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First Wave Omaha Beach

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SWIHARTMARK
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First Wave Omaha Beach

#1 Post by SWIHARTMARK » Sun Jun 09, 2019 8:46 pm

I found this reading The Atlantic Monthly from an article published in 1960 written by US Army historian S.L.A. Marshall. I've read numerous accounts of the Normandy landings, but this one really captured the worst case scenario Eisenhower and his staff must of considered when planning the invasion. Even the worst scenes in Saving Private Ryan and The Longest Day do not recall things being this bad for two companies of US infantry at Omaha. If the link does not work, consider googling "First wave Omaha Beach" and the Atlantic magazines article is at the top of the search. I rate this up there with Sledge's "With the Old Breed" book of his experience at Pelieu and Okinawa. I think he perfectly describes what true sacrifice really is. Do give it a read, I'm glad I did.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/ar ... ch/303365/

Best Regards,

Mark

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Re: First Wave Omaha Beach

#2 Post by Mashuga » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:41 am

Thanks for posting.

72 usmc
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Re: First Wave Omaha Beach

#3 Post by 72 usmc » Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:31 am

Here is a PDF so there are no ads if you want to print it out. (13 pages). That old issues of The Alantic is hard to find. Nov 1960.
Screen Shot 2019-06-10 at 10.46.38 AM.png
First Wave at Omaha Beach - The Atlantic.pdf
(184.03 KiB) Downloaded 34 times

Well worth the read, the Army found out on 6 June 44 what the Marines on Tarawa, 20 Nov. 43 knew and later encountered worse on Iwo Jima, 19 Feb. 45. When I was a boot in the corps at Del Mar reparing tanks, there was an old salt, W. Spellings that was on Iwo and I would listen to his tales about the landing. I never read this account about D-day and it is worth while for all to glance at, you will want to read it in detail. I think about the tankers lost in high waves with the Sherman duplex drives that never made it to Omaha Beach, 27 of the 29 sunk with there crew of 5 Track rats. A few tanks would have made a little difference.
Do give it a read, I'm glad I did.
Many thanks to Mark for posting this :clap:
To old to fight and to old to run, a Jar head will just shoot and be done with you.

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Re: First Wave Omaha Beach

#4 Post by luigi » Mon Jun 10, 2019 1:41 pm

72 USMC

I agree with you about losing most of the tanks. I think they counted on the tanks to provide cover for the infantry and knocking out pillboxes when crossing all that open beach.

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Re: First Wave Omaha Beach

#5 Post by SWIHARTMARK » Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:13 pm

27 out of 29 tanks were lost to rough seas according to the show "Drain The Oceans". I have never heard much about how the crews fared. I cannot image they were all inside and without life vests and then again, not much is discussed about crew survival. Not exactly the same as a higgins boat taking a direct hit from a 81mm mortar.

I think most of the British stuff was able to land and they had a better go of it as they say. Without the rough weather the day before, I wonder how much better prepared the Germans would have been though. I'm sure they knew as much about the tides and moonlight as Eisenhower did, so they had a rough idea when the invasion was coming. Rommel likely had incomplete weather information and underestimated Eisenhower as well

I'm pretty sure army planners had the Tarawa information in addition to the experiences in North Africa, Scily and Italy. Eisenhower gambled on going in marginal weather and as such, extra risks were taken and the tankers paid for that. C'est La Guerre. I think 1 to 3 tanks made it to the beach at Tarawa and all but one was quickly knocked out. Japanese defenses there were a bit more intense than Omaha in my opinion with bunkers right up on the beach, not to mention a far more dense defense than the very long landing zones at Normandy. USMC and US Navy coordination got much better after that. I war gammed a beach assault as the Japanese commander and took out the USMC's naval coordination squad and that went badly for the US. I believe it was the next major island assault after Tarawa. I just lobbed it into the beach with all the indirect fire I could muster and they had little response from their air cover and naval support. I think we used Command Decision as a rule set. It was like a mini Iwo for me. You hit the right people on the crowded beach and all chaos breaks loose.

I do remember David Eisenhower being interviewed during one of the anniversaries of the landings and he mentioned even without the invasion, he believed the Soviets would have overcome the Germans regardless. He did graduate from West Point and did write several in depth histories, so it wasn't exactly an uninformed opinion from a mere civilian. I remember his words well as the interviewer appeared to be in disbelief.

As for water crossings, the 82nd airborne's river assault in canvas boats to take the Nijmegen bridge in Operation Market Garden in broad daylight rivals anything the USMC did in the Pacific. Not only did they make it across under machine gun fire, but took the bridge intact. Those that landed on the other side were out for blood and then some. Amptracks and Higgins boats at least offer some protection in the water. That assault could not have been made up and still believed.

Ummh, some people ask me why I don't read fiction. With stories like these, who needs fiction?

Best Regards,

Mark

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