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English D-Day Part 2/3


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English D-Day Part 2/3

  1. 1. Airborne landingsAirborne landings American paratroopers in their C-47 transport plane. Mass-landing of Markus Schultz Page 34 of 84
  2. 2. Airborne landings - Operation Chicago (101st AB)Operation Chicago (101st AB)Operation Chicago was the codename for the airborne insertion of the U.S. 101stAirborne Division into Vierville on the early morning of June 6th.The 101st Airborne Divisions objectives for Operation Chicago were: Secure the four causeway exits behind Utah Beach Disrupt German communications Capture Sainte-Come-du-Mont Destroy coastal batteries including the Saint-Germain-de-Varreville battery Destroy bridges on the Carentan causeway, and at Douve River. Capture Douve River lock at la Barquette Reach Highway 13 at Les Forges Link up with the 82nd Airborne Secure the Douve River valleyGeneral Eisenhower gives the order "Full victory - Nothing else" to soldiers just before they board their airplanes. by Markus Schultz Page 35 of 84
  3. 3. Airborne landings - Operation Chicago (101st AB) American Paratroopers of the 101st Airborne prepare for mission.The 101sts Pathfinders jumped from 11 C-47 transport airplanes. The first soldier onthe ground was Capt. Frank L. Lillyman, who touched down at 00:15. His men thenmarked the three landing zones (located behind Utah Beach) for each of the threeParachute Regiments of the Division.6,789 men embarked on 432 additional C-47s around 01:00. 38 C-47s were lost due tovarious causes en route, and the rest were badly scattered because of German Anti-Aircraft fire and poor weather conditions which was in addition the reason they wereunable to find their way to the drop zones. The majority of the 101st landed in an area 25miles long by 15 miles wide. More than 75 percent of those landings inside this areawere in an area of roughly 8 miles by 8 miles west of Sainte-Mère-Église.Some paratroopers drowned after falling into the sea or into areas, which weredeliberate flooded by the Germans. Others landed directly on fortified areas and werequickly captured or killed.Almost all were scattered. After 24 hours, only 2,500 of the 6,000-strong 101st hadrallied. Many of the isolated soldiers continued to march and fight behind enemy linesfor days.Despite the difficulties of the night drop, the troopers did confuse and engage theenemy. Lt. Col. Ed Krause, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 505th PIR landedapproximately 1 mile west of the village of Sainte-Mère-Église. Having gathered 180scattered soldiers in the area during an hour, he and his men advanced on the village. Lt.Col. Ed Krause and his men were able to surprise the Germans stationed in the village by Markus Schultz Page 36 of 84
  4. 4. Airborne landings - Operation Chicago (101st AB)because they had gone back to bed after the initial excitement was over.By 06:00, Lt. Col. Krauses men captured 30 German Soldiers, killed 10 and drove theremaining German soldiers in the nearby woods, thus securing the village.Sainte-Mère-Église, often said to be the first village to been liberated. This is not true.In fact, the British 6th Airborne Division liberated the village of Benouville round about4 hours earlier.The surroundings of Utah Beach were successful secured, resulting in a very successfullanding there. The final casualties for the 101st were 1,240, or about 20%. Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division holding a captured Nazi flag. by Markus Schultz Page 37 of 84
  5. 5. Airborne landings - Operation Detroit (82nd AB)Operation Detroit (82nd AB) Parachutists from 82nd Airborne Division prepare their equipment.Operation Detroit was the insertion of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division into Normandyon the night of June 5th. The drop zone for the 82nd Airborne was around Sainte-Mère-Église, to the west of Utah beach, intending to protect the western flank of the invasion.The objective of the 82nd Division was to secure the village of Sainte-Mère-Église andto secure the bridges along the Merderet River. By doing this, the 4th Infantry Divisionlanding at Utah Beach could easily make their way northwards towards the ports atCherbourg.Initially the 82nd Airborne had been tasked to drop further west, in the middle of theCotentin peninsula, allowing the sea-landing forces their easier access across thepeninsula.They should also prevent the Germans from reinforcing the northern part of thepeninsula. These plans were changed and the 82nd had to land much closer to thebeachhead, as at the last minute the Allied intelligence found out, that the 91stLuftlandedivison was in this area.Casualties for the 82nd on D-Day were about 1,260 of 6,600, or about 20%. by Markus Schultz Page 38 of 84
  6. 6. Airborne landings - Operation Detroit (82nd AB)During the day the heavier elements of the Division landed by glider in OperationElmira. A Paratrooper from 82nd Airborne Division makes his way trough a field near Sainte-Mère-Église. Soldiers from 82nd Airborne Division, advance into the outskirts of the village of St. Marcouf. by Markus Schultz Page 39 of 84
  7. 7. Airborne landings - Operation Tonga (UK 6th AB)Operation Tonga (UK 6th AB)Operation Tonga was the codename given to the landings of the British 6th AirborneDivision on the night of June 5th . It included the first airlift, bringing the 6th AirborneDivision as the first full unit into the battle. They started 16 minutes past midnight.The second airlift was carried out on the evening of the 6th June, and was codenamedOperation Mallard.As part of Operation Overlord the British 6th Airborne Division had to land byparachute and glider on the eastern flank of the landing area surrounding the River Ornein the area around the village of Ranville. Its approximately six miles far from the southof Sword Beach and ten miles from the north-east of Caen. The purpose of theselandings was to hold the left flank of the landing area, especially key bridges,preventing German armor from “rolling up” the beaches from one side.Operation Tonga had four main objectives: To capture the two bridges over the River Orne, near Ranville, and the Caen Canal, at Bénouville, of which both were connected by the same road with just 500 yards between them. This mission was called Operation Coup-de-Main. To destroy the Merville Battery, a heavily fortified gun emplacement, four miles northeast of Ranville. The destruction of the River Dives bridges, approximately seven miles to the east of Ranville. It was certain that German counterattacks would be launched from this direction and that they would threaten the eastern flank of the invasion area. Once these tasks had been accomplished, the Division was to secure the Ranville area and be ready by dawn to fight off enemy counterattacks. In particular, the Division had to occupy the bridge near Ranville and hold back the enemy as long as possible to secure the eastern flank. by Markus Schultz Page 40 of 84
  8. 8. Airborne landings - Operation Tonga (UK 6th AB) Map of Operation Tonga.Half of the 6th Airborne Division was deployed during Operation Tonga. The 3rd and 5thParachute Brigades with their attached Engineers and medical services, a Company ofglider infantry, and a Battery and a Troop of anti-tank guns. by Markus Schultz Page 41 of 84
  9. 9. Airborne landings - Operation Tonga (UK 6th AB)Operation Coup-de-MainThe initial assault was carried out by 181 soldiers - four platoons of D and two of BCompanies, 2nd Ox & Bucks - in six Horsa gliders, led by Major John Howard.Three of the gliders landed within fifty meters (164 feet) of Pegasus at 16 minutes pastmidnight on June 6th. The first glider, containing Major Howard and No.1 Platoonlanded heavily but unnoticed by the Germans.No.1 Platoon, led by Lt. Den Brotheridge, was quickly out of their glider and going tocapture the bridge.Throwing a grenade into a machine-gun position, Brotheridge caught a shot through theneck.He was mortal wounded and was the first British soldier who died as result of enemyaction on D-Day.No. 2 Platoon safely landed in the second glider and immediately moved up to supportNo. 1 Platoon. No.3 Platoon crashed during landing and a dozen men left trapped in thewreckage and one drowned in a lake.Throughout all of these actions, the accompanying Royal Engineers of the 249th FieldCompany, had been ignoring the enemy fire directed at them as they climbed all overthe bridge, searching for demolition charges.In fact, the Germans had prepared the bridge for demolition but didnt place the charges,fearing an accidental explosion or sabotage by the French Resistance.After the initial shock of this sudden assault, the Germans fought back, but weredefeated.A few hundred yards to the east, spanning the River Orne, stands another bridge knownas Horsa Bridge, or Ranville Bridge. This was the second objective of the Ox & Bucks,and was assaulted by the remaining three gliders, of which one landed miles away fromthe bridge and so did not take part in the raid.The other two gliders hit the target. No.6 Platoon landed first and begun to attack thebridge, but this time the sound of fighting in the direction of Pegasus Bridge had alertedthe Germans. Fortunately, the Germans had just one machine-gun position. After firinga few rounds, the gun-crew fled. by Markus Schultz Page 42 of 84
  10. 10. Airborne landings - Operation Tonga (UK 6th AB)A few minutes later, No.5 Platoon arrived at the bridge, which was already beensecured.The Coup-de-Main raid had been a complete success. There were few casualties andboth bridges were taken in just ten minutes.Most of the 6th Airborne landed by parachute 40 minutes later. One of their tasks was toreinforce the defenders of the bridges, which were successful held by Major Howardsmen against German attacks before the first troops arrived.Talking about D-Day, the 7th Battalion Parachute Regiment is overlooked very often.They were the relieving forces who were to withstand the worst of the Germancounterattacks west of the Caen Canal throughout D-Day. The 600 men established awide bridgehead around Pegasus Bridge, whether they had no support weaponry,mortars or medium machine-guns because of a chaotic drop. They were under constantenemy attacks, which were frequent supported by armored vehicles. Transport moving across the Caen Canal Bridge at Benouville, June 1944. by Markus Schultz Page 43 of 84
  11. 11. Airborne landings - Operation Tonga (UK 6th AB)The first relief for those cut-off troops came from 6th Commando 1st Special ServiceBrigade, led by Lord Lovat. They arrived with the sound of the Scottish bagpipes,which were plaid by the 21-year-old “Mad Piper” Private Bill Millin. The arrival ofthese troops, however, did little to help the defense of the bridges as their orders were tocross over the Bridge and help secure terrain east of the Caen Canal, which the 6thAirborne Division was still holding. Soldiers of 6th Airborne Division pose for a photo with a local French girl in Benouville. by Markus Schultz Page 44 of 84
  12. 12. Airborne landings - Operation Tonga (UK 6th AB)The Merville Battery Map of the area around the Merville BatteryEach of the four guns of the Merville Battery were sited within a reinforced concretecasemate, six and a half feet thick with a further six feet of soil above. The decision wasthat British paratroopers should attack and destroy the guns a few hours before thelandings at Sword Beach began. The 9th Battalion Parachute Regiment was selected forthe task.Lieutenant-Colonel Terence Otway, the commander of the 9th Battalion, formulatedfollowing plan: Firstly, a team of four men should land in advance of the remainder ofthe Battalion. They should make their way to the Battery and cut holes in the barbedwire and clear paths through the minefield. At 00:30, before this reconnaissance partyhad reached the Battery, 100 heavy bombers of the Royal Airforce would attack it with4,000lb bombs in the hope of destroying the position or at least causing damage uponthe defenses. by Markus Schultz Page 45 of 84
  13. 13. Airborne landings - Operation Tonga (UK 6th AB)At 00:50, the main force of the 9th Battalion would land and they were be expected toreach the Battery by 04:00. The 9th Battalion should have been joined by a unit of RoyalEngineers from the 591st Parachute Squadron to deal with the barbed wire and theminefield. There also should be two guns of the 4th Airlanding Anti-Tank Battery,which would be used to destroy the steel doors that sealed each of the casemates.At 04:30, No.4 Platoon should make an attack on the main gate area whilst two snipergroups fire at enemy troops in pillboxes (a kind of a small bunker), machine-gunemplacements, and upon flak towers.The next phase was to be the timed arrival of three Horsa gliders, containing anotherBattalions company and more engineers, who were to land inside the Battery itself andattack each of the casemates.In the event of failure, the battleship, HMS Arethusa, would open fire on the Battery at05:30 if no success signal could be received. Reconnaissance units of 6th Airborne synchronize their watches.The entire plan broke apart completely, due to navigational errors, low cloud, and thepathfinders being dropped astray and so were unable to mark the drop zone for the 9thBattalion, the paratroopers were scattered anywhere up to ten miles from the zone.Lt-Colonel Otway waited at the Rendezvous Point, but by 02:50 only 150 of his 650 by Markus Schultz Page 46 of 84
  14. 14. Airborne landings - Operation Tonga (UK 6th AB)men had arrived. None of the Jeeps, anti-tank guns, mortars, mine detectors, medicalpersonnel, sappers or the naval liaison party had arrived, either.With time pressing on, Otway had no choice but to attack with the troops, which werewith him. When they arrived at the Battery, they found that their raiding party hadaccomplished their mission, having informed themselves of German positions as well asclearing paths through the minefield. The RAF bombers had completely missed theBattery. A Horsa Glider over France.By 04:30, the Battalion was reorganized into four assault groups, led by Major Parry.As they advancing through the minefield, they were spotted and six German machine-gunners opened fire upon 9th Battalion. A small party of paratroopers under thecommand of Sergeant Knight engaged the three guns near the main gate, taking outtheir crews with bayonets and grenades, whilst the only machine-gun available to theBattalion dealt with the other German machine guns.Knight then led his group around to the main gate and improvised the diversionaryattack by opening fire, which suitably distracted the Germans. by Markus Schultz Page 47 of 84
  15. 15. Airborne landings - Operation Tonga (UK 6th AB)As this was happening, two of the assault gliders approached the Battery, the thirdhaving cast-off over England when its towrope snapped. One crashed down south of thebattery. One landed near a village next to the battery.As the gliders flew by, Lt. Colonel Otway gave the order to attack and the four assaultgroups attacked. In the darkness, the marked paths were not so clearly visible and so itwas inevitable that some men went off the path and onto mines. Three Germanmachine-gun positions fired on the assault groups but British snipers soon knockedthese off.Returning the enemy fire, firing from the hip and lobbing grenades at any strong pointsthat they encountered, the paratroopers marched towards the casemates. Otway orderedhis reserve to deal with the final machine-guns that were firing at the assault teams, whoby now were pushing into the casemates and engaging their enemies. The guns wereknocked out using the high-explosive anti-tank Gammon bombs each man carried. Thefighting began to die down as the garrison was at last overcome, and by 05:00 it was allover. Nearly all of the Germans (approx. 160) were killed. Of the 150 men of the 9thBattalion who began the assault, 65 had been killed or wounded.The soldiers found out that the guns, which were told to be such a great threat to theinvasion, were just obsolete 100mm guns instead of the 150mm caliber.Although the destruction of these guns saved many lives at the beaches. The assaultupon the Merville Battery, by a small and ill-equipped force, is still regarded as one ofthe most outstanding achievements in the history of the Parachute Regiment. by Markus Schultz Page 48 of 84
  16. 16. Airborne landings - Operation Tonga (UK 6th AB) One of the four guns of the Merville Markus Schultz Page 49 of 84
  17. 17. Airborne landings - Operation Tonga (UK 6th AB)River Dives BridgesThe Royal Engineers of the 3rd Parachute Squadron were given the task of destroyingthe four bridges over the River Dives and the one over the River Divette.They were supported by the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion and by the 8th ParachuteBattalion. The Canadians were in the north at Varaville and Robehomme and the Britishin the south at Troarn and Bures.The B Company of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion had to escort the Engineers ofthe 3rd Parachute Squadron to destroy the bridge at Robehomme. For some reasons, twoof their three platoons landed in the flooded areas that surrounded their drop zone.A unknown number of paratroopers drowned. Many of those who were able to rescuethemselves of drowning had to give up their weapons and their equipment.B Companys 5th Platoon landed on their designated spot and headed for the bridge,linking up with various units, of which some should have been miles away (for example8th Battalion).When they reached the bridge, they had to realize, that none of the engineers had theirdetonation charges with them. With their anti-tank Gammon bombs, they were able todamage but not destroy the bridge.A group of engineers who arrived at around 06:00 finally destroyed the bridge.The Canadians C Company was to accompany other engineers to Varaville to destroythe bridge over the River Divette. Because of the scattered drop only 15 of the original120 men headed for the bridge but Engineers of the 3rd Parachute Squadron successfullydestroyed the bridge at around 09:00.The 8th Battalion had experienced great difficulties in forming up due to the scattereddrop. Round about the half of the Airplanes dropped the paratroopers 4 miles to thesouth of the designated area.By 03:00, there were only 141 men at the Rendezvous Point. The Commander,Lieutenant-Colonel Pearson began to advance upon Troarn.To cover his rear, Pearson established an ambush of two PIAT anti-tank weapons along by Markus Schultz Page 50 of 84
  18. 18. Airborne landings - Operation Tonga (UK 6th AB)the road to intercept any units moving towards the Battalions rear, and a few hours laterthis group engaged and destroyed six vehicles of the 21st Panzer Division.The 8th Battalion was not yet strong enough to attack Troarn, and so they stopped at acrossroads round about a mile away from the village in the Bois de Bavent woodland.The Commander of the 3rd Parachute Squadron, Major Roseveare, was already on hisway to Troarn in a Jeep with a small group of his men. They drove straight trough thevillage at high speed, the Germans fired at them, and they returned fire.The jeep-crew made their way to the bride at the other side of the village and set uptheir explosives. By 05:00 a 20 foot hole has been blown into the center of the bridge.Because the 8th Battalion knew nothing of this, they were preparing to make their wayto Troarn.They linked up with other units and were involved in several highly successfulskirmishes with German units on their way.When they reached the destroyed bridge, they laid additional charges and doubled thedamage. Allied intelligence picture of the Troarn Bridge. by Markus Schultz Page 51 of 84
  19. 19. Airborne landings - Operation Tonga (UK 6th AB)Defensive PositionsHaving completed all primary tasks, the 6th Airborne Division prepared to defend theirpositions.The 7th Battalion of the 5th Parachute Brigade was still fighting hard in Bénouville, westof the River Orne, whilst east of it, the 13th Battalion had captured Ranville severalhours after they had landed. This became the first village to be liberated in the invasion(and not Sainte-Mère-Église, as it is often said).The 12th Parachute Battalion was positioned a little to the south of Ranville protectingthe Division from attacks from the south. The 12th Parachute Battalion was attackedseveral times during D-Day by the 125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment but held theirground most successfully and could dissuaded further attacks.The seriously under strength 3rd Parachute Brigade was charged with holding the areanorth and east of Ranville.The 8th and the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalions had already established themselves inthe Bois de Bavent woodland and the village of Le Mesni.In the north, the 9th Battalion had left the Merville Battery behind and was proceedingtowards its final objective, the village of Le Plein.The Battalion had only eighty men left and was too weak to overwhelm the Germansthere. They concentrated themselves in the Chateau dAmfreville instead.During the afternoon, the 1st Special Service Brigade arrived to take over the task ofdriving the Germans out of Le Plein. They secured the village during the evening.Apart from the fact, that because of the scattered drop, the 6th Airborne Division hadjust 50% of their strength, Operation Tonga was a complete success. All objectives forOperation Tonga are accomplished.During the night, reinforcements for the already landed troops arrived during OperationMallard. by Markus Schultz Page 52 of 84
  20. 20. Amphibious landingsAmphibious landings American Soldiers looking for cover in their landing craft. American soldiers wading through the water onto the Utah Beach. Picture taken by the famous war-photographer Robert Markus Schultz Page 53 of 84
  21. 21. Amphibious landings At low tide the obstacles laid by the Germans can be clearly seen. Map of the different Beaches.In the following, I will present the processes on the different beaches. I will start in theeast at Sword Beach and proceed to westwards up to Utah Beach. by Markus Schultz Page 54 of 84
  22. 22. Amphibious landings - Sword BeachSword Beach British infantry waiting to move off Queen sector, Sword Beach, while under enemy fire.Sword Beach, stretching 8 km from Ouistreham to Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer, was thefurthest east of the landing beaches and in a distance of around 15 km from Caen.The Sword Beach was clustered into four zones called Oboe, Peter, Queen and Roger(from west to east).The German defenses in the area were, in comparison to other sites, light. There werebeach obstacles, anti-tank ditches, mines, machine guns and mortars at the beaches andacross the River Orne at Merville there were heavy guns.The landing of the British I Corps, comprising British 3rd Infantry Division and the 27thArmored Brigade, was concentrated in Queen Sector near Hermanville-sur-Mer. Thekey objective was to reach and capture Caen and the nearby Carpiquet aerodrome.Landings began at 07:25 when the 3rd Division landed in Peter and Queen. AttachedCommando units were tasked with seizing the bridges on the Orne River and the CaenCanal, linking up with paratroops of the 6th Airborne Division who were holding thebridges and had earlier destroyed the batteries at Merville. by Markus Schultz Page 55 of 84
  23. 23. Amphibious landings - Sword BeachGerman resistance on the beach was weak. Within 45 minutes the fighting had beenpushed inland and on the east flank the Commando units had reached the Orne and theparatroopers by midday. The British had been unable to link up with the Canadianforces to the west until much later that day. The only significant German counter-attackin this sector was at 16:00, when the 21st Panzer Division pushed in two waves all theway from Caen to the beach between Lion-sur-Mer and Luc-sur-Mer. All German tankswere complete neutralized by late evening.The day ended with around 30,000 British troops ashore and only 700 casualties.However, Caen could not been reached and facing stiffening resistance, the assault hadstalled 6 km short of the town. The British forces were bogged down on the beaches bythe sheer volume of men and equipment being unloaded. British soldiers landing at Sword Beach by Markus Schultz Page 56 of 84
  24. 24. Amphibious landings - Juno BeachJuno Beach Map of Juno Beach. Canadians landing at Juno Beachby Markus Schultz Page 57 of 84
  25. 25. Amphibious landings - Juno BeachThe Juno Beach was located between Sword Beach beginning at Saint-Aubin-sur-Merand Gold Beach beginning at Courseulles-sur-Mer. It was the assigned beach forCanadian 3rd Division (with the 2nd Canadian Armored Brigade) and so its often calledthe Canadian Beach, too.Juno beach was divided up into two sectors, the one to the west called Mike and the oneto the east called Nan.The 7th Brigade, supported by the 6th Canadian Armored Regiment (1st Hussars), shouldland at Sector Mike.The 8th Brigade, supported by the 10th Canadian Armored Regiment (The Fort GarryHorse), landed on Nan sector. The 9th Brigade was to be left in reserve.Juno Beach was the second most heavily defended landing zones chosen, after OmahaBeach.The Germans in this landing zone was the 716th Division guarding the beach with 11batteries of 155 mm guns and 9 batteries of 75 mm guns. General Richter was theircommander.The seawall was twice the height of Omaha Beachs and the ocean was heavy mined inthis area.Aerial bombardments of Juno Beach in the days leading up to D-Day caused nosignificant damage to German fortifications.In addition, Naval bombardments, running from 06:00 to 07:30 destroyed less than 15% of the bunkers guarding the beach.During the end of the bombardments and the landing of the first Canadian troops, theGermans had half an hour to regroup and prepare for the assault.In the first hour of the assault on Juno Beach, the Canadian forces sufferedapproximately 50% casualty rate, compared to the casualty rates of the Americans atOmaha Beach.Round about an hour after the beginning at the beach, the Canadian troops cleared theseawall, quickly advanced inland, and so had a much easier time subduing the Germandefenses than the Americans at Omaha. by Markus Schultz Page 58 of 84
  26. 26. Amphibious landings - Juno BeachAt noon, the 3rd Canadian Division had completely landed and pushed severalkilometers inland to secure bridges over the Seulles River. At 18:00, they captured thetown of Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer.Units of the 1st Hussars (Armored) were the only unit in Normandy that had reached itsobjectives that day. They had pushed 15 km inland and crossed the highway betweenCaen and Bayeux. However, those units were forced to pull back because they hadpassed the supporting infantry.By the end of D-Day, 15,000 Canadians had been successful landed. The 3rd CanadianDivision had penetrated further into France than any other Allied force, despite havingfaced such strong resistance at the beachhead.The 21st Panzer Division launched the first D-Day counterattack between Sword andJuno beaches, and the Canadians held against several counterattacks by the 12th SSPanzer Division Hitlerjugend on June 7th and 8th .With over 570 dead and 340 wounded there were only few casualties, compared toOmaha Beach. On the following day, the Canadian forces joined with the British forces,landed at Sword Beach. Wounded Canadian soldiers at Juno Beach. by Markus Schultz Page 59 of 84
  27. 27. Amphibious landings - Gold BeachGold Beach British soldiers embarking their landing crafts at Gold Beach German Soldiers preparing for Markus Schultz Page 60 of 84
  28. 28. Amphibious landings - Gold BeachGold Beach was the centered invasion beach during the invasion. It lay between OmahaBeach and Juno Beach, stretching 8 km wide and was divided into four sectors. FromWest to East they were named How, Item, Jig, and King.The British 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division and the British 8th Armored Brigadeof the 2nd Army under Lieutenant General Miles Dempsey were to invade Gold Beach.Their primary objective was to seize Bayeux, the highway between Caen and Bayeuxand the port of Arromanches. Then they had to make contact with the Americanslanding at Omaha Beach to the West and the Canadians landing at Juno Beach to theEast.The German troops on this beach belonged to the 1st Battalion of the 352nd Division.H-Hour for the Gold Beach landing was scheduled for 07:25.At the beginning of the operation, there was heavy resistance. However after the Britishbroke through the German lines, casualties began to drop off. The final toll of 500 deadis much fewer, than those who suffered at the bloody Omaha Beach.There were such high casualties, partly because the swimming Sherman DD tanks werelate, and the Germans had strongly fortified a village on the beach.No.47 (Royal Marines) Commando was the last British Commando unit to land andcame ashore on Gold Beach, east of Le Hamel.Their task was to proceed inland then turn west and make a ten mile (16 km) marchthrough enemy territory to attack the coastal harbor of Port en Bessin from the rear.This small port, was well sheltered in the chalk cliffs and so it was to be a prime harborfor supplies to be brought in including fuel by underwater pipe from tankers mooredoffshore.By midnight of June 6th, the British forces had landed round about 25,000 men at GoldBeach.They had penetrated six miles into the occupied France and fulfilled one of theirsecondary objectives by meeting up with the Canadians who had landed at Juno Beach.Their primary objectives, seizing Bayeux and reaching the Caen-Bayeux highway, and by Markus Schultz Page 61 of 84
  29. 29. Amphibious landings - Gold Beachin their secondary objective, to meet the Americans from Omaha Beach, has not beenaccomplished.The British 50th Division overcame its beginning difficulties and advanced to theoutskirts of Bayeux by the end of the day. With the exception of the Canadians at JunoBeach, no Division came closer to its objectives than the 50th. Soldiers landing at Gold Beach. by Markus Schultz Page 62 of 84
  30. 30. Amphibious landings - Omaha BeachOmaha Beach Troops in an LCVP landing craft approach Omaha Beach.Omaha Beach is about 3.5 miles (5.6 km) long; stretching from Sainte-Honorine-des-Pertes to Vierville-sur-Mer. The Omaha Beach clustered into seven sectors: Fox Green,Easy Red, Easy Green, Dog Red, Dog White, Dog Green and Charlie, from east to west.The Germans had strongly fortificated their Atlantic Wall along this beach and thegentle downward slope gave them an excellent firing position down the beach.As allied intelligence said that the less trained 714th Division controlled the beach, thetroops were expecting an easy fight. But the allied intelligence failed to realize that the714th Division had been replaced by the 352nd a few days before the invasion and so the352nd Division, as one of the best trained units in the area, was defending Omaha Beachat June 6th.The 29th Infantry Division, joined by 8 companies of Army Rangers, reassigned fromPointe du Hoc, had to land on the west side of the beach. by Markus Schultz Page 63 of 84
  31. 31. Amphibious landings - Omaha BeachThe 1st Infantry Division had to land at the eastern sector. After their landings in Africaand Sicily, this was their third amphibious assault during the war.The main objective of the Omaha Beach landing was to secure the virtual line betweenPort-en-Bessin and the Vire River and later pushing south towards Saint-Lô. Map of the Omaha beachhead.The Allied bombardment of the beach defenses was largely ineffective: Most of thebombs hit the ground far away from the beach. The initial naval bombardment was alsoineffective, due to the short duration (40 minutes) of the bombardment.German defenses were mostly intact when the assault began. The Allied assault troopshad nearly no cover or craters on the Omaha Beach, which was 400-yard deep at lowtide.The carefully planned assault waves turned into chaos because of wind, waves, andmost of the landing crafts far away from their assigned targets. Tired and seasick troops,weighed down by wet and sand-filled gear, were not able to run across the open beach. by Markus Schultz Page 64 of 84
  32. 32. Amphibious landings - Omaha Beach Plan of a Sherman DD amphibious tank Deployment of a Sherman DD swimming tank.About half of the swimming Sherman DD Tanks intended to give armored support sankbefore reaching the shore, due to bad weather conditions and deployment orders thatwere inappropriate for such conditions. Nearly all tanks, which sank, were launched asplanned, 6 kilometers offshore. by Markus Schultz Page 65 of 84
  33. 33. Amphibious landings - Omaha BeachThe landings at Omaha Beach caused heavy American casualties: There were over2,400 casualties, most in the first few hours. The casualties of the different units variedwidely. Units landing directly in front of the fortified bunkers were killed as the landingcraft ramps dropped.The small opening of the Higgins craft caused the slow disembarkment of the troops,making them a easy target for the deadly MG42 fire.The units, lucky to land on areas of the beach obscured by smoke or away frombunkers, made it onto the beach with few losses. Another important factor was the skilland courage of landing craft drivers. Some of the inexperienced emptied their boats toofar off the beach and the soldiers had to drop their weapons and supplies or drown in thewater. Plan of a LCVP “Higgins Craft” and Soldiers deploying a LCVPThe Allied Command off the coast considered to stop the attack on Omaha Beach and toredirect the troops to Utah Beach.But then several small groups of surviving infantry units, which were initially pinneddown on the beach behind the cover of the seawall, abandoned their original commandsto move up through the fortified beach exits and did a improvised direct attack up thesteep embankments and through minefields between the bunkers. These advances werethe first breakthroughs at Omaha Beach.The German trenches and pillboxes then were attacked from the rear. by Markus Schultz Page 66 of 84
  34. 34. Amphibious landings - Omaha Beach American medics try to save the life of this young soldier. Reinforcements of men and equipment moving Markus Schultz Page 67 of 84
  35. 35. Amphibious landings - Pointe du HocPointe du HocPointe du Hoc is a cliff top located 4 miles (6.4 km) west of Omaha Beach, and standson 100 ft (30 m) tall cliffs overlooking the sea.The Germans had based six 155mm artillery emplacements on the cliffs, whichoverlooked the landing beaches. These guns could lay artillery fire upon Omaha andUtah Beach to stop the landings and undoubtedly causing massive casualties.Although there were several preparing aerial and naval bombardments, which consistedof more total firepower than the nuclear bomb Little Boy (approx. 16 kilotons of TNT),the fortifications could not be destroyed.Therefore, the Command decided to attack Pointe du Hoc by infantry forces of the 2ndUS Ranger Battalion on early D-Day. Pre-invasion bombing of Pointe du Hoc by 9th Air Force bombers. by Markus Schultz Page 68 of 84
  36. 36. Amphibious landings - Pointe du HocThe assault plan was a very risky plan. The three companies of Army Rangers,commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James Earl Rudder, should land by sea at the foot ofthe cliffs, scale those using ropes, ladders and grapples under enemy fire, and engagethe enemy at the top of the cliff. This should have been carried out before the mainlandings. US Army Rangers demonstrate the rope ladders they used to scale Pointe du HocBecause of initial setbacks and due to bad weather conditions and navigationalproblems, the result was a 40-minute delay. Additionally, the Rangers lost the elementof surprise because of the drivers of the landing craft did not go directly to theirassigned landing zone.Despite of these problems, the cliffs were scaled quickly and the strongpoint was by Markus Schultz Page 69 of 84
  37. 37. Amphibious landings - Pointe du Hocassaulted successfully. Nearby Allied destroyers provided fire support during the attack.The Germans defended their position very hard by shooting and throwing grenades,rocks, and even bottles.The soldiers discovered that their main objective – the artillery battery – had beenmoved out of position. That was possibly a result of the immense air attacks before D-Day.The Rangers regrouped at the top of the cliffs, and a few went off in search of the guns,tracking them down inland and destroying them. This relocated battery was planned fordefending Utah Beach.In fact, the Feldmarschall Erwin Rommel himself gave the order to move the batterywhen placed in charge as Commander of the Atlantic Wall defense. The removal of thebattery had actually been completed on June 4th.Because of the poor weather conditions, the Allied reconnaissance did not notice theremoval.After this successful assault the Rangers had to hold this high ground, whether they hadbeen yet isolated from other Allied assault forces.The Rangers defended their location from several German counterattacks over the nexttwo days, until they got reinforced by troops from Omaha Beach.It was planned additional eight companies of Rangers should follow the first attack, ifsuccessful. The firstly landed troops should fire flares from the cliff tops. This should bethe signal for the second wave troops to join the Rangers at Pointe du Hoc.Because of the delayed landing, the signal came too late and so the additional Rangers(from 5th Ranger Battalion) landed at Omaha Beach instead of Pointe du Hoc.At the end of this 2-days action, the landing force of 225 men was reduced to about 90men who could still fight. by Markus Schultz Page 70 of 84
  38. 38. Amphibious landings - Pointe du Hoc Soldiers of 2nd Ranger Battalion at Pointe du Hoc. Soldiers of 2nd Ranger Battalion at Pointe du Markus Schultz Page 71 of 84
  39. 39. Amphibious landings - Utah BeachUtah BeachUtah beach, about three miles long, was the westernmost of the five landing beaches,located between Pouppeville and La Madeleine. This beach has been added to theinvasion plan towards the end of the planning stages, as more landing craft becameavailable.Because of bad weather, the landing force was substantially off course and landed somemiles westwards of their assigned zone. The 4th US Infantry Division landed there withrelatively little resistance.The landing should be organized in four waves. The first wave consisted of 20 LCVPsor “Higgins Boats”, each carrying a 30-man assault team from the 8th InfantryRegiment. This first wave should hit the beach at 06:30. Eight LCTs (Landing Craft,Tanks), each carrying 4 Sherman DD Tanks, should land at the same time. The secondwave consisted of 32 LCVPs with additional troops of the two assault battalions, somecombat engineers, and eight naval demolition teams, which were to clear the beach ofunderwater obstacles. The third wave was timed for H plus 15 minutes, containing 8more LCTs with dozer tanks. The wave was followed within two minutes by the fourthwave, mainly detachments of the 237th and 299th Engineer Combat Battalions, to clearthe beaches. Map of the Utah beach landings. by Markus Schultz Page 72 of 84
  40. 40. Amphibious landings - Utah BeachThe first wave arrived on time. When the LCVPs were from 300 to 400 yards (273 to364 meters) from the beach, the assault company commanders fired smoke grenades tosignal the lifting of naval support fire.Almost exactly, at H-Hour the assault crafts lowered their ramps and six hundred menwalked through waist-deep water and waded the last 100 yards (91 meters) to the beach.Enemy artillery had fired a few bursts at sea, but otherwise there was no opposition atH-Hour. Soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division move onto Utah Beach, carrying their equipment.The first troops which reached the shore were from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry. The1st Battalion landed a few minutes later.Both came ashore considerably south of the designated beaches. The 2nd Battalionshould have landed at Uncle Red Beach opposite to Exit 3. The 1st Battalion wassupposed to land directly opposite to the strong point at les Dunes de Varreville. Thelandings were made, however, opposite to Exit 2 about 2,000 yards (1,820 meters)south. by Markus Schultz Page 73 of 84
  41. 41. Amphibious landings - Utah BeachThis error could have caused great confusion. In fact, it did not. The original plans, inwhich each unit had a specific mission, could not be carried out in detail, of course.Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., the assistant commander of the 4th InfantryDivision, famous for volunteering several times, against his commanders bestjudgment, to go in the first wave and personally lead the initial attack on the beach.Realizing that that the landings had been made at a wrong place, he personally made areconnaissance of the area. He then returned to the point of landing, contacted thecommanders of the two battalions and coordinated the attack on the enemy positions. Afamous quote of Roosevelt says, "We’ll start the war from here!"His commitment led the landing at Utah Beach to a complete success. For these actionsRoosevelt was later awarded the Medal of Honor.By the end of D-Day, 20,000 soldiers and 1,700 vehicles had landed on the beach.There were only 197 casualties recorded on this beach.Several factors contributed to the success at Utah vs. the bloody battle at nearby Omaha: Fewer German fortifications: Less bunkers and less obstacles on the beach. Effective pre-invasion bombardment: Many of the known bunkers were destroyed. Amphibious Sherman DD tanks: nearly all of these swimming tanks made it to the beach, because they were launched half as far out as at Omaha. Miss-landings: because most of the invasion force landed opposite to Exit 2, this one was the less fortified one. Paratroopers: the most significant difference was that 13,000 men from the 101st Airborne Division (Mainly 502nd and 506th Parachute Infantry Regiments) and the 82nd Airborne Division were already fighting inland. Five hours before the first Utah landings, the paratroopers and glider forces had been fighting their way towards the beach, clearing the enemy from positions along the exits. The paratroopers also greatly confused the enemy. They also prevented counter-attacks to the landing area.To sum up the real casualties of Utah Beach landings, you have to consider the heavycasualties of the 101st Airborne Division. They lost about 20% of their men. by Markus Schultz Page 74 of 84
  42. 42. Amphibious landings - Utah Beach Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division in a French village near Utah Beach. Amphibious Sherman DD Tanks approaching at Utah Markus Schultz Page 75 of 84