No bombardment on Omaha?

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by vinnye, Oct 29, 2012.

  1. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    I have heard it said recently that one of the main reasons for Omaha being such a hellhole for the US troops was the lack of prior bombardment.
    Apparently, it is claimed that the aircraft that were supposed to plaster the beach were late in forming up - and the landing ships were already approaching the beach. So the bombers were called off to avoid blue on blue casualties. This meant that the German troops were ready and waiting. The GI's had no bomb craters to hide in and suffered horribly.
    Is this true or a red herring?
     
  2. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    It was "bombed". Not a single bomb landed on the beach,all fell inland.
    Steve
     
  3. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    ..and it wasn't bombed or bombarded by ship fire earlier to maintain the element of surprise as long as possible.
     
  4. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    It was supposed to be bombarded with rockets but they were fired from too long range and they all fell short,into the sea. The beach was bracketed by various ordnance but left unscathed.

    Later naval gunfire was brought to bear on German fortifications.

    Steve
     
  5. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Long range artillery of Fortress Artillery Detachment 1261 (i.e. Maisey Battery) was the backbone of Omaha Beach defenses.
    .....12 x 155mm GPF (French) guns.
    .....4 x 122mm (Russian) howitzers.
    .....Multiple forward observer positions in bunkers overlooking the beach with secure communications to to the Maisey FC center.
    .....Artillery pre-registered on Omaha Beach.

    Maisey Battery was located in a fortified reverse slope position making it difficult to bomb and almost impossible to hit with naval bombardment. As long as the artillery fire base and at least one forward observer bunker remained intact shelling Omaha Beach was like shooting fish in a barrel. The Heer engineer who laid out this defensive position knew his business.

    Maisey Battery was attacked by both RAF Bomber Command and naval bombardment. Both missed. That's why Omaha Beach was such a bloodbath.


    Merville Battery was located 13km inland from Sword Beach. However the fire base long range artillery was not yet operational on 6 June 1944. That's why things were easier on the three British landing beaches.
     
  6. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Utah beach was successfully bombed.
    Steve
     
  7. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Carpet bombing beach sand accomplishes nothing. What specifically was bombed?
     
  8. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    http://www.dday-overlord.com/eng/german_batteries.htm
    batteries.gif

    Pointe du Hoc can be ignored as it was incomplete and unarmed. Somehow it still manages to figure prominently in most popular histories of D-Day.

    Merville can also be ignored as the heavy artillery was not yet in place.

    Maisey was located inland of Omaha Beach and fully operational yet few have heard of it. Why is that?
     
  9. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    I do think there was a little more to it than that. There were a number of differences between Omaha and the British landing beaches in particular the better tank support and use of Hobarts funnies. The Allies did plan for the reduction of the Merville Battery and it was assulted by airborne forces they didn't just rely on bombers and naval attack
     
  10. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    I was thinking along the lines that any bombing / bombardment of the beaches would destroy some mines and obstacles and also provide craters to shelter troops in from machine gun fire.
    I know that Naval gun fire was brought to bear later on at Omaha to help reduce the resistance from pill boxes / machine guns. I believe this did aid in the breakout from the beach?
     
  11. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    716th Division. Merville Battery.
    1 x Artillery regiment which formed the core of Merville Battery.
    13km inland from Sword Beach.
    …..640m x 460m.
    …..Protected by wire obstacles, 91m deep minefield and an anti-tank ditch.
    …..2cm cannon and machineguns protected against air and infantry attack.
    …..Still under construction as of 6 June 1944. Apparently not operational. Instead it had a single battery of old 10cm howitzers to assist with local defense.
    …..Seized by a British Bn size task force 6 June 1944 after a 100 bomber attack.
    …..German casualties: 22 dead. 22 POW. Apparently the garrison was tiny.
    …..Reoccupied by German forces 7 June 1944. Remained in German hands until 17 August 1944 when German forces withdrew from France.

    Allies planned for the reduction of Pointe du Hoc too. Those attacks look good in newsreels but otherwise made no difference as the batteries were not yet operational.
     
  12. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    The intention was to crater the beach to create cover for the attacking troops. Given the timing of the first landings relative to the tides the beaches otherwise became several hundred yards of open ground with virtually no cover save enemy beach obstacles,as was demonstrated on Omaha.

    Steve
     
  13. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Whose idea was that?

    I spent 14 years in the U.S. Army. A crater on the beach is not where I want to be when 155mm artillery shells from Maisey Battery start raining down.

    IMO the U.S. Army should have devoted an entire airborne division (82nd or 101st) to the capture of Maisey Battery. If successful that would have made a decisive difference on Omaha Beach.
     
  14. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #14 stona, Oct 31, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2012
    Somebody on Eisenhower's staff?

    I'd rather bound from crater to crater through the interlocking fields of fire of the German machine guns than make it,exposed,across several hundred yards of open ground.

    The only cover on Omaha beach,apart from the obstacles,was the shingle bank which many never got to. I visited the Normandy beaches a couple of years ago,much of the bank has been removed,but the relative paucity of cover provided by the section that is still left makes for sobering reflection.

    Omaha_shingle.jpg

    The story of Able Company,116th Infantry,as they made their approach to Omaha beach:

    ABLE Company riding the tide in seven Higgins boats is still five thousand yards from the beach when first taken under artillery fire. The shells fall short. At one thousand yards, Boat No. 5 is hit dead on and foundered. Six men drown before help arrives. Second Lieutenant Edward Gearing and twenty others paddle around until picked up by naval craft, thereby missing the fight at the shore line. It's their lucky day. The other six boats ride unscathed to within one hundred yards of the shore, where a shell into Boat No. 3 kills two men. Another dozen drown, taking to the water as the boat sinks. That leaves five boats.

    Lieutenant Edward Tidrick in Boat No. 2 cries out: "My God, we're coming in at the right spot, but look at it! No shingle, no wall, no shell holes, no cover. Nothing!"


    Steve
     
  15. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    I have not served in the military but would think that some shelter from the machine gun fire would be beneficial. If a shell lands in that crater - then that's just bad luck and if you were lying on the beach with no crater you would be dead anyway. If a shell landed some way off and you were in a crater you would have some chance of surviving.
     
  16. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Every little bit helps. However artillery was the biggest killer during both world wars, causing well over half of all casualties. If you want to significantly reduce casualties on Omaha Beach then you must suppress or destroy Fortress Artillery Detachment 1261 (i.e. Maisey).
     
  17. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I agree Dave but in the first waves of landings it was machine gun a (and mortar) fire that caused the carnage. Most contemporary accounts concentrate on the devastating machine gun fire and complete absence of any cover.

    Official Unit Report, Company A, 116th Infantry, 29th Division

    "As the first men jumped, they crumpled and flopped into the water. Then order was lost. It seemed to the men that the only way to get ashore was to dive head first in and swim clear of the fire that was striking the boats. But, as they hit the water, their heavy equipment dragged them down and soon they were struggling to keep afloat. Some were hit in the water and wounded. Some drowned then and there... but some moved safely through the bullet fire to the sand and then, finding they could not hold there, went back in to the water and used it as cover, only their heads sticking out.

    "Those who survived kept moving with the tide, sheltering at times behind underwater obstacles and in this way they finally made their landings. Within ten minutes of the ramps being lowered, Company A had become inert, leaderless and almost incapable of action. Every officer and Sergeant had been killed or wounded. It became a struggle for survival and rescue.

    "The men in the water pushed wounded men ashore, and those who had reached the sands crawled back into the water pulling others to land to save them from drowning, in many cases only to see the rescued men wounded again or to be hit themselves. Within twenty minutes of striking the beach Company A had ceased to be an assault company and had become a forlorn little rescue party bent upon survival and saving lives."

    This from a Royal Navy account,the RN provided many of the landing craft to the Americans and they were crewed by the RN.

    "As we got nearer, shells were exploding in the water and as the ramp came down just short of the shoreline, machine gun fire cut them to pieces. Most of them never got more than a few yards from the ramp."

    Bill Ryan of the 16th Infantry Regiment had a lucky escape.

    "On the way towards the beach we lost two boats which were simply swamped by the high waves. The coxswains of the four remaining boats became disoriented; this was mainly due to the loss of the patrol boat which was supposed to ensure we were on the correct course for our assigned area. Also, the beach was covered in haze and smoke from the earlier heavy bombardment; this combination made identification of landmarks impossible.

    As we neared shore the strong current forced our boats off course, taking us about two miles to the West. By the time we re-traced our proper course we saw that the two rifle companies which were supposed to land on our right flank at ‘Easy Red’ had actually landed on our beach which was identified as ‘Fox Green’. Their landing craft had the beach fouled, so we were unable to land. After circling around off the beach like sitting ducks, we finally made our run in. By this time the Germans had the beach under heavy fire."


    The artillery tended to target the landing craft. It was apprehension about the German artillery that caused the various landing craft to be launched from so far out,most were launched from about 10 miles off shore. This in turn led to further problems in the marginal conditions,not least that hardly a unit landed where it was supposed to.

    Steve
     
  18. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    This only proves my point. Maisey was pouring artillery fire onto Omaha Beach as landing craft came ashore. Machinegun bullets were flying around too but artillery was the biggest killer just like most other battles.
     
  19. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    That's an awfully selective quote from my quote,you left off the last words of his sentence to suit your point of view or bias.

    "shells were exploding in the water and as the ramp came down just short of the shoreline, machine gun fire cut them to pieces. Most of them never got more than a few yards from the ramp."

    One of the reasons I usually type longer quotations is to avoid precisely that sort of thing. I would suggest that most people reading that account would deduce that the reason that "most of them never got more than a few yards from the ramp" was the machine gun fire which "cut them to pieces." Some might not but at least by giving the entire quote,in context,they can form an opinion with the benefit of all the information.

    When I am either misquoted or selectively quoted like that I wonder why I bother.

    Noone is denying that artillery is the infantryman's worst enemy but on Omaha beach almost every single contemporary account refers to the effectiveness of the German machine guns. One machine gunner alone (Heinrich Severloh ) claimed to have fired 12,000 rounds at the American landing and he was one of many.

    Steve
     
  20. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    The emphasis on MG fire shows the importance of supporting armour of different types which was almost totally missing.
     
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