was felt on only one count - whether the weather would improve sufficiently quickly to enable the build-up to start as planned."
Previous Section ** Next Section
p.487 #1 ANCXF Report, Vol. I, page 56, para. 1.
(1) During the passage the weather in the channel was: wind
W.S.W. Force 5 veering W.N.W. decreasing in force at times
but with strong gusts; waves were 5 to 6 feet in mid channel.
(2) During the assaults the weather off the Normandy beaches was: wind W.N.W. force 4; sea, moderate, waves 3 to 4 feet; sky fair to cloudy with cloud increasing.
p.488 #1 ANCXF report Vol. 1. page 57 para. 11.
p.489 #1 Admiral Ramsay further said: "Although the unfavorable weather caused difficulties and damage to craft off the beaches later, the advantages gained by surprise were so striking that your (SCAEF's) decision to go on despite the weather was amply justified. A postponement of one more day, e.g., till 7 June, would, in the event have proved disastrous owing to the conditions of sea off the beaches. The problems arising out of a postponement of 12 to 14 days to the next suitable period are too appalling even to contemplate." See ANCXF report Vol. 1 page 10 para. 33.
p.489 #2 Judging from the time, and number of vessels, the ten vessels reported must have been minesweepers of Force G.
p.489 #3 A group of 36 submarines based on the West Coast of France, earmarked for use against the Invasion.
p.490 #1 These Flotillas left Cherbourg at 0445, but bad weather compelled them to return at first light.
p.490 #2 Admiralty NID 24/T 65/45 page 46. General Eisenhower's report comments on these matters as follows: "The weather was not the only circumstance surrounding the Allied landings which was contrary to the enemy's expectations. Apparently he had assumed that we should make our attempt only when there was a new moon and on a high tide, and that in choosing the place of main assault we should pick the immediate neighborhood of a good harbor and avoid cliffs and shallows, dangerous waters. In point of fact, we assaulted shortly after low tide, when the moon was full; we landed away from large harbors and at some points below sheer cliffs; and the waters through which we approached the shore were so strewn with reefs and subjected to strong currents that the German Naval experts had earlier declared them to be impassable for landing craft."
p.490 #3 ANCXF Report Vol. 1 page 56 para. 3.
p.491 #1 In his report, Rear Admiral Hall commented on this point as follows: "From an examination of the beach defenses, and from the action of the defenders, it appears that the German defenses except obstructions were directed entirely against troops on or near the beaches and not against shipping or against boats until they were very close to the beaches. Casemated guns, pillboxes and machine guns were almost all sited to fire up and down the beach instead of out to sea. In many cases they were constructed so that they were invisible from seaward. All were difficult to detect. As a result, even though photographic reconnaissance was very thorough and usually correct, ships were unable to pick out all the positions in the areas assigned them. Further, the time available for pre-landing bombardment was not sufficient for the destruction of beach targets. German technique permitted the attacking units which got past the mines and underwater obstacles to get on the beach and then endeavored to wipe them out by the fire of automatic weapons and light artillery."
p.491 #2 ANCXF Report vol. 1 page 59, paragraph 21.
p.491 #3 Landing Craft losses during the assault were 131 LCT, 22 LCI(S), 21 LCI(L), 117 LCA.
p.491 #4 Admiral Ramsay went on to say, "the rate of landing will always be governed by the availability of exits. During planning, ANCXF's staff went to some pains to persuade Army opinion that it was utterly wrong to gauge what could be put ashore in the assaults by performance in unopposed exercises, in the hope that the Army would agree to phasing back a proportion of the L.S.T. to later convoys. If this advice had been accepted fewer L.S.T. would have sailed with the Assault Forces, which then would not have been encumbered with so many Rhino Ferries."
p.493 #1 See General Eisenhower's Report, p.30.
p.494 #1 The major units of this force were:
Battleships 1 L.C.I. 47 Monitors 1 L.C.T. 150 Cruisers 5 L.C.M. and L.C.C. 6 Gunboats 1 Minor Landing Craft
L.C.A. & L.C.V.P.
L.C.A. (HR), L.C.S. (M), L.C.S.(S)
83 Fleet Destroyers 16 Destroyer Escorts 2 Frigates 2 Corvettes 2 Minor Support Craft 12 Patrol Craft 7 Landing Craft Flock 4 Trawlers (A/S) 3 Landing Craft Guns (L) 4 Motor Torpedo Boats 1 L.C.T. (A) 8 P.T.'s. 1 L.C.T. (R) 5 S.C's. 7 L.C.P. (L) Smoke 18 Coast Guard Cutters 15 L.C.M. 67 Motor Launches 7 L.C.M. (Salvage) 6 H.D. Motor Launches 3 L.C.V.P. 88 Fleet M/S 25 L.B.V. 36 Y.M.S. (BYMS) 16 L.B.O. 10 Dan Layers 8 L.B.E. 3 Mine Sweeping M/L 8 L.B.W. 2 APA, LSI, Hq. Ships etc. 5 L.B.K. 2 L.S.T. 30 Fueling Trawlers. 4
p.497 #1 The assembly points, convoy formation and timing of Force U is shown in the following table.
|Convoy No.||Composition||Assembly Port||Sortie||Speed||Arrd. off|
|U-1A||1 BB, 3 CA, 2 CL, 4 DD.||Belfast||H-44
1030 3 June
|12 Kts.||0229 5 June|
|1 APA, 1 PT, 1 DD.||Plymouth||H-20
0930 5 June
|2 LCH, 2 PC.||Dartmouth||H-17
1230 5 June
|2 APA, 1 LSI, 2 DD.||Tor Bay||H-17
1230 5 June
|1 BM.||Weymouth Bay||H-13
1730 5 June
1730 5 June
|U-1B||14 LCI(L), 2 YMS, 1 DD.||Plymouth||1500 5 June||11 Kts.||0730 6 June|
|17 LCI(L), 1 SC.||Salcombe||1635 5 June||11 Kts.|
|5 LCI(L).||Torquay||1815 5 June||11 Kts.|
|4 USCGC.||Poole||2055 5 June||11 Kts.|
|U-2A(1)||1 LCI(L), 4 LCF, 4 LCT(R), 4 LCG, 8 LCT(A), 3 ML, 16 LCP(L).||Salcombe||1653 3 June||5 Kts.||0230 6 June|
|16 LCT, 4 LCC, 50 LCM, 2 PC, 1 SC.||Dartmouth||1745 3 June||5 Kts.|
|3 LCM (Salvage)||Portland||0430 4 June||5 Kts.|
|1 DD.||Plymouth||1700 3 June||5 Kts.|
|U-2A(2)||1 LCI(L), 1 PC, 85 LCT, 1 SC, 51 LCT, 2 PC||Dartmouth||2058 3 June||5 Kts.||0330 6 June|
|1 SC.||Brixham||1833 3 June||5 kts.|
|1 PG, 2 DD, 5 YMS, 1 AT.||Plymouth||1515 3 June||5 kts.|
|U-2B||2 DD, 1 AT, 1 ATR.||Plymouth||1430 3 June||0200 6 June|
|5 LST, 5 RHF||Dartmouth||1543 3 June||5 kts.|
|U-3||2 SC||Salcombe||0605 5 June||5 kts.||1430 6 June|
|5 LST, 5 RHF||Dartmouth||0830 5 June||5 kts.|
|11 LST, 1 RHF,1 DD, 4 USCGC, 2 Corvettes, 2 A/S Trawlers||Tor Bay||At Pt.D
1004 5 June
|4 USCGC||Poole||At Pt.F
|U-4||9 LST.||Salcombe||1930 5 June||5 kts.||0900 7 June|
|8 Pontoon Causeways||Salcombe||1930 5 June||5 kts.|
|8 Blisters||Salcombe||1930 5 June||5 kts.|
|1 Repair Barge||Salcombe||1930 5 June||5 kts.|
|3 A/S Trawlers||Plymouth||1630 5 June||5 kts.|
|U-5||18 LBV.||Yarmouth||1630 5 June||4 kts.||1630 6 June|
|20 LBO, 4 LBE.||Poole||1630 5 June||4 kts.|
|3 LBW, 20 LCM||Poole||1630 5 June||4 kts.|
|5 Fuelling Trawlers||Portland||1600 5 June||4 kts.|
|2 ML.||Poole||1430 5 June||4 kts.|
|U-6||18 LBV, 190 ML.||Yarmouth||0530 5 June||4 kts.||1030 7 June|
|4 LBE, 2 LBK, 2ML.||Poole||0500 5 June||4 kts.|
|UM-1||11 YMS, 8 MMS.||Plymouth||2400 4 June||8 kts.||0330 6 June|
|11 AM.||Tor Bay||0632 5 June||8 kts.||0040 6 June|
|6 PT.||Portland||1130 5 June||8 kts.||0330 6 June|
|UM-2||4 ML, 8 FM.||Plymouth||1715 4 June||8 kts.||0015 6 June|
|4 Dan Layers, 7 HDML.||Plymouth||1715 4 June||8 kts.|
|3 PT.||Portland||0400 5 June||8 kts.|
|UM-3||4 ML, 8 FM.||Plymouth||2300 4 June||8 kts.||2130 5 June|
|3 PT.||Portland||1000 5 June||8 kts.|
p.499 #1 ANCXF's report. Vol. 1 page 9 paragraph 30.
p.500 #1 Report of CinC Plymouth.
p.501 #1 At first it was thought that PC 1261 had been hit by enemy batteries but as no shot was observed to fall in the area, and it was later discovered that the Cardonet minefield was located in that area it was concluded in the end that she probably struck a mine.
p.502 #1 U's bombarding group was Bombardment Force A which consisted of the following vessels:
|Bombarding Force A.||Destroyers.||Support Craft|
|Nevada, Quincy, Erebus, Prince, Enterprise, Soemba||Fitch, Corry, Forrest, Hobson, Baldwin, Cherardi||4 L.C.G.(L)
p.504 #1 Report of NC Force U, in ANCXF report vol. III page 31, para 3.
p.504 #2 In his report Rear Admiral Moon commented on enemy gunfire as follows: "The losses on the initial assault on the beach were small. This is attributed largely to emphasis placed upon heavy gunfire support and the effective work of the Bombardment Group in providing it. Intelligence indicated extremely heavy enemy defenses against landings on Utah Beach. The 28 batteries defending Utah Beach consisted of 111 guns of medium to heavy calibre. Information obtained from air reconnaissance indicated that at least 75 per cent of these guns were effective at the time of the assault, despite extensive pre-D-day bombing. Examination of captured batteries indicates that approximately 50 percent of the guns were still operational after capture. The neutralization of these formidable batteries by the Bombardment Group was so effective that these batteries offered little opposition to either the assault or follow-up. As a result, all landings of troops, equipment and supplies were accomplished with minor losses. In addition the Bombardment Group effectively supported ground forces on numerous fire call missions during the entire period."
p.505 #1 Admiralty Report on the German War Effort (NID.24/T65/45) contains, along with other materials, a translation of the "Headline Diary" of meetings and reports of the German Naval C's in C and with Hitler. Much talk of the new secret (pressure acoustic and pressure magnetic mines) appears during the months before invasion. It appears that the first use of these mines was in the Cardonet Bank in June 1944. It will be recalled that when first employed the allies had no means of sweeping them. Rear Admiral Moon, in his usual thorough manner, had assured the sweeping of those parts of the Cardonet Bank to be used by his forces, before sending them in. The rapid loss of these fine ships in swept waters distressed Rear Admiral Moon considerably.
p.505 #2 This is in marked contrast to Force O which was almost completely immune from mine losses.
p.505 #3 From the date of the second sortie until NC Force U withdrew on D-plus-18, casualties to ships and craft of Force U were as follows:
|Corry (DD)||6 June||Sunk||Enemy shellfire, or mined|
|Glennon (DD)||8 June||Sunk||Mined|
|Meredith (DD)||8 June||Sunk||Mined, or possible glider bomb|
|Jeffers (DD)||7 June||Slight damage.||Enemy shellfire|
|Rich (DE)||8 June||Sunk||Mined|
|LCT 967||13 June||Sunk||Mined|
|LCT 362||6 June||Sunk||Cause undetermined, probably mined|
|LCT 597||6 June||Sunk||Cause undetermined, probably mined|
|LCT 777||6 June||Sunk||Cause undetermined, probably mined|
|LCT 486||7 June||Sunk||Mined|
|LCT 458||7 June||Sunk||Mined|
|LCT 447||15 June||Damaged||Near miss shellfire while beached|
|*AM 56 (Osprey)||5 June||Sunk||Mined or torpedo enroute to UTAH area.|
|AM 125 (Tide)||7 June||Sunk||Mined|
|PC 1261||6 June||Sunk||Enemy shellfire, or mined|
|LST 496||11 June||Sunk||Probably mined|
|LST 499||8 June||Sunk||Mined|
|LST 381||14 June||Damaged||Ran aground, causeway|
|MMS 297||17 June||Damaged||Acoustic mine|
|LST 292||17 June||Damaged||Damaged hull while beaching|
|MMS 229||13 June||Sunk||Mined|
|YMS 377||17 June||Damaged||Near mine explosion|
|SS Glenroy LSI(L)||17 June||Damaged||Near mine explosion|
|LCI 232||7 June||Sunk|
|*LCI(L) 219||11 June||Sunk||Bombed en route Utah area|
|LCF 31||6 June||Sunk||Cause undetermined, probably mined|
|HMS Minster||8 June||Sunk||Mined|
|*Susan B. Anthony||7 June||Sunk||Mined en route to Utah area|
|SS Charles Morgan||10 June||Sunk||Bombed|
* Not in Assault Area.
p.506 #1 In his report, General Eisenhower has commented on Force U's assault as follows: "The American 4th Division (VII Corps) assault on the Utah beaches just west of the Vire Estuary, met with the least opposition of any of our landings. Moreover, an error in navigation turned out to be an asset, since the obstacles were fewer where the troops actually went ashore than on the sector where they had been intended to beach. The enemy had apparently relied upon the flooding of the rear areas here to check any force which might attempt a landing, and the beaches themselves were only lightly held. Complete surprise was achieved and a foothold was obtained with minimum casualties although it was here that we had expected our greatest losses. The airborne troops having seized the causeways through the inundated hinterland and prevented the enemy from bringing up reinforcements, the 4th Division struck northwest toward Montebourg, on the road to Cherbourg.
p.507 #1 The following account is an extract from the Report of NC Force O contained in ANCXF report vol. III page 3 to 8 para 3 to 17. A certain amount of material has been transferred from text to footnote.
p.507 #2 Major units were:
|Transports||Landing Craft||Bombardment Ships|
|Gunfire Support Craft||Escort Craft||Minesweepers|
|Miscellaneous Ships and Craft|
|Ferry Craft: *86 LCT(5 and 6), 20 RHF, 119 LCM(3), 72 LBV(2).|
|Service Craft:9 Fuelling Trawlers, 16 LBE, 20 LBO, 5 LSW, 2 LBK, 1 Pontoon Drydock|
p.511 #1 This paragraph appears in Report of NC Force "O", Part V, Para. 10, given in ANCXF Report Vol. III, Pages 53 and 54.
p.512 #1 Report of NC Force O, Part I, Para. 7.
p.513 #1 Force O's bombardment force (bombarding Force C) was comprised of the following ships and craft:
|Bombarding Force C||Destroyers||Support Craft|
Texas (Flag, R.A. C.F. Bryant)|
Arkansas, Glasgow, Montcalm (Flag R.A. Jaujard)
|Frankford, McCook, Carmick, Doyle, Endicott, Baldwin, Harding, Satterlee, Thomson, Tanaside, Talybont, Melbreak||
p.514 #1 Prior to sortie, the disposition of the Force was as follows:
|a. At PORTLAND-WEYMOUTH:|
|b. At POOLE:|
|c. At BELFAST:|
|d. At EXMOUTH:|
|e. At FALMOUTH:|
The position of the U transport area was 23,000 yards
from the beach, and that of O was 20,000 yards. (see
Report of NCWTF - contained in ANCXF Report Vol.III,
page 99.) In his report Admiral Ramsay said:
"It was always the intention to make the 'Lowering Positions' as near the beaches as it was thought the enemy long range coastal batteries would permit. In the Eastern Task Force area they were therefore established seven miles from the shore. The U.S. forces, however, preferred to select positions 11 miles from the Coast. Actually it was found that the LSI of the Eastern Task Force were not menaced by enemy fire, and the reduction of the length of the LCA trip to the beach must have been most welcome to the British troops in the unpleasant conditions that obtained.
"It is worthy of note that the A.P.A. of the Western Task Force reached their lowering positions at 4½ hours before H-hour. This was at least 1½ hours earlier than the arrival of the L.S.I. in the British area. This was necessary:
- because of the longer distance from the lowering positions to the beach, and,
- because these ships have a larger boat carrying capacity than the average L.S.I. and more time is therefore required for the "lowering" and marshalling of the Assault craft.
Although one can fully sympathise with the decisions of the U.S. Forces, in the light of events it was unfortunate that the A.P.A. did not anchor closer, and it is considered that immunity from coastal batteries should not be given undue weight in the selection of the lowering positions, especially when adequate naval counter battery fire is available."
Rear-Admiral Hall commented on the great distance from the transport area to the beaches as follows:
"Information from Intelligence sources indicated that there were extensive minefields outside of and probably in the Bay of the Seine; in fact, on the basis of the best information available, it appeared that part of the channels leading to Force O's Transport Area and the Transport Area itself lay in a minefield. The location of the Transport Area in such a spot rather than further inshore in water which was thought to be clear of mines was dictated by the desire of the Force Commander to keep Transports of the Force out of range of two enemy heavy batteries ashore. As matters turned out, neither the mines nor the batteries proved dangerous, and the Transport Area could have been moved in to half its actual distance from the shore with impunity. (See Report NC Force O, Part V, Para. 17A, contained in ANCXF Report, Vol.III, Page 65.)
p.519 #1 H-hour for Force O was 0630.
In part V. of his Report NC Force "O" further described
the situation with respect to obstacles as follows:
"When it first became apparent that obstacles in appreciable numbers were appearing on the OMAHA Beaches, special plans for breaching them were devised jointly by the V Corps and the Eleventh Amphibious Force and submitted to C.T.F.122, and the 1st U.S. Army, respectively. It was not until the latter part of April, however, nearly a month later, that approval of these plans was obtained, and troops made available for the special training necessary to their execution. Briefly, the plan called for demolition teams consisting of both Army and Naval personnel landing immediately after a wave of tanks and a wave of infantry, and opening gaps through the obstacles using demolition charges and tank dozers. The time of landing was calculated so that, theoretically, the demolition parties would have a minimum of twenty minutes before the rising tide reached the bases of the seaward band of obstacles; all of which were believed to be uncovered at low tide. This was decided because it was believed to be impossible to remove obstacles actually underwater in any quantity within the probable time available in an assault; this without even taking into consideration the interference from enemy fire. The Force Commander would have preferred to land at low tide or even one hour before low tide in order to have allowed the demolition parties more time to deal with the obstacles and to afford some leeway in the event that landing was delayed. Unfortunately, in this respect the requirements on the OMAHA Beaches conflicted with those on the British Force J Beach, where it was believed necessary to have a minimum of nine or ten feet above the low water mark in order to permit the landing craft to pass over rocks offshore. To allow each Force to have attacked at its most favourable state of the tide would have meant widely staggering the time of H-hour, and might possibly have required major changes in the plan because of the minesweeper problem and the limited period of darkness at this time of the year. Therefore, a limit was placed upon the difference between the earliest and latest time of landing of the several assault forces, and the time chosen for Force O was the earliest permitted. Whether or not the demolition parties could have breached the obstacles as planned had the landing been made at or before low water instead of on a rising tide is problematical. As it was, the Navy demolition parties suffered 41 per cent casualties, and it is understood that the Army demolition parties casualties were about the same. Had they worked for a longer period exposed to enemy fire, it is possible that they might have been virtually annihilated, and still not have accomplished their mission"
(See Report NC Force "O" as given ANCXF Report Vol.III, Page 54, Par. 10A.)
p.521 #1 In Section V of his Report, NC Force "O" further described the situation as follows:
"The assault sections of both the 116th and 16th regiments were held up on the beaches by enemy mortar, light artillery, automatic weapons, and small arms fire. This fire was being delivered from strong points located at the top of the cliffs and bluffs, overlooking the beaches and from mortars a little further inland. Although Shore Fire Control Parties were landed at H plus 30 minutes, they were in many cases unable to set up their equipment because of casualties and enemy fire.
At this juncture the destroyers Carmick, Doyle, McCook, Thompson, Frankford, Harding, Emmons, and Baldwin, and the three British Hunts, Melbreak, Talybont and Tanatside, closed the beach and took under fire many of the enemy positions. Their fire was directed in part from the ships and in part from Shore Fire Control Parties which managed to set up communications. Two much credit cannot be given the destroyers which participated in this bombardment. Lacking complete knowledge of their own troops' positions, and hard pressed to pick out enemy positions, they closed in some cases to within 800 yards of the beach. Position after position was taken under direct fire. It is certain that they destroyed many of the enemy positions, and it is probable that without their assistance the casualties on the beach would have been considerably higher. Heavier ships joined in the fire but for the most part fired with airspot at targets designated by the S.F.C.P.s or planes".
p.522 #2 At this juncture arrangements were considered to land a part of Force "O" through Force G's beaches. But, as will be seen, this proved unnecessary as the 1st Division fought its way off the beach by early afternoon. (See ANCXF report Vol.I, p.12, para.46.)
"The Germans had an elaborate system of tunnels which it
was not practicable to clear out at this time even had its
full extent and nature been realized. Observers in these
tunnels were able to spot for field artillery in the rear
of the beaches with devastating accuracy. The Germans continued
to hold their fire until LCTs and LCI(L)s hit
the beach, and then opened up. Evidently their guns were
registered on the beaches; in any event their fire was very
successful. In addition to 88 mm. and 75 mm. fire the
Germans used 200 lb. oil filled incendiary rockets.
At least one LCT was hit by one of these rockets
just as unloading was commenced. The craft was
totally destroyed. This artillery and mortar fire was
very difficult to stop and continued with decreasing
intensity throughout the afternoon of D plus 1 day.
Fortunately in the later stages it was mostly directed
against the Gooseberries and against the beach area in
general rather than against specific LCTs and
vehicles on the beaches."
(See Report of NC Force O in Vol.III of ANCXF Report, P.58.)
p.525 #1 End of extract from Part I of Report of NC Force O.
p.526 #1 The Commanding Officer, U.S.S. Texas, regretted that, owing to a lack of visual communication with the Rangers, he had not known of their plight at H-hour. Had he done so, the enemy could have been kept down by gunfire until the Rangers had scaled the cliff and over-run the area. The Commanding Officer, U.S.S. Satterlee, also remarked "We should never have eased up enough to allow the enemy time enough to get out of their hiding places. This mistake can be attributed to two causes: lack of experience of the Commanding Officer in actual shore bombardment and overconfidence in the effectiveness of the air bombardment." From this experience the provisional lesson was drawn that "naval gunfire support should conform to the movement of the landing boats rather than adhere to a pre-determined schedule." (See Cominch P-006 June 1944.)
Rear Admiral Vian had made provision for this sort of contingency. His orders directed that "fire is not to be checked or shifted at the pre-arranged time of touchdown, unless the craft have in fact arrived at the beach". (See ONEAST 8, para 16.)
p.527 #1 Satterlee, Thompson, Harding and Boston (DD's).
p.527 #2 Report of NC Force "O", Part I, in Vol.III, ANCXF Report, Page 8, Para.18.
p.528 #1 Commenting generally on the use of Rangers and Commandos, Admiral Ramsay said "A daylight assault limited considerably the use which could be made of Commandos and Rangers, as the desire to achieve tactical surprise as far as possible prevented night landings before H-hour. On the British front Commandos were therefore landed during the assault to cover the ground on the flanks; in most cases they passed through the same beaches as the Assault Troops. On the U.S. Front some Rangers were landed on, and effected the early capture of the Marcouf Islands, whilst the remainder attacked the battery situated on Pointe du Hoc..... It was certainly unfortunate that these highly trained troops should have suffered heavy casualties getting ashore (i.e. during a period over which they could have little control). The difficulty in getting ashore bicycles, handcarts and the like from L.C.I. has been stressed many times before, but it is a hard lesson to learn"..... As regards LCI(S) "a high percentage of these lightly built craft were virtually thrown away and few in consequence were used as planned in the "Build-up" as ferry craft for personnel and as control craft. Similarly, in the OMAHA Sector, landings were only effected with considerable loss of craft and casualties to the Rangers. The battery at the Pointe du Hoc upon which so much effort was expended, was found to be unoccupied, the guns having been moved to an alternative position to the rear, and the Rangers, after a magnificent feat of cliff scaling, became isolated, and could only be supported with the greatest difficulty."
"From Naval Reports it is not possible to judge what
these landings achieved, but the crux of the matter was
that there were greater Ranger and Commando forces
available than were really suitable tasks for them".
(See ANCXF Report Vol.1, Page 60, para.26, 27 & 28.)
p.529 #1 Report of NC Force O in ANCXF Report, Vol.III, page 65.
p.530 #1 During the first 22 days, casualties to ships and craft of Force "O" were:-
Ships: One lost; one damaged.
U.S.S. Susan B. Anthony (AP 72) mined and sunk D plus 1 while en route from OMAHA area to UTAH area.
U.S.S. Harding (DD 625) Propellers damaged by under-water obstruction.
- LST's: 4 lost, 3 damaged.
- LCI(L)'s: 5 lost, 17 damaged.
- LCT(5 and 6) 13 lost, 78 damaged.
- Small Craft: 23 LCM's lost; 130 LCVP's lost.
- Miscellaneous: 3 S.C.'s damaged; 2 USCG Rescue Vessels damaged; 4 LCF's damaged.
The above figures include losses in the great storm of 19 to 23 June (D plus 13 to D plus 17) which proved almost as costly in ships and craft as the initial invasion.
p.531 #1 This is the figure for the first 22 days. The breakdown is as follows:
Total officers dead|
Total enlisted men dead
Total officers wounded
Total enlisted men wounded
Total officers missing
Total enlisted men missing
Total dead, wounded & missing
The above figure included naval shore parties. Special mention should be made of the Naval Combat Demolition Units which struggled so bravely with the beach obstacles. NCDU losses were:
(4 officers and 20 men)|
(3 officers and 29 men)
(0 officers and 15 men)
(7 officers and 64 men)
This was 41 per cent of their strength.
p.532 #1 Report of NC Force O, Part V, Para. 10. Contained in ANCXF Report, Vol.III, Page 54.
p.533 #1 While this narrative is primarily concerned with giving an account of the Royal Navy in Operation NEPTUNE, it also gives full weight to the part played by the United States Navy, and is indeed more vivid and less lengthy than the one given in the preceding section.
p.534 #1 On the night of 5th/6th June, under the combined effect of wind and tidal streams some craft had to allow as much as 40° to make good and track desired.
p.535 #1 Admiral Ramsay subsequently remarked, "...that the decision of the Supreme Commander to launch the assaults under such conditions was the correct one has never been questioned. An unfortunate doctrine had, however, been given full promulgation during planning, particularly in Army circles, namely, that fine weather and a calm sea were essential for the assault. In retrospect, with the experience of operation "Husky" still fresh in our minds, and with the knowledge of the fickleness of the weather in the Channel, this should never have been allowed."- - - ANCXF Rept.Vol.1, p.57.
p.535 #2 ANCXF Report, Vol.11, p.3, Report of NCETF. Rear Admiral Vian added - "It may probably be that the weather conditions had some part in what must ever be a matter for wonder that the embarkation, sailing and passage of the Force by any should have been carried through without so great a movement being detected by a well-equipped, prepared and determined enemy. That this should have been achieved is a lasting tribute to the admirable work of the Allied Air Force and the excellence of the cover plan." It is now known that the German meteorological officers had in fact informed the German Command that invasion would not be possible on the 5th or 6th [of] June on account of stormy weather which was expected to last for several days.
H.M.S. Wrestler had done useful service during the night
in rounding up stragglers and guiding stray groups into
the correct channels. The Commanding Officer had
appreciated that the importance of the punctual arrival
of these groups outweighed the risk to his ship by
operating in unswept waters." - - -
Commodore Oliver's report, p.4, ANCXF Report Vol.III.
p.539 #1 Rear-Admiral Vian subsequently remarked that the fact that it was not possible to stop the aircraft from laying smoke probably enabled the German torpedo boats, (who were accompanied by Trawlers) to make their escape, and recommended that in future direct communication between smoke laying aircraft and the unit being screened should be arranged.
p.539 #2 ANCXF Report, Vol.II, Report of NC Force S, pp.15,16.
p.540 #1 The attack was carried out by the 5th Torpedo Boat Flotilla, 15 torpedoes in all being fired. According to the Germans only minor damage was sustained by the Torpedo boats; but the 15th Patrol Flotilla, stationed off Havre, "ran into heavy enemy fire" under which one vessel sank, after striking a mine.
p.540 #2 Rear-Admiral Talbot remarked that it was a pleasant surprise that the congestion anticipated with such large number of ships - mine-sweepers - destroyers - L.S.I. anchored or waiting in the lowering position, and the steady stream of Landing Craft steaming in two columns, one either side of the L.S.I. - was no problem at all.
p.540 #3 This battery came to life again later and was engaged by the Argonaut. It was subsequently found that 2 guns had been put out of action by direct hits with 6" shell through the embrasures. These hits must be attributed to chance, since the density of craters around the guns was not high. The remaining 2 guns were undamaged, though in one case the casemate had been hit. In all, 150 round of 6" (Ajax) and 29 round of 5.25 (Argonaut) were fired at Longues battery.
p.541 #1 Rear-Admiral Sir Philip Vian remarked - "The inability of the enemy on the eastern flank to find or hold the range may have been due to the Radar counter measure, which included "window" and R.C.W. balloons... planted in clumps to the north-eastward of the bombarding ships. Some of these balloons were seen to be engaged by shore batteries" - ANCXF Report Vol.II, Report by the Naval Commander, Eastern Task Force p.7.
p.542 #1 An exception was the Ranger landing at Pointe du Hoc which was 35 minutes late owing to an error of the control vessel in mistaking Raz de la Perce for Pointe du Hoc.
p.542 #2 Specialists Hydrographic teams in L.C.P.(sy) and U.S. scout teams in L.C.S. were provided to assist the Leading Headquarters Landing Craft.
p.542 #3 This immunity was attributed to the numbing of the pre-H-hour bombardment, Allied superiority in the air, counter battery fire and perhaps in part to the poor quality of the enemy troops manning the coast defenses.
p.543 #1 Admiral Ramsay subsequently remarked that there was nothing but praise in the Reports of the Task and Assault Force Commanders "for the courage and devotion to duty on the part of the landing craft crews, just as the greatest admiration has been expressed by both navies for the magnificent bearing of the assaulting troops whom they put ashore. In short, the assault proceeded according to plan not necessarily because it was a good plan, but because every single individual taking part had confidence in it and was determined to achieve his objective." - ANCXF Report Vol.I, p.56.
p.543 #2 Rear-Admiral Hall remarked that "the so-called 'Secret Weapon' of the invasion forces, the DD tank was no secret at all, except possibly to our own personnel. A captured document by General Rommel.... warned the defenders that when the invasion came the Allies would use all sorts of weapons, including an amphibious tank that actually would float with its body beneath the surface." ANCXF Report Vol.I, Report by NC, Force D, p.73.
|Force U:||Launched and landed successfully; reached shore H plus 20 minutes.|
Left flank: launched 6000 yards off shore; all
but 2 or 3 foundered.|
Right flank: landed on beach; quickly put out of action by enemy fire.
|Force G:||landed on beach just after L.C.T. (Avre)|
Group J2: landed on beach with LCT (Avre)|
Group J1: launched 1500 yards from shore; reached shore 15 minutes late (6 minutes after infantry).
|Force S:||Launched 5000 yards off shore; 31 out of 40 reached shore 12 minutes late, and did valuable work.|
p.544 #2 It has to be admitted that conditions could not have been less ideal for this novel weapon, but even so the consensus of naval opinion is that ordinary water-proofed tanks, landed on the beach in the normal manner, would have served the purpose equally well. Had the assault been conducted at dusk or in low visibility, on the other hand, DD tanks might have achieved a valuable surprise". ANCXF Report Vol.1, p.58.
p.544 #3 As soon as the tide started to fall, about 1330, and uncover the obstacles, beach clearance proceeded rapidly, and by midnight all sections of the beaches in use had been cleared.
p.544 #4 To achieve this a number of L.C.T. had to be dried as there was no room for their vehicles until the tide started to fall.
p.544 #5 No L.S.T. were sailed till the following day (7 June).
Commodore Douglas-Pennant, Broad Pendant in H.Q. ship H.M.S. Bulolo
|Bombarding Force K:||Destroyers||Support Craft|
3 L.C.G. (L)|
8 L.C.T. (R)
4 L.C.S. (L)
3 Regts. S.P. Artillery
16 L.C.T. (A)
L.S. and L.C. with troops of 30th Corps; 50th British Infantry Division Assaulting.
p.547 #1 Commodore Douglas-Pennant gives high credit for this achievement after so difficult a passage to the Senior Officers of the various groups.
p.547 #2 Commodore Douglas-Pennant fully concurred with this decision.
p.547 #3 Four factors favoured the resistance of this powerful position:
- The 75 tons of bombs planned to be dropped on it fell in fields 3000 yards south; very low cloud caused this failure.
- The 147th Field Regiment of S.P. Artillery were to fire on this target, but both their navigational M.L. and control L.C.T. fell astern due to the weather; their fire was therefore concentrated with that of the regiment on their left, one M.L. controlling both, leaving Le Hamel unfired at.
- Le Hamel was engaged by 3 destroyers, but the enemy positions were protected against low trajectory fire from seaward.
- No calls for fire were received from the 1st.Bn. Hampshire Regiment which was attacking the position, owing to the first and second in command becoming casualties soon after landing.
|Bombarding Force E
Belfast (Flag R.A. Dalrymple-Hamilton)
7 L.C.G. (L)
8 L.C.T. (R)
6 L.C.S. (L)
4 Regts. S.P. Artillery
8 L.C.T. (A)
8 L.C.T. (H.E.)
p.549 #1 At a fairly late stage in the planning these rocks were reported to dry at 5 feet instead of 3 feet as previously supposed. Actually the original estimate proved to be more accurate.
p.549 #2 Fortunately the obstacles on these beaches were less formidable and more widely spaced than had been expected, and did not impede the beaching of landing craft to any serious extent. Most of the losses occurred during retraction after the initial landings.
p.549 #3 ANCXF Report II, Report by Naval Commander, Force J, p.6.
p.550 #1 X.20 later closed the Hilary by whom she was cheered at 0910, and was then towed back to Portsmouth by the trawler Darthema as planned without incident.
p.550 #2 S.O.A.G. 1 was ordered by the Force Commander (after consultation with the G.O.C.) not to wait for the AVRE.
p.550 #3 ANCXF Report Vol.II, Report by Naval Commander, Force J, p.7.
p.552 #1 The times at which these stations were reported in action were:
0823, Mike Green;|
1004, Nan Red;
0831, Mike Red, Nan Green;|
0850, Nan White;
p.552 #2 The next group of L.S.T. to arrive (Group 333 at 1615) were not so fortunate, losing 7 tugs out of 11 and 1 Rhino out of 3 on passage.
p.552 #3 A meeting of Flag Officers and Commodores was held daily throughout the operation at 1800, unless otherwise ordered.
p.553 #1 U.S. L.S.T. 981 had been mined on passage some eight hours previously, and left behind.
|Bombarding Force D||Destroyers||Support Craft|
Mauritius (Flag R.A. Patterson)
3 L.C.G. (L)|
5 L.C.T. (R)
3 L.C.S. (L)
3 Regts. S.P.
8 L.C.T. (A)
L.S. and L.C. with troops of 1st Corps; 3rd British Infantry Division and Commandos Assaulting.
p.553 #3 ANCXF, Report Vol.III, Report by Naval Commander, Force S, P.16
p.554 #1 Rear-Admiral Talbot expressed the opinion that "the courageous decision to launch these tanks and their gallant swim will be found to have been a decisive factor in the success of the assault." ANCXF Report Vol.II, Report of NCFS, p.19.
p.554 #2 The leading tank in L.C.T. 467 slowed in its tracks and tore the canvas surround. It was accordingly decided to beach the L.C.T. Rear-Admiral Talbot regretted that the damaged tank was not jettisoned and the remainder launched, since "the main function of the DD tank is to provide close support fire at H-hour and immediately after it." These DD tanks did not get ashore till 0805, thereby depriving the Army of the fire of 4 guns at the most critical period of the assaults.
p.555 #1 ANCXF Report Vol.II, Report by N.C. Force S, p.21.
p.556 #1 Admiral Ramsay subsequently remarked - "All Naval Commanders have remarked that some form of shallow draught tug to clear damaged craft from the beaches is a very urgent need...." ANCXF Report Vol.I, p.59. ANCXF Report Vol.II Report by N.C. Force S, p.22.
p.557 #1 Assistant Beachmasters and their parties had landed with the Assault Infantry at H-hour, and suffered proportionately heavy casualties. The D.N.O.I.C. (Acting Commander Nicholl) who landed shortly afterwards was also wounded.
p.557 #2 Operations "Frog" and "Deer" were Commando landings designed to destroy the battery at Houlgate or Benerville along the coast to the east of the Orne. Neither battery, however, had given any sign of life since early morning, and as the weather was unsuitable for reembarking the Commandos on that part of the coast, both operations were cancelled about 2030, 6th June.
p.558 #1 ANCXF Report, Vol.II, Report of N.C.E.T.F. pp.20 and 21.
p.558 #2 This is the end of the extracts taken from the Admiralty narrative of the RN side of the NEPTUNE assaults.
p.559 #1 In his report General Eisenhower has described this operation as follows:- "In the British sector, the very accurate work of the Pathfinder force enabled the RAF groups to overcome the difficulties arising from the use of different types of aircraft, carrying various loads at various speeds, and the 6th Airborne Division troops were dropped precisely in the appointed areas east of the Orne River. Thanks to this good start, all the main military tasks were carried out, and at a lower cost than would have been paid in using any other arm of the service. The party charged with the mission of securing the Benouville bridges over the Orne and the Caen Canal was particularly successful. Landing exactly as planned, in a compact area of just over one square kilometer, the troops went into action immediately and secured the bridges intact, as required, by 0850 hours. The tactical surprise achieved, coupled with the confusion created by the dropping of explosive dummy parachutists elsewhere, caused the enemy to be slow to react, and it was not until mid-day that elements of the 21st Panzer Division counter-attacked. By that time our men had consolidated their positions and the enemy's efforts to dislodge them were in vain. During the day reinforcements were safely landed by gliders, against which the German pole obstructions proved ineffective; the operation went off like an exercise, no opposition was encountered, and by nightfall the division had been fully resupplied and was in possession of all its heavy equipment. This formation continued to hold the flank firmly until our lodgement area had been consolidated and the breakout eastward across France relieved it of its responsibility.
General Eisenhower report described these operations as
"On the western flank, at the base of the Cotentin Peninsula, the American airborne forces of the 82nd and 101st Divisions were faced with greater initial difficulties. Owing to the cloud and atmospheric conditions, the Pathfinders failed to locate the exact areas fixed for the parachute drops, and the inexperience of some of the pilots led to wide dispersal of troops and supplies. The 6,600 parachute elements of 101st Division were scattered over an area 25 miles by 15 miles in extent, and 60% of their equipment was lost in consequence. Nevertheless, the operation represented an improvement upon those undertaken in Sicily, and the great gallantry with which the troops fought enabled them in general to accomplish their mission successfully. Gliders flown in during the day suffered considerable casualties, but reinforcements were introduced during the night of 6/7 June. While 101st Division held the exits to Utah Beach and struck southward toward Carentan, the 82nd Division, despite heavy shelling in the Ste-Mere-Eglise area, also established contact with the troops pushing inland from Utah Beach early on 7 June. The element of surprise was as effective in the western as in the eastern sector, and the enemy himself bore witness to the confusion created by the American troops in cutting communications and disorganizing the German defense. The success of the Utah assault could not have been achieved so conspicuously without the work of the airborne forces."