A tabular summary, and a map, showing gaps cleared in obstacles on OMAHA beaches are attached as Enclosures (1) and (2) respectively [omitted]. The same material, generalized, is presented herewith in narrative form.
The Assault NCDUs and Army Demolition Units (collectively called Gap Assault Teams) touched down on OMAHA beaches at 0633 - 0635, with a single exception. All were to the left of their assigned beaches, starting with Team No. 1 on DOG WHITE, 700 yards east of their intended landing on DOG GREEN. Others were as much as 1500 yards east of their assigned landings, though still within the OMAHA beaches. The error is variously attributed to haze over the shoreline, absence or failure of guiding craft, and shore currents.
The type and intensity of the fire that met them is by now well known.
Many Boat Teams arrived ahead of the Assault infantry, others simultaneously with them, and a few after them as planned. Two tanks and a tank dozer were assigned with each Army Demolition unit. Some of these arrived successfully and did yeoman service in drawing fire away from the Demolition personnel, and returning fire, and later (especially D-day afternoon low tide) in dozing out the obstacles. (Of the rest, some were lost with their LCTs, some were landed late in the day, and some, landed successfully, were knocked out traversing the beach from their landing-point to their assigned Gap Area).
Almost all units proceeded at once to lay charges; and they were ready to fire in a maximum of 20 minutes. [Enclosure (5) presents details of charges used, their placement, etc.]
Six complete gaps, through all bands of obstacles, were blown during the assault low-tide, most of them by H plus 30 minutes. Three partial gaps, through either the seaward or the landward bands, were also blown at this time.
Four additional clear gaps were made as the tide receded that afternoon, and the three partial gaps were completed; meanwhile some of the morning gaps were being widened leftwards, as planned, so that there were at least 13 gaps averaging about 70 yards each that afternoon.
Of the Teams who failed to fire, at least five Army or Navy units were prevented from setting off charges which they had fitted by the presence among the obstacles of either assault or later waves of infantry, and even vehicles. (At least two units report misfires caused by the fact that the primacord linking their various charged obstacles was cut by troops and vehicles, passing through the gaps despite efforts to signal them away.) Death prevented three other Navy units from firing. (Of these, one was caught aboard the LCM by machine gun fire, while they strove to off-load their rubber boat; another was eliminated, after setting its charges, by well-placed mortar fire. The third was blown up after bringing in its rubber boat, when a direct hit set off the auxiliary explosives in it and somehow also the charges at the obstacles where men still were.) A freak accident caused the failure of another naval group; the officer was about to pull the twin friction-igniters, when a bit of shrapnel cut the two fuses and his finger as well. The enemy saved one naval team the trouble of pulling its igniters, when a bullet or fragment managed somehow to set off the primacord and all the charges!
Despite the casualties, surviving units continued working, with general disregard for personal safety. A notable example of courage was given by men who voluntarily placed charges on Tellermines atop obstacles, 10 or 12 feet above the beach; in the face of accurate rifle and machine-gun fire, they climbed on each others shoulders or shinnied up the pilings and ramps.
Support Teams, due on the beaches at H Plus 8 (0638), were all late by amounts varying from 20 to 60 minutes. Their LCMs had arrived late for loading at the LS[T] Princess Maud. Their task was made difficult by height of tide which in one case was reported above the landward obstacle (location indefinite).
The plans had provided for the marking of gaps. Two white triangular range-markers on poles to be stuck in the sand would show the centerline of each gap. Its extremities, to seaward, would be marked by a pair of can buoys holding green flags. Many buoys, because of their bulk, were left in the rubber boats. Among those brought ashore, the cans of several were pierced by bullets or shrapnel, leaving either one buoy of the pair or none. At least two units put out their single remaining buoy at the edge of their gap; but they seemed to serve little purpose; some coxswains apparently thought they were merely wreck markers, without knowledge to which side they should leave them.
The error that carried some teams to the extreme left of FOX RED may have been a very fortunate one. One all-Army unit and several combined A-N units blew and dozed gaps in this area on the afternoon of D-day and the morning of D-plus-1. Tanks and troops entered there, and passed inland over the unscheduled beach exit (at 697893) leading to Cabourg and Colleville. The presence of these gaps may therefore have been of incidental assistance in the capture of Colleville.
By the evening of D-day, 40 per cent of the obstacled area on Omaha had been cleared. 85 per cent had been cleared by D-plus-2 days. Work of course continued, by both explosive and mechanical means, on succeeding days, and by 1200 of D-Plus-4, Lt.-Cdr. Gibbons reported that the beach was clear of all enemy obstacles that constituted a hazard to craft.
The NCDUs of Force 'O' left for the U.K. on 27 June, 1944.