From: Naval Commander Western Task Force (Commander Task Force 122).
In February 1944 requirements for fire support only were estimated by Allied Naval Commander Expeditionary Force as follows:
2 Heavy Cruisers
8 Light Cruisers
This estimate was based upon the strength of coastal defenses and upon the scheme of maneuver of the FIRST U.S. Army. By D-day the known coastal batteries had increased in number and in strength as many batteries were placed in concrete casements. However, an increased air bombing effort was available to assist 1n neutralizing both the coastal batteries and the beach defenses.
Late in February the following British warships were designated for allocation to the Western Task Force:
RAMILLIES BELLONA EREBUS ENTERPRISE GLASGOW HAWKINS AJAX 12 Fleet Destroyers DIDO 4 Hunt Destroyers BLACK PRINCE
Upon assignment of U.S. warships to the Western Task Force certain British warships were detached and the final assignment of fire support ships to the Assault Forces of the Western Task Force was as follows:
Assault Force "O" ARKANSAS GLASGOW TEXAS MONTCALM (Fr.) DESRON 18 GEORGES LEYGUES (Fr.) (Total DD's 9) 2 Hunt Destroyers Assault Force "U" NEVADA ENTERPRISE EREBUS SOEMBA (Dutch) QUINCY DESDIV 34 TUSCALOOSA DESDIV 20 HAWKINS (Total DD's 8) BLACK PRINCE
A reserve fire support group was constituted to relieve ships which had severe battle damage or had depleted their ammunition. This group consisted of AUGUSTA (WNTF Flagship), BELLONA, DESDIV 33, plus PLUNKETT, DESDIV 119 and DESDIV 18. (Total DD's 17.)
Longer periods of prearranged bombardment with deliberate fire at long and close range are required to effectively reduce strong enemy coastal and beach defenses.
Heavy air bombing of enemy strong points should be accomplished prior to the assault.
Aircraft capable of remaining on station for at least 2 or 3 hours and capable of low altitude flying to search for targets of opportunity are required for efficient air spotting. Carrier based and land based groups should be especially trained in spotting naval gunfire for amphibious operations.
Photographic coverage and interpretation, which was excellent in this operation, is of paramount importance and should be continued.
From: Commander Assault Force "0", (Commander Eleventh Amphibious Force).
Background. This Operation involved the use of several departures from previous practice in Naval Support Gunfire procedure. The most significant of these were the attachment to the divisions of Shore Fire Control Parties from the Joint Assault Signal Companies as opposed to the use of specially trained organic division troops; the employment on a large scale of shallow draft converted landing craft to add to the fire support; and the use of frequency modulated voice radio (SCR 609) sets for shore fire control communications. In addition, as originally planned, the operation contemplated considerable inter-allied liaison, as the major gunfire support ships were to be largely British.
Approximately January 1 an area about five miles deep and fronting some three miles on the sea was cleared of inhabitants and made available at SLAPTON SANDS. Although this area was in constant demand for battalion landing, shore party, and other amphibious exercises, it was possible to conduct there also training for various fire support units. Training for the operation included:
Training of three Joint Assault Signal Company Shore Fire Control Components plus parachute Naval gunfire spotter parties for one airborne division. Naval Gunfire Liaison Officers for these parties had received some training in the United States but were for the most part inexperienced. It was decided to augment the previous divisional gunfire liaison personnel by increasing the size of each party to twelve men and two officers, and more important, by assigning experienced liaison officers to each Regimental Combat Team (to be stationed at Artillery Battalion Headquarters). All the
above personnel plus the Naval Gunfire Liaison Officers were given a comprehensive course of instruction which included the adjustment of destroyer and cruiser fire.
Training of British and American ships in U.S. Shore Fire Control procedure by firing exercises at SLAPTON SANDS and in the Clyde Area. In order to coordinate procedure, Allied Naval Commander Expeditionary Forces issued an "AEF Assault Signal Book" which incorporated and expanded the then applicable CSP 2156(A). It was decided that British ships operating with U.S. Shore Fire Control Parties would use the line-of-sight spotting procedure. One difficulty in training lay in the fact that it was deemed most practicable to keep the U.S. heavy fire support ships in the CLYDE-BELFAST area. These ships were thus unable to participate in the Force "O" full scale rehearsal for the operation.
Participation of gunfire support ships and craft in various joint exercises in the SLAPTON Assault Area. In the case of the U.S. destroyers, this was definitely limited by the low ammunition allowance possible.
Training of gunfire support craft under the direction of Commander Gunfire Support Craft.
As early as possible tentative allocations of fire support ships were made to the landing forces, and shore fire control parties held conferences, communication drills, and firing exercises with the ships with which they were later to be netted. As limited by the ships and forces participating, arrangements for the rehearsal were the same as for the operation. In the case of the heavy ships, their shore fire control parties were put aboard for a period of about a week during which time the ships conducted several firings. It is felt that whenever possible these arrangements should be made.
In this operation Naval and Army commands during the planning and training stages were handicapped by what appeared to be a serious shortage of Naval gunfire support. All gunfire support, save that by shallow draft landing craft such as LCG(L)s, and LCPs manned by U.S. Naval Personnel, was to be supplied by combatant vessels of the Royal Navy. It was not until detailed landing plans were well advanced that it was known that U.S. (Navy) battleships, cruisers, and destroyers would take part in the operation. In the opinion of both U.S. Naval and U.S. Army Forces engaged in the planning, the number and fire power of British vessels tentatively allocated for gunfire support was inadequate. As a result of this, every possible means of supplementing the Naval gunfire support was explored and great pressure was brought to bear by Army elements to include in the supporting fire mortar fire from LCVPs, artillery fire from tanks in LCT(A)s and LCT(HE)s in the leading waves, and 105 mm Howitzers firing from LCTs from 8000 - 3000 yards off the beach.
After thorough trials, which were marred by some unfortunate accidents, the latter two procedures were adopted. Another device for augmenting artillery fire power ashore in the initial wave in the assault was the DD tank.
The Force Commander acquiesced reluctantly both in the decision to employ tanks and artillery firing from landing craft, and to land tanks in the first wave. He ultimately agreed because he recognized the necessity for more fire power at this stage of the assault than could be supplied by the Naval craft then available. He was then, and still is, doubtful of the efficacy of DD tanks and tanks from LCT(A)s landing in the first wave on strongly defended beaches. In unopposed landings -- or landing on beaches against light opposition -- where a strong counter-attack may be expected early in the assault, such tactics may be sound; against beaches obstructed by obstacles and strongly defended, however, it is believed that Naval gunfire must supply close support to replace tanks and artillery until the beaches can be cleared sufficiently to permit their landing. The assaults in the OMAHA and UTAH Areas illustrate the difference in the two situations, with the difference that the offshore winds offered a good lee in the UTAH area, while seas in the OMAHA Area proved too rough to permit tanks to swim. In the OMAHA Area the results of the concentration of tanks in the first waves were, to say the least, unhappy. Most of them were lost. In the UTAH Area, on the other hand, where less opposition and fewer obstacles were encountered, the majority of the tanks were landed without difficulty, and negotiated the beach successfully and were available to spearhead the further assaults of the attacking infantry.
It is regrettable that in the preparation for this operation as probably in most others, the gunfire support ships and craft which ultimately participated could not be present in the early stages of training of the Landing Force. This would have helped to avoid the birth of what is believed to be unsound doctrine that sprang from a lack of assurance that Naval support in sufficient strength would be furnished.
Naval Gunfire in the Operation. H-hour for the operation was based on a variety of factors, and changed with the date of D day. In any case it allowed for at least fifty minutes of daylight prior to the landing. Airspot was furnished beginning forty minutes before sunrise. Based on these limiting factors, and on the amount of fire power available, it was planned to put down neutralizing fire on beach defenses from H minus 40 minutes to about H-hour and to lift fire to targets inland for twenty minutes thereafter. TEXAS was assigned the task of knocking out the strong (6 155mm guns) battery believed to be on POINTE du HOE. ARKANSAS, GLASGOW, GEORGES LEYGUES and eleven destroyers were assigned targets on, behind and on the flanks of the beaches. MONTCAIM was given the task of
neutralizing PORT en BESSIN initially. Fire was to be continued on the flanks of the assault beaches for varying periods based on the time it was expected that the troops would reach phase lines. Destroyers were ordered to close the beaches as near as possible to deliver direct aim fire on pillboxes and beach defenses. All fire was delivered on schedule. Immediately preceding the assault LCT(R)s were scheduled to fire full HE rocket salvos at strong points on the cliffs immediately behind the beaches. LCGs and LCS(S)s were assigned targets commensurate with their fire power.
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 prelanding 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.
The assault sections of both the 116th and 16th regiments were held up on the beaches by enemy mortar, light artillery, automatic weapon 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+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. Too 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 SFCPs or planes. Spotting aircraft were kept busy searching for enemy guns inland from the beaches. Aided by the concentration of fire the 16th Infantry and somewhat later the 116th Infantry attacked and moved off the beaches.
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+1 day. Fortunately in the later stages it was mostly directed against the block ships and against the beach area in general rather than against specific LCTs and vehicles on the beaches.
By 1300 on D day (H plus 6 hours 30 minutes) the situation had improved considerably and the Shore Fire Control Parties began to function in their normal manner. From this time until D plus 4, when the forward line reached the FOREST OF CERISY and passed out of the range of all ships of Force "0", effective call fire was delivered by all fire support ships as the need arose. On D+1, HAWKINS and ENTERPRISE of Force "L'" reported to the Bombardment Group Commander. These ships rendered valuable assistance. They were released to Force "U" that evening. On D+2 BELLONA was requested and assigned from the Control Force. As their ammunition allowance (75%) was expended the original fire support destroyers were replaced by destroyers from the screen. Replacement destroyers were BARTON, ELLYSON, O'BRIEN, MURPHY and PLUNKETT.
Brief reference may be made to the operation against POINTE du HOE. Photographic reconnaissance indicated the presence of six casemated guns. On that premise, the position was subjected to severe air bombing both preceding and during the operation proper. Also TEXAS delivered some 250 rounds of 14 inch fire on it. When the Rangers succeeded in scaling the cliff, however, they found the casemates empty. It later developed that four of the guns had been moved and emplaced in a hedge lane about a mile south. This new position was bombarded and knocked out by TEXAS using airspot during the morning of D day. Meanwhile, the Rangers found themselves in a precarious position and were maintained only by their own efforts and the untiring assistance of SATTERLEE, and later THOMPSON, HARDING and BARTON.
In General. It is believed that the time available for prelanding bombardment was not sufficient. German defensive positions were well camouflaged and strong. It is considered that these positions should be destroyed by slow aimed fire from close range, prior to the landing. Something more than temporary neutralization is required when troops face beach mines, wire, anti-tank ditches and similar obstacles after landing.
SEE COMMENT AT END OF THIS CHAPTER.
FTP 167 divides Naval gunfire support into three phases:
Counter-battery fire, prearranged and scheduled beach bombardment, and close supporting fires after the landing. Under the latter is included that critical period between H hour and the time Shore Fire Control Parties are set up. During this period Naval gunfire is restricted by the presence of troops ashore. Often troops apparently pinned down on the beach are waiting to attack in conjunction with other troops who have infiltrated the enemy lines. It is at this time when close supporting fire is most necessary. Use of the SCR 609 has very appreciably reduced the length of this period, but additional measures are necessary. In this operation, one Naval Gunfire Liaison Officer with great intrepidity set up a radio in his LCV(P) and spotted from close offshore (this boat had been riddled by fire on two attempts to land). This act indicates the possible value of using spotters in LCSs or similar craft close inshore to control close supporting and counter-battery fire.
THE USE OF SHORE FIRE CONTROL PARTIES IN SMALL CRAFT CLOSE OFF SHORE WARRANTS FURTHER DEVELOPMENT AS A MEANS OF OBTAINING GREATER CONTINUITY OF SUPPORTING FIRES IN THE LANDING ASSAULT.
During the period when the beach is still within range of hostile gunfire but before SFCPs have attained observation on enemy artillery, it is very difficult to search out and eliminate troublesome enemy positions. German artillery has the habit of holding fire when Allied planes are in the vicinity. This accounts for the fact that pilots were sometime unable to locate positions reported by the ground forces. The German 200 pound oil rocket is fired from a portable craft-packing box type case, and is difficult to detect. Airspot seems at present the best means of locating both the gun and rocket positions.
Fighter aircraft flying in pairs furnished effective airspot. U.S. ships experienced no difficulty with clock spotting as practiced by British pilots. With the extremely effective fighter cover and the lack of Luftwaffe opposition the use of VOS planes would have been practicable. But the gain over P51 type airspot would not have justified the risk in the event of fighter opposition.
Operating Shore Fire Control Parties through the Joint Assault Signal Companies was extremely difficult in the preparation stage. It was often necessary to go through as many as four command echelons to move a shore fire control party from SWANSEA to SLAPTON SANDS. Training and equipping the parties was handicapped in similar difficulties which may not have resulted had the parties been under Naval control.
Fire Support by individual units was generally satisfactory. MORTCALM, GEORGES LEYGUES and GLASGOW in particular rendered quick and accurate support. TEXAS contributed valuable 14 inch fire, though in some instances cruiser fire might have been used instead. In one case an inexperienced spotter called for, but did not receive, battleship main battery fire on a machine gun nest. It is possible that the fire support ships in general delivered call fire in too great a volume and too quickly with regard to available ammunition. It is believed that equivalent results would usually have been attained by more deliberate fire. The problem is often a difficult one, as calls for fire are usually urgent and the natural procedure is to deliver the quickest support. The solution appears to lie in the indoctrination of Shore Fire Control Parties in the proper use of the "deliberate fire" and "fire slower" groups (AEF Assault Signal Code), and, possibly, the introduction of code groups, similar to the "duration of fire" code groups, indicating the rate of fire.
From: Commander Assault Force "U" (UTAH BEACH).
More training should be devoted to the coordination of Airspot with firing ships. Large coastal batteries which cannot be reached for several days by advancing troops can only be destroyed by the use of Air spotting. Continuous daily improvement of air spotting during the assault phase emphasized the fact that maximum results could have been attained on D-day if there had been previous training between the ships and the participating spotting planes prior to the Assault.
It should be emphasized to Shore Fire Control Parties that the common voice channel should be used only when absolutely essential and when other channels of communications fail. The constant use of the common voice channel cluttered up that circuit continuously while the channels assigned to individual SFCPs were comparatively unused. This created confusion and jamming of the most important circuit at times when urgent delivery of fire was absolutely necessary.
All available information indicates that the Pre-H-Hour aerial and naval bombardment of the assault beaches, while causing no serious damage either to the concrete structures or the guns in the strong-points behind and adjacent to these beaches, effectively neutralized the positions by terrifying the enemy personnel in them and by preventing them from manning their weapons and firing on the troops
during the landings. Before the personnel in these strongpoints could recover sufficiently, our troops were able to use flame throwers and machine gun fire against them and to capture the positions with little opposition. It is believed that the reportedly low calibre and morale of the enemy defenders also contributed to the quick capture of these strongpoints.
Enemy beach strongpoints like those found in the UTAH Area are extremely difficult targets for aerial and naval bombardment, because of their concrete construction, their buried position and their camouflaged appearance.
Every effort should be made to increase the accuracy of the aerial and naval bombardment of these strongpoints.
While every attempt should be made to destroy such targets, it must be assumed that no effective serious damage will be done to the concrete structures or the installations within the strongpoint, by aerial and naval bombardment.
Intensive bombardment, however, should be continued to the last possible second before the landing of the troops, so that the enemy defenders will have no opportunity to recover from the effects of shock, concussion, and fear.
It should be assumed that the strongpoint can be completely silenced only by the infiltration of landing troops and their capture of it with the aid of flame throwers, machine guns and light artillery fire.
In connection with the foregoing tactical plan attention is invited to the fact that gunfire support ships were stationed as close inshore as navigation would permit. It is felt that this policy contributed materially to the effective reduction of the batteries which in many instances could be taken under direct short range fire with visual observation.
It was significant however that at least throughout the first week of the operation, no battery could properly be considered as being destroyed unless captured. There were several instances of positions which were believed on the basis of air and sea observation, to have been destroyed yet guns from these positions subsequently opened fire. In some of these cases it is almost certain that guns were moved and hidden during bombardment, and in others there is evidence that casemates protected the guns against lethal damage although they were rendered in-operative during the bombardment and for many hours thereafter.
If one firm conclusion can be drawn on this subject it is that assault forces must be prepared to deliver closely coordinated air and naval bombardment on coastal batteries until such time as the Army is itself able to protect its beachhead and access to it.
POINTE DU HOE LANDING
From: Headquarters 2nd Ranger Infantry Battalion.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - , Landed at Pointe du Hoe, France, 0705, 35 minutes late due to error of directions by guide craft. Naval fire ceased as planned at H-5. This delay allowed enemy time to recover from bombardment and man positions.
Ropes, being wet, many rockets failed to carry over cliff. Men went up cliff by those ropes which had anchored and by scrambling under heavy MG and sniper fire and a constant rain of grenades. Initial CP established in cave at foot of cliff.
Air and naval bombardment had destroyed one AA and three 155 mm gun emplacements plus one 155 mm Gun, other guns having been withdrawn prior to D-Day. Well dug-in MG's and snipers opposed advance. More men up cliff forced enemy back. One pillbox was assaulted by Company F and Hq Personnel, nine prisoners taken. Elements from all companies fought through to VIERVILLE-GRANDCAMP Road and established defense line. CP displaced to shell-hole top of cliff at 0830. Group notified not to land at Pointe du Hoe.
From: Commanding Officer USS TEXAS (BB).
Spotting by the SFCP was satisfactory when used, and communication was generally good. Unfortunately the lack of visual communication with the SFCP with the Rangers at Pointe du Hoe, this vessel's primary target, proved costly to the Rangers in men and time. The Rangers were 45 minutes late in landing at Pointe du Hoe, an appreciable interval, which gave the enemy time to-recover from the bombing and bombardment and put up a fierce resistance with mortars and machine guns brought from their underground network. As a result Pointe du Hoe was not taken and cleared of the enemy until D+2 instead of H+30 minutes as planned. Had this vessel, or the inshore destroyers, known the plight of the Rangers at H-hour, fire could have been continued, keeping the enemy down until the Rangers could scale the cliff and over-run the area.
From: Commanding Officer USS SATERLEE (DD).
Commenced maneuvering at 0500 to approach fire support station. On station at 0535 with POINTE DU HOE bearing 185° T., distant 3000 yards and opened fire on designated target at 0548. Continued prearranged fire until 0645 except for period from 0618 to 0627 during
which time we fired counter-battery fire against small and medium-caliber guns firing on us from the vicinity of POINTE DU HOE. We sustained no hits from this fire. During the period 0535 to 0645 we maintained station 21500 - 3000 yards from the beach. By this time the Second Ranger Battalion landing craft were seen approaching from the eastward parallel to the beach. As these boats neared their landing point on POINTE DU HOE enemy infantry were observed assembling on the cliffs overlooking the point, obviously to repel the landing. We closed to within 1500 yards of the beach and opened fire with main battery and heavy machine guns on enemy infantry on the clifftops. Results were good. During the period we were under ineffective fire from enemy machine guns.
The Rangers landed at 0708 and were harassed by hand-grenades and pistol, rifle and machine-grin fire from the cliff-tops above them. We maintained continuous direct fire with main battery and machine guns at various targets of opportunity on the cliff tops. During this period in addition to continued ineffective machine gun fire, we were fired on and received near misses from a gun, believed to be about 88 mm, in a pill-box on the cliff. This gun was silenced by several 5" salvos.
Direct fire was maintained until communication was established with Shore Fire Control Party No. 1, Second Ranger Battalion. This communication was established at 0728, first target was designated at 0729, and fire was opened at 0731. Communication was maintained and observed fire was delivered as called for until 1850. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -. When range to targets permitted, 40 mm machine guns were fired with 5" salvos, controlled by main battery director. Throughout the day, the Shore Fire Control Party was periodically reminded that USS TEXAS was available for their fire support if desired, and target designations for the TEXAS were requested. Only on one occasion was that fire requested. For that firing we relayed all fire control information between the SFCP and the TEXAS.
Our Shore Fire Control Party came aboard before the exercise. We worked with them in a later shore bombardment exercise. We had several communication drills. They came aboard again in Portland just before D-day. There was a complete and intimate understanding between the ship and the Ranger Shore Fire Control Party. As a result, during the close support firing, communications were uniformly excellent. It was as if the Shore Fire Control Party was in our C.I.C.
From daylight until the Rangers approached the beach there was no sign of life or activity around POINTE DU HOE. It looked as if the bombardment had knocked them out completely. There were no visible targets. Fire was reduced to conserve ammunition because we did not know for how long the weather would delay the landing. This was a mistake, We should have continued neutralization fire at the scheduled
rate against the face of the cliff and we should have called on the TEXAS, who was available, to support us in this mission. As the Rangers hit the beach, the Germans came out of their holes and opened up with their machine guns. From then on we were firing on the Germans directly and on the points where machine-gun fire could be detected. 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 over-confidence in the effectiveness of the air bombardment.
NAVAL GUNFIRE SUPPORT SHOULD CONFORM TO THE MOVEMENT OF THE LANDING BOATS RATHER THAN ADHERE TO A PREDETERMINED TIME SCHEDULE, IN THE MARSHALL ISLANDS OPERATIONS THE AIR CO-ORDINATOR DROPPED PARACHUTE FLARES WHEN LANDING CRAFT HAD REACHED A PREDETERMINED DISTANCE FROM THE BEACH AS A SIGNAL FOR NAVAL GUNFIRE TO LIFT. SEE PAGE 3-5 OF "AMPHIBIOUS OPERATIONS - COMINCH P-001" FOR ADDITIONAL COMMENT ON THE NECESSITY FOR HAVING GUNFIRE SUPPORT CONFORM TO MOVEMENTS OF LANDING BOATS.
From: USS NEVADA - (BB UTAH BEACH).
It was astounding, and certainly more than could be hoped for, to have been able to make the approach and anchor all Fire Support Units and Transports in their respective areas within five miles of the enemy beaches completely unopposed. To find Barfleur Light burning brightly with proper characteristics was remarkable. Although detail counter measures had been planned, it was anticipated that the approach might have to be made without the use of radar for navigational purposes. The full use of radar and the excellent ranges provided by Saint Marcouf Island was invaluable.
It will be noted that Assault Force "U" and Naval Escorts received no fire from enemy shore installations until after H-hour. This is probably due to excellent intelligence information, careful planning and execution of prearranged counter-battery fire from Fire Support Units, and pre-occupation caused by intensive air bombardment.
There was considerable difficulty experienced by Fire Support Ships in obtaining position of own front lines after the initial landing. It is considered that future operations should emphasize the necessity that specific plans be laid to insure full liaison between Army and Navy in this matter. It is suggested that hourly reports of front line positions be required from forces ashore to a central command, and that composite situation reports be frequently promulgated to all firing units.
SFCPs were of little value to this ship. They were not sufficiently familiar with the situation ashore to keep the ship informed of the position of own troops or to find suitable targets. Had we waited on SFCPs to designate targets this ship would have done little or no firing.
Because of the weakness of the SFCP organization, Naval Gunfire Support was not put to full use.
Air observers were excellent. Practically all targets fired upon were located by air observers, but they were handicapped by not knowing the location of our own troops, and not being able to identify troops sighted. It is imperative that our troops have some means of identifying themselves to the plane.
Using fighter planes for air observers is an excellent practice, the only drawback being the short period they are able to remain over the target. In several instances the relief plane arrived in the middle of a shoot and was unable to locate the target.
After the initial firing the 5"/51 caliber battery was of no further use because there is no means of controlling it for indirect fire. The 5"/51 caliber gun is too good a gun to be sitting idle.
It is recommended that some means of obtaining and reporting the position of our own troops would greatly increase the efficiency of Naval Support Fire. It was necessary time and again to require the spotting plane to go low over concentrations of tanks, guns and personnel in an effort to distinguish between friend and foe. Such efforts took time and, in case of enemy troops, took the pilots into dangerous fire.
From: Deputy Commander Destroyer Fire Support Group. Force "0", (Commander Destroyer Division 36).
At H minus 40 minutes (0550 B) or shortly thereafter all destroyers opened fire on their assigned targets. Coastal artillery immediately answered the fire and from then on until late the next day all destroyers were under intermittent fire by enemy coastal defenses, mortars and heavy machine guns. During the period of scheduled fire from H minus 40 minutes to H hour it was necessary for the destroyers to occasionally shift fire from their assigned target to some enemy gun that was shooting at them. In most of these instances a few salvos were sufficient to temporarily silence these enemy guns and fire was then immediately shifted back to scheduled targets. The fire of all destroyers during this period was fast and accurate. There were no material or personnel casualties during this
phase of the Support Fire although many enemy shells fell close aboard the destroyers. As the first wave closed the beach the Fire Support destroyers preceded them closing the beach to from one thousand (1000) to two thousand (2000) yards. At 0617 (H minus 13 minutes) LCT(R)s commenced firing rockets drenching the area just inland from the beaches. Fire from this beach was temporarily silenced and the entire area covered with heavy smoke and dust. Troops landed and proceeded up the beach into the smoke.
From the landing of the troops until the establishment of Shore Fire Control Parties the Fire Support Destroyers fired on targets of opportunity. It is considered that the support of destroyers during this phase was not utilized to over twenty (20) percent of their possibilities. There was no communication with the beach and on numerous occasions destroyers could not fire on targets which should have been fired on because they did not know the location of our own troops. This is a most crucial period in the assault and some method of communication between troops and Fire Support Ships must be devised. The Destroyers acquitted themselves well indeed whenever a target presented itself. Numerous guns firing on the beaches were detected by their flashes and were destroyed by the Fire Support Ships. The destroyers closed to less than a thousand (1000) yards from the beach, the fire of each ship being directed by the Commanding Officer.
During the remainder of the day Fire Support Destroyers fired at targets as directed by Shore Fire Control Parties, Commander Destroyer Squadron EIGHTEEN, Commander Task Group 124.9, and by their own commanding officers. (For individual ship targets and ammunition expenditure on each target see Reports of Action by Ships). At 1750 SATTERLEE had fired over seventy (70) percent of her bombardment ammunition. Directed THOMPSON to relieve her in support of Rangers and shifted my pennant and staff to HARDING. SATTERLEE departed Fire Support Area to report to Area Screen Commander. At 1800 BARTON (Commander Destroyers Squadron SIXTY) and O'BRIEN reported to Fire Support Area and were assigned stations and Shore Fire Control Parties. At 2000 directed CARMICK to report to Area Screen Commander she having expended over seventy (70) percent of her bombardment ammunition. OMAHA beaches were under sporadic but heavy shelling during most of the afternoon and evening of D day. This fire came from sources Fire Support Ships had great difficulty in locating. However it was evidently controlled by observers watching the beaches. There were numerous houses behind the beaches and on adjacent hills and cliffs overlooking the beaches which had not been thoroughly shelled even at this late date. I believe that this was a costly error on our part and for future landing operations I strongly advocate the demolishment of all structures, houses, churches, etc., that could possibly house light artillery, machine guns, mortars and/or observation and communication posts prior to and immediately after
the landing of troops. This could have readily been done by the destroyers but by the time we realized this our troops were advancing and we were unable to obtain permission to shell any but a few of the most obvious. It was most galling and depressing to lie idly a few hundred yards off the beaches and watch our troops, tanks, landing boats, and motor vehicles being heavily shelled and not be able to fire a shot to help them just because we had no information as to what to shoot at and were unable to detect the source of the enemy fire. Advancing troops must have some visual means to call for immediate fire support from close Fire Support Ships. A mortar shell with a distinctively colored smoke would have been most effective and would have insured immediate destruction of a target so designated.
That pre-landing bombardment by Naval Forces be for a longer period than from H minus 40 minutes to H hour. In this connection it is most necessary that a ship continue its bombardment until a very short time before the troops actually touch down, i.e. (TEXAS bombardment of Pointe du Hoe ceased forty-five (45) minutes before delayed Rangers landed).
That there be established on the beach or on a control ship an agency which is kept constantly informed of vicinity of front lines and which can pass this information to Fire Support Ships who require it. Time after time in this operation destroyers were unable to shoot at excellent targets of opportunity because they could obtain no information as to the location of our own forces in the area in question. This, I believe, was the greatest difficulty with which the Fire Support destroyers had to contend.
That previous to the touchdown and before the troops have advanced too far inland every structure, House and Church adjacent to the beaches or overlooking the beaches that could house any artillery, machine guns, mortars, and/or communication and observation posts be demolished. One destroyer in each Fire Support Area should be assigned this mission during the pre-landing Naval bombardment and all Fire Support Ships should assist while waiting for targets of opportunity.
From: Commander Task Group 125,7 (Gunfire Support Group Force "U".
On the Normandy beaches reports indicate that almost all structures regardless of the innocence of their appearance were actual or potential strongpoints containing light and heavy automatic weapons. Many of them were small and could only be observed when shallow draft craft had closed the beach. On the UTAH beach each of
these had been designated - - - - - - - - - - - - - as a target of opportunity for support craft. This tends to create the desired flexibility of gunfire support which insures against certain machine gun nests which are neutralized only upon capture. On this beach the army commander agreed to the continuation of such fire until a visual signal to desist. This may have contributed to the rapid progress of the assault troops.
From: USS DOYLE (DD).
The crowded conditions also prevented the ship from reaching the most favorable position for firing at its assigned targets and exposed it to the fire of shore batteries which were not of immediate interest. The expenditure of 350 rounds of ammunition in one hour is far below the capabilities of this type vessel, and it is felt that under similar circumstances, fewer ships firing the same total amount of ammunition at the same total targets could do the job more effectively. The extra ships might well be briefed on the same targets and stand-by in close support, but clear of the bombarding area, to replace casualties and to engage batteries threatening the bombarding ships.
On receiving word of difficulties in landing at Easy Red beach, this vessel moved into the boat lanes to a position directly in front of the beach and less than a thousand yards offshore. The visible troops already on the beach were dug in behind a hummock of sand along the beach and the boats of the second wave were milling around offshore constantly threatening collision with the ship. Under these circumstances the enemy very naturally ceased firing and it was impossible to spot the guns that were causing the trouble. Neither could we be sure just how far the troops had advanced. We followed what seemed to us the only reasonable course of action, in picking out spots that seemed to be machine gun emplacement or likely positions, ascertaining as best we could that own troops were clear, and then firing at the spots selected. That this was effective, was demonstrated by the fact that after about an hour the troops advanced to the top of the ridge and the boats resumed landing, but it is felt that time and ammunition would have both been saved, had the ship had better information. Four methods of doing this are suggested. From the ship's point of view the last seems the most desirable but there is no reason why all should not be employed.
- Assign to each ship an experienced infantry officer who by his knowledge of troop tactics, terrain, and appearances could advise the ship as to the best selection of targets.
- Provide some personnel in the first wave with a small portable signal lamp.
- Provide each ship with a small radio with a frequency for each beach to be covered. Send several of these sets into each
- beach with the first wave, to be operated from the beach itself. Several in order that at least one may be operable. Let the senior officer, or any officer on the beach, direct the ship to the targets that are giving him trouble.
Provide these same sets in the early waves of landing craft LCM and larger. Many of these were hopelessly stranded but could have given us good information as to the needs of the beach for fire. An elaborate system of call signs is not needed, bow numerals are perfectly clear and sufficient for the purpose.
- Make greater use of colored smokes, especially those fired from rifle grenades. A smoke of a certain color fired at the mouth of a machine gun pit or into a clump of bushes might well mean to the Destroyer, "shoot this guy, he's bothering me". While another color behind a hedge or in a gully might mean, "Lay off, I am either here or intend to be soon."
Previous consultation and association with the Shore Fire Control Party, and battalion commander of the battalion to which this ship was assigned for fire support, was of inestimable value. It was unfortunate that the forward observer should have been separated from the battalion for over twenty-four hours after landing as this greatly affected our opportunities for supporting fire.
The strong currents running in the assault area caused an unavoidable difficulty. However this was further complicated by having a large number of ships (6 destroyers) maneuvering in a very restricted area and at the same time trying to deliver effective neutralizing fire. Well over fifty percent of the commanding officer's attention and effort was necessarily devoted to the triple problem of position, avoiding collision, and keeping the guns within their limits of train. All of these were difficult because of the crowded conditions, low speeds that had to be used, wind and current.
From: USS EMMONS (DD).
Shore Fire Control Party #9 assigned to us was scheduled to land at H+30 minutes but evidently did not make it, as no communications were established all day until 1930. At that time a test transmission on CW auxiliary frequency was heard and acknowledged and EMMONS was told to "Standby-wait". No further word was ever received either on CW or on the two FM voice frequencies provided, although we made frequent calls for two more days. It is not known what happened to this party, and their failure to make contact was most disappointing. As a result we had no knowledge of locations of our own forces, and
we fired on targets of opportunity only with reluctance and after considerable delay attempting to confirm their enemy character. Commander Task Group ONE TWENTY-FOUR point NINE was of great assistance in designating targets over TBS.
A destroyer of this type could handle at least two SFCP's. It was the general experience that a large proportion of the time the SFCP could not observe or was moving up with the troops, and another party located elsewhere in the vicinity in position to observe could have used the ship's gunfire support. Targets of opportunity are unsatisfactory at best, particularly if the locations of friendly forces are unknown. A large proportion of the time the ships were idle and their services could have been used if 2 or more SFCPs per ship had been assigned. Spare parties could have been assigned to ships such as the EMMONS whose regular party was either killed or captured.
From: USS HERNDON (DD).
At approximately 1310 the Shore Fire Control Party called for a large left spot. MPI was then adjusted by several small spots and rapid fire commenced at an initial rate of 12 round per minute. The Shore Fire Control Party kept requesting an increasing rate of fire until finally we were firing four gun salvos at five second intervals. Spots were applied as called for without checking fire. After the initial spot all deflection spots were to the right at the rate of a 100 yard right spot about every minute as the Army advanced normal to our line of fire. Five second salvos were maintained until ammunition supply failed. Lower hoists will not supply ammunition at that rate. Fire was slowed to ten and fifteen second salvos. At this time it was explained to the Shore Fire Control Party that rate of fire was very high and ammunition was being used up. They replied that results were excellent, that the enemy was on the run, and requested that high rate of fire be continued.
From: USS FRANKFORD (DD).
Conclusions and Recommendations. In spite of the difficulty of the lack of a shore fire control it is felt that the fire delivered on targets of opportunity was effective and of material aid to the troops on the beach. Some of the targets selected may have been already immobilized but every effort was made by this vessel to fire on targets that more definitely seem to hold up the advance of our troops from the beaches. Several attempts were made to communicate visually with units on the beach to determine where we could fire to aid them but none of these visual messages furnished us with enough information to open fire on dangerous nearby targets. It is recommended that men in the first wave, particularly signal corps personnel, be advised of the capabilities of the destroyer fire control systems
and be instructed how to designate close-up targets that are within range of the 5 inch guns. If this were accomplished destroyers could be of more aid to men on the beaches even though shore fire control parties were knocked out or pinned down.
From: Commander Task Group 126.7 (Gunfire Support Group Force "U".)
Intelligence was sustained over a long period and can be assumed to have reached as great a degree of accuracy as can be expected. Yet in many instances it was not accurate as to the location of guns of small caliber and machine weapons. To meet this contingency flexibility in the assignment of targets must be exercised, and the use of sound discretion in picking and firing on targets of opportunity should be encouraged by the commanders of bombarding units.
Reports indicate that where assault troop commanders are willing to accept a risk of some danger to their personnel, in order to have sustained fire not only during the approach to the beach, but as they progress inland that, actually, casualties are substantially lower.
From: Naval Commander Western Task Force (Commander Task Force 122).
In any case, it still seems that our forces are too cautious in the employment of shell fire to support the infantry. There were cases where naval fire was withheld by Army request and in retrospect it is felt that the general attitude was over-cautious. No opportunity should be lost of impressing upon responsible Army officers the dependability and accuracy of naval fire. There were instances in this particular of reports from the beach that our own ships were shelling our own troops on the beach. All of these reports were completely inaccurate, and they had the very unfortunate effect of limiting subsequent fire by captains who no longer trusted their own excellent judgment.
From: Commander Gunfire Support Craft, Eleventh Amphibious Force (Commanded Gunfire Support Craft of Western Naval Task Force).
At exactly H-40, the naval bombardment commenced as scheduled. Gun craft moved inshore to take up their positions for pre-arranged fire. Destroyers were moving in. At H-35 my operations officer remarked "In five minutes, the beach drenching from the air is scheduled to start and continue until H-hour. Where are the airplanes?"
Several squadrons of fighters roared overhead but no bombers. We waited, That aerial beach drenching was to be sorely needed. But it never came. Not one bomb was seen to drop on OMAHA beaches
by any observer on the bridge of my headquarters ship. I have subsequently learned that we did not see the bombs because none were dropped on that beach.
At about H-25, one shore gun opened fire with one shot. The splash landed about 300 yards off my starboard bow. It appeared to come from a point below and to the eastward of POINT DU HOE. No other shot was fired, insofar as I could observe, from any shore battery until the conclusion of the bombardment.
The planned disposition of gunfire Support Craft was as follows:
(a) LCG(L) were to take up positions on the flanks of the LCT(A) wave and accompany the LCT(A) in as close to the beach as navigational conditions would permit. NOs. 687 and 811 were on the left flank, NOs. 449, 426, and 424 were in their correct position.
The Western Naval Task Force was divided into two assault forces. Allocation of Gunfire Support Craft to each force was as follows:
FORCE "0" FORCE "U" 9 LCT(R) 5 LCT(R) 7 LCF 4 LCF 5 LCG(L) 4 LCG(L) 18 LCT(A)-LCT(HE) 8 LCT(A)-LCT(HE) 32 LCP(L) 16 LCP(L)
Gunfire Support Craft as used in this operation were an innovation in the United States Navy. Although various types of smaller craft had been used for close support of landings, this operation was the first in which the U.S. Navy used the British type of shallow water major landing craft converted to gunfire support. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -. NOs. 811 and 426 were a little late but arrived in time to open fire as scheduled. No. 449 went to UTAH by mistake and did not arrive off OMAHA in time to fire his pre-H hour schedule. These craft were scheduled to deliver neutralizing fire on specifically assigned targets from H-20 minutes to times varying from H hour to H-4 minutes. Targets were pill boxes and houses.
Rocket craft (LCT(R)) were to take position in close formation line abreast, about 2700 yards astern of the LCT(A) leading wave. They were to proceed in and deliver rocket fire when the leading wave was about 300 yards off shore. Rocket fire could not be simultaneously delivered by all craft as the MPI of the targets assigned to each craft varied several hundred yards. It was necessary, therefore, for some craft to go in closer than others and to fire later.
LCT(A) were to commence firing with embarked tanks at about H-16 or when the range of their targets was approximately 3000 yards. Tanks were to fire as the craft proceeded in. LCT(A) were to beach, retract, and return to the transport area after which they were to become a part of the Ferry Service.
LCF were initially disposed about the transport area. At first light they were to come in on each flank and take up positions from close inshore to just inside the line of departure for AA protection to beaches and boat lanes. If opportunity presented itself, they could engage machine gun nests and pill boxes on the beach. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -.
From: Naval Commander Western Task Force (Commander Task Force 122).
There is still however, a dead space between the pre-H-Hour bombardment and the time when liaison with the ground forces ashore is sufficiently effective to permit observed fire upon enemy targets with due regard for our own troops. Shore Fire Control Parties, when they are pinned to the beachline or have become casualties, cannot assist destroyers offshore in the first few hectic hours; and, when the enemy is well concealed and the position of our troops is not clear to him, a naval officer offshore is in no position to order heavy fire. It has been suggested that Army officers familiar with the tactical plan and qualified to observe and interpret troop movements on the beachline, should be attached to destroyers and other ships which are in immediate support. Subject to the views of the Army, this Command concurs in that suggestion.
From: Commander Gunfire Support Craft Eleventh Amphibious Force.
At about H plus 6 hours on D day, we proceeded close inshore all along the OMAHA beach. We were under fire the whole way. Troops were unable to advance. I reported this to the Task Force Commander and requested permission to lay down rocket barrage. The request was refused because of the possibility of killing our own troops. I then proceeded to the force flagship to report in person to the Task Force Commander, Major-Generals HEUBNER and GEROW were aboard. After reviewing the conditions observed, it was again decided not to use the rockets for fear of endangering own troops who may have filtered through.
AT OMAHA BEACH, THOUGH SHALLOW DRAFT LANDING CRAFT WERE AVAILABLE TO RENDER CLOSE SUPPORT DURING THE CRITICAL TIME BETWEEN THE LIFTING OF NAVAL GUNFIRE AND UNTIL THE TROOPS MOVED INLAND FAR ENOUGH TO PERMIT THE EMPLOYMENT OF ACCOMPANYING ARTILLERY, THEIR FULL EFFECT COULD NOT BE OBTAINED BECAUSE OF THE UNCERTAINTY
OF THE LOCATION OF THE TROOPS ASHORE. IN OTHER WORDS DUE TO LACK OF OBSERVATION AND COMMUNICATIONS. DURING THIS PHASE THE FIRE EFFECT OF DESTROYERS WAS AS REPORTED BY COMMANDER DESTROYER DIVISION 36 - "NOT UTILIZED TO OVER TWENTY (20) PERCENT OF THEIR POSSIBILITIES." AN OBSERVER IN THE AIR OVER THE ASSAULT AREA BY CLARIFYING THE MATTER OF LOCATION OF FRONT LINES MIGHT HAVE ENABLED MORE EFFECTIVE USE OF AVAILABLE CLOSE SUPPORT FIRE FROM SEAWARD. THERE HAS BEEN A NEED IN ALL OPPOSED LANDINGS FOR A CONTINUATION OF SUPPORTING FIRES TO BRIDGE THE GAP BETWEEN THE LIFTING OF NAVAL GUNFIRE AND THE TIME THAT ARTILLERY CAN BE DEPLOYED AND PLACED INTO ACTION ASHORE. THE DEVELOPMENT OF MEANS FOR THE SOLUTION OF THIS PROBLEM IS UNDER STUDY BY THE WAR AND NAVY DEPARTMENTS. THE EXPERIENCE AT OMAHA BEACH DEMONSTRATES THAT ITS SOLUTION EXTENDS FAR BEYOND THE PROVISION OF ACCURATELY CONTROLLED FIRE FROM CRAFT STATIONED CLOSE INSHORE AND MUST INCLUDE POSITIVE MEANS FOR ESTABLISHING THE LOCATION AND COMMUNICATING THE POSITION OF TROOPS THAT HAVE LANDED OR, AS IN THE SITUATION AT OMAHA BEACH, THE FIRE SUPPORT AVAILABLE CANNOT BE FULLY UTILIZED.
Upon return to the beach area, I observed LCH 86 and LCH 87, headquarters ships of Captains WRIGHT and IMLAY, close inshore. Both were being fired on by enemy batteries which could not be seen. We proceeded inshore to try to locate the batteries and were almost immediately engaged.
Gun ships, except NO. 449, were generally in proper position and engaged pre-arranged targets on schedule. NO. 449 got lost and wound up on UTAH. He expended no main battery ammunition. NO. 424 was assigned a target of opportunity over Dog Red by Commander Gunfire Support Craft at about H plus 5 hours. At about H plus 6 hours, Commander Gunfire Support Craft directed LCG(L) 687 to engage enemy machine gun emplacements holding the exit to Dog Green Beach. 687 fired 20 rounds of SAP and 20 rounds of HE. He appeared to have neutralized the area. On D plus 1 at about 1215, I received a message from LCG(L) 687 requesting permission to fire on PORT EN BESSIN on advice of DD 472. Permission granted. LCG(L) 687 and 426 proceeded to PORT EN BESSIN and, through a gap in the sea wall, observed a German vessel in the harbor. N0, 687 expended 30 rounds of SAP and 6 rounds of HE plus 20 mm fire at a range of between 700 and 1000 yards. N0. 426 expended 48 rounds of SAP and 7 round of HE plus about 1100 rounds of 20 mm. I was later informed that two German vessels had been destroyed and about 125 Germans killed. Very few targets of opportunity could be located after D day. I attempted to contact shore fire control parties without success. I requested and received from the Task Force Commander a gunfire liaison officer but he was unable to establish communications ashore. At about 1130 on D day I contacted Admiral BRYANT, commanding the combatant Fire Support Group and requested information as to any targets he might
assign me. He suggested that I contact Captain Sanders in Command of DDs. This was done but Captain Sanders had no targets to offer. Thereafter there was little for the gun craft to do.
The enemy apparently did not want to give away their gun positions during the pre-H-hour bombardment as evidenced by our observation of only one splash from shore batteries during this phase. It was peculiar because the fire seemed to be coming from behind the hill. Apparently, the enemy had observers either on the crest of the hill or along the slit trenches. They wasted little or no ammunition on ships out of range. Whenever we were within 2000 yards of the beach we were fired on. But outside of two or three thousand yards from the beach, we were rarely bothered.
Enemy fire slackened considerably about noon of D plus 1 and by the afternoon of D plus 1 was only intermittent. Sniping continued until D plus 4.
Rocket craft took up their assigned positions, some late. There fire, however, was generally accurate and, it is believed effective. They were ordered to return to the U.K. on D plus 1.
Flak craft had little or nothing to do. They engaged a few airplanes during night attacks and some pill boxes. LCF NO. 31 in Force UNCLE was mined with heavy loss of personnel. Several bodies were picked up off OMAHA beaches. LCF N0. 5 was mined during the 19-23 June storm. He was mined off OMAHA beach. There were no personnel losses.
LCP(L) attached to Force OBOE were not used as smokers. They were finally used by the Ferry Control Officer as despatch boats. Most of them had, by D plus 3, been severely beaten by the weather and only a few were operational.
Gun ships have a definite value for close inshore work but their fire control system is too crude. It should be improved to permit indirect fire of reasonable accuracy. In this operation, it was decided not to link the gun ships with a shore observation party. This was a mistake as selecting targets of opportunity was difficult and even when found, could not be fired on in some cases because of lack of information as to location of own troops. Under the existing orders, no target could be engaged if own troops were within 1000 yards of that target. Having no contact with the shore fire control party, it was impossible to get this information. The information was requested several times over the BOW (Bombardment Calling Wave) but was not answered.
Rocket craft are the most useful and important of the close gunfire support craft. Properly trained and used, they can be of
great assistance. It is recommended that additional high speed, shallow draft, short range rocket craft be developed.
One member of the demolition unit informed me that the Germans were careful to use no tracers in their machine gun bullets by day. As a result, it was difficult to locate their positions.
The function of landing craft converted to close gunfire support craft was not, in my opinion, crystallized by this operation. I believe, and am fairly well convinced, that the flak craft are hardly worth the time, trouble, and money to convert them. It is recommended that none of this type be constructed and that none be used in areas where our air superiority is as dominant as it was off this beach. In the SICILY attack, flak ships attached to my command were helpful. But in that action, we were subjected to almost continuous daylight enemy air attacks for the first several days and the AA installations on large craft, such as LSTs, was not nearly as extensive as it is now. In this operation, daylight air attack was practically non-existent.
From: Commander Assault Force "0", (Commander Eleventh Amphibious Force).
Gunfire Support Craft actually used in this operation included LCT(R), LCF, LCG(L), LCT(A), LCT(HE) and LCS(S). In general, because of late delivery, and distance from delivery point to training areas, their state of training was poor. In summary form the views of this command with reference to the training, operations and effectiveness of the various types of gunfire support craft are as follows:
LCT(R). Very effective against personnel in open or in trenches. Requires high degree of training. Additional investigation should be made of the ability of a full salvo of barrage rockets to clear beach mines and wire.
THE SUGGESTED INVESTIGATION IS AT PRESENT BEING CONDUCTED BY THE JOINT ARMY-NAVY EXPERIMENTAL AND TESTING BOARD, FORT PIERCE, FLORIDA, AND IS FULLY DESCRIBED IN THE BOARD'S MONTHLY PROGRESS REPORTS. THE 7.2" ROCKET LAUNCHER MK 24 (EXPERIMENTAL), ALSO KNOWN AS THE "WOOFUS", HAS BEEN DEVELOPED TO CLEAR BEACH MINES AND WIRE. IT IS A UNIT CONSISTING OF ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY SINGLE-RAIL LAUNCHERS DESIGNED TO BE INSTALLED IN AN LCM. IT WEIGHS APPROXIMATELY 12,500 POUNDS AND CAN BE INSTALLED IN OR REMOVED FROM A SPECIALLY FITTED LCM IN A SINGLE LIFT IN ABOUT 30 MINUTES. THIS LAUNCHER IS AVAILABLE IN KIT FORM. THE KIT CONTAINING THE MATERIALS NECESSARY FOR MINOR MODIFICATIONS TO THE LCM, SUCH AS A JUNCTION BOX, STEEL PLATES TO INCREASE THE HEIGHT OF AN GIVE ADDITIONAL PROTECTION TO THE PILOT HOUSE, AND GUIDES FOR THE INSIDE OF THE BULWARKS OF THE LGM TO HOLD THE
LAUNCHER. AFTER THE LAUNCHER HAS SERVED ITS PURPOSE AND BEEN REMOVED FROM THE LCM, THE LATTER CAN BE EMPLOYED IN THE NORMAL FASHION. TESTS AT FORT PIERCE INDICATE THAT THE "WOOFUS" IS VERY EFFECTIVE AGAINST BEACH MINES AND WIRE AT RANGES FROM ABOUT 220 TO 290 YARDS.
LCF. In this Operation of little use due to ineffective enemy air opposition. AA battery not particularly strong. Should be of value near beaches in early stages of an attack to repel fighter bomber and strafing attacks. With increased use of LSMs and LSTs on beach in early stages, need for LCFs decreases.
LCG(L). Partially effective, Fire control system should be improved. Need exists for shallow draft gunboats for close support in early stages of landing. Communication facilities should be improved.
LCT(A) - LCT(HE). This is purely a makeshift arrangement. The use of LCT(5) or LCT(6) for this purpose is unsound for a number of reasons. Among them are slow speed, large and vulnerable target offered, poor sea keeping ability, etc. If attack landing plan commits Navy to their use, tanks should be placed on platforms and fire directed over ramps.
LCS(S). Partially effective. At least half did not use rockets successfully, firing them from too great a range.
That accuracy rather than speed in call fire should be stressed in the training of ships and Shore Fire Control Parties.
That all fire support ships be included in rehearsals. Where possible, fire support ships should be staged in the same general area as the remainder of the Amphibious Force.
That designated forward observers patrol close to the beaches in LCSs or similar craft as long as opposition on the beaches is encountered in order to designate direct fire targets or spot where haze and smoke obscures the vision of the firing ships.
That the amount of airspot afforded be increased, particularly during the critical period while beaches remain under fire. Each cruiser and larger craft should have individual airspot in this phase. Destroyers should also be provided with communication with air spotting planes and should be utilized when the spotters locate targets within their capabilities.
That Shore Fire Control code procedure be revised so that all deflection spots of less than one hundred yards will be indicated by the words "right" or "left" as applicable.
That the probable strength of the enemy defense be carefully estimated in the formulation of the attack landing plan, and that where a strong defense, including beach obstacles and observed mortar and artillery fire on the beaches is expected, infantry supported by the heaviest possible Naval gunfire and air bombardment be employed to seize the initial beachhead and armor including tanks, SP Artillery, etc., not be landed until the beaches are cleared.
That no further consideration be given to the use of mortars firing from LCVPs or of 105 mm Howitzers firing from LCTs to supplement Naval gunfire support.
That before deciding whether to land tanks in the first wave, and to have them fire from LCT(A)s during the approach, the loss in carrying capacity of LCTs fitted as LCT(A)s and the possible lose of the tanks themselves from enemy fire be carefully weighed against the slight gain to be derived from having the tanks fire only for the last fifteen minutes of the approach.
That use of LCT(R)s be continued. Detailed investigation should be made of the effect of a full salvo of 5" rockets on beach minefields.
That shallow draft gunboats with quick firing guns and adequate fire control facilities be used. The LCI Gunboats in use in the Pacific appear to have served a very useful purpose. Possibly more useful would be a landing craft similar to the British LCG(L), but armed with two to four - four or five inch guns, a modern director, communications facilities including at least three AM and one FM receiver transmitters, anti-aircraft protection for itself, the seakeeping qualities of at least an LCI, and ability to beach without damage.
Summary of Ammunition Expended by Caliber of Gun. The following table give the number of rounds and weight of projectiles expended during the assault: ( OMAHA BEACH).
Caliber Rounds Weight 14" 690 910,750 12" 819 889,654 8" 15 3,900 6" 3,159 331,6981 5" .25 166 13,280 5" 10,576 613,408 4" .7 524 25,676 4" 1,800 55,8002 3" 224 6,7203 TOTAL 2,850,879 = 1,295.8 Tons LCT(R)s 173,736 = 79.0 Tons GRAND TOTAL 3,024,615 = 1,374.8 Tons
1 Includes estimated figures for ENTERPRISE.
3 This does not include all PC fire.
SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE WAR THERE HAS BEEN A RECURRING NEED FOR A YARDSTICK TO MEASURE THE AMOUNT OF NAVAL GUNFIRE REQUIRED TO NEUTRALIZE THE OPPOSING BEACH DEFENSES IN A LANDING ASSAULT. AT TARAWA NOT ENOUGH NAVAL GUNFIRE WAS USED, KWAJALEIN ISLAND, WHERE CASUALTIES AMONG TROOPS OF THE INITIAL ASSAULT WAVES WERE IoW, WAS AN EXAMPLE OF AN EFFECTIVE QUANTITY OF NAVAL GUNFIRE AND ARTILLERY DELIVERED AGAINST DEFENSES ENCOUNTERED.
AT OMAHA BEACH APPROXIMATELY 98,000 TROOPS LANDED AGAINST WELL PREPARED DEFENSIVE POSITIONS AND MOVED IN DURING THE FIRST FIVE DAYS WITH THE SUPPORT OF 1,375 TONS OF AMMUNITION FIRED BY NAVAL GUNS RANGING IN SIZE FROM 14" TO 3".
AT KWAJALEIN ISLAND, APPROXIMATELY 22,000 TROOPS LANDED AGAINST CONSIDERABLY WEAKER BEACH DEFENSES SUPPORTED BY 3,964 TONS OF AMMUNITION FIRED BY NAVAL GUNS RANGING FROM 16" TO 5" PLUS SOME 1,449 TONS OF ARTILLERY FIRE.
THE RATIO BETWEEN OMAHA AND KWAJALEIN OF TROOPS LANDED WAS APPROXIMATELY 4 TO 1; OF DEFENSIVE STRENGTH OF POSITIONS ASSAULTED ROUGHLY 3 TO 1; AND OF NAVAL GUNFIRE SUPPORT 1 TO 3.
USING KWAJALEIN AS A BASIS FOR A ROUGH COMPARISON, AND DISREGARDING OTHER CONSIDERATIONS, THE LANDING OF FOUR TIMES THE NUMBER OF TROOPS AGAINST APPROXIMATELY THREE TIMES THE DEFENSIVE STRENGTH WOULD CALL FOR AN AMOUNT OF NAVAL GUNFIRE SUPPORT AT OMAHA MANY TIMES GREATER THAN THAT EMPLOYED AT KWAJALEIN. YET, THE WEIGHT OF METAL DELIVERED AT THE OMAHA DEFENSES WAS ONE THIRD THAT USED AT KWAJALEIN.
THOUGH THE AMOUNT OF NAVAL GUNFIRE TO BE DELIVERED IN A GIVEN SITUATION CANNOT BE ARRIVED AT MATHEMATICALLY, AND THOUGH NAVAL GUNFIRE ALONE WILL NOT NECESSARILY INSURE A SUCCESSFUL LANDING WITH MINIMUM CASUALTIES, THE FOREGOING ROUGH COMPARATIVE FIGURES WILL SERVE TO SUBSTANTIATE THE CONCLUSION THAT AT OMAHA BEACHES DURING THE PRE-LANDING PHASE, NOT ENOUGH NAVAL GUNFIRE WAS PROVIDED.
From: Commander Battleship Division Five. (CTG 124.9).
GERMAN MILITARY JOURNALS GLOWING TRIBUTE TO MIGHT OF NAVAL GUNS. GERMAN TELEGRAPH SERVICE (NPD) 2004 16.6.44
"Militaeri Sche Correspondenz Deutschland" depicts the part played by the guns of the Navy at the invasion coast; more decisive than bombing.
The fire curtain provided by the guns of the Navy so far proved to be one of the best trump cards of the Anglo-U.S. invasion Armies. It may be that the part played by the Fleet was more decisive than that of the air forces because its fire was better aimed and unlike the bomber formations it had not to confine itself to short "Bursts of Fire".
"Fire power of warships must not be under-estimated - while the first troop landings were in progress and no bridgehead existed the invasion forces had only little artillery at their disposal. It was, however, provided to very high degree by the combined Anglo-U.S. Fleet. It would be utterly wrong to under-estimate the fire-power of warships even of smaller vessels. A Torpedo Boat for instance has the fire power of approximately a Howitzer Battery, a destroyer that of a Battery of Artillery. Equivalent to an unusually heavy artillery barrage. With regard to its armament a cruiser may be compared with a Regiment of Artillery. Battleships carrying 38 CM or 40 CM Guns have a fire-power which to achieve in land warfare is difficult and only possible by an unusual concentration of very heavy batteries. Great mobility of these "Floating Batteries" - of particular advantage to the invasion troops which employed strong formations of warships as floating batteries was the great mobility of the vessels by which artillery concentrations could be achieved at any point of the coast and to change the place according to the exigencies of the fighting situation. The attackers have made the best possible use of this opportunity."
"An umbrella of fire - repeatedly strong formation of warships and cruisers were used against single coastal batteries thus bringing a quite extraordinary superior fire-power to bear on them. Moreover time and again he put an umbrella of fire (Feuerglocke) over the defenders at the focal points of the fighting compared with which incessant heavy air attacks have only a modest effect."
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