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Did service rivalry kill Americans on Omaha beach

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

  1. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

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    yes, "5-10 million unnecessary deaths as a result of WW2 lasting 6 months longer than it should have" and not just an LVT but "The Hobart Buffalo", with a picture at the bottom of the page of a LVT in calm water, non-combat(no weapons visible, half the soldiers wearing ball caps). Now the sides of LVT are steel plate and may deflect .30 caliber bullet. An LVT is open top and the bad guys are above, not good. An LVT may be tracked, but it has half the speed of a LCVP in the water. Nowhere did he say how the next waves get in. I guess my magic LVT cruises to the beach, shoots out pillboxes, up the draws, discharge the troops, back to the water, back to the ship.
    my final thought. depending on where you read it, between 125,000 and 175,000 landed on D-Day(midnite to midnite). Allied casualties about 5,000. so 150,000 landed, 5000 casualties works out to 3.3%, not bad for an opposed landing on a hostile shore.
     
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  2. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    So D-Day was successful, casualties not bad, but it could have been done so much better that the European war would have been over six months earlier, November 1944. The campaign which took eleven months from D-Day to VE Day, could have been done in five. Or is being suggested that a better D-Day would have caused the Pacific war (i.e. all of WWII) to end six months earlier? We seem to have gotten a bit beyond the question of using LVTs at Normandy......
     
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  3. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

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    That was a quote from the book referenced by thread starter, D-Day Exposed. One of the author's theories is that LVT's at Normandy would have reduced casualties. There is even a seperate chapter on how 'Hobart' LVTs would magically be available and reduce the casualties at D-Day. We are left to wonder what would have been left behind. As I said earlier, a LVT has a bigger footprint than a M4 Sherman or a DUKW or a deuce and a half truck.
    Another part of D-Day Exposed is that theater commanders didn't want LVTs and knew the M4 Sherman was an inferior tank.
     
  4. Christopher67

    Christopher67 Member

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    from my understanding, OMAHA got into trouble for three reasons.

    1/ The initial bombardment was supposed to have been given far more time and ships to take effect. The US Marines had sent a General called Pete Corbett to Europe to "advise" on the requirments and methods for the shore bombardment. The reaction of the U.S. Army to Corbetts recommendations was typical. Corbetts advice was not only ignored, but he was flatly informed that he, Corbett, was in the "Big League" now, and that conditions for shore bombardment in the Pacific were totally different.
    At Omaha, and everywhere else for "Overlord", the bombardment was not only too short, but many of the shells from the big ships hit and killed more Norman cows than they did German soldiers or artillery positions, with coastal artillery positions being a marked exception, not only because they were concentrated on as targets, but that their positions stood out like sore thumbs, and were static, rather than mobile.
    So the bombardment failed at Omaha principally from inter-service rivalry, the blame for which can be put squarely at the feet of none other than that "soldiers soldier, Omar Bradley, who insulted and ignored his well intentioned advice from Marine expert Corbett>

    2/ Im also aware that Omaha 'copped it' due to the fact that it was the only beach of the five that had an intelligence fail;ure associated with it. The presense of the German 352nd Infantry division right up next to the coast went undetected. The situation was serious enough that radio reports coming from the beachhead were reporting "situation in doubt" still as late as mid-day, and for a lot of the afternoon.

    3/ Omaha had a tough assignment, not only to bust inland to close down the Vierville Draw, but to link up the beaches to either side of it.

    I hope I've got this all right for you all. By the way, I read about General Pete Corbett's disgraceful treatment in the quarterly "Military History", if you want to drag out your old copies of that wonderful publication.

    When I got divorced, my wife threw out my copy of that particular publication, as she did for all of my other collected books as well. I would l;ove to be able to give you a quote from the article, particularly the wording used to inform Gen. Corbett that he was in the "Big League" now and his advice wasn't wanted, but not possible.

    Oh well...sorry.

    Chris
     
  5. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ..I'm sure someone has said it-it would not have made much of a difference
    ..plus, generally in the Pacific, the landing forces were much smaller--didn't need as many landing craft vs DDay
     
  6. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Major General Pete Corlett (not "Corbett") was not sent by the "US Marines", he was an Army officer after all, so at the beck and call of the War Department, not the Navy Department. The testimony regarding what he advised, who he advised, and when he advised generals regarding the landing, as well as their reactions is entirely derived from his postwar memoir and is difficult to corroborate. However, the length of the initial bombardment was governed by time and tides as well as the operational situation. In most of the Pacific Island assaults there was no possibility of Japanese armored divisions moving from deep inland reserve areas to reinforce a landing place revealed by a long bombardment.

    Please do not go down the rabbit hole of "shoulda had LVT's" or "shoulda had Funnies" either...there are very good tactical and manufacturing reasons for why those were not used as they were in the Pacific or on the British beaches respectively.

    Many of the Pacific naval bombardments probably killed more crabs than Japanese, there being few Norman cows to kill. Naval guns are singularly ill equipped for use in shore bombardment against reasonably well designed and built fortifications and the German design and placement were among the best.

    There was no such intelligence failure. The presence of elements of the 352. Iinf.-Div. was known by the end of May, but by that time there was little that could be done and no real planning changes could be done without delaying the entire assault. No, the situation was not in doubt after about 1100 on D-Day.

    Indeed, the terrain and defenses were probably the most difficult of any of the beaches.

    Damn ex-wives and their evil ways. :D

    Cheers!
     
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  7. Christopher67

    Christopher67 Member

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    oops....my exwifes activities continue to haunt me.

    corlett must have been under Macarthur's command then while serving in the Pacific.

    Whatever occurred, his advice was treated rather dismissively by Omar Bradley, and he was brushed aside, according to his own testimony.
    There seems to have been a lot of 'soul searching' going on over Omaha, and maybe this was part of it.
    Either way, much was expected of the bombardment, but just like Pacific bombardments, it did not seem to have lived up to its expectations.
    I remember watching "The World at War' in an episode entitled "Pacific", an ex Marine was talking about the bombardment for Betio in Tarawa atoll, and describing Marines and their expectations..."The Navy thought they could bombard the island, and the whole goddamn thing would sink."
    I mean, most of those positions on Betio were above ground, and all the bombardment seemed to achieve at Betio was to knock communications out between the bunkers. It most certainly did not prevent the Japanese defenders from turning Betio into a grinding attrition contest.
    Were there ANY examples of a naval bombardment that really lived up to its expectations?
    Thanks for the reply
     
  8. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Do not dismiss "knocking out communications" as trivial. The real defensive fire power lay in indirect weapons such as mortars and artillery that lay down as pattern of lethal splinters to take a 25% attrition on troops trying to move under it bombardment. The Germans had ample artillery to have put down enough defensive fires across the landing sectors and enough coastal artillery to sink at least some transports. No communications = no artillery fire. Destroying the enemy's artillery communications was a rational and proportionate objective of the bombardment by heavy day bombers.

    Omaha was the only beach where German artillery does not seem to have been neutralised and artillery regiment 352 stopped firing when it ran out of ammunition. It is possible to debate the extent to which intelligence failed to identify the presence of the 352nd Infantry Division. Far more important was the failure to locate any of its batteries, deployed in concealed field positions.
     
  9. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Thinking a little more about the topic.
    Inter service rivalry implies some sort of competitive element . There certainly was inter-service rivalry in competition for resources, in particular between the US Navy and US Army over the priorities accorded to the theatres that they owned: the PTO and ETO. I don't think this had much to do with casualties on D Day.

    The different services had different concerns and priorities which did have an effect on the plan and the risks born by the Armies navies and air forces.

    The Op Overlord plan was an international inter service project. The armies might say what they wanted to do, but the navy and air force might explain nwhay that was impossible. E.g. the army wanted to be certain to knock out coastal batteries that could sink transports. However there was not enough mine-sweeping capacity to support all of the assaults by commandos and rangers that the armies wanted to mount. Only Pointe du Hoc was attacked by sea, and the Rivas Bella battery attacked by British Commandos - but landing on Sword beach.

    The most important decisions were about when to stop the fire-plan and how much safety margin to apply for aerial or naval bombardment. Everybody involved in planning knew that the concrete bunkers sited in enfilade on the beaches could not easily be knocked out from the sea or the air. There were too many of these small hardened targets. Maybe 10-15% of weapons might be knocked out by the bombardment. The best that could be hoped for was to neutralise the defenders long enough for the assaulting infantry and engineers to get close enough to tackle the bunkers with close range weapons. The best information available at the time was that unless an attack was followed up within two minutes the defenders had enough time to recover.

    Here is a little math. The normal assault pace is 50 yards a minute. The assault troops landed about 100-300 yards from high water line at H Hour. The nearest enemy bunkers are 50 yards inland. When should the bombardment end in order to ensure that the defenders remain neutralised during the assault? The answer is a little scary.

    In the fire support coordination conferences held before D day
    - The Army wanted the fire as long as possible - but was a little worried about being bombed by the 8th AF.
    - The navy was very worried about being bombed by the 8th US AF. Their chief scientist professor Blackett tried to get the bombers called of within 72 hours of the invasion launching. The navy did not want to hit the army or landing craft approaching the beach.
    - The air forces was scared of losing aircraft to friendly naval gun fire and wanted a clear separation between the last fighter bomber raid and the beach drenching

    I am not 100% sure exactly when the fire ceased on any beach. It was restarted on Juno and Omaha when it was clear the army needed help. I think there was a definite gap around H when naval gunfire and air attacks stop. I think that gap was around 10 minutes, nbased on the testimony from Franz Geockel a defender of WN62 on Omaha beach. . Anyone have definitive information?

    Gradually the fire plan had aircraft bombing earlier and earlier and further inland.
     
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  10. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ...the IJN walloped Henderson....it wasn't for a direct invasion ...Henderson being an area target..plus they were using HE if I recall correctly = bigger blast radius above ground....
    ..mortars, arty, and naval gunfire are more area target weapons than they are point target weapons ..more efficient as area target weapons....
    ..expectations? unless you have troops and vehicles [ area target ] in the ''open'', the attacking troops were still going to have to fight....expectations like Bomber Command had of ''pinpointing targets''--and we know how bad that was
    ...as far as knocking out even semi-hardened bunkers it's not easy.:
    1. you have to know where the target is --exactly
    2. how far away are the spotters? add in dust and debris from the initial impact and it's not going to be easy for the spotter
    --spotters are going to have mucho complications
    ...when I was in the USMC, I saw and heard!! 16 inch Naval Gunfire ..we were 4000m away, but it was still impressive
    ....our mortars were sighted for a pattern...we could and did sight all mortars for a point target one time, but that is not normal
    ..what's the pattern for naval gunfire = how far apart are impacts/etc? there must be a CEP per gun---key word is ERROR
     
  11. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    I have to wonder how much of the debate is informed by the relatively light casualties on UTAH while not taking into account the fact they did not land where they intended (or perhaps where the defenders thought they would)
     
  12. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Or that the "light casualties" on UTAH were actually fairly severe, 608 casualties are not insignificant in a one-day division-size engagement.
     
  13. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    The IJN walloped Henderson, but the damage they did, did not meet Japanese expectations. The Japanese reported they believed all aircraft were destroyed after the battleship bombardment, land artillery bombardment, and bomber bombardment. However, 42 aircraft were still operational, and the Japanese were quite surprised when they later met aerial opposition later in the day. Thus, they ordered a cruiser bombardment that night, which reduced the number of operational aircraft to 29.

    The battleships also were short of HE and their Type 3 San Shiki shell. So, roughly 1/3rd of the shells used were HE or San Shiki, 2/3rds were AP.

    Also, Henderson airfield was a soft target, easily damaged by HE or similar shells, not hardened bunkers & blockhouses like those on Omaha.
     
  14. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ..looks like the shelling did '''enough'''

    ''''Although the air attacks seriously damaged the Japanese transports, they succeeded in landing all the troops--between 3,000 and 4,000 men---and 80 percent of their cargo'''

    '''By the afternoon of 14 October Japanese bombing and shelling had knocked Henderson Field out of action. Pistol Pete prevented aircraft from using the runway.''''
    along with damaging and destroying a lot of planes/etc

    HyperWar: US Army in WWII: Guadalcanal: The First Offensive [Chapter 6]

    damaged B17s..go to Photo gallery..then multi-engined Aircraft
    The Cactus Air Force
    etc

    yes, Henderson was a soft, area target--with planes/etc above ground..exactly my point
    ....how many planes knocked out from the total?..started with about 90 that morning.?..looks like close to 50% knocked out--that is a walloping

    Life on Guadalcanal | The National WWII Museum | New Orleans
    '''all recalled the night of October 14 to be the most frightening night of the entire campaign.''''
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2020
  15. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    The casualties sustained by the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions should be added to the Utah figures.

    Utah was in many ways the tougher beach than Omaha. The distance between defence posts on the eastern side of the Cotentin peninsular were closer (600m) than on the sector between the Vire and Orne (900m). There was an entire division (91st) in reserve inland from Utah division.
     
  16. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Yep. The notion that UTAH was "easy" is mistaken.
     
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