Chapter V



From: Naval Commander Western Task Force (Commander Task Force 122).

Logistics planning and administration, because of the nature of military command, departed in many respects from the normal U.S. practice. The operational planning being under the control of the British, the Allied Naval Commander prescribed British practices in many instances. Requests for certain aspects of logistic support were required to be made to the Allied Naval Commander. The British method of planning by committees was one of the major differences. The functions of many committees were not clearly defined, some committees overlapped, some continued to function after their usefulness had expired. Decision taken at meetings were recorded only in the minutes and frequently were too briefly expressed to provide an entirely satisfactory record of the basis for the action. The result was difficulty in maintaining a satisfactory record and some uncertainty as to the authority of the commitments made.

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Maintenance and repair of ships and craft and their preparation for the operation was performed wholly by ComLanCrab11thPhib, with only very general administrative supervision by CTF 122. On D-day 99½% of all ships and craft assigned to U.S. forces were available for the operation. This is considered to be a remarkable achievement in view of the large number involved and the fact that maintenance and repair had to be subordinated to training prior to the operation. It is a reflection of the thorough planning, scheduling and, employment of repair forces under the command of ComLanCrab.

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The necessity for an artificial port arose out of the requirement to continue unloading over unprotected beaches for a sustained period after the assault. The design and construction of the various units were British responsibilities. The responsibility of CTF 122 included emplacing all units of the U.S. port under ANCXF direction and participating in such planning as had not been accomplished prior to the date when this command was constituted.

In order to have an emergency supply of ammunition available on the beaches it had been planned to load 20 barges of 1000 ton capacity and bring them to the assault area. Only 16 such barges were actually loaded and towed to the area. They were beached at high tide and allowed to dry out. They were unloaded by trucks alongside when dry. During the storm this reserve supply of ammunition proved very necessary.

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If sufficient tugs had been available these barges could have been brought back to the United Kingdom for a second load.

The barges were car floats or barges of a similar type. They were towed across the Atlantic and all but one survived a bad storm. Fully loaded they towed well in moderately rough English Channel weather. They fulfilled their mission and in addition, when It was found that tugs were not available to tow them away, found temporary use as barges for unloading MT ships after the storm.

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The number of naval personnel in the Western Naval Task Force, shore based and afloat, reached the peak figure of 125,000. The number of man-jobs, however, was considerably larger. This was accomplished by phasing personnel, so that the same individuals performed successive duties as the schedule of preparation and operations developed. Phasing was materially assisted by the same short geographical distances which made this operation unique in so many other respects. It was limited by inadequate time for the specialized training required for many of the undertakings involved.


From: Commander Assault Force "U" (Commander Group II, Eleventh Amphibious Force).

Loading Summary

The loading plans for the Operation were prepared by the VII Corps U.S. Army, to conform to the tactical requirements. The basis for the initial loading plans were the net and gross figures for ships and craft which were to be made available to the VII Corps. Some difficulty was encountered by Army planners because of the lack of information regarding the number of LCTs by type, i.e., LCT(5) and LCT(6)s. Loading plans were made on the assumption of a 50 - 50 split between LCT(5)s and LCT(6)s. The actual balance of these LCTs finally made available was 46 LCT(6)s and 66 LCT(5)s. The difference between actual and assumed number of craft caused some readjustment in loading plans because of the different vehicle carrying capacities of the LCT(5) and LCT(6).

The VII Corps loading plans were prepared and submitted for approval to FUSA headquarters during the latter part of April. One point of interest is that the loading plans were submitted for approval to Army Headquarters first and to the Assault Force Commander later. Loading plans for ships and craft were prepared by a separate planning section of VII Corps without Navy guidance as to craft capacity and use. The result was that many craft were overloaded both in tonnage and personnel. For example, one LST was to be loaded with a full vehicle load and over 600 personnel. The Assault Force Commander

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Landing LCT's at Portland

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directed that the maximum troop personnel load for LSTs was 400. It was further directed that the maximum tonnage for LCT(5 & 6) was 150 tons or maximum drafts of 3' 6" forward and aft 4' 6", whichever governed. This change, although necessary, caused further revisions in the loading and to a lesser degree in unit tactical planning.


The loading plans as originally planned treated each craft as an individual unit. Consequently, group and flotilla organization was shattered. Frequently, assault waves were planned to have, LCT(4)s, LCT(5)s, and LCT(6)s in the same wave. Flotillas were split between waves and between beaches. This was subsequently corrected and craft were regrouped as units as was practicable. To accomplish this, changes in loading plans were necessary.


The loading of ships and craft of Force "U" for the Operation Presented a most difficult and complex problem. It required loading ships and craft in five separate ports all of which were taxed to capacity. The problem was most successfully handled by effective coordination between the Southern Base Section (SOS ETOUSA), the British Port Authorities and Commander Landing Craft and Bases. All of those Commanders deserve high praise for the excellent results attained.

An inspection of craft after being loaded revealed that in some cases LCTs were loaded so that the draft was greater than the prescribed amount. A total of 18 LCTs were reported as overloaded with the greatest reported draft being 5' aft.

The Assault Force Commander directed corrective action to be taken to reduce the draft to 3' 6" forward and 4' 6" aft. This action was necessary to prevent craft from grounding in such depths of water that light vehicles would be unable to wade ashore.

There is a definite tendency to overload LCT and LCI(L). Although each load was carefully planned, LCTs in some instances exceeded allowed draft. Care should be taken when flat beaches are used that loads do not exceed designed beaching draft. Several LCI(L)s embarked ten to fifteen percent above their rated capacity of troops. It is

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necessary that actual loads do not exceed those authorized. Overcrowding or overloading is particularly undesirable when a relatively long sea trip is scheduled due to the messing, berthing and sanitation problems involved. In checking draft after loading, due regard should be given to the status of the ships fuel and water load as required for the specific duty planned.


  1. That loading plans should be submitted to and approved by the Assault Force Commander before being approved by higher Army headquarters.
  2. That a firm list of ships and craft by type must be available as a basis for planning loads.
  3. That maximum tonnage and personnel loads for each type craft must not be exceeded.

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Final Comment

All difficulties mentioned above were eventually overcome. Due to late organization-of Force "U" and orders of Commander Force "U" to command, most of the above recommendations and conditions in the early stages of planning of loading were wholly outside the control of Commander Force "U".

Beach gradients of 1/100 to 1/200 made unloading exceedingly slow and difficult at first. Initially, no man or vehicle made a dry landing. However, as experience was gained, the apparent liabilities of Utah Beach were converted to assets. The flat beaches and great tidal range proved to be ideal for drying out LCTs, LBVs, LCMs, LSTs, and coasters. Extensive drying out of craft was practiced during the entire build-up with excellent results.


From: Deputy Commander Task Group 124.3 (LCI(L) Flotilla Ten).

That LSTs can be unloaded by drying out on bars without resulting damage appears to be one of the best lessons learned from this operation. In order that they do not remain on the beach too long or go too high, it is best to put them aground at about half tide during its fall. As many as thirty-eight LSTs were beached and unloaded during a single day. Thus a tremendous amount of equipment can be unloaded in a short period of time.


From: Commander Group II, Eleventh Amphibious Force.

Ammunition, rations, and other supplies were moved across the

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Coaster drying out on UTAH.


LST at low tide on UTAH.

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beach expeditiously. At no time was the beach littered with supplies. The beach appeared to operate efficiently at all times.

The initial delay in unloading carried through the first week of the operation. Stores coasters arrived in the area more rapidly than Dukws and craft were available to unload them. The average times for ships to be in the assault area are given as follows:

LSTs in area 23 hours
HT ships in area 40 hours
Coasters in area 138 hours


  1. Tactical Procedure: Under favorable weather conditions, flat beaches with small gradients and a large tidal range can be successfully used to land and supply a large force.
  2. Tactical Procedure: A permanent organization to control unloading and ferry craft as provided is a necessity. It should be prepared to take over control from the Assault Force Commander at a definite time. Interested parties should be informed in advance of when this control will become effective. It is desirable for the transition period between the scheduled assault waves and the taking over of this control to be a minimum.
  3. Tactical Procedure: The Assault Force Commander, by a sympathetic interest in the Naval Shore Organization and Unloading Organization, can strengthen its effectiveness in the early stages.
  4. Materiel: Dukws are a most successful means of landing and transporting them directly to inland dumps.
Table of Personnel, Vehicles, and Supplies Landed on Utah Beaches.
  DAY A - No. Personnel B - No. Vehicles C - Supplies/Tons
June 6 D 21,328 1,742 1,695
7 D+1 10,735 1,469 807
8 D+2 11,588 1,158 2,325
9 D+3 7,725 1,862 2,163
10 D+4 11,174 1,088 2,448
11 D+5 2,768 1,924 3,470
12 D+6 8,493 1,035 4,144
13 D+7 4,122 766 3,839
14 D+8 7,979 882 4,958
15 D+9 12,043 1,235 5,734
16 D+10 5,158 680 5,931
17 D+11 7,114 1,066 4,784


110,227 14,808 42,298

Note: Through D+5 day proper records were not maintained on a day to day basis. Figures shown are based on best available information. However, cumulative figures for the first six days can be assured to be reliable.

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Unloading over Beaches: After initial assault landing the major problem became that of keeping the unloading rate up to the influx of incoming vessels which were arriving up to about sixty per day. This was accomplished initially in all categories, except the coasters, which, being preloaded, arrived faster at first than could be handled. The rapid development of the entire unloading organization together with an increase in DUKWs, trucks, and Army hatch crews eventually conquered this tough problem. Within the last four day period 24 more were discharged than arrived. As of the 17th June, the problem is in hand and all classes of vessels are being unloaded with a minimum of delay.


From: Commander Assault Force "O" (Commander Eleventh Amphibious Force).

Combat Loading

The problem of combat loading was minimized in this operation by the fact that Transports carried no stores or equipment for the Landing Force. Their load was limited to embarked troops and thirty small vehicles apiece. There was surprisingly little confusion and delay in loading at the assembly ports, which is a tribute to both the Army and Naval officers responsible for the planning and execution of this phase of the operation. A few mistakes were made, but these were detected in ample time to correct them; in one instance two companies of DD tanks were loaded on the wrong LCTs, necessitating a change in the LCT Assignment Table of the Operation Order.

The intensive training of Army personnel in Transport Quartermaster duties and the early assignment of officers so trained to the transports, plus the use of advance parties composed of guides and service personnel who boarded the transports two days in advance of the troops, paid big dividends by eliminating misunderstandings and confusion. LCI(L)s were placed alongside docks and loaded

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there; personnel were embarked on LSTs while they were on the hards loading vehicles; and APAs and LSIs embarked troops using their own landing craft. Troops had been assembled in marshalling areas for days before loading commenced, and schedules for their movements from the marshalling areas to the loading point had been carefully worked out by the Army Transportation Service to the end that the movement should be as nearly continuous as possible and that there should be no delay in loading troops after they arrived, with no waiting of ships and craft for troops who were somewhere on the way.


That an officer trained in the duties of a Transport Quartermaster, with the necessary assistants, be assigned to permanent duty on each APA or AP and that he, together with the First Lieutenant or other officer designated by the Captain, act as the latter's representative in working out in conjunction with the Commander of the embarked troops the loading of the ship. Following the same principle, similar officers might well be assigned to the staffs of group and flotilla commanders of LSTs. They are not required for LCI(L)s or LCTs. The permanent assignment of such officers would obviate the necessity for the conduct of special training in combat loading with which the Assault Force Commander is faced in every operation involving Army personnel without previous experience in amphibious operations. It will probably be said that training in combat loading is just another phase of amphibious training which can be carried out concurrently with the training for assault landing. That is true, but if we can eliminate the necessity for part of the amphibious training to new organizations, we have gained something and reduced the amount of preparation required accordingly.



It was evident from the first that the magnitude of the task confronting those responsible for landing personnel, vehicles and stores across the beaches during the build-up phase of this operation would require a far larger shore organization than had been employed in previous amphibious operations, and one specifically planned to meet the requirements of the situation. Numerous joint conferences resulted in the following: A Provisional Engineer Special Brigade Group of two Engineer Special Brigades, each with a Naval Beach Battalion attached, was organized under the Command of the First U.S. Army. Until the Landing Force Commander had established his headquarters ashore, this organization was under the military command of the Naval Assault Force Commander. Each Engineer Brigade was organized around a battalion of combat engineers as a nucleus. In addition to combat engineers, it contained port battalions for unloading, DUKW companies, truck companies, AA units,

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Wrecked tanks and LCT with supply laden barge in the background.

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Communication units, medical units, and service units. In addition to the two Beach Battalions there was provided a Port Organization consisting of the Naval Officer in Charge (NOIC), under whom were a Port Director, a Ferry Control Officer, a Salvage and Repair Officer, a Construction end Maintenance Officer, and a Petrol, Oil, and Lubrication Officer (POL). In addition to these, a Shuttle Control Officer with the necessary assistants was provided for the reception and sailing of convoys. The NOICs were under the command of their respective Assault Force Commanders, but Shuttle Control was under Commander, Western Naval Task Force.

Within Force "O" it was planned that the Deputy Assault Group Commanders should handle the ferry craft (LCTS, Rhino ferries, LCI(L)s, LCMs, LCVPs, LBVs, etc.) employed in the unloading of transports, MT ships, cargo ships, coasters, and landing craft during the build-up period until such time as NOIC was ready to assume control. In practice this did not work out very well. After the assault the landing craft which were to pass to the Ferry Service were scattered and it was difficult to concentrate them, despite the provision which had been made in the plan for rendezvous points. The Deputy Assault Group Commanders were not equipped to operate the large numbers of craft under their control and did not make full use of the Flotilla and Group Commanders to assist them.

The transition from control by the Deputy Assault Group Commanders to control by NOIC, with the Deputy Assault Group Commanders assisting him, was not smoothly accomplished. NOIC was directed to assume control and commence to function in his planned capacity before he had the personnel and equipment of his organization assembled ashore and ready. As a result, he was utterly unable to cope with the situation for some forty-eight hours or more after he assumed command. During this time and for a few days after, the problem of unloading was complicated by the insistence of the Shore Party Commander and representatives of the Commanding General, First Army, on unloading ships in order of priority based on their cargo; this, despite the fact that none of them knew what ships were present, or what was loaded on any given ship. Provision had been made for this information to be supplied through the medium of advanced copies of sailing orders for convoys, and manifests for the ships included in them. Neither were forthcoming. The Task Force Commander, the Assault Force Commander, and presumably the Shuttle Control Officer did receive dispatches indicating the make-up and estimated time of arrival of incoming convoys, but no manifests were received by anyone on the Far Shore for a week or more after D day.

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At a later date these manifests were found in the mail in the British Assault Area where they had been delivered incorrectly addressed by Army authorities at PORTSMOUTH. It is not known whether

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Moving a heavy road-building crane from an LST to a Rhino Ferry.

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they arrived on the Far Shore in time to have been of value in unloading the convoys had they been forwarded promptly. It was emphasized to First Army authorities that until loaded ships which had accumulated in the Assault Area were unloaded and cleared, all ships should be unloaded as fast as possible regardless of priorities. When approval was finally obtained from the Chief of Staff, representing the Commanding General, First Army, unloading progressed rapidly; also LSTs which were commencing to arrive on the first turnaround trip were dried out and unloaded by beaching from one and one half to two hours after high water, thus releasing all Rhino Ferries and LCTs for ferrying equipment from the MT ships.

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From: Commander Gunfire Support Craft, Eleventh Amphibious Force.

The reason for the delay in unloading ships was apparent five minutes after the first conference. The Army was insisting that ships be unloaded on a priority basis when not only were manifests not available but also the names of the ships in the harbor were not known. Captains - - - - - - - - and - - - - - - - - had the almost impossible job of going around in small boats with all available officers, finding out what ships were present and what cargo they had. This information then had to be taken to the Army who in turn would indicate the ships they wanted unloaded. Ferry craft would have to be assigned, ships spotted off the beaches, and stevedores sent by the Army.

It was a ridiculous situation. I requested the Army again and again to lift the priorities. But although determined efforts were made to get manifests, the priorities had to be followed. It wasn't until ten minutes past twelve on June 12 that I was sent for by the Chief of Staff to General BRADLEY and told to unload without regard to priorities. Thirty-six hours later, the backlog was cleared.

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I mentioned this to the Allied Naval Commander in Chief, Admiral RAMSAY, on a tour of inspection he was making and he said, "It ought to go in the report in large letters. Selective unloading, after a bitter struggle when it is impracticable to know what is in the harbor is not sound. Empty the ships and priorities will take care of themselves."


From: Commander Eleventh Amphibious Force.

As a result of the establishment of NOIC with his organization, the need for the Beach Battalions disappeared within a few days after the assault. The Army medical personnel were soon handling the evacuation of all casualties; hydrographic sections had finished their surveys; communication personnel had little to do because ship-to-shore communication was handled through the Shore Party

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Commander or NOIC; Salvage and Repair personnel were not particularly needed because most of the craft employed in the Ferry Service were LCTs and Rhino ferries, and the Beach Party repair people were not equipped to handle anything other than the smaller landing craft such as LCMs and LCVPs. Because of the extent of the beaches and the system of unloading, there was little need for craft control, hence the beachmasters themselves had little or nothing to do. Actually, of course, the functions and responsibilities of the two Naval organizations, the Beach Battalion and NOIC Group overlapped, and the two should have been merged - the Beach Battalion passing to NOIC's control as soon as the latter was established.


From: Headquarters 6th Engineer Special Brigade.

Operation of Naval Beach Parties.

  1. General: In the early stages of the operation the Naval Beach Parties were of considerable assistance in clearing underwater obstacles, marking cleared channels through them, guiding craft to proper beaching points, maintaining communications with naval elements afloat and rendering medical aid on the beaches. However, with the advent of NOIC they rapidly lost their value, and finally they were withdrawn except for a small detachment of Beachmasters and Signalmen.
  2. Marking, Hazards to Navigation: Although the underwater obstacles installed by the enemy were quickly removed by Assault Engineers, Engineer Special Brigades and Naval Demolition Parties, many new obstructions in the form of sunken craft and vehicles resulted from enemy action on D-day and from the storm on 20 June. Many of these have never been removed and most of them are unmarked a large part of the time. Craft and waves destroy markers about as fast as they are installed.
  3. Making Surveys of Beach: This matter was handled and coordinated by specialists from ETOUSA.
  4. Determining and Marking Suitable Landing Points: Lanes through beach obstacles were marked by the Special Army and Navy Demolition Teams. After these obstacles were entirely removed, the construction of access roads sufficiently marked suitable beaching points, and no further marking was made. After the storm on 20 June the location of wreckage on the beaches further determined where craft could beach. Constantly shifting runnels limited the value of preselected, permanent beaching points, and increased the importance of controlling the beaching craft from on shore.

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A Rhino Ferry unloads in the foreground. It is approaching low tide, some craft are wrecked, others are waiting for next high tide as is LST from which sketch was made.

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From: Commander Assault Force "O" (Commander Eleventh Amphibious Force - OMAHA BEACH.)


- - - - - - - - - - a temporary breakwater composed of hollow concrete caissons, each with an AA gun mounted on it was towed from the U.K. and sunk in designated positions by flooding through built-in flood valves. Inside this breakwater there were to be established two Loebnitz floating pierheads connected to the beach by a floating roadway composed of bridgework mounted on pontoons, and two sunken causeways constructed of the same material used in floating pontoon causeways and Rhino barges. One end of the breakwater was to be extended by a line of blockships consisting of old merchant vessels and one old battleship, moored bow-to-stern, and sunk in place. These were to shelter the small landing craft of the Ferry Service and coasters while the latter were unloading. Protecting both the breakwater and the blockships was a line of moored floating elements. These - - - - - - - - - were steel caissons secured end to end and moored to a trot of buoys. Commencing with the survey on D+2 day, the work of installation and construction of the artificial harbor progressed rapidly and smoothly under the direction of CTF-128. All blockships were is place by D+4, and most of the concrete caissons were in position when the bad weather started on D+13. On D+12, several LSTs were unloaded over the first Loebnitz pier to be completed and LCTs had been using one of the sunken causeways for several days. Such was the situation on the evening of D+12, June 18, 1944.

During the night of D+12 - D+13, the wind commenced to freshen and by mid afternoon, it was blowing a moderate gale from the Northeast. By the evening of D+13, practically all unloading had been stopped, and all craft of the Ferry Service had taken shelter inside the blockships and the caisson breakwater. It continued to blow steadily from the same quarter for nearly three days, and the seas gradually built up to an estimated height of eight or nine feet. During the night of D+15 - D+16, the weather abated to such an extent that it was possible to resume unloading on the following morning. The results of the blow, however, were disastrous to the (caisson breakwater). Prior to, and during the gale, the blockships had settled into the sand and mud of the bottom until there was somewhat less of their structure above water than there had been when they were originally sunk. In fact, in some cases only the superstructure and/or the forecastle head or stern remained above water. They were badly battered by the seas which had smashed their superstructures, and at high water washed completely over their decks; but they held together and remained in place though several of them had their backs broken. The spring tides which accompanied the gale, plus the settling of the blockships, combined to reduce

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Vierville exit, OMAHA BEACH, on 15 June, showing caisson breakwater and floating piers.


The same spot on 23 June after 72 hour storm. Note disorganization of caisson breakwater.

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their effectiveness as a breakwater, and the shelter in their lee was inadequate. Nevertheless, it was the only shelter available. The (artificial harbor) project was wrecked. The concrete caissons were either broken apart from the force of the seas or had sunk into the sand of the bottom until they were completely submerged. The roadway which had been completed from the Loebnitz pierhead was smashed by 16 British LCTs of the Shuttle Service which were driven down on it, and many of its pontoons were holed and flooded. The sunken causeway had held together but was twisted and, in any event, was of little value without a breakwater to shelter it. A number of landing craft which had drifted across it during the gale were hard and fast. Many of the (floating breakwater elements) had carried away all their moorings and drifted among the anchored ships during the gale, constituting a dangerous menace. The remainder, almost without exception, had carried away part of their moorings and were partially flooded and half submerged. Inside the blockships and the (caisson) breakwater, several coasters had been either driven ashore or had sunk at their anchorage, and the beach was littered with craft of every description ranging from one LST to many LCVPs. All were high and dry; some of the LCVPs were smashed almost to kindling and many others damaged beyond economical repair. Unloading had been at a standstill for nearly three days and three quarters of the ferry craft were temporarily inoperative. Some five hundred or six hundred survivors of wrecked craft were assembled in a temporary camp on the beach and the salvage and repair personnel ashore were worn out after forty-eight hours of constant work. That was the picture on the morning of D+16.

During the entire period of the storm the three vessels of the Salvage Unit attached to Assault Force "O", augmented by additional tugs placed under this Command rendered effective service to shipping. A considerable amount of wire and line, loose inside the (caisson) breakwater caused many fouled propellers. LCT ground tackle failed to hold. Ships outside, including even such small ones as the little smoking travelers, rode out the gale with nothing more than a good deal of discomfort; but the combination of inexperienced personnel, high winds and seas, lack of adequate shelter, and a lee shore, was a fatal one to most of the small landing craft. By actual count, on the morning of D+16, there were between 12 and 15 LCTs and one Rhino Ferry in actual operating condition. The only ferry craft which were practically undamaged were the DUKWs, which had remained in their park ashore during the storm.

A considerable number of MT ships, coasters, LSTs, and LCTs, had accumulated in the Assault Area after the bad weather started and before it became apparent that convoys enroute should return to the U.K. and await improvement in the weather. The three-day hold-up in unloading had reduced reserve supplies ashore in the case of some items, such as ammunition for heavy artillery, to a

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High tide panorama of OMAHA BEACH west of the St. Laurent exit on 23 June, after the storm.


Continuation of the same panorama eastward across the St. Laurent exit.

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dangerously low point. As soon as weather conditions permitted a resumption of unloading, every effort was made to make up for lost time. Five coasters loaded with ammunition were beached and dried out so that they could be unloaded by trucks. All other coasters were sent in as close as possible to the beach, and every available DUKW started on the job of unloading them. All LSTs were dried out and unloaded on the next low tide, and the remaining LCTs and LCMs, and the one Rhino, were placed alongside MT ships. The recovery was rapid. While salvage personnel worked unceasingly to repair and refloat stranded craft, unloading continued day and night by every means possible. On D+16, the results were small. On D+17 the amounts were increased by several hundred per cent and on D+18, 19, and 20, all previous records for stores landed on the Force "O" Beaches were broken on each successive day. The rate of landing personnel and vehicles during these days was not as high, relatively speaking, as the rate of unloading stores, but it, too, was very gratifying. On D+16, regular convoy sailings to and from the Assault Area had been resumed, and they continued without interruption up to the time of the departure of this Command from the area.


From: Commander Task Force 128 (Officer in Command - Artificial Harbor Project).


(CAISSON BREAKWATER): Concrete caissons, varying from 200' x 60' x 60' to 200' x 60' x 25' weighing between 6044 tons and 1672 tons.
(BLOCK SHIP BREAKWATER): A small craft harbor of refuge formed by sinking merchant ships in line in about 2 fathoms of water.
(FLOATING BREAKWATER): The elements of which were cruciform in shape, 200' long x 25' x 19'. They were moored end to end in a line to break down the swell.
(A FLOATING PIER-ROADWAY): Supported by floats called Beetles. This roadway runs from the shore to Spud Pierheads at which LSTs and Coasters might discharge vehicles which drive over the pier directly to the beach.
(PIERHEAD PLATFORMS): Raised and lowered mechanically on spuds with the tide, or allowed to ride on free flotation.

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Some of the ships sunk to form Block ship breakwater, OMAHA BEACH.


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Field Notes on Towing, Handling and Siting


(CAISSONS) were towed from their assembly area in the United Kingdom to the Far Shore with the use of one sea-going tug for each unit. The towing bridle used in the Operation measured 70 feet on each leg, and was made of 1 5/8 inch wire. This bridle was made fast with a ring to the shackle on the tug's towing wire, and was secured with Pelican hooks at the towing bollards on the (CAISSON). This bridle performed satisfactorily throughout the Operation.


Sea going tugs were relieved of their tows as quickly as possible in order to expedite their turn around and departure for the Near Shore. U.S. Army ST's, small 650 H.P. tugs were used for handling the incoming units and positioning them during siting operations. Under ordinary conditions it was found that four ST's could handle a unit satisfactorily, but that five were required in bad weather, for accurate siting. (CAISSONS) units were handled by the ST's in the same manner that a ship would be docked, with two ST's customarily placed on each side of the unit.


Difficulty was experienced in siting (CAISSONS), and in holding them in position during sinking, due to the lack of properly placed bitts to which the handling tugs could make fast as the unit submerged. As the units settled in the water, it was necessary for the tugs to steady the units with their bow fenders. This involved the tugs riding over the shelf of the (CAISSON) as it settled, and made it extremely difficult to steady a unit when the tide was running. The high freeboard of the units created difficulties in handling in a high wind, which, combined with their tendency to skid when sunk in deep water, required a high degree of seamanship and knowledge of tug handling on the part of siting teams. Bitts as installed on the units were found to be of insufficient strength as well as poorly placed to assist in the siting operation.

Due to the strong tidal currents off Beach Omaha, it was necessary to site the first key units in the breakwaters at slack water. After these units had been placed it was possible to site units at half tide, although tidal currents were running, by steadying the sinking unit against one already in place. It was even possible to site units in this manner in the Western breakwater, with crosscurrents of 3 to 4 knots.

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-- 5-23 --


Design and Construction


Redesign to the end that this element will be structurally stronger and seaman's requirements are provided for. The outstanding defects were:

  1. Concrete too brittle and fragile. It appears that insufficient concrete was used, concrete was unseasoned and that steel reinforcing was inadequate.
  2. Insufficient longitudinal and transverse strength.
  3. Flooding arrangements inadequate for quick sinking.
  4. Location, strength and arrangement of chocks and bollards made handling difficult and awkward.
  5. No provision for easily and quickly strengthening and reinforcing after siting.
  6. No provision for preventing element from being forced out of position by heavy seas after having been sited.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Field Notes on Erection of (FLOATING PIER ROADWAY)

Handling of Bridging

During preliminary experiments and training in handling bridge spans at Cairnhead it was discovered that U.S. Army MTL's were ideally suited for this work. These boats are 36 foot motor towing launches, powered with 125 horse-power engines, and draw five and one-half feet of water.

Bulldozers were used to good advantage in the siting of shore ramp links. These Bulldozers were lifted from the Near Shore on these links. When the Shore ramp anchor had been placed, a line was passed to the Bulldozer which warped the link into the beach by using its power.

Slug boats proved quite unsatisfactory under the conditions of tidal currents encountered. DUKWS were found to be much more serviceable in handling moorings, Beetles and Erection Tanks, and were especially useful in shallow water.

The following special craft and equipment are considered necessary for speedy installation: 9 US Army MTL's, 2 DUKWS, 2 LCVP's, 1 US Army "T" Boat, 2 HD-7 Bulldozers and 1 AD-14 Bulldozer.

-- 5-24 --


Concrete Beetles were found to leak badly and to be extremely fragile and liable to damage in congested waters. As a substitute, NL Pontoon Beetles have been constructed in the dimensions of 3 x 11 NL Pontoons for use in a 40 ton capacity pier roadway. These Beetles draw 20 inches light and approximately 32 inches when supporting Mark II Bridge spans in the pier roadway. Under a similar load, the concrete Beetles drew six feet of water, making them less suitable for use in shallow water than the NL Pontoon Beetles.

Beetles as previously constructed required water to be pumped in to lower their draft when effecting replacements in a pier roadway. In the NL Pontoon Beetles, sea cocks were built in, as well as air fitting for use with a compressor to raise the Beetles. In the case of the British manufactured Beetles, a special manhole cover had to be improvised to facilitate raising leaking Beetles, by use of a compressor. This device consisted of an air tight manhole cover to fit the hatch in the top of the Beetle. Passing through this cover were two hoses, one just entering the Beetle, the other extending inside to the bottom. By applying a compressor to the short length of hose, it was possible to drive water out of the Beetle without the use of pumps which were not available in the field.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

(FLOATING PIER ROADWAY) design is basically sound but considered too refined. Beetle floats made of concrete were, too brittle. Composition of the cement inadequate. Steel floats if properly made are far superior to the concrete ones. Moorings too light and require too much room which restricted already limited beach area. Entire installation requires sheltered water. More rugged equipment and better manufacture and construction is necessary. Less attention in the design and manufacture of refinements with more emphasis on ruggedness and strength is necessary.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



  1. ABBs (FLOATING BREAKWATER ELEMENTS) are floating steel structures made up of sections of tanks forming a cruciform. The whole structure in 200 feet long, 25 feet in height, 25 feet beam and draws 19 feet, The wings extend out under water 10 feet from the central structure and are fendered on the sides with heavy timber. The visible part above water has 6 feet freeboard, is 5 feet wide and 200 feet long. It is fitted with hand rails, 4 bollards and a hand winch and Panama fairleads.

-- 5-25 --

  1. Steel plates from which the ABB is made are 3/16 inch, ABBs displace 1500 tons when floated
  2. Flotation is given by 8 water tight tanks spaced along the middle of the ABB, At each end where the moorings and bollards are the structure is "free flooding", The wings and keel are also "free flooding".
  3. All ABBs were D.G., "flashed", i.e. rendered reasonably secure against destruction by magnetic mines.

Method of Towing

  1. The tow when formed consisted of:
    750 H.P. or above Red Ensign Tug
    40 Fathom 16 inch hemp
    100 fathom 4½ inch FSWR tow rope
    50 foot towing pendant
    No. 1 ABB
    50 foot towing pendant
    100 fathom 5 inch FSWR tow rope
    50 foot towing pendant
    No. 2 ABB
  2. No trouble was experienced by these tugs in the prevailing moderate weather during the time the 24 ABU were towed over to ---- for the operation.
  3. On account of the fin projecting from the side of the ABB and under the water about 4 feet, tugs would have to approach the ABB with caution, However with practice, all vessels were able to go alongside in moderate weather without damaging the hull.

Type of Moorings

  1. The trot was on the 10 fathom line parallel to the shore consisting of 13 class "A" buoys laid out by the Boom Defense Vessels.
  2. These buoys were all in place at the end of the storm, June 22, 1944, and were apparently relatively much stronger than the ABBs.
  3. The distance between buoys was approximately 300 feet.

Buttoning Up

  1. On approaching Bombardon site tows were directed to shorten stay and a working party of 2 men was placed on board each ABB.

-- 5-26 --

  1. The tug then approached the Bar Vessel up tide which proceeded to button up ABB to mooring trot.
  2. Boom working vessels when ready at the mooring trot indicated they were ready to receive tows by hoisting international "T" at the yard arm on the side to which the approach was desired. The first vessel hoisting "A" and the second vessel hoisting "B".
  3. Having passed her tow the tug stood by to assist with the end of the tow is necessary. But this was required only twice.

Performance of Breakwater

  1. The 12 tows of 2 each ABBs, making 24 ABBs in all were sailed on six successive days. Two (2) tows and 4 ABBs a day beginning D-day. They arrived from D+2 to D+7 inclusive, They were all buttoned-up and secured without loss or casualty 5 days ahead of schedule.
  2. The ABBs stood up very well under force 5 wind formed a very appreciable lee for the unloading of Liberty Ships and M/T ships anchored inside.
  3. However when the force of the wind reached 5 and over, ultimately reaching force 8 during the storm from and including June 19-22, 1944, the ABBs began to break up and part their moorings.
  4. By the end of the storm the night of June 23, 1944, all 24 ABBs had parted their moorings and either sunk in the harbor or washed ashore.
  5. The ABBs that were sunk were pulled away by tugs and salvage vessels and sunk in deep water.

Failures in Construction and Performance

  1. Approximately half of the ABBs broke their backs.
  2. The manhole covers on all of them buckled and permitted water to enter while at the trots between the time they were moored and the time they sunk.
  3. The gasket material used on the manhole covers was wholly inadequate.
  4. Bombardons will not stand up in force over 4/5.
  5. In spite of the fact that the handling, towing and buttoning up technique was solved so as to get the installations in 5 days ahead of time without loss or casualty, the Bombardon plan in general proved a failure in the face of a storm of June 19 to 23, 1944.

-- 5-27 --

(FLOATING BREAKWATER) - Of doubtful value and effect. This was recognized when the USN first became cognizant of this project. Repeated requests were made to put these elements under test in the open sea but ANCXF and the Admiralty declined to do so.


From: Headquarters 6th Engineer Special Brigade.

Unloading of Vessels:

Hatch crews were assigned to ships immediately upon arrival in accordance with the following table:

  Winchmen Stevedores
COASTERS (per hatch) 2 16
MT SHIPS (per ship) 10 5
STORES SHIPS (per hatch) 2 10

For the most part, ship unloading operations were satisfactory.

However, the type of personnel available, and the lack of leadership on the part of many junior officers, led to considerable loss in time through lack of attention to details. White troops proved far more efficient than colored troops in every case. Engineer troops, though inexperienced, worked hatches much faster than Transportation Corps personnel.

Establishing and Maintaining Communications With Naval elements at sea:

Ship to shore communications were not as satisfactory as had been hoped, principally because Craft and Coasters either ignored signals or had no signalmen. Later, with the advent of NOIC, the devious interservice channels of communication and control which were set up made the seemingly simple matter of communicating a message from a shore party commander on the beach to a ship commander only half a mile away almost hopelessly complicated. Very often a request to move a ship would literally take hours to reach the responsible officer.

OPERATIONS (1) Joint Army-Navy Relationship, if any. (a) The high level agencies of coordination established to maintain "proper" relationship between the two services served merely to keep apart the personnel on both sides who were actually doing the operating. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -.

-- 5-28 --

From: Commander Assault Force "O", (Commander Eleventh Amphibious Force).

In this as in all other amphibious operations, there were many Army officers - - particularly staff officers of higher command echelons who were relatively or completely inexperienced in amphibious operations and had little or no knowledge of the obligations and responsibilities of the respective services. Naval personnel engaged in unloading, particularly those on the beach, suffer from this ignorance because such officers fail to follow proper channels of communication with the Naval Force and frequently make requests or demands on the Naval force which are not its responsibility and with which it cannot comply. During the early stages of an operation, particularly one as difficult as the assault on the OMAHA Beaches, and the succeeding build-up, men are tired, nerves are ragged, and tempers short. These factors, when coupled with a lack of understanding of the other person's problem, are not conducive to coordination and smooth cooperation between the two services involved. Every effort was made to eliminate this before - - - - - - - even to the extent of having a written agreement signed by the Commander Western Naval Task Force and the Commanding General, First U.S. Army, setting forth the obligations and responsibilities of their respective services. This agreement was given wide distribution and the information further promulgated by indoctrination. Despite this, there was some misunderstanding. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -.


From: Commander Assault Force "0", (Commander Eleventh Amphibious Force).

It must be again emphasized that the Navy had no responsibility for unloading merchant vessels other than that previously described which began and ended with the Ferry Service. Several times in the report, mention has been made that LCMs and LCTs were offered to assist in unloading coasters. This question had been thoroughly thrashed out by the Force Commander and the Shore Party Commander prior to the Operation. It was the considered opinion of the Shore Party Commander that the employment of landing craft for handling bulk stores with the concomitant requirement for large numbers of stevedoring personnel in the craft themselves, and at the beach, was definitely less efficient than handling such stores by DUKWs, and his organization was planned to use the latter method. The result was that the Shore Party literally did not have sufficient labor personnel to unload bulk stores from landing craft at the beaches unless combat troops were diverted for this purpose. The use of DUKWs instead of landing craft

-- 5-29 --

probably kept the coasters in the Assault Area longer than would have been the case had LCTs or even LCMs been employed for unloading them. On the other hand, the time of movement of stores from coasters to dumps was speeded up by the use of the DUKWs. The aim was to get the stores from the ports in the UK to the dumps in France in the least possible time, employing the most efficient means of transport. One phase of the operation, no doubt, could have been speeded up at the expense of another phase, but this might not have speeded up the operation as a whole. Since the handling of these stores was entirely an Army responsibility, the Navy's sole task being the safe convoying of the coasters from the UK to their anchorages off the coast of France, the Force Commander felt that it was not within his province to attempt to dictate to the Shore Party Commander how the job should be done.


From: Naval Commander Western Task Force (Commander Task Force 122).

It was anticipated that great demands would exist for towing and fire-fighting on ships and craft during the passage and for salvage, towing and beach clearance during the assault phase of the operation. The problem involved two related but distinct activities:

  1. Heavy salvage and towing of large ships and craft principally in deep water; assistance in fighting fires on ships and craft offshore.
  2. Salvage, repair and clearance from the beaches of damaged or stranded small craft.

-- 5-30 --


Starting the salvage of motors and other usable parts of damaged craft on the beach.


-- 5-31 --

These tasks were assigned to different organizations; the first to the Salvage and Fire-fighting Group (T.G. 122.3) operating as part of the Control Force, and the second to Craft Recovery Units operating under the beachmasters. The following report covers only the Salvage and Fire-fighting Group.

It was anticipated that with the flat beaches, tidal currents and large range of tide the number of broached and damaged landing craft would be greater than usual. To cope with this situation It was necessary to have a shallow draft craft with good pulling power which could assist craft in trouble on the beaches and minimize the losses due to broaching.

Eighteen specially fitted LCM(3)'s were assigned to each assault force to act as "CRAFT RECOVERY UNITS". Each recovery unit consisted of three LCM(3)'s. All of the craft were equipped with fire pumps, special towing bitts and towing gear. Two of each three carried bulldozers to assist in retracting stranded craft. The personnel were specially selected and trained to act as beach salvage units and were equipped to make salvage repairs.

These craft performed very useful service both in the early assault phase of the operation and during the storm of 19-21 June.


From: Assault Force "U". (Commander Group II Eleventh Amphibious Force).

Salvage LCM Unit #1 assigned to Green Beach, and Salvage LCM Unit #3 assigned to Red Beach, reported to respective Beachmasters according to Salvage Plan. Upon their arrival on the Beach, their bulldozers and small boat repair men unloaded. The Bulldozers were instrumental in hauling over 200 submerged and swamped vehicles to land, above the high water mark. The Bulldozers were also helpful in assisting LCTs in retracting from the Beach. Repair crews of Salvage LCMs assisted the Beach Battalion in patching damaged LCVPs which became stranded on the Beach. Salvage LCMs retrieved sunken end damaged LCVPs which had been abandoned. Some of these LCVPs were pumped out and hoisted aboard BAYFIELD, and LSTs. Others were brought to the beach to dry out and undergo repairs. Salvage LCMs were ordered on many other assignments of towing craft, causeways and dumb barges.

Two LCTs were assigned to Salvage but only the LCT 458 reported. There was no record of LCT 495 reporting for salvage work. The LCT 458 was of some assistance to beached craft, but due to lack of power and gradient of the beach had difficulty remaining afloat and eventually became dried out.

-- 5-32 --

LCI 319 and 326 were assigned to Green and Red Beach for Salvage and Fire Fighting. Each of these craft fitted with an extra towing cable, portable loud hailer, Chrysler 500 gallon per minute auxiliary Fire Pump, a Johnson portable 500 gallon per minute pump, two Handy Billy's, all necessary discharge and suction hose. Five experienced Fire Fighters were assigned each of the LCI Salvage Craft, to operate the pumps and fight fires. the only fire which broke out was aboard the MT CHARLES P. MORGAN. The LCI 319 proceeded to the scene and had 4 streams of water on the fire in the two after hatches of the ship until fire was extinguished, then stood by alongside in the event it became necessary to take off the crew.

Salvage LCI 319 received signals for towing and assisting craft off the beach, but due to beach gradient and lack of power was not of much assistance to craft on the beach.

Upon arrival, E-9 Units set up ashore and went to work on the service and repair of all work obtainable.

ARL #7 arrived on D+2 and immediately had craft alongside, doing repair work, clearing propellers, rudder and screw work on LCVPs, LCTs, LCIs and capably handled their work.

Salvage work was not as complicated and heavy as the outlook had predicted. This was due a great deal to the fact of good weather, good seamanship on the part of the Commanding Officers of craft that beached, and the co-operation of Salvage LCI, LCT, LCM Units, ARL #7, E-9 Units and the Beach Battalion Repair Unit.


From: Commander Assault Force "O" (Commander Eleventh Amphibious Force).

Facilities for salvage and repair for both landing craft and ships were provided in Force "O". A total of twelve Craft Recovery Units, each consisting of an LCM equipped with a bulldozer and a motor driven pump, tow lines and tools and materials for repairing landing craft, and manned by specially trained crew were included in the Force. Six of them proceeded to the Assault Area with Assault Convoy O-2, and the remaining six came with Convoy O-4 which was scheduled to arrive on the second tide, but did not get there until some twelve hours later. They were to function initially under the Commanders of the Beach Battalions, but upon the establishment of NOIC, to pass to his command where they would augment his Salvage and Repair Organization. In addition to these Craft Recovery Units and the personnel included on the NOIC organization, a Salvage Force under Commander Western Naval Task Force was assigned to Assault Force "O". All of these salvage and repair personnel were invaluable in repairing and refloating landing craft damaged during the assault, and the storm. On D+2, the repair facilities were further augmented

-- 5-33 --

by the arrival of ARL-4. During the three days' foul weather from D+13 to D+15 inclusive, the Salvage Unit, though increased by the addition of five tugs temporarily assigned, was overwhelmed with requests for assistance from vessels with fouled screws, damaged rudders, broken ground tackle, engines broken down, leaking from collisions, etc. During this period they worked unceasingly and it is undoubtedly due to their efforts that more ships and craft did not go ashore. After the storm abated they, together with the Salvage and Repair personnel ashore, immediately turned to clear the beach area of stranded ships and craft. When the Force Commander departed from the area this work was well underway, though far from completed.

One of the weaknesses of major landing craft brought out during the bad weather encountered was the inability of their ground tackle and beaching anchors to stand up in heavy weather.


That in planning for an amphibious operation, care be taken to provide adequate salvage facilities. It is a phase of the operation which is frequently overlooked, and yet the substitution of inexperienced personnel and improvised equipment for the trained men, and special gear of a regular salvage outfit, is thoroughly unsatisfactory.

That the size and strength of both the bow anchor gear and the stern or beaching anchor gear on various types of landing craft be reviewed in the light of the many failures which have occurred in this theater, as well as in others.


From: Naval Commander Western Task Force (Commander Task Force 122).

In general, the number of ships and craft lost and damaged was much smaller than anticipated.

Damage caused by broaching 12%
Damage caused by gunfire 3%
Damage caused by torpedo 1%
Damage caused by mines 18%
Damage caused by bombs 1%
Damage caused by grounding . or collision 6%
Damage caused by unknown or other causes 56%


-- 5-34 --

From: Naval Commander Western Task Force (Commander Task Force 122).

Organized seaward casualty evacuation was primarily effected in LSTs supplemented by Hospital Carriers and APAs.

The medical personnel of the operational force was augmented for organized casualty evacuation by approximately 166 Navy medical officers, 100 Army medical officers, 2600 Navy hospital corpsmen and 200 Army enlisted operating technicians.

Authorized ship's complements were augmented as follows: Each LST was assigned two (2) Navy medical officers and twenty (20) hospital corpsmen. During the early assault phase, the complement of these craft was further augmented by one (1) Army traumatic surgeon and two (2) enlisted assistants. The complement of each APA was augmented by three (3) Navy medical officers, one (1) hospital corps officer and ten (10) hospital corpsmen. Each LCI(L) had two (2) hospital corpsmen assigned to it. Three of the five Hospital Carriers were staffed with U.S. Army medical personnel; the remaining two, with British Army medical personnel.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Casualty evacuation in LSTs on the scale anticipated in this operation necessitated the provision of special casualty handling equipment. Such equipment was required to facilitate the loading of casualties into LSTs from smaller craft. This equipment was developed and thoroughly tried out in practice exercises and proved most satisfactory under combat conditions.

On D+1 Hospital Carriers arrived off both beaches. These vessels were somewhat unsuitable for the task assigned. This was due to several causes, namely: a lack of briefing of the crew, relatively low casualty capacity, ambulance boats designed for British and not American stretchers and duality of operational control. Nevertheless, these factors did not mitigate against the enthusiastic effort to contribute their share in the operation.

Training - The Navy medical personnel for LSTs began to arrive in the ETO during the latter part of March and were put through an intensive indoctrination course at USNAASB, Fowey, Cornwall, England.

The Army medical personnel were given a joint indoctrination course by the Army surgical consultants and by the Navy force medical officer and his training officers.

Near-shore facilities were under the joint control of the U.S. Army and Navy. At this transition point, casualties were unloaded and medical re-supplies loaded.

-- 5-35 --

The Army debarked the casualties at the near-shore. The Navy hospital corps officers, one at each LST casualty receiving point, provided the necessary liaison between the incoming vessels and the near-shore Army groups for debarking of casualties from and the medical re-supply to the ships.

Approximate totals of casualties debarked at near-shore hards are as follows:

PORTLAND (Total - 12,834)
SOUTHAMPTON (Total - 6,065)


That joint Army and Navy agreements on zones of responsibility be drawn up as a preliminary step in an amphibious operation.

That medical personnel for evacuation be made available in sufficient time to permit reasonable training and indoctrination.

That joint training of the medical personnel of the beach and shore party be stressed.

That whole blood and penicillin be supplied to the evacuation vessels having proper refrigeration facilities.

That a Navy Evacuation Control Officer be trained with the Far Shore Party and Beach Party.

That operational casualty reporting be as simple as possible.


From: Commander Assault Force "U", (Commander Group II Eleventh Amphibious Force).

Medical supplies and equipment for the beaches were adequate as to quality and quantity once the early acute phase was over, but from D day, after the Beach Battalion Medical Section had used up the medical supplies taken ashore by hand with them, through D+5 the supply situation frequently verged on the acute. Disaster was averted only by heroic action on the part of the Beach Medical Sections and by prompt and constant action by the Force Medical Officer. This situation arose because of the provision in the supply set up that medical supplies were to be carried in LSTs as ships stores, not as cargo, and were to be unloaded by the Army by boats or DUKWs with the result that they were not unloaded early, and in some cases not until the second trip unloading and delivering the supplies to the beach, and by the prompt response of ComSerFor 127 to a request to double the amount of medical supplies on the LSTs. In future operations, provision must be made not only to get medical supplies into

-- 5-36 --

the area, but to get them to the beach where needed. This can be accomplished by carrying medical supplies as cargo, showing en the ship's manifest, and delegating positive responsibility for landing them ashore in a manner possible of accomplishment. Certainly if casualties are to receive proper treatment, adequate medical supplies must be vehicle loaded to assure prompt unloading and delivery to the beach.

Medical Summary

Casualty evacuation for the most part was effected in a very satisfactory manner. Evacuation was begun on D day and continued thereafter. Totals evacuated from and across the UTAH Beaches as follows:

D day 188
D+1 829
D+2 915
D+3 937
D+4 1079
D+5 1021
D+6 756
D+7 955
D+8 1114
D+9 713
D+10 507
D+11 557
TOTAL 9571

An additional 359 patients were evacuated directly from the UTAH sea area making a grand total of 9930 casualties evacuated.

These figures speak highly for the manner in which the medical section of the Second Beach Battalion functioned, at no time allowing evacuation to bog down or casualties to accumulate on or behind the beaches. From observation aboard ship and on the beaches, the condition of the patients indicated professional care of a high order. Coordination with the Army was excellent. Communication was facilitated by use of radio walki-talkie sets.

LSTs apparently functioned satisfactory as casualty carriers. The course of instruction given the LST doctors and corpsmen at U.S. Naval Advanced Amphibious Base, Fowey, was invaluable to this personnel, how to meet their problems, and in showing them with what they had to work. The number of casualties treated and carried by the LSTs by individual ships and in the aggregate proved the basic soundness and value of fitting these ships for casualty handling.

The Hospital Carriers were a disappointment. One carrier arrived in the area on one occasion with insufficient fuel for the return

-- 5-37 --

trip and on another with insufficient water. Their casualty capacity is not large. Their inability to load from small boats indicates improper fitting or non-comprehension of the problem of evacuating casualties from an assault beach.

DUKWs again proved their value as the ideal craft for casualty evacuation across the beach and water gap.


From: Assault Force "O", (Commander Eleventh Amphibious Force).

Early Casualties on the Beaches

Almost immediately after H-hour urgent messages were received from the beachmasters requesting evacuation of casualties. Stretchers from LCVPs were made available and placed on the beach at H-hour plus 60 minutes. At this time fire on the beach was heavy and determined and greatly impeded removal of the wounded. Medical supplies were short until re-supply units were despatched from APAs. Re-distribution of the supplies remained a problem in view of the continued enemy fire. LCVPs sent to evacuate wounded stood off the beach seeking a channel through the obstacles.

Evacuation of Casualties

All LSTs in the area had been especially refitted to receive casualties and operating rooms had been provided. Hence, casualties were delivered by LCVPs and other craft receiving them on the beach to the nearest LST for treatment. From time to time when shins receiving casualties were damaged, or had no boats, landing craft were sent from the Flagship to take off the wounded and deliver them to a hospital carrier. The first of the hospital ships (NAUSHON) arrived on D+1 and casualties and evacuation proceeded at a gradually increasing rate. By D+4 it appeared that casualties could readily be handled by one daily hospital ship, and one or two hospital converted LSTs, retained in the area for the purpose. From that time forward, evacuation of casualties to the nearest LST was discontinued. The Army had meanwhile been constructing an airfield back of the beaches and on D+4 evacuation of casualties by transport planes commenced.

Provision of Medical Supplies

The Army had arranged to transport blood to the assault area, on hospital ships and as cargo on LSTs. Some delay in disembarking these supplies was experienced. Urgent requests for blood were received by the beachmasters from the Army, which were relayed to the Force Commander. In accordance with these requests, LCVPs were dispatched to hospital ships and all LSTs to collect supplies not urgently needed for delivery to army authorities on shore.

Burial of the Dead

Army and Naval personnel who lost their lives in the initial assault had all been buried by the Graves Registration Service by the evening of D+1 day. Prior to that time the dead had been assembled on a plateau in full view of the beaches.

-- 5-38 --

It is considered that the choice of location was not fortuitous and gave rise to rumors greatly exaggerating the number of casualties sustained in the assault.

Berthing of Hospital Ships

Some difficulty was experienced by small boats carrying casualties in locating hospital ships known to be in the area. Initially, the hospital ships were berthed too distant from the evacuation points on the beach. They were moved inshore. Difficulty in locating the ships at night continued until arrangements were made to berth each hospital ship on arrival in the same general area.

Medical Reports

The Medical Plan required reports from all ships returning to the near shore with casualties. These ships were required particularly to give the number of wounded on board and specify the number of stretcher cases. In addition, reports were required from Beach Battalions, and all ships and units in the Task Force, giving statistical information concerning their dead and wounded. The reports made by ships and other units were in many cases incomplete and delayed. The reports greatly assist the Force Medical Officer in compiling a complete and accurate record of casualties, but it seems almost inevitable, in these operations, that they will not be forwarded on time.


The following recommendations are made:

  1. That briefing in the provisions of the Medical Plan include not only Medical Officer of the ships and craft but include representatives of all craft in the Task Force which carry no Medical Officer. Reliance upon the mere insertion of instructions for casualty evacuation in the Medical Plan would not appear to be sufficient.

  2. That hospital ships be berthed in close proximity to evacuation points and in particularly designated areas known to all units in the Force.

  3. That the use of LSTs for casualty evacuation be continued. The use of these ships greatly expedited disposition of the wounded in the early stages, and has been the subject of favorable comment in all quarters.

-- 5-39 --

Total Casualties Evacuated

7-6-44 19   7-18-44 773
7-7-44 543 7-19-44 820
7-8-44 297 7-20-44 801
7-9-44 1604 7-21-44 615
7-10-44 3708 7-22-44 3
7-11-44 1390 7-23-44 1
7-12-44 1538 7-24-44 528
7-13-44 1296 7-25-44 241
7-14-44 1134 7-26-44 271
7-15-44 608 7-27-44 270
7-16-44 1348 7-28-44 511
7-17-44 580  
  TOTAL 18,899

-- 5-40 --

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