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US 'new' Battleships at D-Day

Discussion in 'Western Europe' started by scott livesey, Sep 25, 2018.

  1. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    All our battleships and cruisers (except the second quartet of Atlantas) were built on the East Coast, so it might not be a matter of sending them from the Pacific but rather delaying their transit there after they finished working up. For example Iowa and New Jersey transited the Panama Canal on January 7, 1944. We could have retained them in the Atlantic for another six months if adding them to the bombardment force in Normandy was considered a higher priority than fighting the Japanese fleet. No one at the time seems to have considered that to be so. Is there any record of the Overlord planners asking for our first-line BBs to be committed to that operation?

    CVEs were one thing that was in fairly good supply. Seven British and two American took part in Operation Dragoon carrying Seafires, Wildcats, and Hellcats, mainly for air cover, but they could also perform ground attack. And of course CVEs of both navies were deployed in the anti-submarine role, including several covering the western approaches to the landing area. If there was considered to be a need for CVEs in addition to the thousands of bombers and fighters in England, they would have been provided.

    The original concept for a CVE air group included SBDs, but this was discontinued early in 1943. The lack of folding wings made SBDs particularly inconvenient to handle on small carriers, and having three different types in an air group of around thirty was unnecessarily complicated.

    CVLs carried about the same number of planes as CVEs, so there would be little added value in using them in Europe. They were best suited for the fast carrier force.
     
  2. Takao

    Takao Ace

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  3. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

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    I know the site. Lots of photos, lists and .html of some papers. Some of the articles are reprints of press releases. Just wondering if the navy has anything similar to the army 'Green Book' series and other books you can download at the CMH site. For all its faults, I read Morison's books as they are the closest to an 'Official' history.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2018
  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Did you check out the other sites I linked?
     
  5. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

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    yes, most I book marked in the last few years. sometimes I go to 'Hyperwar' to get titles or authors, then see if I can find them for download or sale.
     
  6. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Hyperwar is best for primary documents and a few secondary ones. There's so much there that I often, like I suggested, put it in my search terms when researching a topic. The fact that lot of it is now in HTML makes it searchable while a lot of the other pages have the same info in image format. Unfortunately the Navy seems not to have commissioned an official history of WWII or even many campaign histories unlike the army.
     
  7. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    If you're willing to dig a little DANFS (Dictionary of American Fighting Ships) a site provided by The Naval History and Heritage Command is an excellent source with a wealth of information.
    Link here:
    DANFS

    The way I use it:
    1.) Find an action, campaign etc. I am interested in.
    2.) Identify a ship in that action, campaign, etc.
    3.) look the ship up in DANFS
    You'll have all the reading you want.
    4.) Identify additional vessels involved from the first ship
    5.) Look up the new ship identified while reading #3.
    6.) repeat

    All the information I posted about the Battle of Philippine sea was obtained in this manner.

    You're talking about Normandy and we know Texas was there so we'll start with her:
    1).Normandy 6 June 1944
    2.)USS Texas
    3.)DANFS
    3a.)Texas II (Battleship No.35) 1914-1948
    Texas II (Battleship No. 35)
    4.)
    That routine continued into 1944 but ended in April of that year when, at the European end of one such mission, she remained at the Clyde estuary in Scotland and began training for the invasion of Normandy. That warm-up period lasted about seven weeks at the end of which she departed Belfast Lough and travelled down the Irish Sea and around the southern coast of England to arrive off the Normandy beaches on the night of 5-6 June.

    At about 0440 on the morning of 6 June 1944, Texas closed the Normandy coast to a point some 12,000 yards offshore near Pointe du Hoc. At 0550, she began churning up the coastal landscape with her 14-inch salvoes. Meanwhile, her secondary 5-inch battery went to work on another target on the western end of Omaha beach, a ravine laced with strong points to defend an exit road. Later, under control of airborne spotters, she moved her major-caliber fire inland to interdict enemy reinforcement activities and to destroy batteries and other strong points farther inland.

    By noon, she closed the beach to about a range of 3,000 yards to fire upon snipers and machinegun nests hidden in a defile just off the beach. At the conclusion of that mission, the warship took an enemy antiaircraft battery located west of Vierville under fire.

    The following morning, her main battery rained 14-inch shells on the enemy-held town of Trevieres to break up German troop concentrations. That evening, she bombarded a German mortar battery which had been shelling the beach. Not long after midnight, German planes attacked the ships offshore, and one of them swooped in low on Texas’ starboard quarter. Her antiaircraft batteries opened up immediately but failed to score on the intruder. On the morning of 8 June, her guns fired on Isigny, then on a shore battery, and finally on Trevieres once more.

    After that, she retired to Plymouth to rearm, returning to the French coast on the 11th. From then until the 15th, she supported the Army in its advance inland. However, by the latter day, the troops had advanced beyond the range of her guns; and the battleship moved on to another mission, having expended 690 rounds of 14-inch and 272 of 5-inch in the preceding twelve days.

    On the morning of 25 June 1944, Texas closed in on the vital port of Cherbourg and, with Arkansas (BB-33), opened fire upon various fortifications and batteries surrounding the town. The guns on shore returned fire immediately and, at about 1230, succeeded in straddling Texas. The battleship, however, continued her firing runs in spite of shell geysers blossoming about her. The enemy gunners proved stubborn and good. At 1316 a 240-millimeter shell slammed into her fire control tower, killed the helmsman, and wounded nearly everyone on the navigation bridge. Texas’ commanding officer, Capt. Baker, miraculously escaped unhurt and quickly had the bridge cleared. The warship herself continued to deliver her 14-inch shells in spite of damage and casualties. Some time later, another shell struck the battleship. That one, a 240-millimeter armor-piercing shell, crashed through the port bow, entered a compartment located below the wardroom, but failed to explode. Throughout the three-hour duel, the Germans straddled and near-missed Texas over 65 times, but she continued her mission until 1500 when she retired, having expended 208 rounds of 14-inch in the roughly three-hour action.

    Texas steamed to Plymouth, England, where a bomb disposal team carefully removed the fuse, detonator and explosives from the unexploded shell, allowing its later presentation to the warship as a lucky charm. Following damage repairs to the battleship, Texas conducted refresher drills in preparation for the invasion of southern France. On 15 July 1944, she departed Belfast Lough and headed for the Mediterranean.

    continued....
     
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  8. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Arkansas III (Battleship No.33) Arkansas III (Battleship No. 33)

    On 18 April, Arkansas sailed once more for Bangor, Ireland. Upon her arrival, the battleship began a training period to prepare for her new role as a shore bombardment ship. On 3 June, Arkansas sailed for the French coast to support the Allied invasion of Normandy. The ship entered the Baie de la Seine on 6 June, and took up a position 4,000 yards off "Omaha" beach. At 0552, Arkansas's guns opened fire. During the day, the venerable battleship underwent shore battery fire and air attacks; over ensuing days she continued her fire support. On the 13th, Arkansas shifted to a position off Grandcamp les Bains.

    On 25 June 1944, Arkansas dueled with German shore batteries off Cherbourg, the enemy repeatedly straddling the battleship but never hitting her. Her big guns helped support the Allied attack on that key port, and led to the capture of it the following day. Retiring to Weymouth, England, and arriving there at 2220, the battleship shifted to Bangor, on 30 June.

    Arkansas stood out to sea on 4 July, bound for the Mediterranean......

    5.) Hit a dead end, searched Naval Vessels Operation Overlord and back to DANFS.

    List of Allied warships in the Normandy landings - Wikipedia

    Augusta IV (CL-31) 1931-1959 Augusta IV (CL-31)

    Arriving on 15 April, she steamed thence to Plymouth, England, on 17 April. There, Rear Admiral Alan G. Kirk, Commander, TF 122, came on board on 25 April and broke his flag. At 1300 on 25 May, King George VI of England came on board to lunch with Admiral Kirk, and departed the same day.

    In June, Augusta took part in the Normandy invasion, standing out of Plymouth on 5 June with Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, USA, and his staff, embarked. Closing the shore on 6 June, the heavy cruiser commenced firing at 0618, hurling 51 rounds from her main battery at shore installations. On 10 June General Bradley and his staff left the heavy cruiser to establish headquarters ashore. Augusta was bombed at 0357 on 11 June, but escaped damage as the bomb exploded 800 yards off her port beam. The following day, anchored as before off Omaha Beach, she fired eight 5-inch rounds at an enemy plane at 2343, driving it off. On 13 June at 0352 she sent 21 rounds of 5-inch at a German plane, and shot it down. Augusta drove off other aircraft and bombarded the shore with her heavy guns on 15 June, and provided antiaircraft defense to the forces off Normandy on 18 June. The next day, while underway to shift berths, she lost a man overboard when he was plucked from the ship by heavy seas.

    Rear Admiral Kirk shifted his flag to the destroyer Thompson (DD-637) on 1 July, and Augusta got underway the same day for Plymouth, mooring there on 2 July. Four days later, in company with TG 120.6, she departed for Mers el Kebir, Algeria, arriving there on 10 July, only to leave two days later with Hambleton for Palermo, Sicily. She moored at that port on 14 July and reported to TF 86 for duty. Rear Admiral L. A. Davidson came on board and broke his flag the same day, and Augusta stood out with Macomb and Hambleton for Naples, arriving the next day. She carried out shore bombardment exercises on 23 July.

    She returned to Palermo on 27 July and steamed to Naples the following day. She continued her training until 12 August, when as flagship for TF 86, she carried Brigadier General B. W. Chidlaw, USA, to Propriano, Corsica, arriving the following day.

    On 14 August, the heavy cruiser departed the Golfe de Valinco at 1030 for lie du Levant, southern France and the beginning of Operation "Dragoon".
     
  9. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

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    DANFS has some info, but as I said, reads like press releases. Looked up one of my ships, USS America(CV-66). History ends with the 1986 ship yard time, the same time I rotated to shore duty. Looking here you would never know the ship rests in deep water off the east coast after being used as a target in the 1990's.
     
  10. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    That might be because the last volume was published in 1991... :)
     
  11. EKB

    EKB Member

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    Expanding the offshore fireplan on paper overlooks that it was not easy to adjust naval gunfire.

    In June 1944 the wireless communications was more like a patchwork than a network. Vaccum tube radios were fragile and failed often. Navy/Marine Forward Observers were attached to Army parachute battalions, but some were mis-dropped, became casualties, or the special radios needed to contact warships were lost or damaged.

    The telecoms carried by ground FOs were not compatible with aircraft radio, so they could not talk to the Seafire FOs or USAAF pilots. The Armored Divisions had a radio link with the Air Force, but they didn’t have much use for it until they could exploit a breakthrough made by the infantry at the end of July 1944.

    It was not quite combined arms in the way that it’s understood today.
     
  12. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Re scotts suggestion

    I don't think the Navy would like to station a task force west of the Cotentin and south of the German held channel isles which were home to some long range coastal artillery. This becomes a self licking lollypop as the effort to maintain a task group in that positionsm probably outweighs any additional value.

    #EKB has a point although by 1944 the FOB parties were reasonably well organised and after the landings radio valves could be replaced. This is the start of combined operations as we know today.

    I think the main problem was that there were not enough FOB parties to co-ordinate the fire of all the ships. Once the battle had moved inland to St Lo Caen th Germans were beyond the range of most ships.
     
  13. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    The Naval Shore Fire Control Parties (NSFCP) organized for D-Day (and for DRAGOON and various Army-Navy assaults in the Pacific) were detailed from the Joint Assault Signal Companies organized specifically for the purpose by the Army Signal Corps in mid-1943, based on experience in TORCH and early landings in the Pacific. Each JASCO normally organized nine NSFCP from its Shore Fire Control Section, each consisting of an Army Captain (FA) and a Navy Lieutenant (SG) with usually seven or more Army and one Navy EM. The 286th JASCO organized a tenth NSFCP for NEPTUNE, attached to Force 'A' of the 82d Airborne Division, but none that can find was provided to the 101st (likely because of the expected early link up with the seaborne assault forces.

    The JASCO also included an Air Liaison Section with 13 AAC captains and 39 AAF EM.

    As you say, the problem was the radios, they were heavy, bulky, and finicky, even though the radio sections of the NEPTUNE NSFCP were augmented to two radio sets, most were out of contact until late in the afternoon.

    It became that by the end of the campaign.
     
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  14. EKB

    EKB Member

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  15. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, yes I should have said that "Navy" did include various Marine's seconded to the JASCO's as well. I was more trying to show the overall picture of the organization - it was an Army Signal Corps organization with personnel seconded from the people who worked on the floaty things. :D
     
  16. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

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    i will concede the biggest issue, communications with land and spotting aircraft. Rereading an account of the bombardment of Cherbourgh forts, 50% of the spotter aircraft didn't show and the ships could only talk to 50% of the remaining airplanes and only some of the shore parties. Hard to deliver accurate fire if there is no one to spot the shot.
     
  17. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    The communications difficulties were part of the problem, but not the whole story. There simply weren't enough liaison teams to provide the level of communications and liaison that the Britidsh and US Armies were accustomed to receive from their field artillery.

    Forward Observation and Bombardment was a difficult and dangerous job with high casualty rates. 10 teams for an airborne division is less than half of the 27 observation and liaison teams provide by the three field regiments organic to a British infantry division. It did not provide enough redundancy to allow for casualties, communications or transport problems. Off the top of my head I can think of three operations on 6-7 June that go horribly wrong on the British sector because the troops ashore can't talk to ships. Two because the FOB becomes a casualty and one because they can't establish communications.

    There also need to be a naval gunnery liaison party on the bombarding ships to speak pongo to the fishheads.


    ,
     
  18. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    I agree, but it was worse than that...you may have misunderstood me. The 82d Airborne Division did not have 10 teams, it had 1 (one). Each of the assault regiments/divisions in the US Sector had nine teams assigned to it with the JASCO's nominally attached to the Special Engineer Brigades. I don't recall the exact British organization but it was a similar pattern. I do know they tried to anticipate the problems by augmenting the teams with additional personnel and radios, but on OMAHA it wasn't enough.
     
  19. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    The British were established for seven FOB per assault division, including the 6th Airborne Division and six for the commando brigades, and a couple . One British FOB party Captain Todd was assigned to 1st US Division and landed on Omaha Beach.

    1 COBU provided the FOB for 3rd British Div, 6th AB Div and XXXth Corps (one troop each)
    3 COBU provided the FOB for 3rd Canadian British Div and 1st and 4th Special Service Brigades (one troop each)

    The FOBs were assigned to infantry battalions and Brigade HQ
     
  20. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks! Very interesting that one established 7 and the other 9 as the "norm". I wonder why, given the division and assault organization were so similar?
     

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