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Did service rivalry kill Americans on Omaha beach

Discussion in 'Western Europe' started by Dracula, Jul 15, 2018.

  1. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Well, try 18,000 troops in one division at Tarawa not 60,000. in two divisions. Of these 18,000, 1/3 were not used the first day because they were Corps reserve. First day about 6,000 troops had been put ashore minus casualties vs. @5000 Japanese. Not exactly the situation as you described it.
    Doctrine, tactics and techniques had been refined (and were by the experience gained on each landing) but were still basically those developed by the US during the interwar years. The biggest changes were technological and the greatest contribution by the British was in specialized craft (technical as you termed it) of which the LST is the most notable. The British built the first example, the US refined the design and both US and British versions were built by their respective countries. Many US versions were supplied to the British. The LCI a joint US/UK development, the UK proposed a disposable vessel with no sleeping accommodations for cross channel applications, the US Navy pushed for a more ocean going design which was adopted and built in the US.
    The amphibious workhorses for the Americans, the Higgins boat, had been adopted in various iterations since 1937. The LCP(L) was even provided to the British in 1940 for cross channel raids. The LCP(R) incorporated a ramp, the idea for which came from observations of the Japanese Daihatsu and was further refined by making it full width to become the LCVP. The only assistance received from the British on this whole line of development was in helping decide on which version to adopt. The US Marine Corps and the Navy amphibious pioneers wanted the 36' version, the Navy bureau the 32' version because it would not require relocation of their boat davits on ships. The Admiralty when visiting Higgins industries expressed a preference for the 36' boat so the Navy bureau in the interests of commonality agreed to the standardize on the 36' version. The US LCM was an enlarged Higgins boat ordered to obtain better seakeeping characteristics than those in the Bureau designed tank lighter, a craft in service since the late '30's.

    Dieppe is in no way comparable to the two operations you mentioned, about half the troops and it was a cross channel operation, not nearly as complicated as the fleet operations necessary to project and support a force across thousands of miles. It's like comparing apples and oranges.

    As for Tarawa, there were many valuable lessons to be learned and applied to all subsequent amphibious landings. Tarawa was the first assault against a heavily fortified objective. First, while the Navy had a small, experimental unit formed in 1942 called the Navy Scouts and Raiders that had participated in the Torch landings. It was the obstacles encountered at Tarawa that caused Admiral King to commit the resources and personnel to expand them and form the Naval Combat Demolitions Units. In fact UDT's were heavily used two months later during the Marshall's invasion. These UDT's provided invaluable service during many invasions post-Tarawa including Normandy. Naval and air bombardment TTP was modified to incorporate lessons learned including better coordination with the landing forces and point vs area targeting. Communications procedures and equipment assets were upgraded and refined. It was incorporation of the Tarawa lessons that allowed the Marshall's to be seized at relatively low cost. If these improvements we adopted within two months, you can't say they had no effect on the later operation 7-8 months later.

    Well, the obstacles you mention were encountered in the Pacific, at Tarawa in fact. The reason they decided to hit the north shore was it was the least heavily fortified, the mines, anti-boat and anti-vehicle obstacles on the other sides were numerous and well emplaced, the reef was determined to be the lesser evil. In fact tracs that tried to land troops on Ryan's green beach were destroyed by mines. Ryan had seized enough of that end of the island that troops were landed by rubber boat to avoid the mines. LVT's and landing boats would have been destroyed had that been a primary beach. Tank traps were encountered on numerous landings.

    But to answer your first points.

    This is a recurrent theme on this board. Why didn't:-
    - The US Marines play a bigger part on D Day
    -They weren't needed. The US Army and British had plenty of experience in amphibious landings and amphibiously capable divisions. The Navy amphibious personnel in the ETO had a great deal of real life experience as well. Besides, the Marines were needed in the Pacific and there weren't enough to go around.
    - Op Overlord follow the American methiods developed in the Pacific-The allied leaders incorporated all lessons learned from each and every operation, regardless of theater. They used all applicable methods. Pacific landings, Med landings, European landings, previous experience was applied.
    - Use the LVT-amply explained by numerous posters, whatever limited advantages might have been enjoyed were far outweighed by the negatives.
     
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  2. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Not much of a way to spend their last night or two before battle, but I suppose the best we could do at the time. This probably stimulated the development of the LSV, which could carry a full complement of both troops and LVTs or DUKWs, and eventually the LPD.
     
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  3. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Bootie, old chap,

    I think you have missed the ironic element of my post. I did follow this with "cut and paste from memory" and a summary of the answers to these propositions, with which we seem to be in violent agreement. I do not disagree with anything you posted. Pacific Landings = chalk. D Day Normandy = cheese.

    However, I did enjoy your explanation of the development of the different types of landing craft and the rationale for the Tarawa landing.

    You might enjoy this.
    [​IMG]
    A hundred miles north of a couple of weeks before Belleau Wood. Semper Fidelis – Courage & Sacrifice 1918 - Diocese of Exeter
     
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  4. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Yes I do! I love good combat artwork and epic combat stories, this is both.
     
  5. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    There is more.

    There is an interview with Captain Ulick Burke, the adjutant of the Devons in the sound archives of the Imperial War Museum. Reel 17 05.55 onwards tells the story. The painting shows the CO and half of the battalion Burke took command of the other half. The RSM reported that ammunition was expended. at 15.37 "I said charge and the 23 men charged."
     
  6. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Some excerpts from Bailey to further illustrate my last couple of replies:

    For Carronade, referring to the Marshall's operation:

    "The LVT's were brought into the area by LST's which were to be stationed about 3,000 yards off the target islands. The landing troops would be brought over to the LST's from transports in LCVP's, then climb the cargo nets up the side of the LST's and move down inside where they would board the tractors. This was a complex plan but was an improvement over the procedure used at Tarawa involving the tricky business of transferring troops between the LVT and a bouncing small boat in the open sea."

    "Another refinement needed was a smoother transfer of troops to the LVTs because the complex business of offloading troops from their transports and boating them over to LST's for loading into LVT's consumed so much time that an 4:30 A.M. reveille was required for a landing at 9:00 A.M. The rest and feeding of the troops immediately
    before they landed was important and two to three hours of riding around in LCVP's and LVT's before actually landing was destructive for moral and troop efficiency."

    (Saipan) "There was considerably less shuffling of troops to load LVT's than previously in the Marshall's because during the staging at Eniwetok, six days earlier, assault troops had been transferred to the LST's carrying the LVT's that were to land them. After six days In a cramped LST, the Marines were mean enough to attack anybody."

    (Saipan) Badly needed reserves were transferred' from LCVP's to LVT's at a transfer line seaward of the reef, and landed at about 10:30 A.M."

    "As in previous operations, the LVT's were conveyed to their target, Okinawa, In LST's, and because these ships did not contain adequate accommodations for large numbers of soldiers. The assault troops that were to ride the LVT's to the beach were transported most of the way to Okinawa on the faster troop transport ships and then transferred to the LST's at Ulithi Lagoon,"

    (Okinawa) "Later waves of troops were brought to the beach using the transfer line technique which established a rendezvous line seaward of the reef where troops were transferred from LCVP's to LVT's for the trip across the reef."

    For Sheldrake on Tarawa Lessons learned (again Marshall's Operation):

    "The Marshall's were mandated to Japan after the defeat of Germany in World War I and represented the first penetration of the inner defenses of Japan in the Pacific. The attack of these islands was expected to be as difficult as that of Tarawa,"

    "To avoid a repetition of Tarawa, great pains were taken to determine the accurate hydrographic characteristics of the target Islands and Underwater Demolition Teams,
    highly skilled Navy swimmers trained to reconnoiter beaches and destroy underwater obstacles to amphibious landings, were employed for the first time with excellent results."

    "Supporting arms coordination had improved as a result of a valuable lesson from Tarawa, both naval gunfire and close air support would key on the position of the landing craft as they approached the beach rather than attempt to adhere to a fixed time schedule as at Tarawa. This flexibility was to be a key factor in the success of the operation when the LVT's fell behind schedule."

    "Land based aircraft was used extensively for neutralization of the Marshall's until 29 January 1944 when carrier aviation returned to the Marshall's in support of the landings. Aerial bombing was longer and more intense than at Tarawa and specific targets identified through photos were attacked rather than dropping bombs on "area" targets.10

    "the presence of an anti-tank ditch just inland of the beaches which stopped a number of LVTs."
     
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  7. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Again chalk and cheese. In the PTO islands could be isolated and pulverized at length before attempting a landing. For D Day Op Overlord, the need for surprise precluded a lengthy bombardment. The D Day beaches had been recced using divers with aqua lung breathing apparatus and the 10 RN and Royal Marines Landing Craft Obstacle Clearance Units (LCOCUs).cleared obstacles on the British and Canadian beaches . US Naval Combat Demolition Units (NCDUs) on the US beaches were not equipped for diving, or indeed swimming, because they assumed that all the obstacles would be exposed at low tide.

    If there was a planning problem with the landings at Omaha, it was more to do with accepting optimistic assumptions than inter service rivalry.
     
  8. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

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    In the planning before D-Day, US Army had their own ideas on what should happen. They had no use for Marines and tried their best after the war to make the USMC disappear. They chose not to use any of Hobart's funnies which were designed to eliminate pillboxes, clear mines, bridge barbed wire and seawalls. The army wanted a very short pre-landing bombardment, and to launch landing craft at long range from the beach. A battalion of tanks was supposed to land with first wave at Omaha, they were launched too far from shore and most sank. DUKWs with artillery were launched too far from shore and most sank. The Omaha pre-landing aerial bombardment missed the beach by over a mile.
    All that said, LVTs would not have made any difference at Omaha. They were small open top vehicles that were not armored to resist heavy machine guns or artillery. The ones most common in June 1944(LVT-2) did not have ramps and troops got out over the side. If available, LVTs would have been useful at Utah as large areas behind the beaches were flooded and movement was restricted to a few paved roads.

    I remember fishing off Little Creek, Va. several years ago and watching a dozen or so new LVTs making the run from ship to shore and back. It looked like they only had a foot or so of free board. Not my idea of a pleasure craft.
     
  9. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Um, no. The planning "before D-Day" by the US Army began on 25 February 1944 with the publication of "Operations Plan NEPTUNE" by First US Army and continued with the publications of the V and VII Corps operations plans in March. Given that the US Marine presence in Europe at that time consisted of individuals, Marine Ship Detachments, and Marine Shore Detachments, there were no Marine Corps units even as large as companies in the ETOUSA/MTOUSA and the total Marine strength probably numbered in the few thousands at most. That was as a consequence of decisions made in late 1941 and early 1942, which confirmed decisions made even earlier, which was that the FMF Marine Corps would focus on Pacific operations.

    The Army could hardly have been expected to make use of Marines that weren't there.

    That is incorrect in many respects. The US Army requested large numbers of devices as employed by the 1st Assault Brigade R.E., but they simply weren't available in time and the British had no excess to their own requirements.

    The decision on the shorter bombardment was made based on the various requirements of the air support, airborne landing, minesweeping, configuration of the shoreline, the German defenses (actual and presumed), and the beach obstacles and was jointly made after considerable discussion between the American and British Army, Navy, and Air Force planners. The requirement for placing the transport area where it was was specified by the Navy, who were concerned by the coastal guns emplaced along the Cotentin and at Pointe du Hoc.

    Two battalions, the 741st and 743d Tank battalion, supported the landings at OMAHA. Some 27 of the 32 DD tanks actually launched sank in the run-in, most of them quite close to touchdown. All were launched at the distance specified in the planning and development phase of the DD tanks. The decision to use DUKWs was based on the limited number of LCT available, which was a priority the Army was not responsible for.

    All of the pre-landing aerial bombardments missed by varying amounts except at UTAH. The bombardment at OMAHA missed by between 800 and about 2,000 yards IIRC, which was a consequence of the safety requirements laid down by the Army and Navy.

    Yep. LVT-2 were present at both UTAH and OMAHA in small numbers, there were two in each of the Quartermaster Amphibious Truck Companies.

    I used to wander the beach at Fort Storey fairly regularly. One of the interesting things we ran across was the remnants of an upside down DUKW lost in one exercise and buried by the sand.
     
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  10. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

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    to the discussion topic, no lives were lost due to inter service rivalry. LVTs would have been destroyed just as easily as landing craft used. On Hobart's funnies, it is the reference you choose, the one I read that only dealt with Hobart made the point that Bradley wasn't sure on a plan for beach prep then gave the decision making to Gerow 6 weeks before the landing. ref Omaha Beach: A Flawed Victory by Lewis On pre landing bombardment and transport location, again depends on reference. Morison's book says navy fought to launch closer and bombard longer.
    At Omaha I don't think it would have mattered much. After battle, exam of pillboxes showed 14" & 15" AP shells just making a dent in the concrete. When you look at all five landings, total casualties were well below what was expected.
    At Utah, a lot of luck. The bombers could see and put bombs on target. Landing was a mile or more south of planned and found a spot with very little resistance.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2018
  11. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Um, Major Lewis's book is a case of badly flawed research. You might want to refer to the work in my signature for a primary source interpretation. :)
     
  12. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

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    Found your book. Read section on funnies at Omaha. You could change AVRE to LVT and story is the same.
    Read a bit D-Day Exposed. The author seems to believe you can move assets with a snap of the finger then have these assets perform miracles. He has vehicles that were still prototypes in mass production covering double the actual requirements. He never addressed how these miracle LVTs were supposed to get to launching area. The mass casualties of the first hours at Omaha would have still happened. What does he think will happen as 25+ soldiers climb over the sides of a LVT while under machine gun fire. The LVT was open top, the Germans firing from above, bad news.
    This Dracula person seems to have vanished into the darkness.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2018
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  13. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    There is a distinct tendency to see technological widgets as panacea solutions for various problems in military history. Link that with the predilection for "what if" historical analysis and the reductio ab adsurdum becomes "what if Napoleon had a B-52 at Waterloo". :D

    Drive by posting is also endemic among what ifs. :D
     
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  14. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    LSTs were, of course, conceived in order to deliver tanks to a beach. The LST(2), the principal type, was designed to accommodate around twenty tanks, depending on type, and about 140 troops, basically the tank crews and a few support personnel whose vehicles might be carried on the main deck.
     
  15. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

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    Comment on LSTs circles back to how do LVTs get to the beach? LVT has a slightly larger footprint than a M4 Sherman or 2 1/2 ton truck or a DUKW. According to Dracula's book, the M4 was junk and LVT will do the same jobs as a DUKW and deuce and a half, so we should have had LSTs, LCTs, LCMs, and Rhinos carrying LVTs and the total casualties would have been single digit.
     
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  16. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, but the LST was not considered an assault ship or craft. That was the role of the LCT and LCM. As far as LST go, the “Maracaibo” conversions were designed to hold 18 Churchill tanks or 22 25-ton tanks or 33 trucks. The “Boxers” could hold 13 40-ton or 20 25-ton tanks and 36 3-ton trucks (on the main deck). Unfortunately there was no information on the ramps. Both were more or less considered to be learning exercises and somewhat of a failure in some ways.

    The LST (2) was a US purpose built design incorporating the lessons learned. They could hold 13 40-ton or 20 25-ton tanks and 35 (or 36) 2.5 or 3-ton trucks loaded to a max gross weight of 10 tons). The exit was 14 feet wide (the supplement makes it 13’ 3”) and the ramp was 15’ 4”.

    The LST (3) was the UK design. It could hold 15 40-ton or 27 25-ton tanks and 14 loaded 3-ton trucks. It had an exit width of 16’ 6” and an 18-foot wide ramp.

    Some very interesting information on LST limitations may be found in Ships Without Names: The Story of the Royal Navy’s Tank Landing Ships of World War II, Brian MacDermott, Arms and Armor Press, 1992. The main limitation on beaching on the LST (2) was actually its load limit. It was designed to ground on a 1/50 slope, carrying a 500-ton load, 72 tons of fuel, 50 tons of water, and a full crew and troop complement. A full load of tanks would mean a 700-720 ton load, with vehicles on the main deck it would go to 850 tons or more. In that case it would have to land on a much steeper beach – 1/30 or more – or would have to unload over pontoons, Rhinos, or on a jetty or hardstand.

    A key issue was that when the LST, LCT, and LCM were planned the medium tank was a vehicle of 25-27 tons, which governed the design of the vessels. However, by 1943 the standard Allied medium tank was 33 tons...and expected to grow to 38 to 45 tons. The same issue plagued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, its bridging designs kept getting exceeded by the actual weight of the tanks, which led to AR 850-15 of 28 August 1943 that limited tactical vehicle width to 124 inches and weight to 35 tons.
     
  17. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

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    If you google D-Day Exposed you can read enough to get the overall theme of book. Because of poor planning, thousands died and millions of extra casualties caused. Then lets list how the author would have prevented this. Thank goodness for previews, the $24 saved will buy a case of good beer.
    The author, Temple Kehow died in 2015.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2018
  18. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, my eyes still glaze over whenever I start to go through Kehoe's diatribe. It's all secondary sources - where it is sourced - and unsupported suppositions made as declarations of fact. I especially like the American's loading 25-pounders into DUKWs. :rolleyes:

    Or even better, "Over the previous two years the U.S. Navy Marines and Army had been developing their amphibious invasion expertise...rely totally on amphibious armoured tracked vehicles". To repeat, the first use of an LVT as an assault amphibian was at Tarawa on 20 November 1943, all of 75 LVT1 and 50 LVT2. Seven months before the Normandy Invasion. If the Allies were to have made an "all-armoured amphibian assault" on Normandy, it could only have been done by stripping those meant for the Pacific (Saipan) and sending them to the Atlantic, which would have meant:

    52 LVT(A)1
    86 LVT(A)4

    So 138 amphibian tanks to execute an invasion that required 296 DD tanks.

    379 LVT2
    215 LVT4

    So 594 assault amphibians to execute an invasion that required 462 LCA, 608 LCVP, 44 LCP(L), and 267 LCM...1,381 assault craft, each capable of carrying about one-third again as many troops...so call it the equivalent of 1,800 LVT. Now you need to get the LVT to Normandy. :rolleyes:

    How does it get down according to Kehoe? Apparently smoke and mirrors.
     
  19. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

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    When I got to the part in the book where he says the M4 Sherman was too small, too slow, and undergunned and that everybody in charge knew that, I knew he had drunk some of that magic Koolade.
     
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  20. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    "millions of extra casualties"??
     

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