Re: SOME THOUGHTS ON ACCURACY & OTHERS
Post by OLDGUNNER1 » Thu Jun 06, 2019 11:36 am
I never hear much about the US and allied blunders of D-Day. It is as if, oh well we won so why bring them up. If I will be sounding like a Monday morning General it is because I am sounding like one. My best second hand knowledge of the the D-Day landing, especially at Omaha Beach is from an ex friend here that passed away a couple of years ago. He said that he was 19 at the time. Here are some of his observations and after having read quite a few books on the subject in no particular order .
General Eisenhower was not a Tactical officer, he was a Logistics Officer. He basically delegated Tactical decisions and accepted and passed on the one’s that he liked.
The best that I can tell he okayed the decision to use reservists as the first soldiers to land at Omaha Beach. This was so to use them as ‘cannon fodder’ because these had the least training invested in.
My ex friend was a Keystone Reservist, which was the 28 th Division. He said as a reservist he learned how to wear a uniform and march and then was sent to Fort Louis to learn how to shoot the M1 and 1911 .45, and that was basically it, and he was off to England and in a few days on a boat to Omaha Beach. It was an OJT job, on the job training. In England he was made a ‘Line Man’, His company’s quota for Linemen was four. He said that within a short time after D-DAY the other three had been replaced and it was that way all the way to Germany, through the Battle of the Bulge and the Hurtgen Forest. Now this may sound too simplified but I can see it clearly. His sole job was to unreel communication lines from HQ to the front lines. He said that the German’s sniper’s priority targets were the Officers and Line Men. Now this was not just once in a while but a hard fast rule with him. Crawl, taking every low spot that he could see. One can visualize the Line Man bending over at the waist as he unreeled his line. And he attributed being a lineman for his surviving the whole trip, he didn’t have this Lieutenant or Sergeant standing up with their ‘come on men’ giving them a perfect target for the German sniper. He said one time that an infantry Lt. came up on him in the field and told him to go up that hill and take out a German machine gun nest and then man the gun. Now why would this Lt. do this rather than have one of his men do that? But he thought that he would do it in his own way. He spent an half an hour going around the hill and sneaking up on the them from their back and taking them out and instead of manning the gun because it could be recognized by any that it was a German machine gun so he just broke it and waited until the Lt. and his men went on their way....And then he went on his way. Here is how an inexperienced Lt. can get people killed. And he said that for a lot of the time he didn’t know the name of his own company CO...they were killed so often. A Lieutenant can’t be seen crawling, they have do the stand-up thing and say lets go and get shot. I realize that the CO’s can’t be seen crawling, they say, but can’t there be some system that will give them a better chance?
He said that for the entire trip from the beach to Germany as the German’s retreated they would leave sacrificial snipers and machine gunners along the way. That can be one heck of a thing to look forward to at each morning of your job. His job was a ‘one man job’, alone, just him against them, a bunch of ‘them’. It was up to him to stay alive the best he could.
Back to the blunders – One that stands out to me was when it was decided to bomb the beaches right before the landing so that the men landing would have holes to jump into after landing, but as he said he didn’t see a single hole. I have seen on the war reruns where the bombers dropped their bomb as much as 5 miles inland from the beach. General Eisenhower did not bother to take the time to see to it that this was done properly. So much for his delegation of competent people. Here were the bombers going in from the sea across the beaches instead of going along the beaches and dropping their bombs. Even an Eagle Scout could have figured out that difference....oh well, they were just reservists. And, AND, why didn’t they have a few hundred bombers bomb the five mile coastal areas of the landing zones...and drop their bombs going along the beaches. Just blow those defensive positions all to pieces an hour before the landings.
Can one imagine crawling from Omaha Beach to Germany and making it just by one’s gumption and luck and learning as you go. Yes, yes. I know that it’s easier to be that Monday Morning General. There is a management axiom that says if one’s successes exceed their failures then they are doing okay. But darn, that to me was one major blunder.
On the news the other day I saw 9,000 White Crosses at the Omaha Beach Cemetery – and I know what that means – some don’t.
A follow up – I saw a National Geographic film on TV that covered the D-DAY landings and it ‘did’ cover the Utah Beach and Omaha Beach landings where the B-26’s ‘did’ successfully bomb the German coastal defenses and where 329 B-24’s were to do the same thing at the Omaha Beach landing except they didn’t go below the cloud cover as the B-26’s did and did not drop a single bomb on target. It didn’t say where they did drop their bombs...possible in the channel because they couldn’t take them back home with them. They were thinking right but couldn’t follow through. I liked the part about the timing of the Utah Beach bombing...Six minutes after the bombing the troops started landing - win some lose some.
I realize that wrong facts can get passed on and 329 B-24’s sounds like it may be one of those. That to me seems like a lot of overkill for 5 miles of beach, but maybe some one counted on a good lose of the B-24’s which probable would have been true. But, BUT, If that part was true, the B-24 Flight leader didn’t even take a chance and go under the cloud cover like the B-26’s did. He knew darn well that the B-26’s were doing that 20 miles away. But he wouldn’t take his chances like the B-26 guys did and just took that way out instead of completing his mission. That to me was a major blunder and if all that was true, then I would say that he should have been fired, and maybe he was. Things like that are hard to dig up amongst all of the other stuff.
A blunder is a blunder, is a blunder. I was in the 6th grade at the time and it seemed like a daily thing that some other student had to say his brother or dad had been killed. 2400 of the those white crosses at the Omaha Beach Cemetery are for that blunder.