Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

D-Day on Utah Beach

Discussion in 'Utah Beach' started by Jim, Jan 20, 2008.

Tags:
  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2006
    Messages:
    3,324
    Likes Received:
    8
    via War44
    On June 6th 1944, supported by amphibious tanks, the first assault waves of the 8th Regiment of General Barton’s 4th US Infantry Division landed on the beach at 6.30 am. Due to a navigational error, they ended up in front of the Madeleine dunes just a few kilometres from the village of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont and roughly two kilometres south of their planned destination. This turned out to be providential, as the German defences were far weaker here. Carried to their left by powerful coastal currents, the barges arrived opposite the WN 5 defences, which had been badly damaged by aerial and naval bombardments and offered very little resistance.

    View from the dunes looking onto Utah Beach, it is from here that the Americans left the beach and headed in land.

    [​IMG]

    Man-made defenses along the coast took various forms. Since the beginning of 1944 construction activity had increased markedly in the defensive belt. On the beach itself rows of obstacles had been emplaced at a distance of from 50 to 130 yards to seaward. These obstacles were in the form of stakes or piles slanted seaward, steel hedgehogs and tetrahedra, and Element "C" or "Belgian Gates," which were barricade- like gates constructed of steel angles and plates and mounted on small concrete rollers. The gates were used also to block roads or passages where a mobile obstacle was needed to make a defensive line continuous.

    The beach was rapidly cleared of its obstacles by army engineers and most of the troops were able to land without any problem, despite sporadic fire from Crisbecq Battery. Without further ado, General Barton’s men marched inland along the marsh causeways and established contact with the paratroops near Pouppeville in the early afternoon.

    The 4th Division’s losses on June 6th (killed, wounded, missing) came to just 200 men.

    One of the fortunately small number of victims of D-Day on Utah Beach.

    [​IMG]


    Man-made defenses along the coast took various forms. Since the beginning of 1944 construction activity had increased markedly in the defensive belt. On the beach itself rows of obstacles had been emplaced at a distance of from 50 to 130 yards to seaward. These obstacles were in the form of stakes or piles slanted seaward, steel hedgehogs and tetrahedra, and Element "C" or "Belgian Gates," which were barricade- like gates constructed of steel angles and plates and mounted on small concrete rollers. The gates were used also to block roads or passages where a mobile obstacle was needed to make a defensive line continuous.


    Belgian Gates

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Defenses immediately behind the beach along the sea wall consisted of pillboxes, tank turrets mounted on concrete structures, "Tobruk Pits," firing trenches, and underground shelters. These were usually connected by a network of trenches and protected by wire, mines, and antitank ditches. Concrete infantry strong points provided interlocking fire, and were armed with both fixed and mobile light artillery pieces. The strong point at les Dunes de Varreville, directly opposite GREEN Beach and first objective of the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry, combined most of these features. Increased activity was evident in this area early in the year, possibly as a result of Field Marshal Erwin J. Rommel's inspection of the Atlantic Wall in December and January. Aerial reconnaissance revealed new casemated positions and showed that new open field battery emplacements were being prepared.

    Some of the original defence obstacles that can be seen at the beach today.

    [​IMG]
     

Share This Page