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

Omaha: Who was responsible for the strategy?

Discussion in 'Omaha Beach' started by Javey74, Nov 26, 2017.

  1. Javey74

    Javey74 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2017
    Messages:
    70
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Houghton-Le-Spring, NE UK
    I've just been watching D-Day:The Lost Tapes on Sky. It's a two part documentary and really fascinating! But after hearing about the loss of life which was catastrophic mainly on the beach section of Omaha, I cannot understand how such operations can go so wrong!

    Before the troops set foot on the beach, the warships were firing hundreds of missiles to take out the German defences on the Atlantic Wall, but the majority of the missiles just fell into the water.

    Q. Surely they must know the range of the missiles they were firing, as well as how far the warships were offshore !

    Paratroopers were sent in behind enemy lines, only that they landed quite a few miles away from where they should have been. Aparently this was down to two reasons:-

    1. They flew into a fog bank, so visibility was poor for visual reference for dropping the Paratroopers.

    2. The planes came under fire from defences on the Atlantic wall which the warships failed to take out, so the pilots speeded their planes up to try and out manoeuvre the cross fire, but because of this when the Paratroopers left the aircraft they quickly realised that they were going too quick, This was the reason why they landed so off course.


    As the doors dropped on the landing crafts and the troops jumped into the water, they were supposed to fall behind the newly modified floating tanks for some cover. These tanks were supposed to take out remaining targets on the Atlantic Wall. But the tanks had not been tested in rough seas, so the majority of them just sank. So basically the troops had no cover and the first wave of these troops where taken out by the German machine guns as they pushed forward.

    Q. Surely these modified tanks should have been tested somewhere on the English coast line in bad weather conditions before being deployed!

    Another defence mechanism that was supposed to happen at the same time was the Air force, which was to drop bombs in and around the Atlantic Wall to assist the troops. But the bombers were then told not to drop bombs on the beach as the tanks would fall into the holes. So when the bombers flew into the fog bank they dropped their bombs and hoped for the best. That turned out a waste of time, only killing a few French cows in the fields behind the lines.

    One of the key areas of failure was the loss of contact between the officers and troops on the ground and the commander and senior officers on board the warships, mainly down to radios getting dropped in the water, or damaged through troops diving to the ground under constant fire. So basically as these disasters where happening the commanders did not know that the operation was going so wrong.

    Q. Why weren't Scouts sent behind the first wave to report back at a safer distance, then the commander would have realised that the missiles had failed to hit the shoreline, then the tanks had failed so the bombers could have dropped their bombs where they were supposed to, before the first wave of troops got onto the beach and so taking out the German gunners at least!


    All in all it was a total disaster. I would really like to know who was responsible for each of the planning of the failures above. I'm aware Eisenhower was the Supreme Commander, but there would have been quite a few other strategists around him, who really did not seem to have very much co-ordination and backup plans. It honestly seemed all or nothing the way it was planned, it just had to work. But to me it is not very clever to only have one plan which did not seem to have any backups in anyway shape or form.

    To me these strategists should have been court marshalled for such a large loss of life, which was more than all of the other sectors put together.

    All of these anomalies were preventable!
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2017
  2. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    1,404
    Likes Received:
    445
    Location:
    Arizona U.S.A
    Hello Javey, I would encourage you too look further into the operations and difficulties the Allies faced during D-Day, you have some of the leading issues listed, but the operation was much more complicated and intricate than what you added. The Pre-landing bombardment was largely ineffective in many ways, First off, the shells the Navy used were not meant to be used in a bombardment role, but to shoot at other vessels piercing iron and steel, not sand and concrete, so many shells hit the sand and simply didn't explode. The Paratroopers practiced landings many times, but actually getting shot at while in bad conditions is hard to really simulate so it is understandable even expected to have miscommunication and missed landing zones. As for the tanks, they didn't test them in the channel for secrecy's sake, it would be pretty obvious to the Germans that the Allies were going to invade if they were testing amphibious tanks right in front of them. As for the Aerial Bombardment, precision bombing was always inaccurate, and relying on the Air Force to knock out every and all defensive positions was not really viable during the war, it could soften, but not destroy the defenses. As for only killing cows, the bombings in and around Normandy killed tens of thousands of civilians and did little damage to the bombers main objective, Communication lines. The Navy and Air Force did their best to soften the beach defenses, and tried to give support during the landings, but they feared that friendly fire would ensue and do more harm than good. You are right that there really wasn't a backup plan, and it was an "all in" situation, thankfully Ike and his fellow commanders knew that they had the capability and upper hand to achieve victory, and attack when they thought it was best.
     
    Javey74 likes this.
  3. Javey74

    Javey74 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2017
    Messages:
    70
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Houghton-Le-Spring, NE UK
    Hi JJWilson

    You are correct there were a lot more complexities than I have stated, it was just the key thoughts I had from what I had just watched and heard from the narration. It just seemed such a hopeless exercise as things transpired on Omaha beach.

    As for the tanks I wasn't thinking of the Channel but somewhere up north, a northern area coastline, we had factories here making tanks and other conversions, well away from Southern England. Up north it may have been possible for an undercover floating tank test.

    But yes all in all compared to the other landing areas is was a disaster. It was just the sheer numbers that won the day in the end. The first wave of troops must have looked like sitting ducks on a firing range to the Germans!
     
  4. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    1,404
    Likes Received:
    445
    Location:
    Arizona U.S.A
    Along with the concern for secrecy, they had to be ready for use at any time, so maybe they wanted to test them but preferred that they be combat ready just in case the green light was given, that is only an idea, I am not sure of the facts regarding that. Great thread, and great questions Javey.....
     
    Javey74 likes this.
  5. Javey74

    Javey74 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2017
    Messages:
    70
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Houghton-Le-Spring, NE UK
    Yeah maybe JJWilson, there would have been a lot going through the planners minds from all aspects. Thanks for your comments.

    Much appreciated.
     
    JJWilson likes this.
  6. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    1,444
    Likes Received:
    355
    Location:
    London UK
    You will find more answers in some of the serious history books. I suspect that whatever was on sky was sensationalised. Its also inaccurate.

    #1 Most of the missiles (by munition weight landed long rather than short. No one wanted to hit the assaulting troops and ships and aircraft were given orders to aim inland.(long) rather than short

    #2 The weather was a big factor. Eisenhower decided to go with marginal weather conditions. We praise Ike for taking that decision. The upside was that it caught the German leadership by surprise and hampered German defences. The downside was that it hampered allied aircraft, boats and weapons.

    - Extra safety was applied to the strategic bombers of the 8th AF bombed through cloud using radar and were ordered to bomb 1000 yards South of the beach. The assumption was that they weren't very accurate and some bombs would hit the beaches. Most fell uselessly inland.

    - The wind was at the borderline for parachuting, contributing to scatter and casualties on landing.

    - The DD tanks had been thoroughly tested by Combined Operations based in Scotland. The sea was too rough for them to be launched at Omaha, but OK further along the coast an hour later at Gold and Sword. In soem cases skippers took the decision to launch them closer to shore. The two companies of DD tanks landed in support of 116th were landed on the beach. These missed their landing slot and were landed late.

    #3 The statement that Omaha landings were a disaster is not correct - even when compared to other beaches. D Day was a huge success. 130,000 + troops landed at a cost of C10,000 casualties. They stormed strong, prepared positions fortified with obstacles and minefields. Casualties at Omaha were C 2,500 out of 34,000 troops who landed. This year is the 75th anniversary of the second battle of El Alamein which cost the Allies 13,500 casual;ties to stoem Rommels prepared defences in bEgypt. It is the centenary of Vimy Ridge, Messines both regarded as tactical victories. These cost 10,000 and 24,000 casualties respectively. The Canadian corps lost 16,000 casualties to capture the village of Passchendaele. In a successful assault on the 1st July 1916 20,000 men from the 18th and 30th Division carried the German lines between Mametz and Montebaun at a cost of 6,200 casualties. This is what success looked like.

    Disaster is 60,000 casualties on 1st July on the Somme. Or losing 70,000 casualties and all their heavy weapons when being kicked out of Europe at Dunkirk. Or surrendering 80,000 men at Singapore. And at a smaller scale... At Serre C. 7,500 men of the 31st Northern Division attacked on a frontage half that of Omaha Beach. 3,600 became casualties without effect. and At Dieppe the 2nd Canadian division lost C 5000 men in a raid. In December 1944 6,000 men from the US 106th Infantry division surrendered.

    Omaha beach was a success. It was a hard fought battle against a well armed and well sited enemy in a strong position and won by the determination of the soldiers ashore. The casualties were less than had been feared (80% of the first wave)

    Sure the media and popular historians want to find drama,. But lets keep this in proportion. A successful operation conducted within the expected cost is not any kind of "disaster"
     
  7. Javey74

    Javey74 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2017
    Messages:
    70
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Houghton-Le-Spring, NE UK
    Thanks for your comments Sheldrake,

    I agree documentaries can fabricate at times for drama purposes and you have shed light on these areas. I think what in essence they were trying to point out is that many people thought D-Day as the triumphant episode in history with minimal lives lost that turned the war in western Europe, which to a point it did, but I think this doc wanted to emphasise the great loss of life that went with it that many ordinary people may not have known.

    Ok soley using the fact that Omaha was the worst of all landing areas and nothing comparable to other areas of life lost in other battles of WW2.

    I think for its inaccuracies the main theme was to point out that D DAY was not an ultimate triumph that many thought. Not a walk in the park for the forces. Though in the end it was a success.

    Thanks for your input Sheldrake.
     
  8. lwd

    lwd Ace

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    12,312
    Likes Received:
    1,230
    Location:
    Michigan
    Sounds like a number of separate factors are being intertwined here. D-day most certainly was a "triumph". It wasn't perfect and there were significant casualties. Nothing I've seen ever indicated that it was a "walk in the park" or the "ultimate triumph" though. Even after films like "Saving Private Ryan" do people still thing "minimal lives" were lost? I certainly have never run across that opinion.
     
    Javey74 likes this.
  9. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    1,404
    Likes Received:
    445
    Location:
    Arizona U.S.A
    I have never come across that opinion either, the idea that the Germans were rolled over and demolished quickly despite heavy casualties seems to be the idea of people in my generation.
     
    Javey74 likes this.
  10. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    1,444
    Likes Received:
    355
    Location:
    London UK
    The media industry has an insatiable capacity for sensationalist content. There is always "new evidence " that boils down to some simplistic piece of technology that saved the day or could have avoided some "disaster". Their dumbed down world has generals who predict every detail of a military plan and can be held to account if the reality differs.

    But the reality of war is very different "Everything is very simple in war, but the simplest thing is difficult." Carl von Clausewitz: ON WAR. Book 1, Chapter 7

    The thing that is often missed about D Day is that it was just a beginning. It was the start of a major campaign that resulted in decisive success ahead of schedule. 99% of allied casualties in Normandy were not suffered on Omaha Beach.
     

Share This Page