Omaha Beach: D-Day invasion area in 1944 and touring the location today.
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10 Things That Went Badly Wrong on Omaha Beach
(2) Germans were on Omaha beach in strength: The Germans under Field Marshal Erwin Rommel had built formidable defenses to protect this enclosed battlefield. The waters and beach were heavily mined, and there were 13 strongpoints called Widerstandsnester (`resistance nests`). The defending forces consisted of three battalions of the veteran 352nd Infantry Division. ---- (3) Air force bombardment failed completely. The great expectations for victory with air power, on which a big part of the success of Omaha Beach hinged, were not met at Omaha Beach. The heavy bombers flew in straight from the sea as opposed to parallel to the coast and, to avoid bombing the assault forces, delayed the release of the bombs missing Omaha beach completely. The defenses were left intact, there were no craters on the beach for cover and some of the bombs hit inland as far as 3 miles from the beach.
In WWII injured American soldiers didn`t always want black medic`s help
The Allies stormed Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. Germans fired from the hills and wounded soldiers cried out for help. Medic James E. Baker came across an Army lieutenant who had a bullet in the knee. But the U.S. Army officer wasn`t happy to see a medic, saying: "Get your black hands off me." Baker recalls the incident clearly: "He was cussing me all the time I was trying to wrap him up... It wasn`t the first time." Once in France there was a single large latrine, and someone put up a "Whites only" sign. "I remember taking pictures of it. And then we tore it down." Still, black soldiers never went to that latrine alone.
WWII medic`s memoirs: Of Being Numerous: World War II As I Saw It
Bernard Friedenberg held his hands to the chest of a GI laying on Normandy`s Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. A bag full of U.S. Army-provided medical supplies could not stop the soldier`s bleeding, so Friedenberg`s hands were the only things preventing his death. But through the gunfire and cannon blasts, he heard another soldier calling "Medic!" A desperate cry for help, soon accompanied by a chorus of others. This presented Friedenberg with a dilemma that haunts him still: Continue tending to the injured soldier, who was likely going to die regardless, or leave him to save the lives of others?
Glen Gloyd survived Omaha Beach landing
There is one recollection that stands out in Glen Gloyd`s mind about the days before the D-Day invasion: the children he and his comrades came to know in UK. "We greeted them and then threw coins to them. They really enjoyed having us there..." At midnight on June 6, 1944, he got on a landing craft ship headed across the English Channel and to the beaches of Normandy. He was part of the first wave of attacks on Omaha Beach. "It was complete chaos when we got there. There was one point when I looked and saw 12 machine guns with 12 American soldiers draped over them dead. It was hell." ... "We were welcomed by the French citizens like we were stars..."
D-Day, Omaha Beach - Elwood Thompson, ammo specialist
Elwood Thompson landed on Omaha Beach on June 6 1944 with the 618th Ordnance Ammunition Company. I had my M-1 carbine and we had to wear our ODs (olive drab uniforms) to show we were American soldiers. LST stopped about a mile off the beach at Normandy. The 6 boats that were supposed to pick us up got lost. So the commander of the ship said: "I know you guys have got to get in there, so I`m going to take you in." We got in about 100 yards from shore, and the shells started dropping around the ship. The doggone naval commander ordered him to get that thing the hell out of there. He took us right in there and we saw the Rangers going up that cliff, Pointe du Hoc.
"Easy Red" sector of Omaha Beach, the bloodiest of the landings
Saving Private Ryan was a hard movie for William G. Pepe to watch because he lived through it for real. As a member of the 5th Engineer Special Brigade he went ashore on the "Easy Red" sector of Omaha Beach. Somebody back at HQ had the bright idea to put vertical stripes on the back of officers` helmets and horizontal stripes on the helmets of sergeants. German sharpshooters figured out that code and aimed for the commanders. And Field Marshal Erwin Rommel had detailed two German infantry divisions near "Omaha", to practice anti-invasion maneuvers. Neither division was a front-line force, "but anyone with a loaded gun pointed at you becomes a formidable enemy."
He landed at Omaha Beach four days ahead of the troops in 1944
Ron Meinung played a vital role in D-Day, but the 95yo, who was part of the decisive battle of the war in Western Europe, is a forgotten hero. He was attached to a contingent heavy with U.S. military because of his skills in radar. He landed at Omaha Beach under the cover of darkness 4 days ahead of the troops in 1944. Meinung was behind enemy lines preparing the area with beacons and radar to guide the troops to safer areas upon landing. "When he was on shore they lived in the sand dunes and during the day they had to stay dead low because there were Germans everywhere on patrol. At night time, they would sneak out and start laying their gear."
Ken Anderson saw D-Day up close: Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 (Article no longer available from the original source)
The chaos of D-Day was unquestionable: Clumps of American soldiers leaped off ship ramps and were swallowed by the deep water off Normandy before touching the beach. "We never got the LSDs (landing ship docks) in far enough when they let down the front ramp. They stopped in deep water and the Germans are shelling and bombing these LSDs full of people," said Ken Anderson. He was a gun commander in the 453rd Battalion, entrusted with protecting 14 soldiers during battle and protecting the front-line infantry from enemies in the air. "They were so cold all the time that they cut holes in the sleeping bags and wore them the whole time."
Back to Normandy: From D-Day Omaha beach to Ardennes
On June 6, 1944, Bob Gunsallus and his unit were shipped out to Omaha Beach at Normandy. "They flipped down the landing platform of the LST 50 to 60 feet from shore and said `start swimming.` I thought I was a pretty strong swimmer, but I damn near drowned several times. The last 10 to 15 feet you literally had to move bodies with every stroke to keep moving." ... During the Battle of the Bulge, he had a shell knock his helmet right off his head. "If I would have had my helmet strapped on I would have probably been killed from the force of the shell. But luckily it just knocked the helmet from my head."
New Aerial View of World War II Offered in Specialised Tours
The London-based tour operator offers guided aerial tours of historic World War II landmarks: the beaches of Normandy stormed by Allied forces on D-Day. Accompanied by a military expert guide, the tour flies over Portsmouth Harbour, where General Eisenhower`s headquarters were stationed and across the English Channel to the Normandy Invasion Beaches. Dramatic views of D-Day`s historic landmarks can be witnessed from low-altitude, including: Omaha beach - where the U.S 1st infantry division and 29th infantry division came ashore and The Pointe du Hoc cliffs - scaled by 2 U.S Rangers on D-Day.
2nd Ranger Battalion - Cliffs west of Omaha Beach on D-Day (Article no longer available from the original source)
O`Keefe was with the Army`s 2nd Ranger Battalion. He and 225 Rangers used grappling hooks to scale 100-foot cliffs west of Omaha Beach on 1944 D-Day. They climbed with strength through a storm of grenades and withering enemy fire to take the high ground at Pointe du Hoc and eliminate German artillery batteries. Only 90 of the Rangers survived the assault. He travelled back to Normandy 3 times and met with presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton during the 40th, 50th and 60th D-Day anniversary ceremonies. He never made a fuss about his military service, other than attending reunions and funerals of fellow Rangers.
Hidden for 60 years: the Nazi beach bunker found by Briton
A secret underground military complex abandoned by the Nazis as allied forces stormed Normandy after D-day has been found by an English amateur historian. He came across the series of bunkers that had lain untouched for more than 60 years after buying a second world war map from an old American soldier. Armed with his map he visited the area near the Normandy beaches of Utah and Omaha, where he found the entrance to the military complex hidden under bramble bushes. He was astonished to discover a labyrinth of bunkers, control rooms and equipment abandoned by the Germans.
Franz Gockel: As a Wehrmacht gunner on Omaha beach
A teenage soldier in the Wehrmacht, Franz Gockel had his 18th birthday while serving as a gunner in a `resistance nest` on Omaha beach. He was shot in the hand and evacuated to Paris before serving again and being seized by the Americans. "We had been kept busy digging the trenches and keeping the guns in order. But at 1am we got the alarm call. We had had many of these before and we threw out the guy who had brought it to us, but he came back and said this time it was for real: the Americans had been landing by parachute about 30km from us." At 8am my machine gun failed and I had to use my pistol to protect myself, it just fired single shots.