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Thread: How lives might have been saved on D-Day

  1. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    Of course they didn't, it was an ad hoc plan formed out of desperation and intuitiveness. The kind of thing that wins battles...

    And little radio communication was needed initially. Smoke grenades could mark targets, or "paint" them, far more effectively. So could the flashes of German weaponry once the fog lifted..
    Absolutely wrong. Radio communications in WWII amphibious assualts were essential from the moment the first wave left their assembly areas to run in to the shore. The fire support channels, particulalry the Naval Gun Fire channel have to be continually functional if the landing force is to quickly break the defense, keep casualties to acceptable levels, advance inland on schedule, and bring in the following landing groups in a organized manner. NGF ship stations were too far off shore to spot specific smoke grenades or other visual signals for effective fires. From my own training in this I can say that visual signals alone are not "more effective" than with functional radio signals. Its far slower, less precise, and extremely difficult to coordinate visual signals on a landing beach of divsion size, or two divsions as in the case of Omaha Beach.

    Spotting gun flashes from even two or three thousand yards is difficult. Again i can attest to this from persoanl experince. Where the enemy is camoflages, or masked with embrasures and berms or walls it becomes nearly impossible. While eventually some weapons can be located at those ranges it is not possible to obtian the level off effective fires. for that someone has to get in under 1000 meters and be able to transmit target locations rapidly and accurately.

    The destroyers that were so helpfull after 0900 hours had to leave their NGF stations 5000+ yards off the beach and run up to the surf line. they could not get in under 2000 yards until the tide had risen enough to allow that. Even with the rising tide they were still bottoming. They also were in intermittiant radio contact by then and were not depending exclusively on visual signals.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    And the tanks probably would have been blasted by 88s...
    Eh, I've already answered this one once as well

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    But that's not a fair comparison. Resistance, though intense at some of the other beaches initially, was quickly overwhelmed not just by tanks by infantry manuveuring in what were more often than not cottages along the sea shore. Omaha was unique in that it was not in a populated area and it has been established that the geography of the beach, such as the seawall and the bluffs, and the overall quality of the Wehrmacht 352d ID was as much a hinderance as anything. Yes, more tanks would certainly have helped. But there were still a significant number of obsticles that remained uncleared due to the German fire. So, how far could the tanks have moved anyways? They'd have been sitting ducks, just like the infantrymen were...
    Infantry manuvered on Omaha beach through dense brush on the left flank, and across the less well defended bluffs, rather than through the draws as originally planned. They would have had a easier time of it with 100+ tanks landing ahead of them rather than less than thirty a half hour late.

    As I wrote earlier the purpose of the DD tanks was not to manuver inland imeadiately, but to suppress the enemy weapons positions during the first critical minutes for the first wave of infantry/engineer companys. this is how the leading tanks fuctioned on the other beaches, and in the Pacific in 1944. The tanks in the lead wave were to destroy the enemy defenses directly at hand, not rush off instantly to the Green Fields Beyond. They were to accompany the assualt as the engineers cleared the obstacles. Not drive off & leave the assualt behind.


    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    Agreed, but I doubt many more tanks would have made it onto the beaches than already did otherwise. And that number of DD-tanks sounds very high to me. I can't recall the numbers, but I think from memory is was more like 50 or so that were launched against the beach initially. Where are you getting these numbers from?
    On my shelf here are Max Hastings 'Overlord' and Adm Ellsbergs 'The Far Shore'. I'd also recomend John Balikoskis recent book on Omaha Beach. Each of the two US divsions assualting Omaha Beach had a tank battalion configured for DD landing and a artillery battlion carried in DUKW vehicals. The latter were to follow the first wave in by a few minutes and provide the initial artillery support. The independant tan battalions of the US Army in 1944 were equiped with a little over 50 M4 tanks. I've not seen any evidence the fourth company of light M5 tanks were equipped as DD tanks. I'm unsure if the assualt tank platoon was so equipped, tho this would make sense. Even if the assualt platoon and bn HQ tanks were not DD equipped the six tank companys of the two battalions still provide 100+ tanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    And the Naval gunfire nary touched the beach due to poor visibility and the fear of short rounds hitting the landing vessels...
    The initial NGF program included thirty minutes of fires on the beach. Only the last few minutes ocurred while the first wave were anywhere near the beach. "Short rounds" or a fear of did not cause the NGF program to be lifted or shifted early. Surviving Germans describing being hit by the NGF. Visability was a marginal issue. Landmarks were adaqate and there were other navigation aids provided for backup. The inital NGF program was oriented to the terrain and suspected targets, not from spotting targets by the shipsThe usual dawn haze was not enough to interfere with a preplanned fire program.

  2. #47
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    Default Views of the Beaches

    If you go to this web site:

    http://www.trimaran.com/d-day/

    panoramic views of the various beaches as they look today can be had.

  3. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Schwamberger View Post
    Absolutely wrong. Radio communications in WWII amphibious assualts were essential from the moment the first wave left their assembly areas to run in to the shore. The fire support channels, particulalry the Naval Gun Fire channel have to be continually functional if the landing force is to quickly break the defense, keep casualties to acceptable levels, advance inland on schedule, and bring in the following landing groups in a organized manner.
    I think you're taking what I say far out of context. Of course radio communications are necessary. However, what's your point here? They had the standard complement of radios and the landing forces were decimated by fire. The main problem was that the command and control on the beach had broken down as units were decimated and left leaderless, forcing troops to form their own ad hoc units to reform, often times with privates in charge and NCOs and buck sergeants taking over as company commanders...

    The absence of, by and large, a coherent communications with the beach did not prevent follow on fire from hitting German defenses...

    NGF ship stations were too far off shore to spot specific smoke grenades or other visual signals for effective fires.
    Not true! The destroyers could clearly mark targets once the smoke from the brush fires had cleared. There really wasn't too much in the way of camouflage for concrete fortifications such as blockhouses, bunkers, and slit trenches. At that point, fire was academic...

    From my own training in this I can say that visual signals alone are not "more effective" than with functional radio signals. Its far slower, less precise, and extremely difficult to coordinate visual signals on a landing beach of divsion size, or two divsions as in the case of Omaha Beach.
    I didn't say they were "more effective." They were effective enough in that dire situation. And again, I'm sure what your point is. I never said, "they should have thrown their radios in the English Channel because they were useless junk." I merely meant that soldiers were able to overcome their severe limitations imposed on them by other means. Furthermore, I don't recall saying that there were "no" radios on the beach, and there was in fact some radio communications. There was also individual heroics of marking or "illuminating targets" with colored smoke, as indeed, even describing where to shoot with pin-point, non-area targets could be quite confusing via radios alone. And the German infantry positions were essentially area targets that could be observed from the ships...

    Spotting gun flashes from even two or three thousand yards is difficult. Again i can attest to this from personal experince. Where the enemy is camoflages, or masked with embrasures and berms or walls it becomes nearly impossible. While eventually some weapons can be located at those ranges it is not possible to obtian the level off effective fires. for that someone has to get in under 1000 meters and be able to transmit target locations rapidly and accurately.
    Maybe, but the naval personnel were highly trained in fire observance and correction, which is a major function in naval warfare. Isn't it?

    The destroyers that were so helpfull after 0900 hours had to leave their NGF stations 5000+ yards off the beach and run up to the surf line. they could not get in under 2000 yards until the tide had risen enough to allow that. Even with the rising tide they were still bottoming. They also were in intermittiant radio contact by then and were not depending exclusively on visual signals.
    I never said they were relying "exclusively on visual signals."

    Eh, I've already answered this one once as well
    You did? The Germans still had untouched anti-tank and other gun emplacements, as well as obstacles that were untouched, as the beach lacked the shell holes the infantry and armor were expecting to use as cover...

    Infantry manuvered on Omaha beach through dense brush on the left flank, and across the less well defended bluffs, rather than through the draws as originally planned. They would have had a easier time of it with 100+ tanks landing ahead of them rather than less than thirty a half hour late.
    Of course they would. But the the plan had fallen apart, partially due to heavy German resistance and several other factors. Most of the DD tanks did make it ashore out of the 112 or so, but they were landed later, all but two of the DD-tanks "floundered" (about 27) and the two (or four I think) that floated ashore or were landed were quickly out of action.

    The rest fared a little better. But did so as much by the reduction of German defenses as by their own firepower...

    As I wrote earlier the purpose of the DD tanks was not to manuver inland imeadiately, but to suppress the enemy weapons positions during the first critical minutes for the first wave of infantry/engineer companys.

    this is how the leading tanks functioned on the other beaches, and in the Pacific in 1944. The tanks in the lead wave were to destroy the enemy defenses directly at hand, not rush off instantly to the Green Fields Beyond. They were to accompany the assualt as the engineers cleared the obstacles. Not drive off & leave the assualt behind.
    Obviously. I don't believe I've ever disputed that. Why would tanks drive inland without infantry support into enemy positions?

    On my shelf here are Max Hastings 'Overlord' and Adm Ellsbergs 'The Far Shore'. I'd also recomend John Balikoskis recent book on Omaha Beach. Each of the two US divsions assualting Omaha Beach had a tank battalion configured for DD landing and a artillery battlion carried in DUKW vehicals. The latter were to follow the first wave in by a few minutes and provide the initial artillery support. The independant tan battalions of the US Army in 1944 were equiped with a little over 50 M4 tanks. I've not seen any evidence the fourth company of light M5 tanks were equipped as DD tanks. I'm unsure if the assualt tank platoon was so equipped, tho this would make sense. Even if the assualt platoon and bn HQ tanks were not DD equipped the six tank companys of the two battalions still provide 100+ tanks
    You're correct in that roughly 112 tanks were slated to land in the first waves of assault, of this, 27-sank and radioed full stop to the follow on units, which were landed almost right on the beaches. The the armor did play a part, and despite Omaha's initial miseries, it was one of the key beaches for the "break out" and it's troops actually ventured in farther than any other beachhead I believe...

    And M-5's would have been useful, but they were primarily a recon tank...

    The essential problem is that the armor, and the troops, started out too far from the shore (5km I think) to avoid German fire on the way in. Of course this contributed to the disaster. But the opening naval artillery barrage and bombing raids largely missing the German defenses, although they did isolate the defenders somewhat.

    And let's give some credit to the Wehrmacht defenders, of mostly the 352ID, who had some excellent fortifications and were skilled and professional - perhaps more so than the defenders of the other beaches...

    The initial NGF program included thirty minutes of fires on the beach. Only the last few minutes ocurred while the first wave were anywhere near the beach. "Short rounds" or a fear of did not cause the NGF program to be lifted or shifted early. Surviving Germans describing being hit by the NGF. Visability was a marginal issue. Landmarks were adaqate and there were other navigation aids provided for backup. The inital NGF program was oriented to the terrain and suspected targets, not from spotting targets by the shipsThe usual dawn haze was not enough to interfere with a preplanned fire program.
    Not true. Testimony from USAAF bombardiers had the target largely overcast and they were unable to bomb accurately, so they released their ordinance inland to err on the side of caution. In addition, the initial bombardment lit grass fires which concealed the German positions in their smoke until after the fires had burned off.

    Of course some positions were hit, but the effect was marginal...
    Last edited by Nickdfresh; 10-01-2007 at 05:43 PM.

  4. #49
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    Default Re: How lives might have been saved on D-Day

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    Maybe.

    But battle hardened troops will always do a lot, lot better than green troops.
    But green troops will do things (specifically take risks) that battle hardened men may not do...

    [The trick is to have enough battle hardened officers, NCO's and OR's sprinkled among the green troops to make the supposedly green units work well.
    Agree wholeheartedly...

  5. #50
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    Default Re: How lives might have been saved on D-Day

    well lets not forget its this green recklessness that keeps the army going, as awful as it might seem its often the green troops that volunteer for patrols, and i think i heard a statistic once that said that like 80% of all MOH winners were green

    of course none of this would help on Omaha beach....

  6. #51
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    Default Re: How lives might have been saved on D-Day

    One post mentioned the use of Amtracs and how going out the back would have been better. I'm pretty sure, though I've no real reference books specifically on them, that the amtracs of that time did not have rear ramps. You had to climb over the sides, they would have gotten the troops up to the seawall in groups better but there was no going out the back door. Anyway the Pacific theatre had the lock on those.

    Many of the German gun emplacements were situated to fire down the beach and not out to sea, these were very well hidden from the naval forces off shore and had to be pointed out to the destroyers one by one. These made it very unhealthy for armor on the beach.
    I do think that the commanders who ordered the DD tanks off the ramps too far out should have faced a court of inquiry.

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    Default Re: How lives might have been saved on D-Day

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    . it was one of the key beaches for the "break out" and it's troops actually ventured in farther than any other beachhead I believe...
    The Canadians from Juno beach hold that honour, they had advanced to Bayeux, about 21 kilometres inland, by midnight on the 6th June.

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    Default Re: How lives might have been saved on D-Day

    Quote Originally Posted by redcoat View Post
    The Canadians from Juno beach hold that honour, they had advanced to Bayeux, about 21 kilometres inland, by midnight on the 6th June.
    Initially, but after several days and weeks, the farthest penetration was from the Omaha beachhead...

  9. #54
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    Default Re: How lives might have been saved on D-Day

    Returning to active duty.

    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be remembered-
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition;
    ...
    --William Shakespeare

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    Default Re: How lives might have been saved on D-Day

    Happy 70th D-Day anniversary evryone, rest in Peace those who died.
    One cannot know peace

    without knowing war ...not that i do... ...yet,

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    Default Re: How lives might have been saved on D-Day

    Quote Originally Posted by Samoax View Post
    Happy 70th D-Day anniversary evryone, rest in Peace those who died.
    God Bless our Vets! And God Bless America for ending the War!
    Wiki is ok. History Channel is ok.
    But WW2 Forum is the BEST!


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