When were landing craft invented

The course of June 6, 1944

On the night of June 6, 1944, extensive air landings and bombings prepared the landing of larger troop contingents at dawn. Due to the bad weather conditions, it resulted in the first deviation from the planned procedure. The paratroopers and gliders that were supposed to secure Utah Beach and Sword Beach from behind were dropped incorrectly and scattered. A mistake and obviously an advantage, since the German troops stationed there did not really know where to start with the decimation of these troops.

The Allies deployed 7 battleships, 23 cruisers, 105 destroyers, 1073 smaller warships and 4126 landing craft. From the air, this huge force was supported by nearly 13,000 military aircraft.

Off the coast, the warships of the combined fleets began to fire at the coastal positions in preparation for landing. From airfields in southern England and from aircraft carriers lying off the coast, wave after wave of air raids were flown with a hitherto unknown intensity. Fighter planes, bombers, ground attack planes, missile-firing Spitfires and mosquitoes - there were around 9,000 machines in total - did the German lines relatively well.

The big exception was Omaha Beach. No aircraft attacks were planned there.

 

On June 6, 1944 at 6.30 am, the Allied invasion began. On 5 different beach sections.

 

The Americans: Omaha Beach and Utah Beach

The Brits: Gold Beach and Sword Beach

The Canadians: Juno Beach

 

 

Omaha Beach

 

Everything went wrong when we landed on Omaha Beach. The special "DD" tanks that were rebuilt for the day to protect the landing craft with fire protection sank in the churned and rough water of the canal. Only 2 out of 29 "DD" tanks made it to the beach.

Strong winds and the tides pushed the DropShips on the right toward the left. So they had to let the soldiers out of their “cargo” earlier so that the landing zones did not go off plan.

 

Since the fortifications of the Germans were very good and very dense here, every point on the beach could be hit by their guns and machine-guns. So they had no problem bombarding the landers with a wave of death and destruction. Since the American soldiers in the landing ships had jumped into the water from their landing ship in the firm belief that no German artillery was intact on the beach, that no machine gun would fire, that no grenadier was lying behind his carbine, the German machine gunmen had riflemen play with them even easier. This belief was invented only to reassure the soldiers. The ships had been able to shut down some small positions, but the large bunkers and resistance nests were still in tact. Now that the men were ashore, the next failure occurred. Everything on Omaha Beach was so assembled that the warships were afraid to hit their own people, so they either left the fire barriers in place or shot so that none of their soldiers could be hit. But that was mostly about the fortifications. The first waves of the landing forces were almost completely lost in the German barrage. The soldiers hid behind the anti-tank traps, in shell holes or behind their dead comrades.

 

Quote from an American soldier: “The invasion was in full swing. It was hell. If you survived that, you could thank God. Everything was pretty chaotic. There was not much left of organization. Everyone fought for his life. Just get up the beach. Away from this open space. The Germans shot with everything they had. Mortar shells hit everywhere. Our boys were constantly being hit by rifle and machine gun fire. Sometimes you had the feeling that we would never get up the beach.
Your buddy was just next to you and two seconds later he was already in the sand. Staying down could increase the chance of survival. Some just fell over like a wet sack. No sound, no scream, just fell over. "

It was not a fight against the German Wehrmacht, no, just a fight for bare survival. The invasion failed. Landing at Omaha Beach was suspended from 8.30am. From now on the survivors were on their own and none of the exits were open. In small groups they carefully tried to get to the cliffs in order to fire up the enemy from there. Meanwhile the warships fired again, one resistance after another was hit. Victory seemed to be nearer. From 12 noon the fire of the German machine guns decreased noticeably. Little by little, the individual exits from this hell opened up. Now the DropShips were sailing again, bringing soldiers, tanks and other equipment with them.

Omaha Beach was taken. The picture was horrific, hundreds, thousands of dead soldiers, the water had turned you into a red liquid through the blood. Some bodies were washed ashore and back again.

The fight continued in the evening, those who had survived all this had to continue. At dusk the 1st and 29th Divisions fought for Viervill, Saint Laurent and Colleville.

Utah, Sword, Gold, and Juno Beach

In the other stretches of the beach the fighting was not nearly as bad as in Omaha Beach. In Sword, Gold, Utah, and Juno Beach, the German fortifications were not nearly as powerful as in Omaha Beach. Here the fighting between 7 and 8 o'clock was decided and the troops were able to advance further inland.

 


Wounded, dead, missing

 

On D-Day the Allies landed with a force estimated at around 156,000 soldiers.

 

The American troops landed with 73,000 man that day.

23,250 at Utah Beach

43,250 at Omaha Beach

15,500 air units

 

The British and Canadian forces are estimated to be strong at 83,115 men, of which 61,715 are of British descent.

24,970 at Gold Beach

21,400 at Juno Beach

28,845 at Sword Beach

7900 air units

 

The Allied casualties that day, the figure shows about 10,000 soldiers, of whom 2,500 died in battle. 2,700 British soldiers, 946 Canadian casualties and 6,603 American soldiers.

Losses on the British beaches, 1,000 on Gold Beach, and 1,000 on Sword Beach, too. The British air force losses were relatively high, with 600 dead or injured and 600 missing. 100 glider pilots were injured or killed.

 

The Canadian 3rd Division recorded 340 dead, 574 injured and 47 captured on Juno Beach.

 

The number of US losses on Omaha Beach shows how gruesome this stretch of beach was.

1465 dead, 3184 injured, 1928 missing and 26 soldiers were arrested by the Wehrmacht.

In contrast, the losses on Utah Beach are “only” with 192 injured or dead and 60 missing.

The American Air Force was also badly affected, with 2,499 injuries and 238 deaths.

 

The complete number of German casualties is unknown. The tendency of the losses fluctuates between 4000-9000 Wehrmacht soldiers.

 

Over 425,000 Allies and Germans were injured, killed, or failed to show up or could not be identified in the fighting in Normandy.

 

 

© by Robin Deutscher