Help support TMP


"US D-Day landing, less slaughter possible?" Topic


100 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.


Back to the WWII Discussion Message Board



2,561 hits since 22 Jun 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Pages: 1 2 3 

repaint22 Jun 2018 2:24 p.m. PST

Hello,

I am reading about the D-Day landings from the German perspective.

While it is clear that the Allies achieved a strategic surprise even though the German were expecting an invasion, I am wondering -within the limit of hindsight- whether the Allies could have achieved the landings with less casualties.

From the German perspective, their defending force was not that good: static divisions made up of men unfit for regular soldiering, eastern "volunteers", very young youths or soldiers over 40.

Most of the casualties were inflicted during the approach phase. If lessons are to be learned, what could the americans have done better?

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP22 Jun 2018 2:38 p.m. PST

Probably little to none. Any across the beach attack against fixed defenses, whether manned by veterans or conscripts, is going to be bloody. The Allied planners tried their best by choosing the landing time, tidal state, and gunfire/air power support that would give the best results.

But compare the two US beaches, Utah and Omaha. On Utah the initial landing went to the wrong location thus negating some of the German defenses. The on-beach commanders didn't try to "correct" the problem, just continued the landing. Of course they didn't face the same sort of terrain as on Omaha. On "Bloody" Omaha, the landings went in where they were planned. It was the steep bluffs and the tenacity of the German defenders that caused so many casualties.

Just my dime's worth.

Jim

Mark 122 Jun 2018 3:28 p.m. PST

On Utah the initial landing went to the wrong location thus negating some of the German defenses…. On "Bloody" Omaha …. It was the steep bluffs and the tenacity of the German defenders that caused so many casualties.

No disagreement on the differences between Utah and Omaha that were described. But there were more differences. And there were changes of behavior during the process of the landings that made differences too. I think there are a few lessons to be taken from these, as well as other sources (further on this last point below).

One substantial difference between Utah and Omaha was that tanks were successfully landed in some numbers on Utah. On Omaha almost all of the DD tanks got swamped and sank far from shore. Even though the tanks faced a high-intensity combat environment on the beach at Utah, and took pretty high casualties (in terms of tanks lost), they did what tanks are supposed to do when supporting an infantry assault -- they suppressed defenses, broke through emplacements, and opened the way for the infantry to get in to and beyond the enemy line. Or at least they helped (don't mean to imply they did it all by themselves).

Really, looking at it from just that perspective it should be clear. In 1944, what would you expect if you launched an infantry assault across open fields of fire against a fully entrenched enemy MLR with concrete bunkers, concrete-sided communications trenches, MGs sited with interlocking fields of fire, and local and distant indirect fire weapons? Would you expect different results if you put a battalion of tanks in support vs. if you didn't? If you take out the ocean altogether, and build a case scenario with no amphibious component, but based only on the forces that reached the sand, you'd still expect pretty much the same differences that you see between Omaha and Utah.

Secondly, there were a couple of destroyer captains who took the initiative to close with the beach defenses, at no small risk. While I have not seen any detailed analysis of how much damage they did, which bunkers were silenced, etc., the anecdotal testimonies indicate that this ad hoc tactic was quite effective. So there is a lesson to consider there.

Perhaps surprising was how little attention the planners of D-Day paid to the lessons coming from amphibious operations in the Pacific. There are a couple points that I think were not picked up by D-Day planners.

First, the pre-landing bombardments in the Pacific seem to have been far more effective than at Omaha. Here I measure effectiveness not so much by how hard it was to get ashore (yes, I know that's the most important metric), but rather by how much harder is might have been but for the bombardment. Clearly the Japanese learned to back their defenses off from the beaches based on how much of their defenses were crushed by the USN. At Omaha? Not so much. So what was done that was so much more effective? I'm not sure.

Also the air bombardment was more effective in Pacific landings. Here there is a clear difference -- at D-Day there was substantial reliance on multi-engined level bombers. In the Pacific the major air effort was single-engined fighter-bombers and dive-bombers. Consider the impact of more Tempests and Thunderbolts, and fewer B-17s and B-26s on the D-Day landings.

And then there is the question of what armor came ashore. I've seen folks lament that the US turned down the British "funnies" (except for the DD Sherman, which was the most important British "funny"). But what about the American "funnies"? AmTracs would probably have had a very positive impact on Omaha, whether for getting infantry onto and across the beaches, or for on-beach fire support from 37mm guns, 75mm howitzers, and .50cal HMGs. There was ample experience already with these vehicles, which had progressed to their second generation based on real world experiences in 1943 landings.

So I do think there were lessons that could have been applied, both in time for D-Day and for any D-Day-esque landings after D-Day.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP22 Jun 2018 3:36 p.m. PST

Two main difference between the two beaches. The air forces totally missed the Omaha beach and the Navy also didn't shell the beach as well at Utah.

zoneofcontrol22 Jun 2018 3:38 p.m. PST

One thing was the weather. It played a part in the scattering of the paratroopers. It made an impact on the landing craft, rolling swells and drifting boats. It also screwed up the timing of the craft landing so they were messed up with changing tides. It also contributed to the loss of a lot of the armor support that was to come ashore early. Neither the air bombardment nor the naval bombardment we phenomenal successes. Extra margin for error had to be added because of poor visibility. (However, post-landing naval gunfire helped.) Engineers who were supposed to land and destroy/remove obstacles and boobytraps ended up in the middle of the first wave and couldn't do their job effectively.

Another thing is that it was a frontal assault. With piling up of the things listed above, the full force of all the landing troops could not be brought to bear in a more or less unified attack. Some of the craft that landed off course simply climbed the dunes and cliffs while taking minimal casualties. Perhaps a combination of both a frontal and flanking landing may have helped.

Fortunately with all that did go wrong, the troops were a pretty determined bunch. Men formed small groups and NCOs and junior Officers lead/pushed them forward despite the chaos and carnage.

repaint22 Jun 2018 4:14 p.m. PST

The german testimonies that I am reading ("D DAY Through German Eyes") indicate that:

a) the naval gun fire was only partially effective, maybe suppressing at 25-30% their overall effectiveness – rough assessment based on nothing but reading these accounts
b) the level bombing was a total miss, overshooting the coastal defenses.
c) fighters' strafing was by far their most painful experience
d)their defense started to crumble when tanks came into action

This makes me think that actually the US planners had it mostly right except that they may have been too optimistic and did not do enough padding (and probably simply lacked experience for such a colossal assault).

It would be interesting to understand what was their initial thought process when they planned the landings.

Lucius22 Jun 2018 5:51 p.m. PST

Looking at all the beaches, as a complete picture, I don't see how you avoid having at least one sector that is a bloody struggle.

No matter what deficiencies plagued the Germans, they were still Germans, fighting within a successful system that had been tested by war for 5 years. And they were still commanded by Rommel.

The Allied command was expecting it to be much worse. Given the limits of the technology in hand and the size of the enterprise, it is hard to see how it could have gone better.

Lion in the Stars22 Jun 2018 7:25 p.m. PST

Barring using non-persistent, deadly chemical weapons on the beach defenses, then giving that time to disperse inland?

I don't think there was much way to significantly reduce the casualties suffered by the attacking troops.

Yes, we could have done a bit better supporting Omaha Beach, but what the heck do you expect from charging head-on into interlocking fields of fire, regardless of the terrain?

There's a reason we don't plan on doing opposed landings anymore!

Starfury Rider22 Jun 2018 9:32 p.m. PST

I've seen the reference to US Army planners in Europe not taking note of US experience in the Pacific ahead of Normandy a few times. I think that argument should be viewed in context with the chronology of operations in the two very different theatres involved.

US forces in the Pacific began a series of amphibious operations, involving both Army and Marine Divisions, around November 1943. These were against Japanese held islands where the beach defences varied in strength from nil all the way up to what was faced on Betio (Tarawa). Some of these operations were carried out on a Regimental Combat Team basis, or lower, such was the dispersion of targets.

By November 1943 the US Army in Europe had overseen multi-Division landings in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. None of these was going to give them the same degree of resistance that could expect from the Germans and the Atlantic Wall, but they knew about getting their feet wet.

The imagery of armored amphibian tractors leading in waves of amphibian tractors carrying soldiers or marines, under a canopy of fighter bombers, while the Navy bombards the shoreline with battleship guns is familiar. I mostly associate it with an operation like Forager, the assault of Saipan, which like Omaha saw two Divisions land side-by-side against a well armed garrison left in no doubt of what was coming at them. 1st and 29th Inf Divs made their landfall on 6th June 1944; 2nd and 4th Mar Divs on 15th June 1944. Hard to see what the Army could learn from an operation that took place nine days after their own.

In the bulk of the Pacific landings air power was limited to what the USN could fly off carriers, which in 1943-44 was principally single engine fighters filling in as bombers. They could only drop a limited amount of ordnance but they were all that could accompany an amphibious force. I don't know if there was ever a realistic prospect of heavier air power being able to actually co-ordinate with an assault landing proper in the Pacific, given the distances involved and timing required.

As demonstrated at Tarawa, Navy bombardments had only a limited utility in killing defenders before the assault wave landed. For Iwo Jima the USMC had asked for a 10-day preparatory naval bombardment to ensure Japanese defences were sufficiently written down before landing troops. They got three days. There was nil chance of the Normandy beaches being subjected to a softening up lasting much more an hours (was it even a full hour?). Surprise was paramount to prevent major German reinforcements being moved to the beachheads.

I have never seen anything to indicate that US naval and air bombardment was delivered with significantly improved results in the Pacific compared to European landings. There were still plenty of Japanese ready to meet and greet the assault troops after naval and air schemes lasting days, not minutes; Saipan (three and a half days pre-bombardment), Guam (13 days), Peleliu (three days), Iwo Jima (three days) and Okinawa (seven days I think).

I love reading USMC PTO reports, and there are a lot online now. They were still critical of the impact of air support and naval gunfire, the delays in getting air strikes approved inland and the quality of communications right through into 1945.

I know the amtrac angle is more complicated than I first gave it credit for. I do recall reading there was a shortage of LCTs for Normandy as to what was wanted, so including LVTs may have impacted on the number of DD tanks that could have been carried. My feeling is they alone would not have a made a material difference, but I've seen some strong arguments to the contrary.

I don't know there was a single thing that could've been changed at Omaha in particular to result in dramatically reduced casualties. There was a short discussion on Axis History Forum recently that outlined the problem in even agreeing the number of casualties suffered given reporting difficulties (from someone who has actually had his work on D-Day published). Given the expectation of casualties among Allied planners before D-Day, it's perhaps more surprising that the other beaches weren't just as costly.

Gary

jdginaz23 Jun 2018 1:22 a.m. PST

Perhaps surprising was how little attention the planners of D-Day paid to the lessons coming from amphibious operations in the Pacific. There are a couple points that I think were not picked up by D-Day planners.

Very different types of operations. Here are a few of them.

PTO Islands with open waters, enemy naval & air forces are destroyed before operation begins, beaches with few if any obstacles few if any re-enforced concrete bunkers (the Japanese did make use coconut palms to build bunkers that were good at absorbing damage but they aren't equal to re-enforced concrete) overlooking the beaches comparatively, few mid to large caliber guns. Lots of big ships and time without much chance of enemy interference to conduct the bombardment.

Normandy Restricted water with nearly 7,000 ships, the Germans still had naval assets available and as far as the planners knew air assets. Lots of beach obstacles and concrete bunkers and other emplacements. Lots of artillery some of it in the bunkers. Not much time to conduct the bombardment. If they conducted a 2 day bombardment that would have just given the Germans time to move in re-enforcements not to mention possible attack by the Luftwaffe, U-boats and E-boats

First, the pre-landing bombardments in the Pacific seem to have been far more effective than at Omaha. Here I measure effectiveness not so much by how hard it was to get ashore (yes, I know that's the most important metric), but rather by how much harder is might have been but for the bombardment. Clearly the Japanese learned to back their defenses off from the beaches based on how much of their defenses were crushed by the USN. At Omaha? Not so much. So what was done that was so much more effective? I'm not sure.

Comparison of pre-landing bombardments

Omaha Beach June 6, 1944
Omaha, Bombardment Force = 2 (old 15 and 14 inch gun) BBs, 3 (2 French, 1 RN) CAs 13 (mostly British) DDs, 9 LCT(Rocket)s, 30min bombardment. Later the fire of 36 LCTs carrying M7 Priest and 34 Shermans along with support from 10 LCTs with 4.7 guns shelled the beach as the troop carrying LCA moved in.

Saipan June 13, 1944
US Fifth Fleet 15 BBs (some with the newer 16" guns) 22 other warships bombarded the Island for 2 days firing some 180,000 shell of all types, Naval Air adding to that.

AmTracs would probably have had a very positive impact on Omaha, whether for getting infantry onto and across the beaches, or for on-beach fire support from 37mm guns, 75mm howitzers, and .50cal HMGs. There was ample experience already with these vehicles, which had progressed to their second generation based on real world experiences in 1943 landings.

First of all they were busy as part of Operation Forager in the PTO retaking the Islands of Angaur, Guam, Peleliu, Saipan and Tinian.

If they had been present at Omaha they wouldn't have lasted more than a few minutes only the LVT(A)s were armored and that only to withstand .50 cal. fire (0.25 to .5 inches). In the Pacific they were ordered not to move off the beaches although they did move inland a couple of times. The troop carriers where built using mild steel and any troops within when hit would most likely died quickly with the vehicle.

I'm not sure about this but I seem to remember they there were doubts about how well they would have done trying to cross the slopped shingle area of the beach.

Martin Rapier23 Jun 2018 1:44 a.m. PST

As noted above, the preliminary bombardment was relatively ineffective at Omaha, and the assault troops lost most of their tanks on the way in.

So, a better bombardment and getting more tanks on the beach would have helped.

Not much could be done about the regular 352nd Infantry Division manning the defences though.

Considering the whole operation was a five division frontal assault on Festung Europe, overall casualties were pretty light. Every single beach could have been Omaha, or Dieppe.

UshCha23 Jun 2018 4:46 a.m. PST

One British commander considered that some of the commanders of US ships should have been prosecuted for cowardice in the face of the enemy. The UK forces moved in towards the beach from the designated DD launch point as they deemed it was unreasonable to launch the tanks that far out in bad weather. The US commanders just dumped them in the sea regardless.

The training of the DD crews was insufficient,many of the tanks were found in a line having been swamped when they turned broadside to the sea. They needed to be taught that this was not a sensible move. They would be better off on the beach in the wrong place than sunk.

Griefbringer23 Jun 2018 6:52 a.m. PST

Also the air bombardment was more effective in Pacific landings. Here there is a clear difference -- at D-Day there was substantial reliance on multi-engined level bombers. In the Pacific the major air effort was single-engined fighter-bombers and dive-bombers. Consider the impact of more Tempests and Thunderbolts, and fewer B-17s and B-26s on the D-Day landings.

Low-level attacks by fighter bombers against targets spotted by the pilots might have been effective, but they would also require daylight for efficient conduct – so there would have been less than an hour for such activities before the landings would start. And of course such aircraft would be vulnerable to light AA weapons located close to the beaches.

As for the big level bombers, they may not have been ideal weapons against small targets, but they were available in large numbers and had already been carrying a bombing campaign against Germany for a while, so it is not surprising that they would be used in some role on D-day.

Starfury Rider23 Jun 2018 7:31 a.m. PST

I'm not sure if this document is available online anywhere, it's on Fold3 for anyone who's got a membership there and the ability to post the pages as pictures up here.

United States Fleet LCT-6 Flotilla Twelve

14 July 1944

From; Commander, Group 35
To; Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet

1. Sortieing from Portland, England, at 0300 on 5 June 1944 were sixteen especially fitted LCTs-6 carrying four (4) "DD" tanks each, plus Jeeps and trailers. Our objective; Omaha beach on the coast of France. I was aboard the LCT 535, where I had been directed to assume command of the sixteen ships until we reached the transport areas.

2. Reaching the transport area at approximately 0345, 6 June 1944, the force of LCTs split into two previously arranged columns of eight (8) ships each; one under the command of Lt.(jg) JH Barry aboard the LCT 549, was scheduled to launch tanks of the 741st Tank Battalion off Fox Green and Easy Red beaches as part of Force "O-1", while I led the remainder to launch tanks of the 743rd Tank Battalion off Dog Green and Dog Red beaches as part of Force "O-2". Force "O-1" DD LCTs were as follows; 537, 549, 598, 599, 600, 601, 602 and 603. Those if Force "O-2" were; 535, 586, 587, 588, 589, 590, 591, 713.

We were met at point King by LCSs that were to lead us to the line of launching. Those in Force "O-2" proceeded down the Fire Support Lane on the right hand of the assault area, arriving at 0515 at a point approximately 6000 yards from the beach so designated by PC1225, which we had picked up on our way down the swept lane. The eight (8) LCTs then did a column left movement and proceeded slowly parallel to the beach as we had ample time.

Long before this time, it was apparent that the sea would not be ideal for landing of the tanks. Before leaving Portland, the question had been raised by this command as to the course to pursue to the event of a sea being too rough for a launching. Despite the insistence of this command that a decision be made by one senior army officer for both battalions, the question of launching was finally left to the senior army officer of each battalion, in this case Captain Thornt(i)on of the 741st and Captain Elder of the 743rd. This decision was agreed upon by Lt.Colonels Skaggs and Upham, commanding the 741st and 743rd respectively.

At 0505 this commanded contacted Captain Elder via tank radio and we were in perfect accord that the LCTs carrying tanks of the 743rd battalion would not launch, but put the tanks directly on the designated beaches. Accordingly, all ships did a 90 degree flanking movement at 0540 and proceeded to the beach with he guide ship – LCT 535 – of this command touching down at 0629. The others all touched down within two minutes. Despite fairly heavy machine gun fire and larger calibre gunfire, all tanks, save one, were landing successfully on the correct beaches. All craft then retracted successfully, although two ships had experienced direct hits and casualties among personnel. Subsequently ramps were lost due to damage to the ramp raising machinery from shell fire.

Meanwhile, on the other flank, the LCTs of Force "O-1" directed by Lt.(jg) J H Barry, were led to the line of departure by LCSs, but at 5000 yards the decision to launch was made by Captain Thornton, senior army officer of the 741st Tank Battalion, aboard LCT 537. Accordingly, all eight (8) LCTs dropped their ramps and commenced launching. All tanks were launched successfully,, but some of the tanks sank immediately. Some swam a short way and went down while others were, when last seen by LCT personnel swimming with difficulty toward the beach. To the best knowledge of this command, the only "DD" tanks in Force "O-1" to reach the shore were three, delivered directly upon it by the LCT 600 whose officer-in-charge, after the first one sank, decided to put the three remaining on the beach.

No contact has since been made, however, with the command of the 741st Tank Battalion, so no accurate figures are available. It might be observed at this time that the action reports of all officers-in-charge of "DD" LCTs in Force "O-1" submitted to this command state that they were amazed when the order to launch came. They were all ready to go to the beach and unload there.

3. The following conclusions are self-evident: (1) that the sea was too rough for launching the tanks, (2) that one army officer, senior in rank, have made the decision with regards to launching for both battalions, and (3) that the "DD" tank is not an effective weapon in Amphibious warfare unless ideal sea conditions exist.

D L Rockwell
Lieut, USNR

There is a longer report reinforcing the points made above. The USN sound very much in favour of rolling up to the beach and disgorging standard tanks over ramps, rather than going with the DD approach. I really don't think the USN officers sought to offload their tanks asap and turn about.

Omaha has become a very emotive subject over the years, as the story has been told and retold, eclipsing to a degree the efforts and losses on the other four beaches. Rightly or wrongly, I detect in a lot of the arguments a need to find out who ****ed up their job on the day and got lots of men killed as a result. A lot of things went wrong on Omaha, as noted earlier having a German Inf Div there who were not expected, getting ready for deployment to the Eastern Front, was not helpful either. Disasters tend to be caused by a culmination of failures rather than one person, one decision, one error and I don't think Omaha was any different.

Gary

Legion 423 Jun 2018 8:12 a.m. PST

The short answer … yes … But as always hindsight is 20/20 … generally …

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2018 8:55 a.m. PST

Good discussion everyone. Thanks,

Jim

Legion 423 Jun 2018 9:03 a.m. PST

We had another little discussion here about Amph/Forced Entry Ops … TMP link
May be of some interest …

Garde de Paris23 Jun 2018 9:32 a.m. PST

I recall that Omaha Beach defenses had been reinforced by the arrival of veteran German troops from divisions wrecked on the Eastern Front, who expected to find a peaceful area to rebuild.

In the Pacific, the allied forces would have bombarded and bombed for days before the actual landings.

At D-Day, the Allies did this simultaneously with the landings, with very little time for softening the area.

We also see human fear, with DD tanks being launches way too far away from the beach, only to "drown."

The navy overshot the Omaha beach for fear of hitting US troops landing.

Amazing how well the results were!

GdeP

14Bore23 Jun 2018 11:40 a.m. PST

If some of the planning went smoother casualties might have been less. The landings where a hit or miss as far as defenders or attackers were so it's a random calculation.
But if bombing the actual beach by air cover, navy ships coming closer as some did, the DD tanks were handled properly and a dozen other things I can't think of might all have helped.

thomalley23 Jun 2018 12:01 p.m. PST

US planners in 1943 were predicting that 13% of US troops on D-Day would be drowned, 25% would become casualties in the initial fighting on the beaches and thereafter 3% of US troops per week would become casualties in Normandy.[1]
They ended up losing 2000 on Omaha, 2500 paratroopers and 200 on Utah. Big disaster.
The did forget to plan for phase 2, fighting in the bocage.

jdginaz23 Jun 2018 12:14 p.m. PST

@Starfury Rider, excellent post its always good to have documents to back up claims.

marcus arilius23 Jun 2018 1:56 p.m. PST

A year before the invasion, at the Conference on Landing Assaults, General Norman Cota had argued in favor of striving for tactical surprise:
. . . It is granted that strategical surprise will be impossible to attain. Tactical surprise is another thing however… . tactical surprise is one of the most powerful factors in determining success. I therefore, favor the night landing. I do not believe the daylight assault can succeed. he wanted the Rangers and hand pick Assault units to land quietly at 2am and sneak up and silence the Bunkers around the beach exits on Omaha beach

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP23 Jun 2018 5:59 p.m. PST

During the planning for Overlord there was a proposal to bring a Marine division from the Pacific and use it in the assault, but nothing ever came of that. About the only major change that could have been readily made would have been to land in darkness. The North African, Sicilian, and Italian landings were all done in the dark. I don't know if that would have helped or hurt, but it was an option.

Lee49423 Jun 2018 10:35 p.m. PST

I think many have missed the point. Paraphrasing from A Soldiers Story Bradley said you can almost always force an invasion but you can't always make one stick. Ref the close calls at Salerno and Anzio. US planners "mind set" focused more on post landing build up than on D-Day and getting ashore. However it's not clear to me what more focus on the landings might have resulted in.

D-Day had been delayed until June to allow for more landing craft to be available. It couldn't be delayed until July so "what ifs" pondering hordes of Amtracs are unreal. We were fighting a global war and the Marines and their equipment were staying in the Pacific. So were our carriers and Dive Bombers.

Bradley also preferred Naval Gunfire to Air Support for good reason. Look at the Cobra carpet bombing disaster. Bradley and Ike wrangled as much Naval support as they could given Pacific requirements.

Perhaps more American "funnies" could have been prepared and would have helped. But again I ask at the expense of what else?

Every resource was poured into Normandy. Nothing was sitting idle that could have been used. I think it was a great job of planning and went astonishingly well given the scope and complexity. And kudos to the Destroyer skippers who disobeyed orders and closed in on Omaha to blow away the Germans and seal the victory. Cheers!

jdginaz23 Jun 2018 11:28 p.m. PST

@ScottWashburn it may have been proposed but I'm pretty sure it was never seriously considered. After all they were pretty busy in the PTO. Besides what difference would they have made?

Frontovik24 Jun 2018 4:33 a.m. PST

Basically you don't need to be an uber soldat to sit behind a sustained fire MG.

Legion 424 Jun 2018 8:48 a.m. PST

Yes, I don't think a USMC Div would have made any real difference either. Many of the Army units had made Amph landings before. And again, the USMC was pretty busy already.

And just for the record, IIRC … old fart In WWII the USMC had 6 Divs, the US ARMY @ 68-70 or so ? Plus/including @ 5 ABN Divs 82d, 101, 11th[in the PTO], 17th, 13th …

jdginaz24 Jun 2018 12:26 p.m. PST

And conducted more Amphibious landings than the Marines.

Blutarski24 Jun 2018 2:40 p.m. PST

The question is how many large assaults had been carried out by the Army against well prepared, dug-in and extensive water's edge defensive systems.

I find it curious that (TTBOMK) zero effort had been made by the Army to liaise with the USMC regarding their recent experiences. The aroma of service hubris haunts the air here.

B

Fred Cartwright24 Jun 2018 3:05 p.m. PST

I find it curious that (TTBOMK) zero effort had been made by the Army to liaise with the USMC regarding their recent experiences. The aroma of service hubris haunts the air here.

I don't think the USMC had faced anything like the defences that the D-day attackers faced. No one had. Probably the heaviest defended coast line in history and has been pointed out significant difference with Pacific experience. Japanese held islands were isolated so you could take your time with preparatory bombardment. The Normandy coast was not and would have been rapidly reinforced.

Legion 424 Jun 2018 3:53 p.m. PST

And conducted more Amphibious landings than the Marines.
That also is very true …

I find it curious that (TTBOMK) zero effort had been made by the Army to liaise with the USMC regarding their recent experiences. The aroma of service hubris haunts the air here.
I'm not sure that is true … but in many cases "service hubris" is not a rare thing.

I don't think the USMC had faced anything like the defences that the D-day attackers faced. No one had.
Also very, very true. And e.g. the IJF anywhere, AFAIK didn't an Armored[Panzer]Div let alone 3 in reserve. Even if the the German Panzers were "a day late and a dollar short" so to speak. But even with those arriving in the area sooner. In the long run it would not have made any real difference, AFAIK. More time and more dead of course, sadly. But the Allies had Air Superiority and a very big robust supply chain. Albeit very long.

jdginaz24 Jun 2018 9:14 p.m. PST

@Blutarski, not sure what you mean at Guam the Army & Marines conducted landing simultaneously.

The toughest landing that the Marines made was Tarawa. As tough as that was I don't think it could be compared to Omaha Beach.

HANS GRUBER25 Jun 2018 5:21 a.m. PST

Based on pre-invasion estimates, Eastern front & WW1 battles, and casualties suffered in earlier major battles the 10,000 casualties suffered by the allies on June 6th are really remarkably low. The victors of Waterloo and Gettyburg each suffered over 20,000 casualties, and the weapons they faced weren't nearly as lethal.

Osterreicher25 Jun 2018 10:06 a.m. PST

What the US Marines faced at Peleliu and Iwo Jima was pretty rough, and the defences were certainly well thought out by the Japanese. Getting off the beach on both was not easy. To me, this experience compares closely with the 1st Div and 29 Div's experiences at Omaha Beach. The amount of fire the Japanese could put on the beach was significant in my view, despite the pre-invasion naval bombardment. Additionally, much of the 1st MarDiv at Peleliu and many of those at Iwo Jima were experienced, unlike say the 29th Div at Omaha.

Blutarski25 Jun 2018 12:51 p.m. PST

jdginaz: Compare the density of the Betio Island defenses to those of Omaha Beach on a frontage basis. Red 1/2/3 landing beaches on Betio Island were only about 1800 yards in breadth; Omaha Beach was nearly 6500 yards in breadth. Post battle analysis concluded that the nearly four hour preliminary naval bombardment of Betio had been grossly inadequate; by comparison, the preliminary naval bombardment of Omaha Beach was carried out by many fewer ships for a period of about thirty minutes. Betio Island was probably also subjected (in toto) to a greater tonnage of aerial bombardment than actually landed the defenses of Omaha Beach. The Marines still found themselves in the fight of their lives for 76 hours.

Numerous hard lessons were learned at Betio; few if any of them seem to have been absorbed by the planners responsible for the Omaha assault landing.

Strictly my opinion, of course.

B

Legion 425 Jun 2018 3:57 p.m. PST

But IIRC, much of the pre-landing air strikes "missed" their targets at Omaha.

But I'm not sure if some of those lessons from Betio were not taken into account by the D-Day/Omaha planners. However, just like with the Airborne Ops on D-Day[and Market-Garden], many things didn't go as planned. It seems it rarely does …

Rogues125 Jun 2018 4:06 p.m. PST

I could read this thread all day. Nobody slagging somebody, good info and balanced comparisons. Thanks and please carry on.

Mark 125 Jun 2018 5:35 p.m. PST

+1 to Rogues1 ! Valid and well stated!

Back to the OP, and to repaint's subsequent posting:

The german testimonies that I am reading ("D DAY Through German Eyes") indicate that:

a) the naval gun fire was only partially effective, maybe suppressing at 25-30% their overall effectiveness rough assessment based on nothing but reading these accounts
b) the level bombing was a total miss, overshooting the coastal defenses.
c) fighters' strafing was by far their most painful experience
d)their defense started to crumble when tanks came into action

I too have read "D DAY Through German Eyes", and Vol. 2 of the same title.

They are very interesting! Lots of eye-opening perspectives of how things looked from "the other side of the table".

I think the post does an admirable job of summarizing the recurring experiences recounted in the book(s). Of course there are lots of additional details (like: the Churchill Crocodile had a VERY real morale effect all out of proportion to the number of casualties from it's firing). But the key statements above are a strong summary.

Take those, and then look at the various comments about what did or didn't work as planned, or what was and wasn't different about Omaha vs. Utah, or Omaha and PTO landings.

I think the improvements, the lessons that could/should have been taken in case D-Day vol. 2 was ever attempted, were:

1) Figure out how to get tanks on the beach with the first wave. Makes a big diff. In the WW2 timeframe it probably doesn't matter much what level of tanks make it ashore. Taking out MG pillboxes and dug-outs is the key task. Anything that is bullet-proof and fires HE will help. But I expect bigger HE helps more.

2) Figure out how to get naval fire support to work well. Easily said, not as easily done. Pre-landing bombardments, apparently, need to go on for a REALLY long time from a LOT of big guns to be very effective, at volumes that turn the landscape into a moonscape. That's not always practical. But … from Torch to Sicily to Normandy, there is much evidence that the post-landing naval fire support worked pretty well -- maybe better than the pre-landing bombardments. Probably a lesson or two in there.

3) Close air does a better job than mid- to high-level bombers. Bomb tonnages have little to do with it … getting on-target and/or making it feel "personal" has a lot to do with it. The morale effects of a plane diving AT YOU should not be underestimated.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

jdginaz25 Jun 2018 8:35 p.m. PST

Blutarski, First I want to make it clear in no way am I depreciating the Marines and the action they fought, their actions were in no way anything but heroic.

Yes the defenses at Betio were very tough. In my view the problem in comparing them to Omaha is that to some degree the problems the difficulties there were due more to the disruptions caused by the reef than to the defenses. especially the problems of getting the tanks to the beach.

The aroma of service hubris haunts the air here.

But from which side. It's always seemed to me that the Marines want to deny that the Army ground forces were present in the PTO.

jdginaz25 Jun 2018 8:49 p.m. PST

I missed the fact that his question come from reading "D DAY Through German Eyes". I should point out that those books suspected by many to be fakes as are the other books by Sprech Media such as "World War 2 Through German Eyes","The Last Panther" and "Tiger Tracks – The Classic Panzer Memoir".

Nobody has been able to discover any information about Holger or Dieter Eckhertz. Also there doesn't seem to have been an original German language edition of the book.

I suspect that they are all written by the same author.

Blutarski25 Jun 2018 9:50 p.m. PST

Hi jdginaz – It has to be remembered that, at Betio, the first three assault waves were carried to the beach in amphibious Amtracs (early model LVT-1a). It was the follow-on troops who were stuck in the Higgins Boats.

It has always puzzled me why no Amtracs were employed in the Normandy landing.

B

jdginaz25 Jun 2018 10:03 p.m. PST

It has always puzzled me why no Amtracs were employed in the Normandy landing.

As I note above,

First of all they were busy as part of Operation Forager in the PTO retaking the Islands of Angaur, Guam, Peleliu, Saipan and Tinian.

If they had been present at Omaha they wouldn't have lasted more than a few minutes only the LVT(A)s were armored and that only to withstand .50 cal. fire (0.25 to .5 inches). In the Pacific they were ordered not to move off the beaches although they did move inland a couple of times. The troop carriers where built using mild steel and any troops within when hit would most likely died quickly with the vehicle.

I'm not sure about this but I seem to remember they there were doubts about how well they would have done trying to cross the slopped shingle area of the beach.

jdginaz25 Jun 2018 11:57 p.m. PST

Tooling around the net I just learned these new facts,

LVTs were susceptible to floundering in rough seas.

They were also slower in the water than LCTs. So they would have a longer time at sea vulnerable to the rough seas and enemy shell fire.

They were normally launched from LCTs so using them would have meant less LCTs to carry the DD-tanks.

jdginaz26 Jun 2018 1:36 a.m. PST

Make that launched from LST so less tanks on board for later use.


There were LVTs used at Normandy, around 200 had been delivered to England prior to D-Day. They were used to deliver supplies to the beaches after they were secured.

repaint26 Jun 2018 6:30 a.m. PST

thanks jdginaz for pointing out the suspicious aspects of these books. Very possible I have been fooled. It would be a sad thing to learn all those testimonies were made up :(

Legion 426 Jun 2018 8:15 a.m. PST

Rogues 1 … +1 thumbs up


Some very good points jdginaz & Mark 1 … And yes, as I believed the US ARMY did most likely consider the landings in the PTO. But as noted and as I thought the LVT's were just too fragile and wouldn't do well in the waters of the Channel, etc., etc., as jdginaz pointed out.

BTW, the US ARMY did have Amph Track Bns in the PTO which had LVTs …

ScottS26 Jun 2018 8:32 a.m. PST

For those saying LVTs were useless at D-Day because they weren't armored – over 2000 DUKWs were used, and they had even less protection and were slower in the water. Sometimes just being able to put more men on the beach is enough.

Griefbringer26 Jun 2018 9:02 a.m. PST

For those saying LVTs were useless at D-Day because they weren't armored over 2000 DUKWs were used

I might be mistaken, but my understanding was that these were not part of the initial landing waves.

ScottS26 Jun 2018 12:02 p.m. PST

Sure. LVTs wouldn't have to be part if the initial assault either – it's possible to use faster shipping (LCIs, etc.)
s to dash in to land the first wave, then use LVTs to follow that up and perhaps move supplies and troops a bit inland if an opportunity arises.

As it is, some of the big advantages of LVTs (ability to deal with reefs, for example) weren't relevant on D-Day. And yes, LVTs weren't present in the numbers that they were in the Pacific. Sure, they weren't heavily armored, or armored enough to deal with heavy weapons fire. But they weren't useless; adding their lift capacity and ability to move inland to exploit gains might have helped.

Mark 126 Jun 2018 12:33 p.m. PST

Thanks to jdginaz for pointing out the controversy about the books that started this discussion.

Based on the "warning" I have looked online a bit deeper into the books and the author. I have indeed found a fair bit of controversy in several discussion fora. Now I have suddenly become a skeptic.

The only endorsement of the credibility of the book that I can find is an analysis of the reviews, which finds (through statistical analysis of writing styles and wording choices) that the reviews are most likely actually written by a wide variety of people (not bot-written or just re-writes of one view), and as credible as for other popular books of the genre. Which says that the books may indeed be well received, but says nothing about whether they are fabrications to start with.

Yet the majority of criticisms center on "oh no one can find the source materials" or "no one can find the author". Well, "no one can find …" usually just means "I can't find", which is often just a variant of "no one has (yet) proven me wrong". One review I read suggested "I have a friend who is an Austrian historian who says they are clearly a fabrication"*. But a friend of a guy on the internet is not exactly my standard for primary source research.

Still, I too was not able to find where anyone had brought forth evidence that the book's story of the author and materials is credible.

Hmmm.

I am reminded of the controversy during the 1990s that swirled around Guy Sajer's book "The Forgotten Soldier", which is a first-hand account of a young Alsatian man who fought in the Gross Deutchland division. The book received positive reviews initially, and was passably successful. But then someone published a skeptical article, and Usenet military and WW2 history chat groups (before we knew how to spell www) quickly and widely criticized it as a likely fraud. Finally someone took the time and effort to look up Guy Sajer, and interviewed him, and published his replies to various issues that had been raised by those who were convinced he was a fictional author. He was in fact real, he did in fact fight in GD in WW2, and he had in fact written the book about his experiences. And it was all settled. But it took a bit of time for that information to come out and get wide enough circulation for the controversy to settle down.

I don't know which way this new one will go. I will, however, keep my eye on it thanks to jdginaz for pointing it out. Suddenly I find myself skeptical of the books I have read. Skeptical -- but not yet convinced. I think, in time, if the author is real and the contents were sourced as he has said, that information will come out. If it doesn't, then we can probably dump this one into the wehraboo-fanfiction bin, as several on reddit have already suggested.


*In this post, all passages in quotation marks are just my own paraphrasing. I am NOT quoting anyone verbatim from any source. Just in case anyone was wondering …


-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Pages: 1 2 3