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.

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

The Omaha and Utah landings began simultaneously. Although the Utah landings proved to be much less murderous than Omaha, they were not a complete walkover and hundreds of men died here. Fortuitously the main force landed south of their intended position, avoiding a German strongpoint that they would have otherwise met.

Captain George Mayberry:

The landing craft drove onto the shore at six-thirty in the morning, within a minute of the time of H-Hour. I jumped off into four feet of water. Never before in my life had I wanted so badly to run, but I could only wade slowly forward.

It was approximately one hundred yards to the edge of the shore, and it took me two minutes to reach the shallow water. Those two minutes were extremely long. Even on the beach I couldn’t run, as my uniform was sodden and heavy and my legs were numb and cramped.

Heavy shells commenced exploding on the beach, as well as sporadic mortar fire from a short distance inland. A soldier just ahead of me was blown to pieces by a direct hit. The instant it happened, something small hit me in the stomach — it was the man’s thumb.

About then, General Theodore Roosevelt, ]r., came striding along the beach. He was waving his cane and bellowing at everybody to get moving across the dunes.

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. I handed them over to a wounded corporal and went forward again.

This account appears in Russell Miller(ed): Nothing Less Than Victory: Oral History of D-Day

Aerial photographs stitched together for an overview of the Utah beach landing area for briefing troops in advance of the operation.

Aerial photographs stitched together for an overview of the Utah beach landing area for briefing troops in advance of the operation.

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