0745: Heavy seas prevent DD tanks launching

 Sherman DD (Duplex Drive) with screens raised.

Sherman DD (Duplex Drive) with screens raised.

Sherman DD with skirts lowered and propellers visible at rear.

Sherman DD with skirts lowered and propellers visible at rear.

The attempt to launch the secret DD tanks off Omaha had met with disaster when 27 of them sank in the heavy seas.

Off Juno beach the Royal Navy were bringing in the Canadian DD tanks which were supposed to launch directly off the LCTs into the sea and ‘swim’ in. Fortunately as they approached the decision was made to take them all the way in and land them directly on the beaches. But the Canadian tank crews were not impressed:

Sergeant Leo Gariepy, age 31, B Squadron, 6th Armored Regiment, Canadian Armored Corps:

After a short while the minesweeper leading us in slowed down and began making a semicircle. Signals were exchanged: the minesweepers had completed their task and were wishing us Godspeed on our mission. The flotilla of LCTs began maneuvering for launching our DD tanks. This meant it was necessary for them to head into the wind, showing a broadside to the enemy supposedly alert on the coast.

The men were grim, expecting at any moment retaliation from the coast. It seemed incredible that we had not been seen. Our LCT was having great difficulty trying to maintain its position for launching. Orders to start tank motors had been given, all gear stowed on board, wirelesses tuned to a predetermined frequency. Silent prayers could be observed on every grim face, the well-oiled mechanism of the gun breeches could be heard being worked, and some of the men were doing innocent little things, watched intensely by the others.

Finally the launching officer called us together and said that High Command had vetoed launching in such a rough sea. This had the effect of a firecracker among the troops. They were fighting mad, but no amount of cursing or pleading would make him change his mind.

The LCT began maneuvering again to bring us right into the beaches. We were then approximately nine thousand yards out, and the spirit had gone out of everyone. We were discouraged and disheartened to realize that all our training had been in vain and we would now be dropped on the beaches like “gravel crushers” (infantry) at the mercy of the navy.

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

Commandos of HQ 4th Special Service Brigade, coming ashore from LCI(S) landing craft on Nan Red beach, Juno area, at St Aubin-sur-Mer, 6 June 1944.

Commandos of HQ 4th Special Service Brigade, coming ashore from LCI(S) landing craft on Nan Red beach, Juno area, at St Aubin-sur-Mer, 6 June 1944.

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Spenny June 7, 2014 at 8:42 pm

That decision probably saved their lives and many of the ‘gravel crushers’ depending on tank support…

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