June 6, 1944, Normandy, France…D-Day

Bloody Omaha

6:30 A.M. The first wave of assault troops approached their landing grounds!! These were the men of the 16th. Regimental Combat Team of the First Division and the 116th. Regimental Combat team of the 29th. Division. The Navy had been shelling the beach for some time prior to the assault, unfortunately the shells and rockets fell way short of any German defences. Similarly the bombs dropped by the American airforce completely missed their intended targets, leaving the German defenders at full strength to oppose the incoming troops. The German 352nd. Infantry Division along with the 716th. Static Division were well dug in overlooking the landing beach.

The American troops were taken by complete surprise, as they expected only minimal opposition. It soon became apparent that a major disaster was taking place, many landing craft were sunk miles from the beach, others hit the obstacles lying in wait beneath the surface of the water, the D.D. Floating Tanks sank like stones!! their crews trapped, perished inside the vehicle.. Only six of these tanks reached the beach!!

Most of the heavy Artillery pieces never reached the beach, sinking in the heaving tides!

The first wave was completely overwhelmed and took tremendous casualties.

More and more troops were landing on the beach and the situation was becoming so serious that General Bradley observing the battle from the U.S.S. Augusta was making preparations to abandon the assault.

British and American Destroyers were sent in close to shore to literally blast at the German fortifications to try and relieve the situation on the beach.

The current of the sea was so strong that many men were landing up to two miles from their intended positions.

Men from the 2nd. and 5th. Ranger battalions, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Max Schneider landed on the beach along with 116th. Infantry. If anyone could help relieve the situation it was these men. It has to be remembered that a great number of the troops that landed on the Normandy beaches had never been in action before today, this did not stop some unbelievable displays of bravery.

Brigadier-General Norman (Dutch) Cota: Assistant Divisional Commander of the 29th. Division. led from the front along the Eastern sector of the beach, as did Colonel Charles Canham: Commander of the 116th.Infantry along the Western sector of the beach.

Colonel George Taylor: Commander of the 16th. Infantry was quoted as saying “Two kinds of people are staying on this beach, the dead and those who are about to die!! Now lets get the hell out of here.”

At this point of the battle the Heroism shone, small pockets of men started to make advances up the beach, supported with the men of the Ranger Battalions .

C Company of 1/116th. Infantry supported by Rangers fought their way to the top of the bluff at Les Moulins, this was a major breakthrough, simultaneously men of 3/116th. Infantry fought their way up the bluff toward St. Lauren.

12:00 Mid-day: The bluff overlooking the beach had been taken, but at tremendous cost!!

Official Unit Report, Company A, 116th Infantry, 29th Division.

“As the first men jumped, they crumpled and flopped into the water. Then order was lost. It seemed to the men that the only way to get ashore was to dive head first in and swim clear of the fire that was striking the boats. But, as they hit the water, their heavy equipment dragged them down and soon they were struggling to keep afloat. Some were hit in the water and wounded. Some drowned then and there… But some moved safely through the bullet fire to the sand and, finding they could not hold there, went back in to the water and used it as cover, only their heads sticking out. Those who survived kept moving with the tide, sheltering at times behind underwater obstacles and in this way they finally made their landings.

Within ten minutes of the ramps being lowered, Company A had become inert, leaderless and almost incapable of action. Every officer and Sergeant had been killed or wounded… It had become a struggle for survival and rescue. The men in the water pushed wounded men ashore, and those who had reached the sands crawled back into the water pulling others to land to save them from drowning, in many cases only to see the rescued men wounded again or to be hit themselves. Within twenty minutes of striking the beach Company A had ceased to be an assault company and had become a forlorn little rescue party bent upon survival and the saving of lives.”

ALWAYS REMEMBER

Related post: Lest We Forget

About Bob Mack

Retired since 2003. Military Service: U.S. Army, 36th Artillery Group, Babenhausen, Germany 1966-67; 1st Signal Brigade, Republic of Vietnam, 1967-68 Attended University of Miami, 1969-73
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9 Responses to June 6, 1944, Normandy, France…D-Day

  1. John Carey says:

    Great post Bob and thank you for honoring their actions on that day. We must never forget.

  2. Otis P. Driftwood says:

    Many Thanks for this. Also, the Battle of Midway took place this weekend in 1942, turning the tide in that theater.

  3. loopyloo305 says:

    Great Post Bob, thank you for reminding us!

  4. The beaches of Normandy were stained with the blood of so many good and brave men. The percentage of Americans today that remember what these men sacrificed their lives for is shamefully small. Thanks for reminding all of us, Bob.

  5. Bob Mack says:

    D-Day Desecration (Does French D-Day ‘Art Installation’ Desecrate Omaha Beach?)

    Yep, that’s a combination of a combat helmet merged with a sea turtle. And yes, a huge number of the turtles were spread across Omaha Beach today. Why? Well here is the AP version:

    COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France (AP) — French artist Rachid Khimoune has installed 1,000 sculptures shaped like sea turtles on Omaha Beach to mark the 67th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy.

    The turtles’ “shells” are molded from American, Russian and German combat helmets, sprouting flippers and long-necked heads. The sculptures were arranged Sunday along the sandy expanses of Omaha Beach — where the Allies won a pivotal victory against the Nazis.

    Some 215,000 Allied soldiers, and roughly as many Germans, were killed or wounded during D-Day and the ensuing nearly three months it took to secure the capture of Normandy.

    But the never-not-insightful blogger Zombie is asking the key question: “How could the French government countenance this art installation, which manages to be both juvenile and deeply insulting at the same time?”

    Good question!

    I have the answer: Because they’re the French.

  6. Angel says:

    Thank you my friend but dont worry..Hussein is commemorating by golfing again!

  7. bunkerville says:

    Thanks for a great post. We must never forget the brave men… and women as well.

  8. bydesign001 says:

    Great post. Re-posted content excluding the videos which YouTube is blocking here in the USA (really) at G.O.’s. http://grumpyelder.com/june-6-1944-normandy-franced-day/

  9. Noel Mehlo says:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/700819736989502/

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Oct. 10, 2019

    MILITARY COMMUNITY SEEKS CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR FOR LEGENDARY GENERAL NORMAN D. “DUTCH” COTA

    ‘Team Cota’ calls on public to provide information about the heroic former Kansan
    WASHINGTON – A team of retired military officers and historians announced plans today to
    ask Congress to award General Norman Daniel “Dutch” Cota, formerly of Wichita, Kansas, with
    the Congressional Medal of Honor. He received the Distinguished Service Cross in July 1944 for
    his battlefield heroism on Omaha Beach during the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. Many
    military experts believe his gallantry and heroism in history’s largest and most complex
    amphibious assault deserves the nation’s highest military honor.

    “We will call on President Trump and the U.S. Army to formally recognize General Cota’s
    physical actions, tactical decisions, battle command, and valor which literally reversed the first
    hour of limited progress and progressively assured success by the forces under his authority
    especially on D-Day,” said Maj. Gen. Carroll Childers. “Heroes like Cota are once-in-ageneration,
    and he has more than earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions.”

    Widely regarded as a tough and inspiring frontline general, Cota – portrayed by actor Robert
    Mitchum in the 1962 epic “The Longest Day” – is one of the most overlooked of Allied military
    leaders during World War 2. At 51, he was the oldest soldier and the highest-ranking officer on
    Omaha Beach on D-Day, according to the U.S. Army. His command of troops through enemy
    fire earned him the honor of leading U.S. Army troops down the Champs Elysees in the parade
    celebrating the liberation of Paris.

    Childers said anyone with information about General Cota’s actions on D-Day are invited to
    contact him on the Team Cota Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/CotaMOH – and help
    discover additional new, substantive, and relevant material evidence that may help. Such
    evidence may be in the form of letters home from soldiers, extracts from notable literary sources,
    or simply identifying a surviving soldier from the 116th Infantry of the 29 ID, attached units such
    as Armor or Engineers, the 5th Ranger Infantry Battalion, or in some instances the 2nd RIB.
    Team Cota has the support of the 29th Division Association, military historian Joe Balkoski,
    many current and former division commanders of the 29th Infantry Division, and others who are
    gathering information, documentation, letters, photos and eyewitness accounts to support the
    materials already gathered from the U.S. Army for use in awarding the Congressional Medal of
    Honor posthumously to Cota.

    “Upon examination of the totality of Cota’s Omaha Beach actions during the D-Day operation,”
    said Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum (Ret.), “one can strongly make a direct parallel with Col. Joshua
    Chamberlain’s actions at Gettysburg… Neither Gettysburg, nor Omaha Beach, would have had
    the successful outcomes now recorded in our military history, if it were not for their personal
    presence and actions that day.”

    Residents of Borscheid, Luxembourg, honored Cota by naming “Norman Cota Square” in his
    honor. His rallying cry to inspire troops, “If you are Rangers, then get up there and lead the
    way,” is one of several versions of Cota’s utterings said to be the basis for the U.S. Army
    Ranger’s motto “Rangers lead the way.”

    Born in Chelsea, Mass., in 1893, Cota spent his life in service of his country. He attended the
    U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., where he befriended many of the nation’s future
    military leaders, including Dwight Eisenhower who was two years ahead of him. During World
    War I, he rose from 2nd Lieutenant to Major in 18 months. He died in 1971 and is buried at the
    USMA.

    “After 75 years, we know there are fewer and fewer surviving eyewitnesses to General Cota’s
    battlefield heroism,” said Childers. “We need the public’s help in identifying and locating these
    unique and brave men, so we can contact them and document their knowledge and insights about
    Cota’s heroic actions.”
    # # #

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