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NCDU teams

Discussion in 'Omaha Beach' started by NIckB, Jan 13, 2023.

  1. NIckB

    NIckB New Member

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    after some research i am still unsure of how the NCDU's were delivered at Omaha. I understand The LCM's arrived at rv about 6-12 miles out? At this point i assume the teams with all equipment were on board after a demanding crossing. This is where i am unsure. were they taken to the beach on the LCM's or transferred to rubber dinghies. If dinghies how many in a team plus equipment per dinghy? were they scheduled to arrive with first wave? so many questions, any further reading recommended? Thankyou
     
  2. Temujin

    Temujin Active Member

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    By April 1944, a total of 34 NCDUs arrived in England in preparation for the amphibious landing at Normandy -- Operation Overlord. Operation Overlord On June 6, 1944, the NCDUs at Omaha Beach penetrated some of the Germans' defenses, blowing up eight complete gaps and two partial gaps in German defenses. Meanwhile, at Utah Beach, 700 yards of beach was cleared in two hours and another 900 yards by the afternoon. A total of 37 men were killed and 71 wounded, a casualty rate of 52% making D-Day the bloodiest single day in the history of Naval Special Warfare. However, none of the casualties were lost due to improper handling of explosives, an important fact in Navy SEAL history. The NCDUs at Omaha Beach were later awarded a Presidential Unit Citation: one of only three presented for military actions at Normandy. The men at Utah Beach were recipients of the only Navy Unit Commendation awarded for actions on that day.

    Doesn’t answer your question, looking for information now
     
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  3. Temujin

    Temujin Active Member

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    This document indicates where more information may be found on the operations of the NCDU.
    Lieutenant (g) Blackwell, U.S.N.R. (Enclosure (A) to C.T.F. 122, Serial 844, of 19 July, 1944.)

    4F759F13-9EEB-4995-9F47-9B838EC37607.jpeg

    Source: Page 557 WWII War Diaries
     
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  4. Temujin

    Temujin Active Member

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    Lieutenant (g) Blackwell, U.S.N.R. (Enclosure (A) to C.T.F. 122, Serial 844, of 19 July, 1944.)

    From: Lt. (jg) H.L. BLACKWELL, Jr. D-V(G) USNR.
    To : Commander Task Force ONE TWO TWO.

    Subject: Naval Combat Demolition units; report of.

    Reference: (a) ComNavEu Orders to Lt.(jg) Blackwell
    P16-3/00 of 3 Tune, 1944 and endorsements
    thereto.

    Enclosure: (1) Report on the work of the U.S. Naval Combat
    Demolition units in operation NEPTUNE.

    1. This officer has been on temporary duty with
    Task Force ONE TWO TWO for the purpose of collecting information
    on the work of the U.S. Naval Combat Demolition Units in
    breaching beach obstacles.

    2. Some of the material collected has been briefed
    to make up the report which forms Enclosure (1) of this letter.

    Respectfully submitted,
    (signed)
    H.L. BLACKWELL, JR.
    Lt. (jg), USNR.




    Found the document mentioned above, which you can open on the link below:

    https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/rep/Normandy/CTF-122-NCDU.html

    Below is a brief excerpt from the document, it does describe everything that happened in the link above

    3 June - Force 'U' officers further briefed. Crews briefed
    aboard their craft. Craft got under way, but bad
    weather forced postponement of the Operation.

    4 June - Craft again got under way.

    6 June - From about 0200 on, craft arrived off coast of
    France. NCDUs and Army Demolition Units embarked in
    their smaller craft. Boat Team #6 had made almost
    entire crossing in their LCM when LCT (HE) 2075
    foundered; Boat Team #2 had embarked in LCM at
    2300 and cast loose at 0330, when LCT(A) 2227 was
    crippled by flooded engine room; and Boat Team #11
    had to abandon their LCT at 0200, in sinking condition.
    Foundering of 2075 was result of water coming
    in where starboard rail had been out away and replaced;
    replaced section swung one way only, like a
    valve, admitting water and then impounding it. The
    Assault Units of Force '0' went ashore to fulfill
    their mission after almost a week aboard LCTs (whose
    decks were often awash), having had no hot food or
    exercise. Support NCDUs of Force '0' were fairly
    fresh after crossing on LSI; and NCDUs of Force 'U'
    had been on LSTs. It is felt that use of LSTs, if
    available, is preferable.
    The story of the actual operation is told in Section
    II.

    Source: Task Force One Two Two Report, Serial 844 of 19 July 1944, US Navy World War II Action Reports, Modern Military Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD 20749-6001
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2023
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  5. Temujin

    Temujin Active Member

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  6. Temujin

    Temujin Active Member

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  7. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    All very interesting. I was a bit puzzled by the reference to LCMs making the Channel crossing, but it turns out that was due to problems with the LCTs assigned to tow them. As noted, travel by LST or LCI to the landing area followed by transfer to LCVPs or rubber boats was a better concept.

    I have not seen any reference to APDs - fast transports converted from flush-deck destroyers or DEs, carrying LCPL/Rs or LCVPs - in Overlord, but they might be another option; they were used by Underwater Demolition Teams in the Pacific.
     
  8. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Excerpts from my book Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall.

    On the American beaches two unique commands were formed, the Special Engineer Task Force (SETF) for OMAHA and the Beach Obstacle Demolition Party (BODP) for UTAH. The SETF was under command of the Provisional Engineer Special Brigade Group, comprised of the 5th and 6th Engineer Special Brigades, while the BODP was under command of the 1st Engineer Special Brigade. The SETF was formed from the 146th Engineer Combat Battalion of the 1121st Engineer Group, the 299th Engineer Combat Battalion (-) of the 1171st Engineer Group, 150 demolition-trained personnel drawn from the 2nd Infantry Division, and Navy Combat Demolition Units (NCDU) 11, 22-24, 27, 41-46, 127, 128, 130, 131, 133, and 140-142. The smaller BODP for UTAH was formed from elements of the 237th Engineer Combat Battalion, the 612th Engineer Light Equipment Company, Company B, 299th Engineer Combat Battalion and NCDU 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 127, 132, 134-136, and 139. The Army engineers and Navy Demolition units formed combined gap assault teams and gap support teams, with each gapping team intended to clear an initial fifty-yard wide gap through the obstacles. Each NCDU consisted of an officer or petty officer and five enlisted men. Their strength was augmented to 13 by the addition of two seamen to handle the rubber assault boats loaded with explosives and five Army engineers to assist in placing the explosives.

    On OMAHA, the gapping teams were to arrive at H+03, two each on DOG GREEN, WHITE, and RED, EASY GREEN, and FOX GREEN, and six on EASY RED. Each of the sixteen gapping teams was to open a gap 50 yards wide through the beach obstacles to the beach road, supported by 16 M4 tank-dozers. At H+08 eight gapping support teams were to land, one to support two of the gapping teams already landed. The gapping support teams were organized identically to the gapping teams, but carried additional explosives. They were intended to provide additional manpower where it was required. At H+25 four reserve gapping teams and two command teams were to arrive, again with additional explosives. By that time it was expected that the initial sixteen gaps would be open and the teams were to transition to widening and improving the gaps.

    On OMAHA, the sixteen gapping teams were transported on the same LCT (A) or LCT (HE) as the wading tanks of the reserve tank companies - two gun tanks and one tank-dozer on each. The LCT also towed the LCM pre-loaded with the teams explosives and rubber boat.
     
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  9. NIckB

    NIckB New Member

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    Thankyou all from your replies, i guess the 1st wave LCA's at Dog Green for example would ramp down in several feet of water because of obstacles in front of them with no assistance of gaps teams as i understand none arrived at Dog Green because of the current etc.
    Richard, how were the rubber boats loaded with explosives etc, launched from the LCM ?
     
  10. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    The timing of the landings for Assault Group O-2 for the initial "wave" was:

    H-5:
    DOG GREEN: Co B, 743rd Tk Bn (12 DD-tanks) – LCT (6) 590, 591, 713
    DOG GREEN/WHITE: Co B, 743rd Tk Bn (4 DD-tanks) – LCT (6) 588
    DOG WHITE/RED: Co C, 743rd Tk Bn (8 DD-tanks) – LCT (6) 586, 587
    DOG WHITE: Co C, 743rd Tk Bn (8 DD-tanks) – LCT (6) 535, 589
    H:
    DOG GREEN: Co A, 743rd Tk Bn (6 tanks and 3 tankdozers) – LCT (A) 2227, 2273 (snk), LCT (HE) 2050
    DOG WHITE: Co A, 743rd Tk Bn (2 tanks and 1 tankdozer) – LCT (A) 2275
    DOG RED: Co A, 743rd Tk Bn (4 tanks and 2 tankdozers) – LCT (A) 2124, LCT (HE) 2229
    EASY GREEN: Co A, 743rd Tk Bn (4 tanks and 2 tankdozers) – LCT (HE) 2075, 2307
    H+1:
    DOG GREEN: Co A, 116th Inf – 6 LCA
    DOG WHITE: Co G, 116th Inf – 6 LCVP
    DOG RED: Co F, 116th Inf – 6 LCVP
    EASY GREEN: Co E, 116th Inf – 6 LCVP
    H+3:
    DOG GREEN: Gapping Teams 1-2 – 2 LCM
    DOG WHITE: Gapping Teams 3-4 – 2 LCM
    DOG RED: Gapping Teams 5-6 – 2 LCM
    EASY GREEN: Gapping Teams 7-8 – 2 LCM
    H+08:
    DOG GREEN: Gapping Support Team A – 1 LCM
    DOG WHITE: Gapping Support Team B – 1 LCM
    DOG RED: Gapping Support Team C – 1 LCM
    EASY GREEN: Gapping Support Team D – 1 LCM
    H+25:
    DOG GREEN: Reserve Gapping Team – 1 LCM
    DOG WHITE: Reserve Gapping Team – 1 LCM
    DOG RED: Reserve Gapping Team – 1 LCM
    EASY GREEN: Reserve Gapping Team – 1 LCM
    Demolition Section 1 Command Team (146th Eng) – 1 LCM
    Special Engineer Task Force Command Team – 1 LCM

    The main body of the infantry battalions and supporting engineers were to begin landing at H+30. The landings were also timed to the turn of the tide so that the lowest water encountered was around H-Hour, which meant the obstacles were mostly further up the beach. Some of the landing craft grounded in less than a few feet of water but others in deeper water because of the slight irregularities in the beach.

    As I understand in from Sid Berger's excellent book (Sid was an Engineer officer with the 531st Engineer Shore Regiment, 1st Engineer Special Brigade on UTAH and wrote an excellent analysis shortly before his death titled Breaching Fortress Europe, if you are interested I highly recommend tracking it down) the inflated rubber raft with a load of couple hundred pounds of reserve explosives in Hagensen Packs were placed at the ramp and it was intended to slide it down the ramp into the shallow water upon grounding. The rest of the team would go down the ramp or over the side, each carrying an M-1 Munitions Bag loaded with 40 pounds of Hagensen Packs. In at least one case, the loaded raft was hit before it could be gotten off the ramp, setting off all the charges and killing the entire team.
     
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  11. GITom1944

    GITom1944 New Member

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    It is my understanding the Army engineers were added, in part, to help haul the rubber boat off the LCM which was pretty heavy. Here is a close-up of a well known shot of Omaha Beach. One of the LCRS boats can be seen in the surf.
    Rubber boat.jpg
     
  12. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    While the extra manpower was necessary and probably did help with shifting the raft it wasn't exactly why the Army troops were added. The division of labor was the Army part of the team worked towards the beach to clear obstacles the Navy part of the team used their skills to clear the seaward obstacles, especially given the tide was turning and they were being submerged.
     
  13. JohnA.

    JohnA. recruit

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    I've been a student of the SETF since 2004. I met with the veterans of the 146th Engineer Combat Battalion in 2005 and since then, I've been contacted by about 18 families of the SETF wanting to know what their veterans experienced. For a long time, my primary interest was limited to the command boat for O-2 but I kept what I picked up about everyone else. Just in the last few weeks I decided I'd better create as complete a roster of the SETF as I could. I'm about halfway done, with about 600 names assigned to the 16 Gap Assault and 8 Gap Support Teams, plus the O-2 command boat and part of the SETF command boat. I know a lot less about the 299th ECB but I'm working on it. I know even less about the Utah Beach experience. What follows is my current understanding of this fascinating mission.

    I must caution any students of this obstacle-clearing mission that if all you care about is NCDUs, the Navy's AAR referenced above (Blackwell's report) is a fair summary. However, anyone wanting to know what actually happened on Omaha Beach must also understand the Army history. Blackwell's concern, as he stated, was assessing the performance of the NCDUs, not the success of the SETF. The Army similarly reported on the performance of the Army and sort of said at the end, "Oh... and the Navy was there too." (I paraphrase :) ) Well over half the SETF personnel were Army even though it was initially conceived and planned as a Navy task. The command structure was bizarre because the mission organization changed twice that I know of, on account of recon showing exponential growth rate of the number of obstacles.

    The SETF on Force "O" was comprised of 21 NCDUs each consisting of one Navy officer and five seamen, all demolitions experts. Each one also included three unrated seamen untrained in demolitions. For anyone not familiar with the term "unrated" (like me, being Army) this means they were E1-E3 and not yet trained in their eventual specialty. Some of them had been in the Navy a few weeks longer than basic training when they were assigned to the SETF. These men were the raft handlers for the 21 NCDUs. In addition to these 8 Navy men, each NCDU was assigned five Army engineers, all of whom were trained in demolitions. Many of them were lower enlisted too, like the unrated raft handlers, but they were highly trained in demolitions and other engineering skills. Gap Assault Team #1 included NCDU #11, which had six enlisted men (plus three unrated raft handlers) and no officer. That's because the officer who trained with them at Ft. Pierce was Lt (jg) Heideman, who was given command over all the NCDUs in O-2 in the weeks before the invasion. I haven't yet figured out where #11's sixth man came from. One of these days I'm going to order all the Navy personnel records from the Archives so I can sort it all out.

    Each of the 24 LCM(3)s seems to have carried two LCR(S)s - one for the Navy and one for the Army part of the team. (That's what I gather from Gawne and sort of anecdotally from the 146th accounts, but I'm not ready to swear by it yet.) One stage of the plan did call for the Navy to work the seaward obstacles, as has been stated above, but that seems to be one of the first details out the window when they actually landed. The two elements worked independently of each other, but also with extraordinary cooperation. Even so, the Navy element was technically under Army command, while its Army personnel continued to report to the Navy, even in cases where the soldiers rode to shore in the same LCM(3) as the company that had earlier detached them to the Navy! Confused yet?

    The command boat with Heideman, and apparently also O'Neill's command boat, carried an M29 Weasel probably leaving no room for an LCR(S). I don't know if the O-1 command boat had one of those; that was the 299th ECB. The funny thing is, the M29 was designed to be amphibious but these two had no floatation gear and rolled off the LCM(3)s. They were waterproofed like any other tracked vehicle that day. (I can just see the Navy shaking its head at the Army while this was going on in England. "What could possibly go wrong?" lol)

    To further confuse the picture, between the NCDUs, the 146th ECB, and the 299th ECB, there still weren't enough guys for all the obstacles. The Army had to pull men out of the 2nd Infantry Division scheduled to land on D+1 to be spread out among all the Teams. Because the 299th and 146th had already detached men to supplement the NCDUs, they themselves needed reinforcements from the 2nd ID. These apparently included additional medics (each Gap Team had two, total), engineers, and infantry from several different 2nd ID commands. I haven't yet figured out what units but I'm homing in on a starting point.

    To answer the original question, the NCDUs did not depart the LCM(3)s to arrive separately in rubber rafts, although the original concept envisioned something along those lines. After all, that's how they trained at Ft. Pierce, just like the UDTs and the Marine Raiders if I'm not mistaken. Reality made the original concept hopelessly inadequate, so they adapted for the mission. The NCDUs disembarked the LCM(3) when the ramps went down, just like the Army element of each team. My impression is that the Army elements were forward and thus the first out of the LCM(3)s. The fate of Gap Assault Team 15's NCDU seems to support this. Their raft was hit by mortar fire as it was barely clear of the ramp (killing two of the handlers) but the Army was already on its way ahead.

    I'd be delighted to correspond with anyone about this mission but I probably won't return to this forum. I found the thread in a Google Search tonight but when I tried to visit the site, two browsers refused to connect me and my anti-virus warned me off harder than it has for any other site. Anyone reading this is welcome to send a message to john (underscore) antkowiak at yahoo.

    For further reading on the SETF I'd recommend the following books, but be advised: cross-referencing and compiling it all reveals errors in all of them. Nobody's perfect. (And apologies to Mr. Anderson; I hadn't picked up any of yours, being unaware that they address this aspect of the landings on the American beaches.)

    Gawne, Jonathan. Spearheading D-Day: American Special Units at Normandy. (Chapter 4)
    Ross, Wesley. 146 Combat Engineer Battalion -- Essayons: A Journey. (Wes was the Army 2nd Lieutenant in command of Gap Assault Team 8.)
    Bass, Richard T. Clear the Way! The History of the U.S. Army 146th Engineer Combat Battalion
    O'Dell, James Douglas, and Dunford, Sue Ann. More Than Scuttlebutt: The U.S. Navy Demolition Men in WWII

    The burning questions for me remain: what were the names of the LCM(3) crews? It's easy enough to start to figure out how to answer, when the LCM(3) is native to the ship that carries it, like a US Navy APA troop transport... but that's not who carried any of these. Some were towed across by LCIs, others by LCTs, several by the Princess Maud. Were the crews Royal Navy? British... other? US Navy? US Coast Guard? I'm dying to know. I'm guessing they were men not otherwise assigned to ships but I don't know where to start asking. Send me a note if you have any ideas :)
     
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  14. GITom1944

    GITom1944 New Member

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    JohnA - Thanks for your post. As you alluded, the LCMs that came from the transports seemed to have hull markings associated with their mother ship (ex. APA26-1). However, there are a number of photos showing LCMs marked "US XX" with the XX being various numbers. I've wondered if these might have been LCMs that were not assigned to a ship. Could they have carried the SETFs? The photos are all taken later on D-Day or days later. However, once the SETFs were ashore, these LCMs would have been finished with their specialized work and they might have used to shuttle men and supplies ashore during the sustainment phase. Of course, even if these LCMs had landed the SETFs, it doesn't answere your question of who crewed them. 26G-2386r.jpg
     
  15. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    They could have been extra LCMs, over and above the number carried on board the ships. Those would have been brought over on ships as deck cargo on ships that couldn't launch them directly. Crossing the Channel on their own power they matched up with the ship they were to serve.
     
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  16. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    I'm curious why you think that is a problem? You've been a member here since 2010 although you don't post much. The server issue is irritating but I suspect Otto keeps pretty good track of virus issues. I've posted regularly here for many years and have never had issues.

    No apologies necessary. I never intended to cover the NCDU when writing - it was supposed to be a history of the 1st Assault Brigade RE after all - but when I first ran into mentions of the SETF/OCU I got interested, especially after Sid Berger visited the TDI office in Annandale, Virginia, because Arnie Dupuy's HERO Books was distributing Sid's book. Only met him the once though. Very nice gentleman.

    I imagine they would be buried somewhere in the records of the Eleventh Phib or TF 124? TF 124.3 (O-1) and TF 124.4 (O-2) each had 18 LCM(3) assigned but TF 124.5 (O-3) and TF 124.6 (O-4) did not, so I suspect the assigned LCM were in addition to any of those carried on the XAP, APA, LSI(L), LSI(S), and LSI(H)?
     
  17. NIckB

    NIckB New Member

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    "It was no accident that the 29th Division's troops under Norman Cota managed to get off the beach quicker, their DD tanks were brought right on to the beach by LCT captains who were not deterred by German gunfire, the Big Red One's (1st US Inf Div)men however were let down and only 5 of their 32 allocated tanks made it to the beach and they had the misfortune to land very near a German bunker just above the high water mark, equipped with on 88mm anti-tank gun which faced down the beach (not out to sea)and thus were put out of action very quickly. You can go there today and see the bunker, the gun aperture is sealed with wire mesh but the 88mm gun is still rusting inside the bunker..I've seen it, and I looked back along that long flat sandy beach,..a terrible killing ground"

    slightly of topic - the above is a review i saw recently, is the 88 referred to located at Vierville? or was another bunkered in 1st Div. further eastward?
     
  18. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    The 32 DD tanks were carried in eight LCTs. One of them saw its first tank sink almost immediately on launching, so the skipper took the other 3 all the way to the beach. The others all launched as planned, and of 29 total tanks in the water only 2 made it ashore, for the total of 5.

    Ironically, Utah Beach, in the lee of the Cotenin peninsula, might have been more feasible for DDs than Omaha.
     
  19. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    That "review" (of what?) is pretty bad. No, not all the five tanks from the two DD companies of the 741st Tank Battalion were put out of action by the 8.8cm gun in WN 61. That also ignores the wading tanks and tank dozers that came in after the DD tanks. At the end of the day, five tanks and two tank dozers were still operational.

    Yes, the DD tanks of the 743d Tank Battalion were landed directly on the beach but then along with the wading tanks of the battalion were limited in their effectiveness by the terrain and the field of fire of the 8.8cm, 7.5cm, and 5cm guns at WN 72 as well as the 7.5cm guns in WN 70, 73, and 74. They spent much of the morning sniping at German positions as they tried to find firing positions where they could effectively engaged the German guns. The battalion commander was KIA in the process.

    Yes, there was a second 8.8cm gun in a similar position at WN 61. However, there were numerous other heavy guns emplaced. WN 60 had two 7.5cm guns, WN 61 also had two 5cm guns, WN 62 had two 7.5cm and two 5cm guns, WN 65 had two 5cm guns, WN 66 had one 5cm gun, WN 68 had a 4.7cm and a 5cm gun, and two 7.5cm (kurz) guns mounted in turrets,
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2023
  20. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Four of the UTAH DD tanks were lost when their LCT(A) was mined and sunk. Another was sunk during the run in when it was accidentally struck by a landing craft.
     

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