THE SELECTION OF D DAY was governed by several factors, complicated by the need of satisfying Allied requirements in five different landing areas, each with its own problems. It was desirable that D Day fall during a period when the days were long, for maximum use of Allied air power; when the moon was near the full, for better maneuver of ships and for easier night landings of airborne troops; and when tides were strong, so that beach obstacles would be fully exposed at low water and the landing craft could be floated far up the beach for convenient unloading at high water. Further, D Day must be selected with reference to certain requirements for H Hour, the moment when the first assault units touched down on the beaches. These were: that there be an hour of daylight before H Hour so that the preliminary bombardment would be as accurate as possible, and landing craft could be more easily organized into formation for the assault; that the tide should be near half-flood, so that obstacles would still be exposed, but rock ledges near the shore in the British one would not be dangerous; and that the tide be rising at H Hour, insuring two high tides during daylight to facilitate maximum unloading of supplies. Certain groups of days came nearest to satisfying all these requirements: 21-22-23 May, 5-6-7 June, and 19-20-21 June were closest to the target date of 1 June. On 8 May, D Day was fixed at 5 June.
D Day: The Landings
V Corps units had been alerted on 23 March to be ready for movement to marshaling areas on short notice. Actually, movement began 7 May and was completed by 11 May for elements of the assault and follow-up forces ("O" and "B"). The pre-embarkment handling of 65,000 men and 7,600 vehicles was accomplished by the XVIII and XIX Districts of the Southern Base Section, Services of Supply. Once in the marshaling areas, troops were "sealed" in their camps, given final items of equipment, and thoroughly briefed on all phases of their assignments. During the last few days of May, they were moved from the marshaling points to the ports and "hards"9 for embarkation, their places being immediately taken by units designated to follow across the Channel in build-up schedules. By 3 June all troops of Force "O" had been loaded, and some of them had been aboard several days. Portland, Weymouth, and Poole were the embarkation areas. On the night of 27 May, a small enemy air attack on the Weymouth area caused some losses of a few smaller craft by mines. Aside from this raid, the loadings suffered no interference from enemy action, and German air reconnaissance up to D Day was on a routine scale.
The story of the Navy's share in operation NEPTUNE must be told elsewhere. Western Task Force, commanded by Rear Adm. Alan G. Kirk, was responsible for the embarkation and landing of First U. S. Army
forces. Rear Adm. J. L. Hall, Jr., commanded Force "O," which would carry the assault against Omaha Beach. The magnitude and complexity of the movement may be suggested by figures. To lift and land this initial assault force of 34,000 men and 3,300 vehicles required 7 transports, 8 LSI's, 24 LST's, 33 LCI (L)'s, 36 LCM (3)'s, 147 LCT's, and 33 other craft, while the escort, gunfire support, and bombardment missions employed 2 battleships, 3 cruisers, 12 destroyers, and 105 other ships. Force "O" also included 33 mine-sweepers and 585 vessels used in service work.
The 16th RCT, including 3,502 men and 295 vehicles attached only for movement to the beach, numbered 9,828 personnel, 919 vehicles, and 48 tanks. To handle this one unit required 2 transports, 6 LST's, 53 LCT's (of various types), and 5 LCI (L)'s; small craft, to be launched from the larger ships in the transport area, included 81 LCVP's, 18 LCA's (British), 13 other landing craft, and about 64 dukws.
The assault of this armada was dependent on the weather, which could so easily influence both naval and air operations. At the last minute, with all assault forces loaded and waiting for the signal to start, Operation NEPTUNE was threatened with checkmate. On 3 June, his meteorological staff gave General Eisenhower an unfavorable forecast for D Day, predicting overcast skies and strong winds. At 0415 on 4 June he decided to postpone D Day 24 hours. One of the divisions of the assault convoy had already started out to sea, according to schedule, and had to be recalled.LOADING LST'S FOR THE INVASION. Southern ports of England were crowded with ships and craft in the weeks preceding D Day; the vehicles shown are "weasels" (cargo carrier M-29) towing loaded trailers. Enemy air was unable to interfere with this activity.
THE LANE OF SHIPS from southern England to the assault area was protected by a screen of naval vessels and continuous air cover. Here, a number of LIC's (manned by personnel of the U.S. Coast Guard) each with its barrage balloon are under way toward France.
Weather forecasts on 4 June held out hopes for a slight but temporary improvement. Beginning on 5 June and lasting about 24 hours, there would be an interval of better sky conditions, with broken clouds at a ceiling not lower than 3,000 feet. Seas were expected to moderate. Following this break, the prospects were for renewed cloud and stronger winds. Postponement to 7 June would therefore risk a deterioration of weather conditions, as well as fueling difficulties for some of the ships in convoys already at sea; further postponement would mean a delay until 19 June before tide and moon conditions were again suitable. General Eisenhower decided at 0415 on 5 June to accept the risks involved in making the assault under the conditions of sea and sky expected for the next day. H Hour for Omaha Beach was set at 0630.10 Low tide would occur at 0525 and the first high water 1100. Sunrise was at 0558 and sunset 2207.
The main convoy of Force "O" cleared Portland Harbor on the afternoon of 5 June; movement across 100 miles of channel to the assault area was uneventful. The operation met no interference from action by enemy naval or air forces. Continuous air cover was provided for the shipping lane and for the Allied assault beaches. Spitfires protected the convoys at low altitudes; patrols of four squadrons of P-47's from the Ninth and Eighth Air Forces were over the shipping lane and its flanks at all times.
The assault beach ones were to receive continuous cover by fighters, the Ninth Air Force detailing five groups for high cover, with the task of maintaining three squadrons over the Allied beaches at all times during daylight. Low cover was a British commitment. One of the most important contributions to the whole operation was performed by the sweepers of Western Task Force, which made possible the passage of the convoys to the assault beaches without loss from mines. The Ancon, headquarters ship for Admiral Hall and General Gerow, anchored at 0251 on D Day in the transport area, 23,000 yards off Omaha Beach.
In spite of some improvement over the previous period, weather conditions were far from ideal for the assault operations. Visibility was 10 miles, but there was a partial overcast to hamper bombing. The wind was still strong, coming from the northwest and therefore producing its full effects on the coastal waters off the Omaha sector. A wind force of 10 to 18 knots caused waves averaging 3 to 4 feet high in the transport area, with occasional waves up to 6 feet. On the beach, breakers were 3 to 4 feet. This condition of the sea persisted well into D+1 before the wind moderated. The effect on the landing plans was to be felt throughout D Day.
The movement from transport area to shore proceeded according to a complex schedule, involving hundreds of craft and requiring the nicest timing to get the assault elements to the shore in their appointed order. One of the first steps was the loading of the assault infantry units from their transports into the small LCVP's and LCA's, which were launched from the larger mother ships. The process began three to four hours before Hour and was rendered difficult by the choppy seas, which caused some minor delays. Carrying the early waves of 116th assault troops, the transport Thomas Jefferson was able to unload all its craft in 66 minutes, aided by the fact that 25 of the 33 craft could be "railloaded" and then swung overside. The Thomas Jefferson craft left the rendezvous area at 0430, 25 minutes ahead of schedule, since control officers feared the conditions of sea would delay the approach run.
Approach to the Beach
More serious effects of the rough seas were felt as the smaller craft moved in through the rendezvous area to the line of departure. The LCVP's and LCA's were drenched with spray from the start, and most of them began to ship enough water to demand full use of the pumps. In a good many craft the pumps would not carry the load, and the assault troops had to bail with their helmets. Craft having pump troubles were likely to be slowed down, and any attempt to raise the speed and catch up resulted in shipping more water than before. Only a small minority of the craft were in serious difficulties. Out of 180 to 200 craft used for the two assault RCT's, 10 carrying infantry are definitely known to have swamped, some almost at the start and others near the beach. Nearly all personnel from the swamped craft were rescued by naval craft or passing ships, often after hours in the water.
In most of the craft the soldiers were drenched from the outset by the cold spray, and seasickness overcame a great majority. Boat teams in the same formations, carrying men who had eaten the same breakfast and had the same training, were very unevenly affected, the "casualty" rates ranging all the way from zero to 100 percent. Men who had been chilled by their wetting, cramped by immobility in the small and fully loaded craft, and weakened by seasickness were not in the best condition for strenuous action on
LANDING CRAFT were launched from transports 10 miles from the beaches. These craft, bucking rough seas, are passing by the cruiser Augusta, flagship of Western Task Force. The LCVP's in foreground would carry something more than a company [sic] of infantry.
landing. Similar handicaps, however, had been met and overcome at training exercises, and many men, even among the seasick, were keyed up by the occasion. One officer remembered his troops chatting about "What a shambles the beach would be from the bombs and ships' guns," although his own impression was: "It looked like another big tactical scheme off Slapton Sands, and I couldn't get the feeling out of my head that it was going to be another miserable two-day job with a hot shower at the end."
As the landing craft carrying the 16th RCT units came within a few miles of shore they passed men struggling in life preservers and on rafts. These were personnel from foundered DD tanks, the first casualties of the rough seas. According to plan, Companies B and C of the 741st Tank Battalion were launched at H-50 minutes, 6,000 yards off shore, to lead in the first assault wave on the eastern beach sectors. In very short order the DD's bean to suffer crippling damage in broken struts, torn canvas, and engine trouble from water flooding the engine compartment. Of the 32 tanks, 2 swam in and 3 others were beached from an LCT which could not launch its DD's because of a damaged ramp. In the 116th RCT zone, the officers in charge of the tank-loaded LCT's had decided not to risk the conditions of sea, and the 32 DD's of the 743d Tank Battalion were carried in to the beach.
In terms of ultimate effects, all these difficulties were minor by comparison with those of navigation. The plan called for landing each assault unit in a relatively small, defined area where it had a specific task to perform in reducing enemy defenses, opening gaps in obstacles, or clearing a section of the flat. Quick success on the beach was dependent on carrying out a large number of such small tasks, which were often correlated to lead to some major result such as the opening of an exit.
MIST AND SMOKE OBSCURED LANDMARK even as late as 0730, when the support BL were landing. This Coast Guard photograph shows LCVP's, from the transport Samuel Chase, landing troops of the 1st BLT, 16th Infantry on their assigned beach sector, Eay Red.
Despite all the intensive study put on conditions of current and wind for this part of the coast, all the visual aids for spotting beachmarks by panoramic photographs, and all the experience with similar difficulties in training exercises, a great many landing craft of the first waves came in away from their target sectors. Smoke and dust along the beach from naval fire and a slight early morning mist made it hard to recognize landmarks as the shore was neared. One of the control vessels for Dog Beach drifted off its station, which may explain some of the later troubles of approach in that sector. The fact that practically all the mislanded craft were east of their targets points to he tidal current as a contributing factor. It was known that with a rising tide (low tide on 6 June was at 0525), a strong current ran laterally eastward along Omaha Beach, reaching maximum velocity of nearly 2.7 knots at 5 miles off shore; strong winds might increase its average velocity. That the current was very strong on D Day is indicated by the report of the destroyer Satterlee, which found it necessary to steer 20 to 30 degrees "up current" in order to maintain position in the firing lane.
Whatever the cause, a majority of landing craft during the first hour came in east of their appointed beach sector, and this majority included craft bearing engineers as well as infantry (Maps Nos. V, VI). Sometimes the margin of error was as much as a thousand yards or more; one company (E) of the 116th, destined for Easy Green, came in, boat sections scattered, on the 16th beaches as far east as Fox Green. More often, the error was in the order of a few hundred yards, but this could be enough to undo the
assignments for taking out a key strong-point or opening an exit. It might also be enough to completely "lose" units which landed below an unfamiliar stretch of bluff, were consequently unable to identify the terrain, and so could not make a proper estimate of the enemy defenses with which they must deal. The resulting difficulties of the boat teams were heightened by the frequent separation of sections of the same company. Whether because of delays suffered by individual craft, straggling on the way in, or disagreement between coxswains in recognition of landmarks, some unit formations of landing craft were broken up enough to result in widely scattered landings. Under conditions prevailing at the beach, separation of craft by as little as 200 yards could easily bring about the complete isolation of a section. This would deny elements of a mislanded company the advantages of combining in order to improvise their assault if they came to shore in strange territory. Sections which suffered heavy casualties in leaders might be particularly affected by separation.
The landing craft came in under the comforting thunder of the tremendous fire support from naval guns, as well as the tank and artillery pieces firing from LCT's.11 Up to within a few hundred yards of the water's edge, there was every reason to hope that the enemy shore defenses might have been neutralized. Then, many of the leading craft began to come under fire from automatic weapons and artillery, which increased in volume as they approached touchdown. It was evident at H Hour that the enemy fortifications had not been knocked out.
Just how much had been accomplished by the preliminary bombardment can only be determined later from enemy sources. Many gun positions and strongpoints certainly survived the early fire. The well-concealed emplacements were hard enough to locate later in the day, with better visibility and chances for observation. The tanks and artillery operating from LCT's in rough water were handicapped by conditions making accurate fire difficult. The rockets, according to most reports from the assault troops, made a heartening display but ailed to hit defensive positions-an opinion which cannot be accepted as final and which runs counter to naval reports. The total bombardment had certainly had effect, and it may have been more considerable than the infantry could realize. Enemy guns had been sited to cover every part of the beach; nevertheless, there were sectors where units landed without meeting any artillery fire whatever. Furthermore, of the nearly 200 craft carrying the assault infantry to shore in the first 2 hours, only about 10 are known to have been hit by artillery before debarking their troops, none was sunk by this fire, and in only a few cases were the casualties serious. Larger craft, particularly LCI's, may have been a favored target for both shore and inland guns, and may have suffered relatively more.
The assault troops experienced their worst disappointment of the day when they found the beach unscarred by air bombardment; they were correct in concluding that the air bombardment had had little effect on the beach defenses. Overcast conditions forced the use of Pathfinder instruments by the Eighth Air Force Liberators. With that technique, the range of possible error in the drop would be so increased as to endanger the approaching waves of landing craft. A bombing plan had already been made to cover this eventuality, by delaying the time of bomb release enough to push the center of the estimated drop patterns well inland,
thus ensuring the safety of the craft. Varying inversely with the distance in time from H Hour, the delay ranged to as much as 30 seconds. The decision to use this alternate plan had to be made on the night preceding D Day and was approved by Supreme Headquarters. It meant that the impact of the bomb weight fell from a few hundred yards to three miles inland, and the main effect, difficult to evaluate without enemy records, was probably to disrupt enemy communications and rear assembly areas. Of 446 Liberators dispatched, 329 attacked, dropping over 13,000 bombs. Their attack had taken place between 0555 and 0614.
Ninety-six tanks, the Special Engineer Task Force, and eight companies of assault infantry (1,450 men), landing just before and after 0630, were to carry out the first assault missions (Map No. V).
The Initial Assault Wave
On the right, the 743d Tank Battalion brought in all its tanks on LCT's. Company B, coming in directly in face of the Vierville draw, suffered from enemy artillery fire. The LCT carrying the company commander was sunk just of shore, and four other officers were killed or wounded, leaving one lieutenant in Company B. Eight of that company's 16 tanks landed and started to fire from the water's edge on enemy positions. The tanks of Companies C and A touched down to the east at well-spaced intervals and without initial losses. In the 16th RCT one, only 5 of the 32 DD tanks (741st Tank Battalion) made shore; of Company A's 16 standard tanks, 2 were lost far off shore by an explosion of undetermined cause, and 3 were hit and put out of action very shortly after beaching. The surviving third of the battalion landed between E-1 and E-3 draws and went into action at once against enemy emplacements.
The Army-Navy Special Engineer Task Force had one of the most important and difficult missions of the landing. Their chances of clearing gaps through the obstacles in the half-hour allotted were lessened by accidents on the approach to the beach. Delays in loading from LCT's to LCM's and in finding their way to the beaches resulted in half of the 16 assault teams reaching shore 10 minutes or more late. Only five team hit their appointed sector, most of them being carried eastward with the result that Dog Beach (the 116th RCT one) received much less than the effort scheduled. As a further effect of mislandings, at least three teams came in where no infantry or tanks were present to give protective fire.
Men burdened with equipment and explosives were excellent targets for enemy fire as they unloaded in water often several feet deep. Of 16 doers only 6 got to the beach in working condition, and 3 of these were immediately disabled by artillery hits. Much equipment, including nearly all buoys and poles for marking lanes, was lost or destroyed before it could be used. Eight navy personnel of Team 11 were dragging the preloaded rubber boat off their LCM when an artillery shell burst just above the load of explosives and set off the primacord. One of the eight survived. Another shell hit the LCM of Team 14, detonating explosives on the deck and killing all navy personnel. Team 15 was pulling in its rubber boat through the surf when a mortar scored a direct hit and touched o the explosives, killing three men and wounding four. Support Team F came in about 0700. A first shell hit the ramp, throwing three men into the water. As the vessel drifted of out of control, another hit squarely on the bow, killing 15 of the team. Only five army personnel from this craft reached shore.
Despite such disasters and under continued intense fire, the engineers got to work on
obstacles wherever they landed and with whatever equipment and explosives they could salvage. Some of the teams arriving a few minutes late found the rapidly advancing tide already into the lower obstacles. Infantry units landing behind schedule or delayed in starting up the beach came through the demolition parties as they worked, and thereby impeded their progress. One of the three doers left in operation was prevented from maneuvering freely by riflemen who tried to find shelter behind it from the intense fire. As a final handicap, there were instances where teams had fixed their charges, were ready to blow their lane, and were prevented by the fact that infantry were passing through or were taking cover in the obstacles. When Team 7 was set to fire, an LCVP came crashing into the obstacles, smashed through the timbers, and set of seven mines; the charge could not be blown. In another case, vehicles passed through the prepared area and caused misfire by cutting the primacord fuse linking the charges. A naval officer, about to pull the twin-junction igniters to explode his charge, was hit by a piece of shrapnel that cut of his finger and the two fuses. The charge laid by Team 12 went off but at heavy cost. Their preparations completed for a 30-yard gap, the team was just leaving the area to take cover when a mortar shell struck the primacord. The premature explosion killed and wounded 19 engineers and some infantry nearby.
In net result, the demolition task force blew six complete gaps through all bands of obstacles, and three partial gaps. Of the six, only two were in the 116th's half of the beach, and four were on Easy Red (Map No. V), a fact which may have influenced later landing chances. Owing to the loss of equipment, only one of the gaps could be marked, and this diminished their value under high-water conditions. Their first effort made, the demolition teams joined the other assault forces on the shingle or sea wall and waited for the next low tide to resume their work. Casualties for the Special Engineer Task Force, including navy personnel, ran to 41 percent for D Day, most of them suffered in the first half-hour.
The infantry companies in the first wave came in by boat sections, six to a company, with a headquarters section due in the next wave (0700). Each LCVP carried an average of 31 men and an officer. The 116th assault craft were loaded so that the first to land would be a section leader and 5 riflemen armed with M-1's and carrying 96 rounds of ammunition. Following was a wire-cutting team of 4 men, armed with rifles; 2 carried large "search-nose" cutters, and 2 a smaller type. Behind these in the craft, loaded so as to land in proper order were: 2 BAR teams of 2 men each, carrying 900 rounds per gun; 2 bazooka teams, totaling 4 men, the assistants armed with carbines; a mortar team of 4 men, with a 60-mm mortar and 15 to 20 rounds; a flame-thrower crew of 2 men; and, finally, 5 demolition men with pole and pack charges of TNT. A medic and the assistant section leader sat at the stern. Everybody wore assault jackets, with large pockets and built-in packs on the back; each man carried, in addition to personal weapons and special equipment, a gas mask, 5 grenades (the riflemen and wire-cutters also had 4 smoke grenades), a half-pound block of TNT with primacord fuse, and 6 onethird rations (3 K's and 3 D's). All clothing was impregnated against gas. The men wore life preservers (2 per man in 16th Infantry units), and equipment and weapons of the 16th were fastened to life preservers so that they could be floated in.
As expected, few of the LCVP's and LCA's carrying assault infantry were able to make dry landings. Most of them grounded on sandbars 50 to 100 yards out, and in some
cases the water was neck deep. Under fire as they came within a quartermile of the shore, the infantry met their worst experiences of the day and suffered their heaviest casualties just after touchdown. Small-arms fire, mortars, and artillery concentrated on the landing area, but the worst hazard was produced by converging fires from automatic weapons. Survivors from some craft report hearing the fire beat on the ramps before they were lowered, and then seeing the hail of bullets whip the surf just in front of the lowered ramps. Some men dove under water or went over the sides to escape the beaten one of the machine guns. Stiff, weakened from seasickness, and often heavily loaded, the debarking troops had little chance of moving fast in water that was knee deep or higher, and their progress was made more difficult by uneven footing in the runnels crossing the tidal flat. Many men were exhausted before they reached shore, where they faced 200 yards or more of open sand to cross before teaching cover at the sea wall or shingle bank. Most men who reached that cover made it by walking, and under increasing enemy fire. Troop who stopped to organize, rest, or take shelter behind obstacles or tanks merely prolonged their difficulties and suffered heavier losses.ASSAULT LANDING. This LCVP has grounded some distance out, and the men are wading toward the long stretch of open sands.tank (No. 9, from Company A, 741st Tank Battalion) is on the edge of the tidal flat just ahead, on beach sector Easty Red. These troops are believed to be members of the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry, landing about 0730, when the tide was through the lower obstacles.
SMOKE FROM GRASS FIRES obscured the bluffs on several sectors notably Dog Red, shown here. The smoke is still visible when this picture was taken, about 1600. LCT 207, carrying the self-propelled guns of 58th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, was finally able to make shore after an attempt at 0800 had failed. Obstacles on this part of Omaha were still intact that afternoon.
There were fortunate exceptions to this general picture. Several hundred yards of bluff west of les Moulins draw were obscured in heavy smoke from grass fires, apparently started by naval shells or rockets. Blanketed by this smoke, enemy guns and emplacements were unable to deliver effective fire on that end of Dog Beach, and units landing there were comparatively unscathed. At other places, what would seem to be an occasional "blind spot" in the enemy fire pattern let a craft get men ashore with few losses. In the main, the first wave was hard hit.
Perhaps the worst area on the beach was Dog Green, directly in front of strongpoints guarding the Vierville draw and under heavy flanking fire from emplacements to the west, near Pointe de la Percée. Company A of the 116th was due to land on this sector with Company C of the 2d Rangers on its right flank, and both units came in on their targets. One of the six LCA's carrying Company A foundered about a thousand yards o shore, and passing Rangers saw men jumping overboard and being dragged down by their loads. At H+6 minutes the remaining craft grounded in water 4 to 6 feet deep, about 30 yards short of the outward band of obstacles. Starting off the craft in three files, center file first and the flank files peeling right and left, the men were enveloped in accurate and intense fire from automatic weapons. Order was quickly lost as the troops attempted to dive under water or dropped over the sides into surf over their heads. Mortar fire scored four direct hits on one LCA, which "disintegrated." Casualties were suffered all the way to the sand, but when the survivors got there, some found they could not hold and came back into the water for cover, while others took
MEN FROM WRECKED LANDING CRAFT are being rescued by life lines carried out to them from the beach. Medical corps personnel performed many acts of heroism, working under fire to bring up the wounded men left on the tidal flat and threatened by rising tide.
refuge behind the nearest obstacles. Remnants of one boat team on the right flank organized a small firing line on the first yards of sand, in full exposure to the enemy. In short order every officer of the company, including Capt. Taylor N. Fellers, was a casualty, and most of the sergeants were killed or wounded. The leaderless men gave up any attempt to move forward and confined their efforts to saving the wounded, many of whom drowned in the rising tide. Some troops were later able to make the sea wall by staying in the edge of the water and going up the beach with the tide. Fifteen minutes after landing, Company A was out of action for the day. Estimates of its casualties range as high as twothirds.
The smaller Ranger company (64 men), carried in two LCA's, came in at H+15 minutes to the right of Vierville draw. Shells from an antitank gun bracketed Capt. Ralph E. Goranson's craft, killing a dozen men and shaking up others. An enemy machine gun ranged in on the ramps of the second LCA and hit 15 Rangers as they debarked. Without waiting to organize, survivors of the boat sections set out immediately across 250 yards of sand toward the base of the cliff. Too tired to run, the men took three or four minutes to get there, and more casualties resulted from machine guns and mortars. Wounded men crawled behind them, and a few made it. When the Rangers got to shelter at the base of the cliff, they had lost 35 men.
An unscheduled gap of more than a thousand yards separated Company A from the next unit of the 116th RCT. Instead of coming in on Dog White, Company G landed in scattered groups eastward from the edges of Dog Red. The three or four boat sections nearest Dog Red, where smoke from grass fires shrouded the bluff, had an easy passage across the tidal flat. Most of the men were halfway up the flat before they became aware of sporadic and inaccurate fire, and only a few losses were suffered. In 10 to 15 minutes after touchdown this part of the company was behind the shingle bank, in good condition. Officers, knowing they were left of their landing area, were uncertain as to their course of action, and this hesitation prevented any chance of immediate assault action. Further east on Easy Green, the other sections of Company G met much heavier fire as they landed, one boat team losing 14 men before it reached the embankment.
Company F came into the beach almost on its scheduled target, touching down in front of the strongly fortified les Moulins draw (D-3). The 3 sections to the east, unprotected by the smoke, came under concentrated fire and took 45 minutes to get across the exposed stretch of sand. By this time half their number were casualties; the remnants reached cover in no state for assault action. The other sections had better fortune, but had lost their officers when they reached the shingle bank and were more or less disorganized.
This completes the story of the first assault wave on half of Omaha Beach, for the fourth company (E) of the 116th, supposed to land on Easy Green, veered a mile eastward from that sector. The three companies in the 116th's one were in poor condition for carrying out their assault missions. By 0700 Company A had been cut to pieces at the water's edge, Company F was disorganized by heavy losses, and of the scattered sections of Company G, those in best shape were preparing to move west along the beach to find their assigned sector.
To the east, in the 16th RCT's area, the picture differed only in detail. Easy Red Beach, over a mile long and fronting E-1 draw, was assigned to the 2d BLT, with Companies E and F landing in the first wave.
The bulk of both companies landed far to the east. The only infantry to come in on Easy Red in the first wave were two lost boat sections of Company E, 116th RCT, and one section each of Companies E and F, 16th RCT. All of them were between E-1 and E-3 draws. Men from two of the craft were put out in waist-deep water, but hit a deep runnel as they waded in and had to swim through surf and a strong tidal current pulling them eastward. Flamethrowers, mortars, bazookas, and many personal weapons were dropped in the struggle. The two 116th sections lost only two men from enemy fire up to the shingle--an experience suggesting the ill-fortune of the first wave in that so few landings were made on Easy Red. A little to their left, the 1st Section of Company F came into the belt of heavy enemy fire that apparently extended from there on eastward to E-3 draw; of the 31 men unloading in neck-deep water, only 14 reached the shingle. Except for these four sections-about a hundred men-the only assault elements on Easy Red Beach for the first half hour were four DD tanks, one already disabled.
Very different was the record of the landings on Fox Beach. Whereas four scattered sections of infantry came into Easy Red without many casualties, the bulk of four companies (three of them scheduled for more westerly beaches) landed on Fox against every possible handicap of mislandings, delays, and enemy opposition.
Less the one section already accounted for (on Easy Red), Company E of the 16th RCT touched down on the western part of Fox Green, the craft badly scattered over a front of nearly 800 yards. The final run-in was not costly, but crossing bands of automatic fire caught most of the craft as the ramps were lowered, and from there on losses were heavy. Most of them were incurred in the water, and among men who stopped to drag the wounded ashore. So exhausted and shaken were the assault troops that when they reached the sand, 300 yards from the shingle bank, most of them stopped there and crawled in just ahead of the tide. The greater number of the company's 105 casualties for D Day were suffered on the beach, in the first stage of assault.
Four boat sections of Company E, 116th RCT, came in on the same beach sector and had much the same experience. From 3 of the sections, a total of 60 men reached the shingle bank. The company commander, Capt. Laurence A. Madill, already wounded crossing the beach, was hit twice by machine-gun bullets as he returned to salvage mortar ammunition. His last words were, "Senior non-com, take the men off the beach." The company's sections were separated, and it was some time before any contact was made between them.
Five sections of Company F, 16th RCT, landed on Fox Green scattered all the way from E-3 draw to a point a thousand yards further east. Two sections landed close together in front of the strongpoints defending E3 draw. Mortars as well as machinegun fire got about one-third of the personnel before they made the shingle. Further east, the other three parties fared as badly, only seven men from one craft getting through the fire to the shingle. Two officers survived among Company F's widely separated sections.
The two units scheduled to land on Fox Green, Companies I and L of the 16th RCT, were so delayed in the approach that they hardly figured in the first assault wave. Both, moreover, suffered from the eastward trend of all landings. Company I's craft, less two that swamped, headed almost as far east as Port-en-Bessin before the error was realized. An hour and a half was lost by this mishap. Company L touched down about 30 minutes late; supposed to land in
front of E-3, it came into the beach beyond the eastern end of Fox Green. One craft had foundered two miles off shore, losing eight men. Artillery fire came close as the remaining craft touched down, causing some casualties and destroying one craft just after the troops had debarked. Machine-gun fire caused heavier losses as the sections crossed 200 yards of beach to get to the shingle. The 3d Section, keeping extremely well spread out in movement, lost not a single man; the other sections had a total of 34 casualties. As a result of landing at the edge of Fox Green, the company was in a sector where the tidal flat almost reaches the bluff, and where the first rise of the bluff is cliff-like in steepness. In the defilade this afforded, the sections organized and started to move to the right where they could assault the bluff. Company L, reduced to 125 men, was the only one of the 8 companies in the first assault infantry which was ready to operate as a unit after crossing the lower beach.
The misfortunes of the first wave were bound to condition the further course of the assault. Landing schedules on many sectors would be affected by the failure to clear obstacles. Fire support from the tanks would be much less than planned on the eastern part of the beach. Mislandings of the infantry units had produced bad gaps in the assault line along the sea wall and shingle, leaving certain areas, notably Dog White and Easy Red, almost bare of assault troops. Above all, stiff enemy resistance and the disorganization caused by mislandings and heavy casualties had combined to prevent infantry units in this wave from carrying out their mission of immediate assault. All the more credit is due those elements, most of them facing unfamiliar terrain and enemy defenses, which surmounted the shock of the worst period on the beach and shared in the first advances inland.
Beginning at 0700, the second group of assault waves touched down in a series of landings that lasted for 40 minutes, ending with the support battalions of the two regimental combat teams (Map No. VI). The later waves did not come in under the conditions planned for their arrival. The tide, flowing into the obstacle belt by 0700, was through it an hour later, rising eight feet in that period; but the obstacles were gapped at only a few places. The enemy fire which had decimated the first waves was not neutralized when the larger landings commenced. No advances had been made beyond the shingle, and neither the tanks nor the scattered pockets of infantry already ashore were able to give much covering fire. Consequently, much of the record of this period is a repetition of what had happened earlier. Casualties continued to be heavy on some sectors of the narrowing tidal flat, though unit experiences differed widely and enemy fire, diverted or neutralized by the troops and tanks already along the embankment, was not often as concentrated as earlier in the assault. Mislandings continued to be a disrupting factor, not merely in scattering the infantry units but also in preventing engineers from carrying out special assignments and in separating headquarters elements from their units, thus hindering reorganization.
The Later Assault Waves: 116th RCT
Rifle companies in the later assault waves of the 116th Infantry were organized somewhat differently from those in the first landings. Two sections in each company were designated as "assault" units and carried the special weapons and equipment characteristic of the first wave. The assault sections had the mission of mopping up enemy emplacements bypassed by the first wave. The other four boat sections had the ordinary equipment of rifle units.
On the assumption that the first penetrations would already be made, support units were under orders to proceed as quickly as possible inland, by boat sections, toward battalion assembly areas. In the 16th Infantry, the support battalion (1st) was organized in assault sections exactly like those of the first wave; this arrangement may have reflected the experience of that regiment in its previous landings in Africa and Sicily, where plans had never worked out according to schedule.
In the 116th zone three companies of the 1st BLT were scheduled to land in reinforcement of Company A on Dog Green, facing the Vierville exit. In all, only two or three boat sections from these units landed on Dog Green.
Company B was due in at 0700. Its craft failed to pick up landmarks, scattered badly, and beached on a front of nearly a mile to both sides of the target area. Only three scattered sections on the flanks were to play much part in the later battle. The craft which touched down on or near Dog Green came under the same destructive fire which had wrecked Company A, and the remnants of the boat sections mingled with those of Company A in an effort for survival at the water's edge.
Company C came in at 0710 a thousand yards east of the Vierville exit, on Dog White, in a mislanding that was to work out to ultimate advantage. One of its 6 craft ran into a mined obstacle, and was delayed 20 minutes in maneuvers to get free without setting off the mines. The others came in fairly close together, suffering only one mishap when a craft thrown by the surf against a ramp turned over on its side, spilling men and equipment into water four to five feet deep. This boat section had been equipped for mopping-up work at the Vierville draw, and all its flamethrowers, demolition charges, bangalores, and mortars were lost. Enemy fire was surprisingly light, possibly because Company C was near the western end of the belt of smoke coming from grass fires on the bluff slopes. Only five or six casualties were suffered in disembarking and getting across the open sand. No other troops were near them; only four or five tanks were in sight. Bunched together on a front of about a hundred yards, Company C's men took shelter behind the four-foot timber sea wall and reorganized. Most of their equipment was intact, their sections were well together, and they were in relatively better shape for action than any unit so far landed in the 116th's zone.
Company D was not so fortunate. Three of its craft were in serious trouble as a result of shipping water; one of these was abandoned far out, and the section got in after noon. Another craft was sunk by a mine or an artillery hit 400 yards from shore, forcing the men to swim in under a barrage of mortar shells and machine-gun bullets. Half the personnel reached the sands. A third section was debarked 150 yards from the water's edge, saw riflemen ahead of them staying in the water, and followed their example, hiding behind obstacles. It was nearly two hours before the scattered survivors got to shore, with one mortar and no ammunition. The second platoon arrived on the beach with only two machine guns, one mortar and a small amount of ammunition. The first platoon got one machine gun and one mortar ashore during the morning. The heavy weapons of the 1st BLT were to take little part in the beach assault.
To complete the picture of misfortune for the 1st BLT, the three craft carrying the Headquarters Company, the command group, and the Beachmaster's party for Dog Green were brought in several hundred yards west of that sector and under the cliffs. Headquarters Company lost heavily among
THE OBSTACLES WERE USED AS SHELTER by assault troops facing the task of crossing the tidal flat under full exposure to enemy fire, but the delay often resulted in heavier losses. Landing craft in the background are having trouble in the outer obstacles.
officers and noncommissioned officers, including the commanding officer of the 58th Armored Field Artillery Battalion. The crossing of the tidal flat to the cliff against concentrated small-arms fire cost one-half to two-thirds of the group. The survivors, reaching the base of the cliffs, took refuge in niches in the rock. Not only was the command group separated from all other battalion units, but the members of the group were so scattered that they had to use radio for inter-communication. Sniper fire from the cliffs was to pin the group here for most of the day.
Three companies of the 2d BLT had landed in the first wave. Completing the BLT, Company H got in at 0700, but in condition to furnish very little supporting fire for the rifle units. The 1st Machine-Gun Platoon and two mortar sections beached on Easy Red, where they helped the 18th RCT later in the morning. Other elements, landing on Dog Red and Easy Green, suffered heavy losses, one boat section getting only six men to the shingle. Battalion Headquarters and Headquarters Company came in on Dog Red at 0700. When the ramps went down, fire was so heavy that many men took refuge behind some tanks at the water's edge, only to find them favorite targets for artillery fire. Maj. Sidney V. Bingham, Jr., Battalion Commander, was among the first to reach the shingle, where he set to work trying to revive leaderless sections of Company F. For nearly an hour he had no radio working to contact the widely scattered elements of his battalion. During this period, the only part of the 2d BLT which had arrived at the embankment in good condition, four sections of Company G, set out to reach their planned assault sector on Dog White. To do so meant a lateral movement of several hundred yards behind the now crowded shingle bank and under small-arms fire. Starting out together and working slowly west, the four sections gradually lost all cohesion. One
after another, individuals or small groups stopped to take cover, and sections became mixed or separated. Only remnants were to reach Dog White, about 0830, after the main action on that sector was over.
Major Bingham's attempts to organize an assault at les Moulins were unsuccessful. He managed to get about 50 men of Company F across the shingle near the prominent three-story house at the mouth of the draw (see illustration, p. 12); a good system of trenches had been dug near the house and gave cover for the group. But their rifles, clogged with sand, failed to function well enough to build up any volume of fire. Although Bingham led a group of 10 men nearly to the top of the bluff just east of D-3 draw, they were unable to knock out an enemy machinegun nest and had to return to the house.
The 3d BLT of the 116th was scheduled to land at 0720-0730 behind the 2d BLT, on Dog White, Dog Red, and Easy Green. Five to ten minutes late, the entire battalion came in to the east of les Moulins, with some elements on the edge of Easy Red.12 Only a handful of assault troops from the first wave had come in between D-3 and E-1 draws: two or three scattered sections of G and the headquarters boat of Company E, which touched down at 0700 right on the target to find no trace of the E assault sections. Now, in contrast, this thousand-yard stretch was comparatively crowded, although there were gaps enough to give many boat teams the impression of being isolated. The craft of Companies K and I came in well bunched on the right wing. Enemy small-arms fire was light; K had no losses crossing the tidal flat to the shingle, and I took only a few casualties. Nevertheless, the men tended to become immobilized after reaching shelter, and reorganization of the boat teams was delayed by the fact that sections of different units had landed on top of each other.
Company L came in midway between the draws, its craft rather scattered, and enemy fire was so light and ineffective that some of the troops had been several minutes on the open sand before they became aware of machine-gun fire. Company M's boat sections were still further east, on Easy Red, one craft arriving in sinking condition from a mine explosion which wounded three men. The troops were tired and cramped by the trip in, and found their loads of weapons and ammunition heavy to get across the sand. As one of them put it: "The burdens we ordinarily carried, we had to drag." Enemy fire was more intense on this stretch of beach, near the E-1 strong-points, and the sections hesitated near the water's edge, taking shelter behind obstacles. Machine-gun bullets were kicking up the sand ahead; some of the men, after studying the beaten ones, decided that the enemy guns were delivering fixed fire and figured out routes for avoiding the ones. When the tide began to push them forward, the company made the move to the embankment as a body. Only a few were hit; said one survivor, "The company learned with surprise how much smallarms fire a man can run through without getting hit."
Eighteen LCA's, carrying the 5th Ranger Battalion and Companies A and B of he 2d Rangers, had been waiting in the assembly area for word of the assault on Pointe du Hoe. One LCA had already been swamped further out, its men transferring to a passing LCT. After delaying 15 minutes beyond the time limit (0700), the Rangers still had no word and were forced to conclude that the assault had not succeeded. According to plan, they started in toward Dog Green to land behind the 1st Battalion of the 116th and go inland through the Vierville exit.
Approaching shore, Lt. Col. Max F. Schneider got a clear impression of the conditions on Dog Green and ordered the flotilla to swing east. Even so, Companies A and B of the 2d Rangers, on the right flank, came in on the edge of Dog Green and experienced what the 1st BLT of the 116th had already been through. One of their 5 craft was sunk by a mine in the outer obstacles, and the 34 men had to swim in under fire. Small-arms and mortar fire caught the other craft as they touched down. The small Ranger companies numbered about 65 officers and men each; some 35 in Company A and 27 in Company B got to the sea wall. Only a few hundred yards further east, on the favored section of Dog White, 13 out of the 14 craft carrying the 5th Battalion touched down close together, in two waves. LCI 91 was struck and set afire while the Rangers were passing through the obstacles beside it, but none of their craft was hit. The 450 men of the battalion got across the beach and up to the sea wall with a loss of only 5 or 6 men to scattered small-arms fire. They found the sea-wall shelter already fully occupied by 116th troops, and crowded in behind them.
By and large, the later waves of assault infantry on the western beaches had fared much better than in the first landings. Five of the eight companies of the 116th RCT had landed with sections well together and losses relatively light. Some had been shielded by the smoke of burning grass, but the better fortune was probably due also to the fact that, as landings increased in volume, enemy positions still in action were not able to concentrate on the many targets offered. By 0730, in contrast to the earlier situation, assault units were lined along the whole beach front in the 116th's one. The weakest area was in front of Exit D-l; Dog Green, the one of the 1st BLT, had almost no assault elements on it capable of further action.
Beginning at 0730, regimental command parties began to arrive. The main command group of the 116th RCT included Col. Charles D. W. Canham and General Cota. LCVP 71 came in on Dog White, bumping an obstacle and nudging the Teller mine until it dropped off, without exploding. Landing in three feet of water, the party lost one officer in getting across the exposed area. From the standpoint of influencing further operations, they could not have hit a better point in the 116th one. To their right and left, Company C and some 2d Battalion elements were crowded against the embankment on a front of a few hundred yards, the main Ranger force was about to come into the same area, and enemy fire from the bluffs just ahead was masked by smoke and ineffective. The command group was well located to play a major role in the next phase of action.
The first-wave landings of this combat team had veered so consistently eastward that Easy Red, longest of the beach sectors, had only a handful of assault infantry on it at 0700. The situation was largely corrected in the next 45 minutes by landings that concentrated between exit draws E-1 and E-3 (Map No. VI), where most of the surviving 741st tanks were available for support.
The Later Assault Waves: 16th RCT
Company G beached on its target area at 0700, all craft together except for one delayed by shipping water. Some artillery shells hit near as they came close to touchdown, but there were no casualties before debarking. The craft were handled well; one of them hit a sandbar several hundred yards out, but the coxswain bumped his way through and made shallow water. Engineers were still at work on the obstacles as Company G passed through, and three
DD tanks on the sand were already disabled by enemy fire. The short passage from ramps to shingle bank was costly for the company; most of its 63 casualties for D Day came here, from small-arms and mortar fire. There was no way to avoid these losses; the men were cramped by the trip in, were heavily loaded, and had to make the distance at a walking pace. Nevertheless, the sections were well together and reached the shingle without being disorganized. In 15 minutes the supporting weapons were set up and were engaging enemy emplacements as soon as these could be spotted by their fire on later landings. Company G's men had come in almost on top of three sections left on the beach by the first wave, one from Company E and two from Company E of the 116th RCT.
Company H, due in on the same beach at 0710, was delayed in contacting the Navy control boat. Landing 20 minutes late a few hundred yards left of Company G, it lost a good deal of equipment including all radios in getting to the embankment. There, on a stretch facing E-3 draw where few troops had landed and enemy fire was heavy, the company was immobilized for the next few hours.
The 1st BLT, scheduled to reinforce and support the first assault units, came in on time about 0740 to 0800, between E-1 and E-3 draws, with Companies A and B on the right. Company D was boated so that its machine-gun sections came in attached to the rifle companies, and the heavy mortars with battalion headquarters. As far as incomplete evidence shows, casualties were much less heavy than in earlier landings.
Fox Green Beach already had elements of five companies, sections separated and scrambled (except for Company L) as a result of first-wave landings. Company K, arriving at 0700, added further to the mixture with sections bunching in two main groups that were not in contact until some hours later. That company took most of its 53 casualties for the day on the beach, including 4 officers. Company M's craft came in scattered, from 0730 to 0800. One capsized some distance from shore; the others, unloading in deep water and under fire, nevertheless got enough of their equipment ashore in time to be ready for effective support to the rifle units.
Company I, scheduled in the first assault wave, had gone o course to the east, lost two boats swamped, and finally came in to Fox Green about 0800. The four craft suffered heavily in the last yards of their approach. The command party craft struck a mine and was set afire by machine-gun bullets, two others received artillery hits (or struck mines), and the fourth was hung up on an obstacle, under machine-gun fire. Casualties were heavy. Captain Richmond, on landing safely, found himself senior officer on Fox Green and in charge of the intermingled elements of the 3d BLT on that beach. The command party of the battalion had been mislanded, this time to the west, and was unable to rejoin for hours.
Infantry units were not the only assault elements to come ashore in the period from 0700 to 0800. The 81st Chemical Weapons Battalion, combat engineer battalions, advance elements of the Provisional Engineer Special Brigade Group, naval shore fire control parties, advance elements of artillery units, medical detachments, and antiaircraft units were included in the landings before 0800, and artillery was due to start landing during the next hour. Mislandings of these elements operated, as they had with the infantry, to snarl the assault plans. Engineer units with special assignments to carry
Conditions on the Beach: 0730-0800
out in clearing exits or marking beaches found themselves hundreds or even thousands of yards away from the targets, sometimes separated from their equipment or losing it in the debarkment. An engineer unit with panels for marking Dog Red Beach landed on Easy Red, over a mile away; they set up their panels anyway. About 0830 an officer on Dog White noticed two engineers making slow progress as they lugged a heavy box of explosives along the open beach behind the sea wall. As they stopped to rest, one of them wiped the sweat off his face and asked, "Where are we? We are supposed to blow something up down toward Vierville." They picked up the box and moved along toward the hottest section of the beach.
Navigational difficulties in landing increased as the tide advanced into and past the obstacles. On most of the beaches no gaps had been cleared. Landing craft, including now the larger LCI's and LST's, had to find a way through and avoid the mines affixed to the timbers. Some craft bumped on sandbars in the middle of obstacles and hurried to drop their ramps in deep water; others maneuvered somehow through the surf and got all the way in. There are not many recorded instances of craft sunk by the obstacles before getting their troops off, though on LCA 853 half of the 116th's boat team was killed by a mine explosion. However, crippling damage was inflicted on many craft, often in their efforts to retract after touchdown, or as a result of enemy artillery and mortar hits while the craft were delayed in the obstacles. Only a few were destroyed by this fire, but enough to make a vivid and discouraging impression on the men watching from the shelter of the embankment.
One of the spectacular disasters of the day was suffered by LCI 91, approaching Dog White about 0740 and carrying the alternate headquarters of the 116th RCT. HandledARTILLERY FIRE CONCENTRATED ON LARGER CRAFT. Smoke is from burnLCI's (91 and 92) on Dog Red and Dog White. Hit about 0800, they were still burning at 1600 whe LST 80 came in, after a delay of seven hours, with elements of 456th AA AW Bn.
by a veteran crew with experience at Sicily and Salerno, the LCI was struck by artillery fire as it made a first attempt to get through the obstacles. Backing out, the craft came in again for a second try. Element "C" was barely showing above the rising tide, and the LCI could not get past. The ramps were dropped in six feet of water. As some officers led the way off, an artillery shell (or rocket) hit the crowded forward deck and sent up a sheet of flame. Clothes burning, men jumped or fell off into the sea and tried to swim in under continued artillery fire. It is estimated that no personnel escaped from No. 1 compartment of the craft out of the 25 carried there.13 A few minutes later LCI 92 came into the same sector and suffered almost the same fate, an underwater explosion setting off the fuel tanks. The two craft burned for hours. Much of the artillery fire at this end of the beach was coming from the enemy gun positions toward Pointe de la Percée. The tanks had been given those flank positions as a priority target, but they found themselves fully occupied by enemy strongpoints in front of the landings.
At the other end of the beach, LCI 85 came in to Fox Green with Company A of the 1st Medical Battalion, attached to the 16th RCT. The craft slid over the pilings of Element "C," then stuck, and was. at once hit forward by artillery fire. The crew decided the water was too deep for unloading, backed the craft off the piling, and pulled out for another try. Number 3 hold was burning, and the craft was listing from a hit below the water line. On the second attempt only a few men had got off when the ramps were shot away, and fire broke out in the two forward holds. Practically rendered a hospital ship for medical personnel, LCI 85 backed off again, put out the fires, and managed to transfer its many casualties to another ship.
Conditions could hardly have been worse for the landing of vehicles, now beginning to arrive. If the halftracks, jeeps, and trucks survived the difficulties of getting close enough in to avoid deep water, and of unloading in surf under artillery fire, they found themselves on a narrowing strip of sand without any exits opened through the impassable shingle embankment. Wherever vehicles landed close together, a few were liable to be immobilized by engine trouble or artillery hits, and the others were then caught in a hopeless traffic jam. Enemy artillery and mortars had easy targets.
Losses in equipment ran high during the first landings, affecting all types of materiel. Engineer supplies, necessary for clearing the beaches, were seriously reduced. The 397th AAA AW Battalion lost 28 of its 36 machine guns disembarking, and infantry units experienced great difficulty in getting their heavy weapons ashore. All weapons were likely to be temporarily put out of action by the effects of water and sand; the first thing some units did on reaching cover was to strip and clean their rifles . Though much special equipment, such as bangalore torpedoes, ammunition, and heavy weapons, had been jettisoned when men were debarked in deep water, much more was saved at the: cost of casualties to the men who were slowed down in carrying it. Losses in radio equipment were particularly heavy, and water damaged many sets that reached the beach. Colonel Canham reported that three-fourths of the 116th RCT's radios were destroyed or rendered useless in the landings. This loss was to hamper control of the assault infantry, both on the beach and throughout the day.
As headquarters groups arrived from 0730 on, they found much the same picture at whatever sector they landed. Along 6,000
yards of beach, behind sea wall or shingle embankment, elements of the assault force were immobilized in what might well appear to be hopeless confusion. As a result of mislandings, many companies were so scattered that they could not be organized as tactical units. At some places, notably in front of the German strongpoints guarding draws, losses in officers and noncommissioned officers were so high that remnants of units were practically leaderless. Bunching of landings had intermingled sections of several companies on crowded sectors like Dog White, Easy Green, and Fox Green. Engineers, navy personnel from wrecked craft, naval shore fire control parties, and elements of other support units were mixed in with the infantry. In some areas, later arrivals found it impossible to find room behind the shingle and had to lie on the open sands behind. Disorganization was inevitable, and dealing with it was rendered difficult by the lack of communications and the mislanding of command groups. However, even landing at the best point, a command party could only influence a narrow sector of beach. It was a situation which put it up to small units, sometimes only a remnant of single boat sections, to solve their own problems of organization and morale.
There was, definitely, a problem of morale. The survivors of the beach crossing, many of whom were experiencing their first enemy fire, had seen heavy losses among their comrades or in neighboring units. No action could be fought in circumstances more calculated to heighten the moral effects of such losses. Behind them, the tide was drowning wounded men who had been cut down on the sands and was carrying bodies ashore just below the shingle. Disasters to the later landing waves were still occurring, to remind of the potency of enemy fire. Stunned and shaken by what they had experienced, men could easily find the sea wall and shingle bank all too welcome a cover. It was not much protection from artillery or mortar shells, but it did give defilade from sniper and machine-gun fire. Ahead of them, with wire and minefields to get through, was the beach flat, fully exposed to enemy fire; beyond that the bare and steep bluffs, with enemy strongpoints still in action. That the enemy fire was probably weakening and in many sectors was light would be hard for the troops behind the shingle to appreciate. What they could see was what they had suffered already and what they had to cross to get at the German emplacements. Except for supporting fire of tanks on some sectors, they could count on little but their own weapons. Naval gunfire had practically ceased when the infantry reached the beach; the ships were under orders not to fire, unless exceptionally definite targets offered, until liaison was established with fire control parties. Lacking this liaison, the destroyers did not dare bring fire on the strongpoints through which infantry might be advancing on the smokeobscured bluffs.
At 0800, German observers on the bluff sizing up the grim picture below them might well have felt that the invasion was stopped at the edge of the water.14 Actually, at three or four places on the four-mile beachfront, U. S. troops were already breaking through the shallow crust of enemy defenses.
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 Beach areas given a hard surface by wire mats, concrete blocks, or other treatment so as to permit direct loading of vehicles from sand to ships.
 The Allied assault forces used four different H Hours, to meet the differing conditions of tide and bottom on the main assault beaches. The hour was 0630 at Omaha and Utah, while the British landings carne between 0700 and 0730.
 The only reaction from enemy coastal batteries came earlier, and from eastward; at 0537 guns near Port-en-Bessin put 10 rounds close to the destroyer Emmons and bracketed the Arkansas. Answering fire, including 20 rounds of 12-inch and 110 rounds of 5-inch shells, promptly silenced the enemy guns, but more counterbattery work had to be done on this area later in the morning.
 In the case of one company, according to Navy reports, the company commander gave orders which were responsible for the landing eastward.
 The report of LCI 91 attributes the explosion and damage to mines on the obstacles. The evidence suggests that there may have been both mine explosions and artillery (or rocket) hits.
 [See the report that actually came to the German Seventh Army even later in the morning; p. 113.
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