Omaha beach

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Dpalme01, Jun 8, 2004.

  1. jimbotosome

    jimbotosome Discharged

    Jimbo I would like to bring up your assertion that the 352nd Division was a crack division in and refer you to the memoirs of Lt. Col Fritz Ziegalman who was the Chief of Staff of the 352nd and he recounts thus: ""Having had served as a senior General Staff Officer, on the 5th of December 1943, I now reported to the staff, in St. Lo, of the just-forming 352nd Infantry Division (Infantriedivison 352 , abv. 352.ID). By then, the Division's headquarters had already been activated, (5th November), and by the 14th of November, the 914th and
    916th Infantry Regiments (Grenadierregiment) were set up. "
    "By the 29th of January 1944, the 352nd Infantry Division (352ID) only had four infantry battalions and four artillery batteries combat-ready." To fill out the Division's ranks, new recruits were drafted from Wehrkreiss X(?-XI), which was the ' 10th (?11?) Defense Home-District' within Salzwedel-Dessau-Goettingen Hameln-Celle. In geographical Terms it included Lueneburger Heide, Magdeburger Boerde and the Harz Mountains. -SB
    "As for the eventual date of deployment after completing the formation of the 352ID
    (to the Eastern Front, Italian Front, the Balkans or remain in the West?), there were no clear orders. It was generally assumed that we could count on being sent to the Eastern Front after the 1st of March1944. So training for the 352ID focused on Eastern Front combat operations.

    The building process itself went very slowly, especially procurement. Since I had been, from October 1942 to March 1943, Chief Quartermaster for the Army High Command
    and at this time intimate with procurement issues; it fell to me to providing equipment to outfit the now forming 352ID.

    For example, live-fire training school was not possible until the end of February, because the delivery of gun sights and sight mounting-plates was not possible before mid-February. By March, each soldier had thrown just two hand-grenades and had only three live-fire training exercises. The training of auxiliary drivers (French
    civilian truck drivers) was not possible until the 1st of May, because of fuel shortages.

    During training, we also had our manpower problems. Our 14 infantry companies were not set up until February, and then they were trained for the Russian Front as anti-tank companies. The replacements, mostly teenagers, were physically unfit for
    all but limited military duty, because of food shortages in Germany.

    As of May 1st, 50% of the officer corps was inexperienced and 30% of the noncommissioned officer positions went unfilled, because of the lack of competent sergeants.
    The total manpower of our 'Type 44' infantry division amounted to around 12,000 men of which 6,800 were combat troops, including around 1,500 'Hiwis' (Russian
    Volunteers).
    By the fall of 1944, after five years of war, Germany had exhausted its manpower base while still being pressed to provide fresh Divisions to the war-fronts.

    Their solution was to reduce the manpower size of their Division structure while beefing up their firepower to maintain comparable combat strength levels. This new Division structure model is known as the 'Type 44 Division.'
    The 'Old' German Division model included three infantry regiments (3,250 men each)
    having three battalions in each regiment; with a Division manpower total of 17,200 men.
    The new 'Type 44 Division model consist of three regiments (2,008 men each)
    organized in two battalions. This, along with other cut-backs, cap at a Division
    strength of 12,352 men. The 352ID was constituted using the 'Type 44' model. -SB

    During this initial organizing period, the Division was ordered to have ready, by
    January 1st., a special combat team, on 'stand-by' for possible emergency deployment
    in Holland, Belgium and France. This team consisted of a infantry regiment, an
    artillery and an engineer battalion with elements of signal, supply and divisional
    staffs. The mobilization and deployment of this force was possible, by foot and
    rail, with 12 hours notice. From the 1st of May 1944, the same readiness measures
    were applied to the entire Division.

    By the 1st of March 1944, the 352ID reached adequate strength and was fully
    equipped. But, because of diversions of men and material to the Russian Front, the
    slow arrival of new men, ammunition and weapons during the previous three months,
    delayed proper training until now. Company and battery level training was probably
    satisfactory, if not judged too harshly, however battalion and regiment level
    training did not take place."

    Source: http://www.omaha-beach.org/US-Version/352/352US.html

    I think you are confusing "well-organised" with "crack". The German Infantry Forces stationed in Normandy up to May 1944 were by no means Crack Troops. The Eastern Front always got the "Pick of the Crop" up until the Beginning of 1944 until Hitler could no longer ignore the warnings coming from the West.

    The officer further goes on to say that of the 333 officers, 50% were without Combat Experience, a 30% shortfall in the number of NCO's, and the 9,650 men were mostly 17 year old recruits, hardly crack troops. This was no Hitlerjugend, where the NCO's and Officers were battle-hardened veterans of the Eastern Front having served in the LAH.

    Gotthard,

    I am sure I have read them as "crack" in most places but that is just a specific term, it really just means "experienced". They are called experienced because the core of them had fought in the Russian front. Here is the link:
    http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/books/wwii/100-11/ch2.htm#Pre-Assault

    BTW: These were not "stationed" at Normandy. They were assigned there as an anti-invasion force. The 716th was there as the static forces.

    Here is a link where they are called crack:
    http://www.lssport.com/birdtours/sub_ddaybeaches.htm

    So I don't know if it is the term "crack" that gives you heartburn or if it is the fact that the core units were exprienced from fighting on the Eastern Front.
     
  2. Exxley

    Exxley Senior Member

    So I don't know if it is the term "crack" that gives you heartburn or if it is the fact that the core units were exprienced from fighting on the Eastern Front.

    Funnily though, Jimbo choses not to follow his usual logic (a man who was there is more to be trusted than an historian) here. Eventhough he is offered the very descriptive testimony of the former Chief of Staff of the 352nd Div., he nevertheless goes for 2 articles written on the Internet which doesnt give much details about that same unit.
     
  3. Glider

    Glider Senior Member

    I don't think that many people would argue that experienced unit is just that. A unit that has seen heavy combat and is often refitting and retraining. A core of the unit will be experienced and available to bring on the new members of the Unit.
    A crack unit is a unit fully equipped often with the latest equipment and trained to a pitch much higher than the norm. Para's, Marines, Commando's, Chindits are obvious examples.
    A regular Army unit is unlikely to be a crack unit unless trained for a specific purpose.

    As an aside, I believe that there is an argument to be made that says having a higher proportion of crack or specialised units in an army weakens the main army. The reason is that every non commissioned private in a crack unit is likely to have been a potential NCO in a regular unit and its the NCO's of an Army that are its backbone. By reducing the pool of people available to be NCO's in the main army you weaken it.
     
  4. jimbotosome

    jimbotosome Discharged

    I don't think that many people would argue that experienced unit is just that. A unit that has seen heavy combat and is often refitting and retraining. A core of the unit will be experienced and available to bring on the new members of the Unit.
    A crack unit is a unit fully equipped often with the latest equipment and trained to a pitch much higher than the norm. Para's, Marines, Commando's, Chindits are obvious examples.
    A regular Army unit is unlikely to be a crack unit unless trained for a specific purpose.

    As an aside, I believe that there is an argument to be made that says having a higher proportion of crack or specialised units in an army weakens the main army. The reason is that every non commissioned private in a crack unit is likely to have been a potential NCO in a regular unit and its the NCO's of an Army that are its backbone. By reducing the pool of people available to be NCO's in the main army you weaken it.
    I believe that has to be true as far as the whole army is concerned. The better the distribution of experienced soldiers the faster you can accumulate better trained ones.

    But interestingly enough, Bradley and Patton had an aversion to breaking groups up. They believed it was bad for moral by seperating these "brothers in arms" and the bonds that forms. What do you think of that?
     
  5. morse1001

    morse1001 Very Senior Member

    The reason is that every non commissioned private in a crack unit is likely to have been a potential NCO in a regular unit and its the NCO's of an Army that are its backbone. By reducing the pool of people available to be NCO's in the main army you weaken it.


    If you look at the example of the army during WW!, there were whole units made up of possible officer candidates who were serving as privates.

    The Danish Jagers had a rule which said that if anyone failed the selection course, then they would bne promoted to Sgt and sent back to their unit. The reason being, if they were good enough to be chosen then they were better than the average solider.

    In some of the units i served with inthe RAF, the unofficial rule was that it was the best man for the job, not the relevant rank. In the seminar on the Falklands campaign held by the RAF Historical society, the Commander of the Airhead at Ascention island spoke at the utter chaos on part of the airfield in the early stages. he placed a Warrant Officer Chef in charge and said that he was much better than the techie and aircrew, SNCOs and Officers who had tried to organise the place.




    But the quote does pose one specific question, what makes a good NCO?
     
  6. morse1001

    morse1001 Very Senior Member

    But interestingly enough, Bradley and Patton had an aversion to breaking groups up. They believed it was bad for moral by seperating these "brothers in arms" and the bonds that forms. What do you think of that?

    David Hackworth in his autobiography said that he envied the Aussie units as they were posted as a unit, fought as a unit and returned home as a unit. Whereas the America forces in Vietnam used the the trickle method and could never really achieve the high level of cohesion and esprit d' corp that the Aussie had.
     
  7. Glider

    Glider Senior Member

    David Hackworth in his autobiography said that he envied the Aussie units as they were posted as a unit, fought as a unit and returned home as a unit. Whereas the America forces in Vietnam used the the trickle method and could never really achieve the high level of cohesion and esprit d' corp that the Aussie had.

    I would agree with this and what Jimbo mentioned. A unit that retains its identity helps to maintain its pride and its discipline. It has been the basis of the Regimental system in the British Army for more years than I would like to guess.

    It can be carried too far, as proven in the Pals Battalions in WW1 as the casualties are concentrated in one area but that is slightly different.
     
  8. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    This topic seems to have got a little muddled during the week I was away from the forum, so lets try to get back to she subject - Omaha beach.

    The two infantry divisions which landed troops at Omaha on 6 June were as follows:

    1st Infantry (the "Big Red One"), which was just about the most experienced division in the US army after North Africa, Sicily, etc. It had a core of experienced troops to which wer added replacements for previous battle losses. It had been back in the UK for a while for training and preparation and the replacements were fully absorbed into their units.

    29th Infantry, which originated as a National Guard division, the core of which had also been together for a long time, but they lacked battlefield experience. They too had been in the UK for some time. The "pals" characteristic of the division is revealed by the story of the "Bedford Boys", the soldiers from one American small town who fell at Omaha.

    Replacements were not an issue for any US unit on D-day, because they had not recently been in action and they were trained and up to strength. In fact, they were just about at their peak of training and capabilities, just like the British and Canadian units.

    As for the German 352nd ID, it was quite common after a spell in the East to put divisions into reserve in France and the west during refitting and retraining. This meant that they were often below peak strength and performance. On the other hand, they were probably the world's most efficient army at the time and usually managed to perform well in such circumstnces.
     
  9. jimbotosome

    jimbotosome Discharged

    In, repelling an invasion, I don’t think the type of troops you have would matter that much, at least to a first approximation. The thing is that you have is firepower and enfilade, which they certainly had as the beach was entirely covered. I don’t mean you can have bumbling idiots in defense but its pretty much shoot heavy stuff and MGs until your lines get breeched then fall back. It may have been that all of the beaches were well set up for defense and Omaha was the only one that didn’t get pummeled properly by air and battleship/cruiser fire. Had the bombers have hit the target, I don’t think that there would have been a distinction between Omaha and any other beach. Just pure sorry luck if from what I can tell.
     
  10. Run N Gun

    Run N Gun Discharged

    Do you think if we had landed paratroopers closer to Omaha the losses would have been less?
     
  11. Herroberst

    Herroberst Senior Member

    David Hackworth in his autobiography said that he envied the Aussie units as they were posted as a unit, fought as a unit and returned home as a unit. Whereas the America forces in Vietnam used the the trickle method and could never really achieve the high level of cohesion and esprit d' corp that the Aussie had.

    Oh please quoting Hackworth is about as relevent as quoting John Kerry or Jane Fonda for that matter.

    Not a good colonel and not a good historian.:huh:
     
  12. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    Do you think if we had landed paratroopers closer to Omaha the losses would have been less?

    Arguably, but the allies lacked the capacity to land a fourth airborne division.
     
  13. Exxley

    Exxley Senior Member

    As for the German 352nd ID, it was quite common after a spell in the East to put divisions into reserve in France and the west during refitting and retraining. This meant that they were often below peak strength and performance. On the other hand, they were probably the world's most efficient army at the time and usually managed to perform well in such circumstnces.

    Angie, by German 1944 standards, the 352 ID was a full strenght and reasonably well trained unit.
     
  14. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    Angie, by German 1944 standards, the 352 ID was a full strenght and reasonably well trained unit.

    Agreed. I just wanted to make a comparison with the allies.
     
  15. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    Angie, by German 1944 standards, the 352 ID was a full strenght and reasonably well trained unit.
    Yes but it wasnt a crack unit. Lets be honest lads, it wasnt the 1st SS they were facing. They were competant troops and there were deficiencies in its make up and its strength as I have already documented.
     
  16. Exxley

    Exxley Senior Member

    Agreed. I just wanted to make a comparison with the allies.

    Oki. And yes, by US 1944 standards, the 352 ID would have been a really underequipped and undertrained unit.

    Yes but it wasnt a crack unit. Lets be honest lads, it wasnt the 1st SS they were facing. They were competant troops and there were deficiencies in its make up and its strength as I have already documented.

    I agree as well Gott. Obviously I never claimed it was a crack unit. Though, a full strenght, decently trained ID, which by 1944 was becoming scarce for the Germans.
     
  17. jimbotosome

    jimbotosome Discharged

    Arguably, but the allies lacked the capacity to land a fourth airborne division.
    Nor the aircraft to fly them there.
     
  18. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    Nor the aircraft to fly them there.
    Exactly and this problem also reared its ugly head in Market Garden. Not enough transport aircraft!
     
  19. morse1001

    morse1001 Very Senior Member

    Oh please quoting Hackworth is about as relevent as quoting John Kerry or Jane Fonda for that matter.

    Not a good colonel and not a good historian.:huh:

    this could open up a new thread, but I was using hackworth as an example of the thoughts of many Americans in Vietnam but it also shows the reasons what helps keep a unit together in terms of espirt de corps.

    AS for his qualities as a Col, then many of his comtempories considered him one of the best
     
  20. morse1001

    morse1001 Very Senior Member

    The Sherman was vulnerable to the 50mm as well and there were a lot more of those around. I am afraid the dead tank is far more likely to be the Sherman



    I was watching the Discovery Channel today and they had a programme about the Sherman, it seems that it was originaly designed to withstand 37mm PAK.

    I digress slightly, but they has a short bit of footage which showed a German officer riding in a bren gun carrier!
     

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