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Potential support for the story of Heinrich Severloh, 'The Beast at Omaha Beach.'

Discussion in '☆☆ New Recruits ☆☆' started by yelyr, Jun 6, 2016.

  1. yelyr

    yelyr New Member

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    During the Normandy Invasion at Omaha Beach, it is estimated that between 2,000 and 3,000 were killed, up to 2000 wounded. Heinrich Severloh, manning an MG42 and a sniper, later wrote that he shot at least 1,500, probably 2,000 American soldiers. One historian estimated he could have killed more like 3,000. The german described in his memoir that he used 13.6 kilograms of ammo and, at times, emptied entire landing craft. He was perfectly positioned at WN62 at the east end of 'Easy Red' sector, also overlooking Fox Green. It is a remarkable story, given that it means 1 person accounted for up to 3/5 of all casualties at the most dangerous zone of the invasion.

    Severloh's story is not widely regarded as historical fact, though a recently-released aerial image of the landing appears to support his story. On the attached image, I used other photos to determine where I believe WN62 lies on this image and marked this position in red. A staggering amount of dead can be seen all over the image but, if you examine closely around WN-62, it seems that most of the carnage happened there. The water seems to be gushing with blood around tide-drawn landing craft and the ground is littered with lying bodies. First hand accounts also describe the worst loss as happening right between WN-61 and WN-62- right where all the bloody water is.

    It's incredible how much horror is evident in this image, which was released just two years ago. I'm sure this image and its detail can connect many dots in regards to how the day unfolded. Would love any opinions on this matter.


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  2. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Alsa.se, Otto and TD-Tommy776 like this.
  3. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    Great links, Takao. As for the French website, I just copied and pasted the URL into Google Translate. GT isn't perfect, but it's better than using a French-English dictionary.
     
  4. Otto

    Otto Rested & Resupplied with MREs. Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Well it looks like this discussion died on the vine.

    Not entirely sure how to take a source who self credits his gunnery for 1,000+ kills in one action. Seems an odd statement to make unless he could count the bodies. Was he conducting a running a tally in his head in the heat of battle? So many odd variables to take the claim seriously.
     
  5. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    I wasn't aware that Serveloh ever claimed to have killed 1,000 men. He did say he fired 12,000 rounds, most of which were simply converted to empty cases, but would have kept landing troops pinned where mortar bombs and artilelry shells could find them.. His position looked NE from WN 62 towards Fox Green Beach with less effect on Fox Red. Four companies landed on the first wave on Fox Green and Fox Red beaches and the Americans had some of their first successes here, eliminating the defensive post on the extreme East of Omaha beach..

    More of the US casualties are likely to have been from artillery and mortar rounds brought onto the beach by Severloh' boss, Lt Ferkings. Severloh was only in his trench because there wasn't any room of job for him inside the tiny OP shelter. We know about Severloh because he survived to be captured on the 7th June.
     
  6. Otto

    Otto Rested & Resupplied with MREs. Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    The original poster stated that Severloh himself reported shooting probably 2,000 and that a historian said he killed 3,000. According to that I am probably understating the claims, though the claims appear to be made by th OP.

    Mind you I've done zero research on this, though I have heard on this story a,few times. Like any such claim of a high kill count, it should be given a hight level of scrutiny.
     
  7. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I have his book, WN62 A Germans Soldier's Memories of the Defense Omaha Beach Normandy, June 6, 1944, ISBN 978-3-932922-23-7. He makes no claim to the numbers of men killed; he only states he fired some 12,000 rounds.
     
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  8. Otto

    Otto Rested & Resupplied with MREs. Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Then it's the OP's claim and not Severloh's. That's a much more reasonable statement, especially with an mg42's bullet output.
     
  9. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    I never questioned the 12,000 round claim. That's what we'd normally draw for a day at the range per two guns, we'd expend them all, normally well before we were scheduled to end. That includes being down for periods of instruction, breaks, chow, swapping out gunners, more instruction, etc.
    The MG42 while having a theoretical ability to fire 1100-1200 rounds per minute has a practical rate of fire in the 250-300 rounds per minute range, not much different from it's contemporaries or modern day counterparts. To make a long story short, the "mg42's bullet output" isn't really a factor because even using most of the 42's contemporaries 12,000 rounds isn't really that hard to do. 300rpm x 4 minutes=1200 rds x 10=12,000 rounds; so 4 minutes times 10=40 minutes of hard sustained fighting. If he'd had a water-cooled a la a M-1917, Vickers or MG 08 you could get a higher round count because you minimize the over-heating factor.
     
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