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D-Day Landing on Gold Beach

Discussion in 'Gold Beach' started by Jim, Oct 11, 2007.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Force `G', containing the ships carrying the assault waves to Gold Beach, arrived at the point from which the landing craft were to be launched just before dawn on Tuesday 6 June. At 0535hrs HMS Bulolo, with Commodore Douglas-Pennant, the Naval Commander Force `G', on hoard dropped anchor seven miles out from the beach amid a great armada of vessels. At the heart of this fleet of ships were the eight large infantry landing ships, LSI(L). Each of these converted merchant ships, ranging in size from 10,000 to 14,000 tons, carried 18 assault landing craft (L:)A) slung from their davits. Almost immediately, troops began to fill the craft and prepare for the landings. Closer to shore, the cruisers Orion, Ajax, Argonaut, Emerald and Flores adjusted their positions and swung their turrets southwards, fixing a head on the German coastal batteries that were their targets. The coastline was quiet; complete tactical surprise had been achieved.

    Landing Ship Tank (LST) loaded with medical personnel and transport from British 50th Division approaches the Normandy shore. These very large craft with a loaded displacement of over 3,700 tons were able to beach for unloading. They were capable of carrying 300 troops and 60 tanks or vehicles. A number of them were fitted for casualty evacuation; this was probably one of them.

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    In the first few minutes after dawn, just as the sun rose into an overcast and storm-laden sky, medium and heavy bombers droned overhead to begin their bombing runs on the strongpoint’s of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall. Sheets of yellow flame and billowing clouds of smoke and dust began to mark the shoreline and the rumble of huge detonations rippled across the sea. The bombardment was now taken up by the cruisers and their 6 and 8in guns began to add their weight of shell to the destruction of the German defences. Then, one by one, the flotilla of small vessels began to assemble and make for the shore, with spray flying over their blunt bows from the choppy sea. In the lead were the tank landing craft carrying the DD tanks, with the smaller assault landing craft weaving amongst them. On the flanks were rocket-firing craft and tank landing craft with 4.7in guns. Protecting the flotillas from air attack were LCT(F)s, the cannon firing antiaircraft flak ships, and as the ships closed inexorably on the beaches, they too switched their attention to the beach defences.

    Gold Beach, King Sector mid morning 6th June. The left foreground shows the track running inland from the beach up to the Mont Fleury battery through the antitank ditch. The extreme right of the picture shows the beach curving into jig Sector, at about the position of strongpoint WN 35 at Hable deHeurlot.

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    At 0730hrs, the leading waves hit the beach. The DD tanks, which were to be launched 5,000 yards out and become the vanguard of the landings, were released much closer to the shore because of the rough seas, other landing craft took their charges all the way in and landed them straight onto the beach. The changes of plan caused confusion and delayed their arrival. They reached the beach at about the same time as the infantry and almost simultaneous with the LCTs carrying the specialised armour of 79th Division. All of these craft jostled together for landing space and weaved alarmingly through the underwater obstacles which had broken through the surface of the water. The orderly lines of craft that had ploughed relentlessly towards the French shore for the past six miles now broke up as each vessel made its own final run-in and attempted to touch down safely. Here and there craft hit mines mounted on poles and great water spouts shot up from beneath the ships. Others swung crazily over as steel hedgehogs ripped jagged holes in their hulls. All around them the air zipped and cracked with bullets as the Germans opened fire on the invaders.


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    HMS Ajax Bombarding German Gun Positions On The Normandy Coast ​


    The cruiser HMS Ajax (1) joins in a long-range gun duel with the German 152mm gun battery at Longues to the west of Port on Bassin. The guns at Longues had been in action since first light when they engaged the French cruiser Georges Leygues and the American destroyer Emmons at 0537hrs. HMS Ajax bombarded the battery as part of Force G’s pre-arranged fire plan. The cruiser was able to bring all eight of her 6in guns to bear on the German position, firing 1121b shells at the rate of between four and six rounds per minute. Her maximum effective range was 24,800 yards and her gunnery control so effective that she actually put a shell right into one of the casemates. After completing her initial D-Day counter-battery mission, HMS Ajax turned her guns to support the infantry advance inland. Communications with the 50th Division was via naval Forward Observation Bombardment Officers who landed with the leading troops and were able to radio back the co-ordinates of enemy positions and areas of resistance to the cruiser. Men of the assault companies of the 1st Hampshire Regiment (2) pass in front of the Alex on their way to Jig sector of Gold Beach. This was the third assault landing to be made by the 1st Hampshire’s. As part of 231st Brigade they had already carried out amphibious landings in Sicily and Italy. The battalion had had a long war. It was in Egypt when war was declared in September 1939, took part in Gen Wavell’s campaign In North Africa in 1940 and then undertook garrison duties in Malta until 1943. After Sicily and Italy it was called home in November 1943 to prepare for operation Overlord. This was the first time the battalion had been back in England for 23 years. The men are wearing the recently introduced Mark III steel helmet (3), which was issued to assault units of 21st Army Group for D-Day. Of basically the same pattern as used in WWI, the earlier Mark I and II helmets were designed to give the men in the trenches protection from shellfire and missiles falling from above. The Mark II helmet gave somewhat improved all-round protection. The troops are carried in Landing Craft Assault (LCA) (4), small wooden boats each capable of transporting 30 fully laden infantrymen from their landing ship to the shore. With a top speed of just six knots, the craft were vulnerable to enemy fire. The Royal Navy manned these LCAs, but many others during the operation had Royal Marine crews. In fact Royal Marines manned almost two-thirds of landing craft used In the D-Day landings. The Landing Ship Infantry (LSI) (5) in the background was the armed merchant ship that carried the Hampshire’s across the channel along with the LCAs. The assault craft were launched fully loaded with men from davits along the ship’s side. LCIs came in a variety of sizes and were often small liners or cross-channel ferries varying from 10,000 to 14,000 tons.


    (Kevin Lyles)
     
  2. Dave War44

    Dave War44 Member

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    :ahg: astonishing !
     
  3. Buford

    Buford New Member

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    ...This was the first time the battalion had been back in England for 23 years...

    Why was that? :wtf::eyes:
     

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