Friday, June 6, 2014

Jun

6

1944

0737: Cruiser HMS Scylla off Sword beach

The cruiser HMS Scylla, pictured in 1942.

It is now 0730 and so far we have heard nothing from jerry except a report of E Boats on our port side at 0645. Perhaps it is due to our fighter umbrella which I believe are continuously up in strength of 9 squadrons and with Rocket Typhoons flying over should be a pretty formidable force to oppose jerry.

Jun

6

1944

0710: US Rangers attack on Pointe du Hoc begins

The cliffs at Pointe du Hoc photographed some days later as the Rangers demonstrate how they climbed the cliffs.

By the time we fought our way about a mile or so to the blacktopped coastal road (about one hour), I had only a dozen men left, some of whom were lightly wounded, but able to fight on. Ten of the original 22 Rangers in my boat team had been killed or were very badly wounded. We still had not found the guns nor had a ny idea of where they were.

Jun

6

1944

0700: Utah beach assault sustained

Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., seen in Ste. Mere-Eglise on July 12, hours before he died of a coronary thrombosis. Arthritis caused him to walk with a stick. The 4th Infantry Division commander described him as “the most gallant soldier and finest gentleman I have ever known.”

He repeatedly led groups from the beach, over the seawall and established them inland. His valor, courage, and presence in the very front of the attack and his complete unconcern at being under heavy fire inspired the troops to heights of enthusiasm and self-sacrifice.

Jun

6

1944

0645: The final run in to Omaha beach

The iconic picture of Omaha beach, Photo by Robert F. Sargent, United States Coast Guard 

It is thought that these men are part of the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division landing at 0730 when the tide had covered the lowest barriers.

As we approached the beach the ramp was lowered. Mortar and artillery shells exploded on land and in the water. Unseen snipers concealed in the cliffs were shooting down at individuals, causing screams from those being hit. The water was turning red from the blood. The noise from artillery fire, the rapid-fire rattle from nearby MG-42s, and naval gunfire was deafening. The smell of cordite was something that would forever become fixed in our minds, always associated with death and destruction.

Jun

6

1944

0631: Utah beach landings begin

Men landing on Utah beach in the early stages, the slope of the beach meant that had a long wade in.

We kept moving as fast as possible. Some enemy rifleman began firing at me, so I picked myself up and began to run forward over the top of the dunes. Facing me were five of the enemy. I shot the one with his hand raised to hurl a grenade. The rest threw down their rifles and put up their hands.

Jun

6

1944

0558: Daybreak – a cold grey day arrives

A Douglas Boston of No. 88 Squadron RAF, equipped with smoke dispensers, flies low over the English Channel to the Normandy landing areas, to lay a smoke screen in front of the Allied invasion fleet.

We’re deafened by the airplanes, which make a never-ending round, very low; obviously what I thought were German airplanes are quite simply English ones, protecting the landing. Coming from the sea, a dense artificial cloud; its ominous and begins to be alarming; the first hiss over our heads.

Jun

6

1944

0455: Force U transfers to their assault boats

The battleship USS Texas pictured in late 1944.

I stay near the front of the boat, getting sprayed continuously and I look about me and see hundreds upon hundreds of boats, from the little LCVP’s, LCM’s, LCT’s and LCI’s, to the huge battleships and cruisers, and smoke is billowing from their deck guns, for this is H-40 min. and the Naval barrage starts then, the fire directed against enemy shore installations.

Jun

6

1944

0400: The German counter attack is stalled

Rommel had only just recently inspected the 21st Panzer Division who were the closest to the invasion beaches.

Gradually we were becoming filled with anger. The clearance for an immediate night attack, so as to take advantage of the initial confusion among our opponents, had still not come, although our reports via division to the corps and to Army Group B (Rommel) must have long since been on hand.

Jun

6

1944

0330: The Germans react slowly

Later the Germans would realise what was happening but in the middle of the night they were confused.

Afterwards I learned that there were already about 20,000 Allied paratroops in Normandy at that time, but the headquarters only stirred into action at about 4.30am. At about 8am they all evacuated the headquarters. I later learned they had moved to a nearby tunnel.

Jun

6

1944

0300: Omaha first wave embark on assault craft

Men from the 1st Infantry Division in one of the early waves approaching Omaha Beach.

One by one, the men began to get sick, heaving their late-night meal over the side, or into their helmets, or anywhere. Gradually, we saw shapes of other boats, many small ones and many larger hulks, and planes were droning overhead by the hundreds, flying toward the coast.