Omaha Beach was the only landing area where the outcome was ever in doubt. The fighting raged for 18 hours, concentrated around the "draws," the gullies that cut through the bluffs allowing access off the beach. The draws had been fortified with bunkers on either side to provide overlapping fields of fire, and the draw entrances were blocked by anti-tank walls, seawalls, anti-tank ditches and other obstructions making the passage of tanks difficult. The assault began badly when US Army Air Force bombers missed their targets by several miles due to cloud cover, leaving the bunkers below unscathed. Although a naval bombardment preceded the landing, its duration was shorter than at other beaches since the timing of the landings was dependent on the tides and the Omaha landings were the earliest. To further undermine the attack, one of the two tank battalions landing to support the infantry, the 741st, launched their two companies of DD amphibious tanks in rough water and all but five sank. Of the five that made it to shore, three were knocked out in quick succession by guns in strongpoint’s WN61 and WN62. Around 0630hrs, a company of M4 tanks with wading trunks came ashore, providing the only tank support for the 16th Infantry Regiment on the eastern side of Omaha Beach Machine-gun fire, mortars, artillery and Nebelwelfer rockets decimated the first wave of assault troops. Taken mid-morning on D-Day, this photo shows WN62 in combat. The strongpoint is on the hill to the right of the photo and the smoke is rising from the Colleville draw from the resort villa that the strongpoint troops used as a canteen. The LCI in the foreground was one of those involved in the late morning attempts to reinforce the beleaguered Cos. E and F of the 16th Infantry on the beach in front of WN62 The tanks were one of the few means to deal with the numerous bunkers. The many tobruks proved to be very difficult targets for the tanks, since they were flush to the ground and difficult to spot amidst the smoke and confusion. The intense fire against the first wave prevented the engineer gap-breaching teams from breaching an adequate number of paths through the offshore obstacles. This would cause problems later in the morning during attempts to land additional reinforcements since the rising tide concealed the remaining obstacles, making it impossible for the landing craft to approach safely. The experience of strongpoint WN62 is typical of those on D-Day. This sector of the beach defences from W 59 to WN64 was manned by the 3rd Company, Grenadier Regiment 726, 716th Infantry Division, along with some reinforcements from the 352nd Infantry Division, and commanded by Lt. Edmond Bauch. Strongpoint WN62 was situated on Easy Red Beach on the western shoulder of the E-3 Colleville draw. The naval bombardment at dawn did not kill any of the 31 troops in the strongpoint, but left one lightly wounded and disabled two stationary flamethrowers. As the off-course LCVP landing craft from Co. E and Co. F, 16th Infantry Regiment, approached, they were brought under fire by several machine guns, two 76mm field guns in casemates, three 50mm mortars and a pedestal-mounted 50mm gun. One of the German gun crew later recalled, "We watched the landing craft under the direct fire of our guns and could see precisely what happened to the Americans, it was terrible." This is the 50mm anti-landing gun commanded by Corp. Siegfried Kuska in strongpoint WN62 that covered the entrance to the Colleville draw. It was emplaced in an ordinary field entrenchment as there was not enough time to construct the usual reinforced gun pit. Most of the casualties occurred after the ramps were dropped when machine-gun fire from the trench line above cut a swath through the disembarking troops. On one LCVP, only seven Gls reached the beach of the original 32. It was only slightly better in the other 13 landing craft that landed in this sector in the first wave. One LCVP lucky enough to land away from the most intense fire got all 32 men to the shore, but only 20 Gls survived the run across the beach. Within moments, Co. F had lost six officers and half its troops. Some of the infantry tried to use the beach obstructions for cover, but this could have tragic consequences. In several instances, machine-gun fire from WN62 set off the mines on the obstacles, killing the infantry below. The strongpoint included an observation team from the divisional artillery of the 3S2nd Infantry Division led by Lt. Bernhard Frerking, and these officers directed 105mm artillery fire against the beach, taking an especially heavy toll on the engineer gap-breaching teams. The LCM carrying Team 16 was hit moments after the engineers had gotten out, but so many were wounded that they could not carry out their mission. Further east, Team 14 got most of the army engineers off their LCM before an artillery round hit while the navy team was disembarking, detonating their explosives. Several landing craft were hit by 50mm and 76mm gunfire, and numerous craft were damaged after running into stakes, detonating the mines on top. Most assault teams suffered even heavier losses to the machine guns in WN62; gap-breaching Team 11 lost half its engineers within minutes. One of the rarer defensive features at Omaha Beach was this VK.3001 tank turret on an H246 bunker, part ofWN68. There were only six of these prototype tanks, and their turrets were later released for fortification purposes. A further six new-production T.3001 turrets were built later, four ending up on the Atlantic Wall and two on the Westwall. The 76mm gun in the casemate closest to shore fired only a few rounds before one exploded inside, forcing the crew to temporarily abandon it. German survivors recall the casemate being bracketed by naval gunfire and attributed its loss to US destroyers. However, it was shielded from the sea and more likely the gun was hit by fire from one of the tanks of the 741st Tank Battalion. The casemate was reoccupied and put back into action. Several M4 tanks were knocked out or damaged by WN62's pedestal-mounted 50mm gun that covered access to the road to Colleville. The Normandy strongpoints were designed to be mutually supporting, and the neighbouring WN61 strongpoint to the east of WN62 had an 88mm gun in a heavy H677 casemate. This gun was particularly effective against both US tanks and landing craft, and when the third wave of US troops landed, the 88mm scored a direct hit on one of the LCVPs. One of the four M4 tank dozers that were clearing obstructions at this time was also hit, probably from this gun. In the event, this was its last success, as around 0710hrs an M4Al tank of the 741st Tank Battalion managed to position itself to fire directly into the embrasure of the bunker, knocking out the gun. Strongpoint WN60 to the east was one of the first to fall in this sector around 0900hrs, and WN61 was largely silenced by tank and naval gunfire within a few hours of the landing. The obstacles continued to take their toll. The most serious problem emerged around 0800hrs as the tide came in. Since so few obstacles had been cleared in this sector, at 0830hrs the beach-master ordered that no other landing craft attempt to land. So for nearly two hours the units already ashore received no reinforcements. The weaknesses in the German defences were not immediately evident, but they were already failing. A platoon from Company E under Lt. John Spalding had landed to the west of WN62, found a gap in the German defences between the strongpoint’s, and climbed over the bluff around 0730hrs. The gap between the strongpoint’s was laced by mines, and guarded by two machine guns in field entrenchments, grandly designated as WN62a, near where today's famous US cemetery is located. Spalding's platoon overwhelmed the two machine-gun nests and continued to move nests and continued to move inland toward Col1eville-sur-Mer. The platoon drew fire from both WN62 on its left and WN64 to its right, but the steady trickle of GIs through this gap started the first major penetration of the Omaha Beach defences on D-Day. The commander of GR.726 in this sector radioed back to 352nd Infantry Division headquarters asking for a counterattack to throw back the American penetration. This is one of the 76.5mm FK M17 field guns of strongpoint WN62 knocked out during the fighting by a direct hit against the gun shield by a 75mm high explosive round from an M4 tank of the 741st Tank Battalion. It was pulled out of the casemate after the fighting and is seen here resting on the hill over the Colleville draw.