OMAHA BEACH.

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Trux, Apr 16, 2017.

  1. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    The Battalion Beach Groups.

    Until the beach head was secured and the greater part of the assault formation was ashore control of the beach was in the hands of V Corps and 1 Division. The Engineer Combat Group of each assault Regimental Combat Team was responsible for the engineer work required to help combat vehicles of the assault waves to cross the beach and to open beach exits. When the Engineer Special Brigades landed they were to relieve the Regimental Combat Team combat engineers of the engineer tasks on the beaches and exits and then develop and extend the beach roadway system, develop more exits, prepare dump areas and then maintain the beach exits and roads in the Beach Maintenance Area.

    Initially two Battalion Beach Groups and the Brigade Forward Echelon of 5 Engineer Special Brigade, with one Battalion Beach Group of 6 Engineer Special Brigade attached, were to support the assault landing under the command of 1 Division. As the landing progressed and the beach organisation developed 5 Engineer Special Brigade was to assume responsibility for the organisation and operation of all shore installations in sectors Easy Red, Fox and George. 6 Engineer Special Brigade was to organise and operate all shore installations in sectors Charlie, Dog and Easy Green and White.

    The Battalion Beach Group was a balanced team of engineer and service troops from the brigade. The precise composition of the group was decided by the Brigade Headquarters having regard for the needs and nature of the particular beach.

    5 and 6 Engineer Special Brigades Rear Echelons were to land to operate dumps inland.

    The Provisional Brigade Group Headquarters was to assume control of all operations of 5 and 6 Engineer Special Brigades when it was able to establish its Command Post on shore.

    Each Battalion Beach Group area was to establish a beach dump for the storing of supplies. This would be established as soon as possible on D Day. As soon as possible thereafter dumps were to be developed inland and ideally these should be in operation by D+3. The Engineer Special Brigade provided labour for receiving and issuing supplies, security and traffic control. The Military Police Companies of the Engineer Special brigade were responsible for all traffic control by signs and pointsmen up to the boundaries of the Beach Maintenance Area.

    On the first tide the following would land.
    37 Engineer Combat Battalion Beach Group of 5 Engineer Special Brigade with 1652 personnel and 106 vehicles.
    149 Engineer Combat Battalion Beach Group of 6 Engineer Special Brigade with 1652 personnel and 106 vehicles.
    Advance Echelon of 5 Engineer Special Brigade with 226 personnel and 17 vehicles.

    On the second tide the following would land.
    336 Engineer Combat Battalion Beach Group of 5 Engineer Special Brigade with 1653 personnel and 105 vehicles.
    Forward Echelon of 5 Engineer Special Brigade with 161 personnel and 8 vehicles.

    On the third tide the following would land.
    348 Engineer Combat Battalion Beach Group of 5 Engineer Special Brigade with 1694 personnel and 106 vehicles.
    Advance Echelon of 6 Engineer Special Brigade with 350 personnel and 16 vehicles.
    Provisional Brigade Group Headquarters with 30 personnel and 5 vehicles.
    Rear Echelon of 5 Engineer Special Brigade with 713 personnel and 245 vehicles.

    On the fourth tide the following would land.
    147 Engineer Combat Battalion Beach Group of 6 Engineer Special Brigade with 1694 personnel and 106 vehicles.
    Forward Echelon of 6 Engineer Special Brigade with 30 personnel and 8 vehicles.
    Provisional Brigade Group Headquarters with 30 personnel and 5 vehicles.
    Rear Echelon of 5 Engineer Special Brigade with 173 personnel and 157 vehicles.

    On D+2
    203 Engineer Combat Battalion Beach Group of 6 Engineer Special Brigade with 1694 personnel and 124 vehicles.
    Rear Echelon of 6 Engineer Special Brigade with 916 personnel and 425 vehicles.

    To land over the next two weeks.
    5782 personnel and 1452 vehicles.

    Of course these schedules were not kept to but eventually all the personnel and vehicles were landed and set to work.

    Mike
     
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  2. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Engineer Combat Battalion.
    The Engineer Combat Battalion was a standard unit which provided the field engineer troops for divisions, corps, army and the Engineer Special Brigades. There were minor variations, mainly in additional equipment, for the non divisional units.

    The divisional battalion consisted of a headquarters and three companies, plus a medical detachment.

    Headquarters.
    Headquarters provided administrative and logistical support for the companies and held a reserve of equipment and skilled personnel.
    Lieutenant Colonel.
    2 X Major.
    4 X Captain.
    2 X 1st Lieutenant.
    3 X 2nd Lieutenant.
    3 X Warrant Officer.
    2 X Master Serjeant.
    First serjeant.
    6 X Technical serjeant.
    7 X Staff serjeant.
    2 X serjeant
    2 X corporal.
    52 X Technician 4 and 5.
    13 X Private first class.
    18 X Private.

    4 X Jeep.
    7 X ¾ ton Weapons Carrier.
    10 X 2½ ton 6 X 6 truck.
    9 X 1 ton trailer.
    2½ ton pole trailer.
    Wrecker, 4ton 6 X 6.
    Truck mounted compressor.
    Trailer mounted electric welder.
    Water supply equipment.


    3 X Company each
    Captain.
    3 X 1st Lieutenant.
    2nd Lieutenant.
    First serjeant.
    6 X Staff serjeant.
    10 X serjeant
    10 X corporal.
    39 X Technician 4 and 5.
    44 X Private first class.
    52 X Private.

    4 X Jeep.
    3 X ¼ ton trailer.
    2 X ¾ ton Weapons Carrier.
    4 X 2½ ton truck.
    4 X 1 ton trailer.
    9 X 2½ ton dump truck with winch.
    6 ton prime mover with winch.
    20 ton semi trailer
    Truck mounted compressor.
    D7 dozer.
    3 X 2½ ton pole trailer.

    12 X carbine M1.
    6 X Browning .30” machine gun
    3 X Browning .50” machine gun
    4 X sub machine gun
    9 X 2.36” rocket launcher.
    151 X rifle M1.
    SCR 694 wireless set.
    2 X telephone TP3.
    SCR 625 Mine detector.

    Each company had three platoons each of three squads.

    Medical detachment.
    2 X officer. Captain or 1st Lieutenant.
    Staff serjeant.
    Corporal.
    8 X Technical Grades
    5 X men
    2½ ton truck with 1 ton trailer.


    Engineer equipment.
    The Engineer Combat Battalions did not use any exotic equipment.

    Mines were located by the hand held SCR 625 mine detector and lifted by hand.

    The most generally useful of the tracked tractors was the Caterpillar D7. This was normally fitted with a bulldozer or angle dozer blade. On D Day the assault units had armoured D7s.

    Caterpillar R4 Tractor was a petrol engined version of the D4 tractor. This was a useful small tracked tractor with bulldozer blade.

    The Athey Trailer was a tracked trailer designed to be towed by a heavy tracked tractor (bulldozer). Those landing on D Day were flat bed trailers loaded with trackway equipment for beach tracks and exits.

    2½ ton Dump Truck. This was a version of the standard General Motors 2½ ton truck. The dump version had a short wheel base and a hydraulic tipper body. The body was square section so that it could be used for carrying stores and equipment.

    2½ ton Compressor Truck. This was a standard General Motors 2½ ton truck with an air compressor used to power a variety of pneumatic tools. The drill was the most commonly used but there were several others including chain saws.


    Engineer Tasks.

    Obstacle Clearance.
    As the tide went down in the afternoon it was possible for the gap assault teams to return to clear obstacles. A major problem was the lack of equipment. Much of the equipment with which the teams had landed had been lost. Some had been detonated by enemy fire while still on the LCM which brought the team, some had been detonated when the rubber dinghies used to carry explosives the last few feet to shore had been hit, much equipment had simply been abandoned in the attempt to get ashore under fire. Some explosives were recovered from the beach and some were borrowed from other engineer units, although this was not of the type on which they had trained.

    The tank dozers which were to assist and support the clearance teams had largely been lost. Some had been used a normal gun tanks I the assault on enemy positions, some had been hit by enemy fire and some were drowned. There were however considerable numbers of bulldozers, all armoured to some degree, on the beach and it was arranged that some would help with clearing obstacles. Some ordnance recovery tractors were also available to help although these had plenty of work of their own.

    It was found that the formidable looking Element ‘C’, or Belgian Gates, could be simply towed away by bulldozers or tractors. Hedgehogs could also be towed. Other obstacles, many of them topped by mines, were felled by explosives and then dragged away. Usually a large number of obstacles had explosive charges fitted, the charges then were linked with fuse. When the area was reasonably clear of newly arriving troops a warning flag and klaxon were used to hurry up any stray personnel and then the entire area was cleared in one detonation.

    Obstacles were removed to dumps at the top of the beach. The exact position was chosen to avoid any blocking of exits or beach trackways. Eventually the metal obstacles were removed for scrap. The timber was used for a variety of official and unofficial purposes ranging from engineering works to firewood.

    While this work was going on the beaches were still under varying degrees of enemy fire but eventually five large gaps and six smaller gaps were made, a good proportion of the sixteen originally planned for the first hour.

    It was possible now to mark the gaps, and any remaining obstacles, although again supplies of buoys were limited since a considerable amount had been lost.

    Beach Signs.
    Beach signs were of two kinds. Those which concerned the guidance of incoming craft were erected by the Naval Beach Battalion. Others were erected by the Engineer Combat Battalions. The naval signs were common to both British and US beaches since craft from either navy could be used on any of the beaches. This applied particularly to LST, LCT and LCI used by the Cross Channel Shuttle Service.

    The centre of each beach was marked by a nine foot square the same colour as the beach (Green, White, Red). It had a six inch white border and had the sector letter in white. At night a light of the same colour of the beach flashing the sector letter in Morse was used.

    The limits of all beaches were marked by a white rectangle twelve foot by four foot. These were placed horizontally on the left limit and vertically on the right. The limits of Red and Green beaches were marked with twelve foot by four foot of the appropriate colour displayed alongside the white rectangle and with the same orientation. At night the limits of the beach were marked by two lights the same colour as the beach placed eight feet apart. They were placed horizontally on the left and vertically on the right limit.

    Transit beacons to guide craft were five foot sided equilateral triangles. These were placed one behind the other with the apex of the rear beacon apex down and the front beacon apex up. When the two were lined up the craft were on course for the correct beach. Where more than one transit was required, or numbered beaching berths were desired, each pair of beacons had a number painted in black, number one being on the right. At night fixed amber lights were used.

    US signs seem to have had circular holes cut in them. Presumably to offer less resistance to the wind and thus less likelihood of the signs being blown over.

    The army signs were instructions for personnel and vehicles. These were normally written in clear capital letters to indicate personnel exits, wheeled vehicle exits, tracked vehicle exits or DUKW exits.

    Inland there were further signs indicating the route to be taken to assembly and transit areas by personnel, wheeled vehicles and tracked vehicles. Each of these classes had their own dedicated routes marked with tapes, to both indicate the route and the areas clear of mines. Personnel would not normally use the road but be guided across country. Tanks often used cross country routes to avoid damaging the road for wheeled vehicles.

    The use of the various routes was controlled by beach control personnel from the provost units, initially divisional provosts but as these moved forward their place was taken by engineer brigade provosts.


    Trackway.
    In general tracked vehicles could cope with conditions on the beach but sometimes fine dry sand gave problems and there was always the problem of pebbles and small stones getting lodged in the racks and causing the track to come off the guide wheels.

    Softskin vehicles did need assistance in travelling along the top of the beach. An early task for the engineers was to lay trackway material to form a lateral road along the beach. Ideally a beach should have several points where vehicles can exit through gaps in the sea wall. These points should be connected by a lateral road just behind the beach so that vehicles can move along to a forward route which will take them inland. There should also be a lateral trackway running along the top of the beach, to the seaward of the sea wall so that vehicles can travel along it to reach beach exits.

    Initially the beach trackway was constructed from rolls of chespale track. These were one vehicle wide and provided a one way system to the exits. Laid by hand by engineer troops they could not stand up to the passage of tracked vehicles but were fairly resilient when handling wheeled traffic. It was necessary to constantly check the trackway and replace it when required. Thirty per cent of the trackway would need to be replaced each day under normal conditions, and more would be needed in the early stages. Later rolls of steel mesh were laid, and trackway could have a foundation of coir matting. Where tracked vehicles had to cross the trackway, usually at beach exits, pierced steel planking could be used.

    Trackway material was landed on Athey tracked trailers towed by some of the engineer’s bulldozers. The trailer had a flat bed and stakes along the sides to hold the trackway in place. For quick release the stakes were fitted with small explosive charges. The tractor was to tow the trailer up the beach and then leave it for the engineers to use as and when it was required. Some trailers were abandoned in the surf to be recovered later. Additional trackway was carried on DUKWs assigned to carry engineer stores. Some trackway was also carried on the stores LCTs which were beached and left to dry out. These carried mainly ammunition but some engineer stores were included.

    Exits.
    Exits were made by using explosives and bulldozers as pick and shovel. The explosive charges reduced obstacles to rubble which was then bulldozed out of the way.

    Existing roadways were cleared of mines, bulldozed clear of rubble and had holes filled in by bulldozers of engineers with shovels. New roadways were created by bulldozers. More refined roads would come later.

    Mike.
     
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  3. Bin There

    Bin There Member

    741st Tank Battalion
    It would be difficult to overstate the confusion in the surviving records from D-Day. That confusion was largely a result of the equally confused fighting, but it also stemmed from the hurried pre-invasion planning.

    To illustrate this, I am including (or trying to - this is my first attempt to upload a picture here!) a picture of the obstacle overlay that was part of the 741st Tank Bn's field order for D-Day. It is the only overlay in the field order that marked the beach exits. Unfortunately, it also transposed the labels for the two exits, E-1 and E-3. As a result, most of the mentions of specific beach exits in the battalion's action reports are suspect, and many are clearly wrong. Further, the easting grid lines are labelled incorrectly, displacing the overlay more than a kilometer too far east.

    Given this general level of confusion, it's worth taking a moment to recognize what a tremendous job Trux has done in cutting through the contradictions, misinformation and confusion in order to provide such a great summary. Kudos.
    741Tank Overlay.jpg
     
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  4. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Medical Services on the beach.

    Battalion Medical Section.
    The medical section of each infantry battalion was to land at the same time as the battalion headquarters. It was to administer first aid and tag casualties. It was to move on with the battalion and not linger on the beach.

    Naval Medical Beach party.
    One Medical officer and eight corpsmen were to land on each battalion beach at the same time as the battalion medical section. They were to establish an Evacuation Station in the beach area and provide a medical service for the beach area until elements of the Medical battalion of the Engineer Special Brigade were established ashore. The naval medical officer was responsible for procuring naval landing craft for the evacuation of casualties.

    Collecting Companies.
    Litter bearers of the Collecting Companies land soon after the battalion medical sections to assist in the evacuation of casualties.

    Medical Battalion, Engineer Special Brigade.
    Six surgical teams and one section of Advanced Platoon, 1 Medical Depot Company were to land by H+3 hours, complete with transport. A station was to be established in each combat team area. They were to assist in collecting beach casualties, procure DUKWs for evacuation, transport casualties to the shore and load them onto DUKWs, receive casualties from medical installations inland and operate medical supply dumps.



    500 Medical Collecting Company.
    Attached to 6 Engineer Special Brigade from 60 Medical Battalion.

    A Collecting Company consisted of:
    Headquarters.
    Station Platoon.
    Litter Bearer Platoon.
    Ambulance Platoon.

    On landing the task of the company was to clear the beaches of casualties. They were then to give first and second echelon medical service to all casualties in the 6 Engineer Special Brigade Area. This area corresponded to the Beach Maintenance area for about two miles inland behind Dog Green, Dog White, Dog Red and Easy Green. It was also to furnish third echelon medical service to divisional units moving inland.

    On the beach the company was to evacuate casualties from the Clearing Company of the Engineer Special Brigade to the Naval Beach Evacuation Stations. It was to assist the Naval Beach Casualty Evacuation Stations in loading casualties onto small craft and keeping the beach clear of casualties.

    The naval personnel of the Boat Repair Sections were to provide litter bearers as required and available. Given the number of damaged and beached craft it seems unlikely that they had spare personnel.

    The plan was to land with the assault troops of 6 Engineer Special Brigade between H Hour and H+240 minutes. Four officers and 83 men with all the equipment that they could carry were to land, together with five jeep ambulances loaded with company station equipment and a 2½ ton truck loaded with company property. Three of the jeep ambulances were on loan from 6 Engineer Special Brigade.

    The remaining officer and 17 men with ten jeep ambulances carrying station equipment and a ¾ ton maintenance truck were to land with the build up force on D+1. A residue of 15 men, three ¾ ton trucks and two ¼ ton trailers would follow when space was available.

    The above schedule was more or less kept to. The later elements being delayed.


    The first element of ten men landing on Easy Green was in a LCVP which was hit by artillery fire. Seven men were killed and three injured. The casualties were evacuated immediately so none of the element actually landed.

    The second element landed as planned. By that time the beach was littered with casualties. Some had been collected and sheltered behind a beached LCVP. Further collection of casualties was retarded by enemy fire.

    The planned Casualty Collection Point on the beach was found to be impractical because of enemy fire. A reconnaissance found an anti tank ditch just inland of the beach and the Casualty Collection Point was established there. Casualties from the original site were all evacuated on small craft. Further casualties were sorted into those who were seriously wounded and those who were not. The former group were retained in the ditch for treatment while the remainder were evacuated.

    Contact was made with the naval beach master and naval litter squads were assigned to evacuate casualties to the craft and collect casualties to the collection point.

    No record keeping was possible on D Day but it was estimated that 200 to 400 casualties were evacuated.

    At 1000 on D+1 it was decided to move from Easy Green to Exit D3 on Dog Red. 1 Division Clearing Station had been established immediately inland of the original Collecting Point and could accept the remaining casualties. Easy Green had at this time been cleared of casualties. Exit D3 was in fact the planned site for the Company Station but it was not cleared on D Day. The move had to made indirectly because snipers made traversing the beach impractical. Three officers and 55 men moved east to St. Laurent before moving inland to Les Moulins and to the new site, taking two hours.

    The new Collecting Point was established in the buildings of Les Moulins. Casualties were cleared to 6 Engineer Special Brigade Clearing Platoon. Jeep ambulances carried station equipment and a temporary station was erected. Later in the day evacuation from the Clearing Platoon became a problem and at 1600 the Station moved inland. The Clearing Platoon worked in conjunction with 6 Engineer Special Brigade Clearing Platoon.

    On D+2 the Jeep ambulances covered an area from St Laurent to Vierville and inland, collecting casualties, placing road signs and establishing liaison between the units of 6 Engineer Special Brigade and those of 1 and 29 Divisions. Casualties were evacuated from the Clearing Platoon to small craft at Easy Green, which was the only beach permitting Casualty evacuation at the time. The Collecting Station received and sorted all casualties and gave minor treatment to sick and walking wounded and prepared litter wounded for admission to the Clearing Station.

    On D+3 the ten ¾ ton ambulances arrived to supplement the jeeps and the road coverage for the collection of casualties was extended. Support was given to 2 Division whose medical units had not landed yet.

    On D+4 Ambulance Posts were established on the beach at the entrance to Exit D1, on Dog White, at the entrance to Exit D3 and on Easy Green. Inland posts were established at St Laurent and at Vierville. The jeep ambulances borrowed from 6 Engineer Special Brigade were returned. Evacuation of casualties was now to 2 Platoon of the Clearing Company situated between the airstrip and the beach acting as Casualty Evacuation Station, sorting and co ordinating air and sea evacuation.

    Mike
     
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  5. Bin There

    Bin There Member

    Gap Assault Teams In Photos

    Trux provided an excellent description of this topic. Fortunately, the efforts of two of those teams were captured by photographers in the early hours of the invasion.

    Picture 1 is part of a series of photos taken by Coast Guard Chief Photographers Mate Robert Sargent, a member of the USS Samuel Chase's crew. He rode in on the LCVP's carrying Co. A, 16th RCT (Wave 10, H+70 / 0740 hours), which landed a bit to the east of WN64 on Easy Red. It clearly shows the gap created by GAT #9. It also shows one of the two rubber boats used by the GAT to carry in extra demo supplies. In the center of the picture is Tank Dozer #9. According to Navy LCT records, this tank dozer was hit by an 88mm shell (they tended to call all large caliber fire from the beach 88s) during the approach in, but was able to leave the LCT (LCT2339) under its own power. It seems to have survived at least to this point, though none of the survivors' action reports can be linked to this vehicle.
    1.jpg


    Three of the next four photos were taken by civilian press photographer Robert Capa, who was on Easy Red from 0820-0845 hours. He landed at the same point GAT #10 had. GAT #10 was by far the most successful team of the day. It encountered minimal enemy fire until it had set off its first demolitions shot. Army sources credit it with opening its assigned 50 yard gap, then proceeding to open a second gap 100 yards wide.

    Picture 2 is one of several Capa photos showing Tank Dozer #10, which led GAT #10 into the beach (LCT 2545).
    2.jpg

    Picture 3, another Capa photo, shows engineers setting up a ring main priming system to set off multiple charges. This is indicated by the primacord (early det cord) strung between the hedgehogs.
    3.jpg

    The primacord was rigged to the actual demolition charges, the most common of which was the Hagensen pack (Picture 4), an oblong canvas bag filled with C2 plastic explosive. To destroy a hedgehog, two of these packs were placed on the hedgehog's gusset plates.
    4.jpg

    We can actually see these packs in place in Capa's photos. Picture 5 shows two hedgehogs with visible Hagensen packs in place. By way of orientation, the prima cord extending out of frame in Picture 3 heads in the direction of the charges in Picture 5.
    5.jpg

    Also, referring back to Picture 2, you can see a Hagensen pack in place on the left hedgehog.

    A glance back at picture 3 shows that almost all of the seaward obstacle belts have been demolished at this point, and that the engineers have only the last inshore row left to blow, an effort being delayed by numerous troops passing through or pausing at the obstacles. Although this is very close to where GAT #10 landed and we see Tank Dozer #10 there, we can't be certain the engineers we see are from GAT #10, or one of the subsequent waves of engineers.

    The Army's Omaha Beachhead credited GAT #9 and #10 with opening two thirds of the lanes initially cleared on Omaha Beach. This success facilitated the breakout through Easy Red by follow-on regiments (18th RCT, 115th RCT and the bulk of the 26th RCT) later on D-Day.

    Hope this helps tell the story.
     

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  6. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Excellent. Thank you.

    Bin There has ben studying Omaha and, and in particular 16 RCT for two years so his input is much appreciated.

    Mike.
     
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  7. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Dumps.

    It was planned that there should be beach dumps established on the relatively level area between the sea wall and the bluffs. This area varied in width and should have accommodated dumps. Medical units, DUKW parks, drowned vehicle parks, bivouacs etc. In the event the area remained under enemy fire all day and very little development was possible.

    Ammunition was the most urgent supply. All troops and tanks landed with a full load of ammunition, plus the tanks had trailers carrying more. The self propelled artillery would have the ammunition needed for the run in on board their LCTs so that they also landed with a full load of ammunition plus more in trailers.

    During the morning it was planned that DUKWs launched from LSTs should land with ammunition. These did in fact land and carried their loads a short way inland where it was dumped, although not in the places planned. Later LCTs loaded with 150 tons of ammunition were beached and allowed to dry out. These would remain on the beach and be unloaded as circumstances and transport allowed. Little unloading in fact was possible until later. Finally large NL barges each carrying 1,500 tons were towed across the Channel and beached. These provided the greatest reserve of ammunition in the first few days.

    Fortunately much of the field artillery, the greatest consumer of ammunition, failed to land and the units that did land had little opportunity to fire.


    251 Ordnance Battalion.
    Headquarters 251 Ordnance Battalion was due to land in several groups on D Day. An advance party of an officer and six men landed at 0830, under fire. Other groups landed during the day but all were pinned down and unable to function.


    616 Ordnance Ammunition Company.
    The ammunition company was to land three teams.

    Team 1 was to land an officer and 56 men from an LST to set up an ammunition dump in support of 37 Engineer Combat Battalion. An advanced party of a Lieutenant, a serjeant and a private boarded DUKWs carrying 105mm guns. They were to reconnoitre a site for the ammunition dump. The three DUKWs foundered. The three men were rescued by Coast Guard Cutters, two returning to the LST but the officer being taken back to the UK. The whole team was ordered to land by Rhino Ferry at 1300, three hours behind schedule. They were ordered in from the Line of Departure but ordered back by a control craft. They were ordered in a second time but ordered back by a command LCI(L). Eventually they moored alongside a LST for the night. They managed to land the next morning and help unload ammunition from LCTs.

    Team 3 as also scheduled to land on D Day and was more successful. They were to land from AP 67 Dorothea L Dix by LCVP. They were to support 348 Engineer Combat Battalion. Landing at 1330 twelve men climbed up the cliffs to Colleville in order to set up an ammunition supply point. There was still fighting and firing in the area so they returned to the beach. The team was ordered to stand by to act as infantry but were not called on.

    Team 2 was a reserve due to land in support of the other teams on D+1.


    618 Ordnance Ammunition Company.
    Two officers and 16 men from 618 Ordnance Ammunition Company and 27 Bomb Disposal Squad landed but could do little except help the medical detachments. On D+1 more men from the ammunition company landed and were sent to work on setting up the ammunition dump near Colleville with 616 Ordnance Ammunition Company. It was not possible to establish the dump planned for Vierville since it was still in enemy hands, and was under fire for several days.


    On D+2 two companies of 100 Ordnance Ammunition Battalion of V Corps landed. Since they were unable to move forward and set up their Ammunition Supply Point as planned they were ordered to help in the Beach Maintenance Area dumps.

    The first job for all the ammunition personnel was to sort out the ammunition which had been unloaded in haste. DUKWs and trucks had carried ammunition to the dumps where it had been unloaded by crane and placed in unsorted and unrecorded piles. All categories of ammunition and explosives were mixed together which was not only dangerous but made it difficult and slow to find when needed. Roller conveyers were set up and ammunition was checked and stacked correctly.

    It would be many days before the system of receiving and issuing operated smoothly. Examples given include an apparent shortage of mortar rounds. In fact there was plenty but it was not recorded. In the meantime it was necessary to use the reserve stocks from NL barges dried out on the beach.


    Medium Automobile Maintenance Companies should have landed and set up Drowned Vehicle Parks. Heavy tractors were to recover vehicles from the water while wheeled recovery tractors kept the beaches and exits clear of bogged down vehicles. Very little such work was possible on D day.

    3466 Medium Automobile Maintenance Company.
    A few men of the advance party landed from an LCVP but most of the men and all the vehicles, plus the Bomb Disposal Squad were held offshore on the Rhino Ferries.

    3565 Medium Automobile Maintenance Company.
    3565 Medium Automobile Maintenance Company landed on D+1 and although trained in beach clearance were sent as infantry to mop up in the Vierville area.


    9 Air Force Beach Squadrons.
    Beach squadrons of the 8 Air Force Intransit Depot Group, which was in fact a 9 Air Force unit, were attached to Engineer Special Brigades to operate the air force supply dumps on the beaches. They received, stored and distributed supplies. Initially ten day packs were carried by the airdrome squadrons of 9 Air Force which prepared and operated landing strips until normal airfield service teams landed. The service teams brought thirty day packs and then a normal supply service operated.


    Mike
     
  8. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    AA Defence.

    The bad news was that not much AA protection was landed on D Day. The good news was that it was not needed

    The overall plan for the landing of anti aircraft units was that Army AA units would land first and establish defence of the beachhead, Corps units would land to defend the rear areas and division units would then land and move forward with their parent division.

    The defence of Omaha beach was entrusted to 49 AAA Brigade of 1 Army. It had two AAA Group headquarters to which could be attached units as required. On D Day 16 AAA Group landed with Force ‘O’ and 18 AAA Group landed with Force ‘B’. Landing first, and not under the orders of AAA Groups, was 397 Provisional Machine Gun Battalion. This would land with .5” machine guns to give cover as early as possible.

    The initial air defence would be provided by 467 Automatic Weapons Battalion and 197 Automatic Weapons Battalion. These would land to cover the five beach exits. 413 AAA Gun Battalion with 90mm AA guns was to land late in the day and provide high altitude cover during the night.

    In addition the divisional and corps AAA Battalions would be landing and while they were in the beach area would be coordinated by 49 AAA Brigade.

    49 AAA Brigade.
    397 Provisional Machine Gun Battalion.

    16 AAA Group.
    197 Automatic Weapons Battalion.

    18 AAA Group.
    467 Automatic Weapons Battalion.

    207 AAA Group.
    397 Automatic Weapons Battalion.

    At H+120 minutes 197 and 467 Automatic Weapons Battalions each landed four batteries and a headquarters group. 197 Automatic Weapons Battalion landed on Easy Red and Fox Green. 467 Automatic Weapons Battalion landed on Dog Green, Dog White, Dog Red and Easy Green.

    Each battery landed identical loads, usually from two LCT(5).
    8 X Halftrack M15A1.
    8 X Halftrack M16.
    3 X Halftrack M2.
    3 X Jeep.
    117 men.

    Easy
    Headquarters and Headquarters Battery.
    4 X Halftrack M3.
    2 X Jeep.
    33 men.

    Fox Green.
    2 X Jeep with 3 men from 16 AAA Group.

    197 Automatic Weapons Battalion.
    Battery ‘A’.
    Battery ‘A’ landed on Easy Red soon after 0800. At that time the beach was under heavy fire from small arms, mortars and artillery. The US infantry were pinned down and sheltering behind shingle or sea wall. There was as yet no way of exiting the beach so the halftracks of battery ‘A’ were dispersed along the beach. The cliffs along the beach made it impossible to use the AA guns in a ground support role but at least two halftracks manoeuvred their vehicles so that they were reversed up the gravel slope in an attempt to engage enemy strongpoints. As with other units those gunners not employed on the halftracks assisted by adding small arms fire to attempt to supress the enemy, gathering wounded and acting as stretcher bearers.

    Later one M16 squad moved along the beach and began clearing Exit Easy 1. Some crewmen filled in a ditch, cut wire and cleared mines. It then moved through the gap and gave covering fire as a bulldozer improved it.

    The brigadier general commanding 49 AAA Brigade landed about 1700. Against orders he had commandeered an LCVP in which he cruised along the beach before landing on Fox Red. He first motivated troops into advancing and then disposed his guns to defend the beach exits.

    320 Barrage Balloon Battalion landed with VLA Balloons during the day but none were flown until 2315, after dark.

    413 Gun Battalion should have landed in time to set up its 90mm anti aircraft guns and associated radar equipment to give anti aircraft cover during the night, but it did not land until 0230 on D+1. There were no guns in place over night but fortunately there were no air raids.


    Chemical Decontamination Company.
    30 and 31 Chemical Decontamination Companies were assigned to 5 and 6 Engineer Special Brigades respectively to provide operating personnel for the M2 for oil generators. Twenty four of these generators were operated by each company, which could augment them with smoke pots as required.

    Initially only the central portion of the beach was to be screened, with 30 Chemical Decontamination Company of 5 Engineer Special Brigade landing first. As more personnel and supplies were landed with 31 Chemical Decontamination Company of 6 Engineer Special Brigade the entire beach area could be covered.

    At first the smoke screen was to be laid according to schedule at dawn and dusk. Later smoke would only be laid during alerts as required. All smoke was under the control of the artillery commander, co ordinating with the naval commander. A liaison officer from the Chemical Decontamination Company was present at the Anti Aircraft Control Centre.

    79 and 80 Chemical Smoke Generator Companies were to operate Esso type smoke generators on trawlers. These were for the protection of Mulberry ‘A’.

    84 and 81 Chemical Smoke Generator Companies were to operate smoke generators on shore, relieving 30 and 31 Chemical Decontamination Companies.

    Mike
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2017
  9. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Naval Beach Battalion.

    Below is a brief description of the Naval Beach Battalion and its tasks. This will be enlarged on later.

    For the first three weeks Naval Beach Battalions were attached to 6 Engineer Special Brigade. 7 Naval Beach Battalion operated on Omaha West and 6 Naval Beach Battalion operated on Omaha East. This was different to the British organisation in that the Naval Beach Battalion was seen as a specialist unit which would land early, carry out the assigned task and then be withdrawn in case it was needed for future operations. It would be replaced by a less specialised organisation.

    The Naval Beach Battalion had much the same tasks as the British although with a greater responsibility for casualty evacuation. Its duties included:
    Establishing and maintaining shore to ship communication.
    Guiding incoming and outgoing beach traffic.
    Repairing small craft.
    Demolishing beach obstacles.
    Hydrographic survey.
    Setting up aid stations and field hospitals.
    Evacuating casualties.

    Naval shore personnel wore army uniforms but were distinguished by having ‘USN’ painted in red on the helmet front together with the battalion number and a red arc. Before the invasion helmets had a thick grey band painted around them.

    A Naval Beach Battalion had a small headquarters and three identical companies, one attached to each army Engineer Combat Beach Battalion.

    Battalion Headquarters
    Commander. Commanding Officer.
    Lieutenant (junior grade). Executive Officer.
    Lieutenant (junior grade). Communications Officer.
    7 enlisted men.
    2 bakers.
    8 cooks.
    9 stewards mates for officers mess.

    Companies were lettered ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’, each with.
    Lieutenant (junior grade). Commanding.
    Lieutenant (junior grade). Demolitions.
    Lieutenant (junior grade). Communications.

    Companies each had three platoons identified by company letter and platoon number. A1, A2, A3, B1, B2, B3, C1, C2, C3
    Lieutenant (junior grade). Commander and Beach Master.
    Ensign. Assistant Beach Master.
    Lieutenant (junior grade). Medical Officer.

    Each Platoon had 43 enlisted men in four sections.

    Hydrographic Section.
    This section was divided into smaller sections and distributed along the beach to assist craft in beaching. They may assist by handling lines to prevent craft from broaching to, holding lines to assist troops discharging from LCI(L)s etc. They will mark clear approaches and landing points with five foot high marking poles, buoys and red muslin flags. Underwater surveys will be carried out to locate obstacles and either remove them or mark them to warn craft. They will clear obstacles from the beach, especially at low tide, to make the beaches safe for incoming craft and convenient for vehicles crossing the beach after landing. The personnel will also be available as litter bearers for collecting and evacuating casualties.

    Boat Repair Section.
    This section maintains and repairs small craft damaged on the way in to the beach. Later a central battalion pool is established for craft repair. Initially it can only do what is necessary to enable the craft to return to its transport. The personnel also act as litter bearers or help with hydrographic work when necessary.

    Communications Section.
    This section works in conjunction with the beach message centre. It handles ship to shore communication using radio, signal lamps and semaphore flags.

    Medical Section.
    This lands with the assault troops to set up an evacuation and first aid station. Personnel clear the wounded from the beach, give first aid and arrange for the evacuation of casualties back over the beaches. Initially casualties are taken to the transports, later they will be evacuated by specially equipped LSTs. When the army sets up an evacuation system the naval section will continue to provide the last stage, over the beach.

    Demolition.
    The Naval Combat Demolition Units which landed to work with the army Gap Assault Teams will be collected under the command of the Battalion Demolition Officer. They will be responsible for the clearance of underwater obstacles which may hinder the landing of troops and supplies. They will also assist in the demolition of obstacles and the clearing of mines up to the high tide mark.

    Apart from the Medical Section and the Naval Combat Demolition Units the Naval Beach Battalions will start landing at about H+60 minutes.

    One source says that all personnel in the Hydrographic Section were arm badge ratings. I suppose that this indicates specialist trades.

    As soon as possible the Naval Beach Battalion will be withdrawn and held for use in further amphibious landings. A Naval Officer in Charge will by then have set up a separate organisation.

    Mike.
     
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  10. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    At Omaha there were three Hospital Carriers: Prague, Naushon and New Bedford. Prague was a British ship, with American medics; the other two had been US ferries, but they also seem to have been British flag, again with American medics. The war correspondent Martha Gellhorn managed to stow away on the Prague, a slightly abbreviated version of her newspaper report can be found on line.
    Roy
     
  11. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    Attached: Martha Gellhorn's report and a bit I must have culled form a U S source.
     

    Attached Files:

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  12. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    There is a coincidence, and perhaps some psychic phenomenon.

    I have just opened this thread to say that I have reached the end of D Day itself and will now pause before moving on to the operation of the beach and Mulberry A for the rest of June. I would of course welcome any additions, corrections, opinions or questions.

    The coincidence is that this is the second offer of information on casualty evacuation from Omaha that I have received in two days.

    Thanks Roy. I will be writing about hospital carriers, medically equipped LSTs etc. some time. I particularly like the Naushon. It looks very unstable, perhaps a Great Lakes ferry.

    Back soon.

    Mike
     
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  13. Bin There

    Bin There Member

    Roy Martin wrote:
    "Attached: Martha Gellhorn's report and a bit I must have culled form a U S source."

    This one, I suspect:
    WW2 Hospital Ships | WW2 US Medical Research Centre

    The bit you attached comes from the last section of this page. Earlier in the article it also had this to say about D-Day medical evacuation and hospital carriers:

    "For D-Day, June 1944, Navy shore parties loaded casualties onto LSTs and other vessels for evacuation to England. Fifty-four out of 103 LSTs were converted to accommodate casualties (capacity 144 + 150 litter patients + 100/150 walking wounded). LSTs received ample allowances of battle dressings, morphine, sulfa, whole blood, plasma, and penicillin, and on its outbound voyage each LST carried exchange units of blankets, litters, splints, plasma, and surgical dressings for the French beaches. There was still some apprehension however; indeed the LSTs had no Geneva Convention protection! Between D-Day and D+11, LSTs transported almost 80% of the wounded evacuated from Normandy. The casualties that were not, or could not be evacuated by LST, crossed the Channel on 4 British Hospital Carriers, i.e. converted ferries and coastal steamers, painted white and bearing Red Crosses (for Geneva Convention protection) which shuttled between Southampton and Utah or Omaha Beaches – they were the ‘Dinard’ (patient capacity 208), the ‘Naushon’ (patient capacity 300), the ‘Lady Connaught’ (patient capacity 341), and the ‘Prague’ (patient capacity 422). Since there were not enough ships to carry all the wounded, American and British authorities negotiated and secured a total of 7 Hospital Carriers and 2 Hospital Ships for the cross-Channel run."


    The US Army Medical Dept's history places the hospital carriers arriving at the invasion beaches a bit later, stating that the first for UTAH Beach, the Lady Connaught, arrived there on 9 June, and stating an unnamed hospital carrier first arrived at OMAHA Beach on 8 June. Don't have the deck logs for any of those ships, so I don't know which is the better source. These hospital carriers served dual purposes, also being used as transport craft for deploying medical units; the 8 and 9 June arrivals I just mentioned carried medical detachments of the First Army which disembarked from those ships before taking on casualties.
     
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  14. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    Thank you Mike, I attach my chapter about the Hospital Carriers, unfortunately there isn't the detail you require. You will see that several arrived at their respective beaches on 8 June and evacuated casualties.

    Thank you Bin There, I will put the credit in the Bibliography. As you will see from my chapter, for some reason the two Hospital Ships were not used. Prague seems to have arrived at Omaha on 8 June, with at least one other.

    Roy
     

    Attached Files:

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  15. Bin There

    Bin There Member

    A bit of follow-up on the evacuation of wounded.

    According to the Western Naval Task Force Operations Plan, far-shore-to-ship movement of casualties was the responsibility of the US Army. In the early hours - before LSTs could risk actually beaching, shore-to-ship evacuation would primarily be the job of Army DUWKs, there being no specialized or dedicated water ambulances. The Navy would assist in "far-shore-to-ship evacuation of casualties in cases where DUWKs cannot be used for that purpose." All Navy craft and ships were to prepared to handle casualties that were wounded while aboard those vessels, and were responsible for moving casualties suffered afloat to ships with appropriate medical facilities. The OPLAN did have a provision that "LST may dry out to receive wounded, if evacuation by DUWK or other craft is impossible."

    Because hospital ships were not available for the operation, and the limited number of hospital carriers were not expected before D+1, LSTs were designated as the primary casualty evacuation ships. While LSTs were far from idea for this task, they did have qualities that made them invaluable: there were a lot of them available, and DUWKs could swim out to them and actually climb aboard to discharge casualties. Further, after the first day or so, LSTs would beach and casualties could be loaded directly from field ambulances to the LSTs.

    Sources vary on how many LSTs were readied for this roll. According to Army sources (Medical Service in the ETO), the Navy agreed to modify 83 of the 98 LSTs slated for the American beaches. The Navy would augment each of these LSTs with two medical officers and 20 corpsmen, and the Army would provide a surgical team of one officer and two enlisted men for each LST. According to Navy sources, they provided 106 LSTs with these capabilities (with 90 LSTs getting 3 medical officers, 13 getting 2 medical officers and 3 getting just 1 medical officer - all other staffing augmentation remaining the same).

    The Navy's staffing of these LSTs was to accommodate 200 casualties; the SHAEF planning guidance was 150 patients - based primarily on the expected limitations on how long the LSTs could remain off shore.

    While LSTs were the primary evacuation means, LCIs were also tagged for this duty - but only for ambulatory cases.

    Attack transports were the tertiary evacuation means. They would provide for casualties among their own crews and embarked Army personnel. After that, they would provide "casualty evacuation facilities to the limit of their capabilities."

    The final evacuation option was to be the limited number of hospital carriers, available D+1 and later.

    During the operation, many of these provisions broke down due to the intense fighting on the beach. Initial waves of DUWKs suffered high losses and many later waves of DUWKs were held off-shore until beach congestion cleared late in the day. Further losses were suffered when heavily laden DUWKs foundered and sank. As a result, relatively few DUWKs were available to backhaul casualties. There is some disagreement as to how well the Navy helped in this situation, with Navy sources emphasizing how many casualties they did carry out, and Army sources stressing the huge backlog of wounded ashore, the ineffectiveness of the Navy Beach battalions in initially organizing evacuations, and coxswains (who, it must be pointed out, had tight schedules to keep) refusing to take aboard casualties. Suffice it to say that it was a difficult time and all parties were wrestling with nearly insurmountable problems, and the Army's ashore evacuation system was itself struggling to sort things out after suffering its own significant losses.

    Because Navy landing craft ended up taking out more casualties than expected, the coxswains of those craft naturally took those wounded back to their own attack transports, rather than the designated LSTs. As a result, attack transports handled more casualties than expected, but this number still was only about 560 for D-Day. Even then, many, if not most, of these casualties were suffered by the troops before the craft beached. (The bulk of the personnel these transports discharged back in the UK were 'survivors' - i.e., those rescued from the sea - not actual casualties.)

    The Army estimated that about 830 casualties were evacuated off the beach on D-Day, with many, many more unable to be carried out. The 16th RCT's medical officer was greatly frustrated at his inability to get the Navy to take any of the roughly 90 casualties he had at his aid station off the beach the night of D-Day, even though he was located just a couple hundred yards from the beach battalion. Even when he carried patients to the beach battalion, they could not be evacuated.

    Beginning D+1 things began to improve quickly. Both the Army and Navy evacuation units ashore became functional and the task of ferrying casualties out to LSTs became more routine. The hospital carrier Naushon anchored off Omaha Beach 1900 on D+1 and sailed with casualties the following day. The need to ferry casualties out to LSTs was mooted when those ships were able to beach and discharge cargo directly to - and load casualties directly from - the beach. Getting casualties to the hospital carries remained a problem, as the carriers' water ambulances were not beaching craft, and landing craft normally had to ferry the wounded to a water ambulance then the water ambulance would ferry the wounded out to the hospital carrier. This required an extra step of manhandling litters between small craft at sea, and one suspects in most cases the landing craft brought their patients directly to the hospital carriers.

    While reliance on LSTs had proven valuable, a problem did result from this practice after D-Day. The loading of casualties in Normandy and the offloading in the UK caused delays for the LSTs, which had tight schedules for moving follow-on echelons of troops. The solution was to designate only a portion of the LST fleet for casualty evacuation, freeing up the bulk of the LSTs for rapid reinforcement duties.

    The first air evacuation from Omaha Beach took place on D+4 (10 June) - 10 days ahead of schedule. The Navy reported that by D+10 (16 June), evacuation by sea had become impossible, and air transport had to fill the gap. By D+17 (June 23), air transport had become the primary evacuation means, with sea used merely as standby. The Army noted similar statistics, stating it flew out as many as 600 patients a day, while sea evacuation dwindled to fewer than 20 a day.

    Seaborne casualty evacuation figures through D+11 (for both US beaches) show that: LSTs carried 79.6%; transports carried 3.86%, hospital carriers carried 16.46%; and LCIs carried 0.04% (not my figures, so don't blame me for rounding errors!). The LCI figure may refer to LCTs; the text seems to have switched between the two while discussing the same figures.

    - Forty-nine LSTs made a single trip carrying casualties. Forty-one made two such trips. Four made 3 trips, and 1 LST made 4 trips carrying casualties. The average casualty load was 78 patients; the greatest load was 331.

    - The hospital carriers evacuated 2,272 patients. One carrier made1 evacuation trip; 2 carriers made 2 trips, and 1 carrier made three trips. Their average load was 284 patients and the largest load was 643.

    Despite the carnage of Omaha Beach, evacuation of casualties for American beaches was aided by the relatively low casualties suffered. SHAEF planners figured on 7,200 patients needing treatment and evacuation on D-Day, and an additional 7,800 over the next two days - assuming the Germans did not use poison gas. The medical provisions outlined above were intended to be able to cope with those figures. According to the Medical Service, D-Day wounded actually came to roughly 3,000 soldiers (including Omaha and Utah Beaches and the two airborne Divisions), well below projections. In the midst of the confusion on Omaha Beach on D-Day, this goof fortune may not have been apparent!
     
  16. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    After a considerable amount of time and effort I have to conclude that the detailed information for which I have been searching is not available. In some cases this is because it does not exist. In others it is difficult to locate and more difficult to obtain.

    Here in the UK we are fortunate to have the National Archive/Public Record Office. With a little time and effort it is fairly easy to find the documents that you want and easy to find people who will obtain copies for you. None of this is the case in the USA. Units did not keep War Diaries in the form that British units did. Reports were required but these vary enormously in format and content and are rarely a daily record. More important they lack the appendices and notes that British War Diaries often have.

    I will post what material I have managed to find and hope that either I or others will be able to add more at a later date.

    Mike
     
  17. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    FOLLOW UP.
    Follow Up groups were due to arrive on the second and third tides. The timings were arranged so that the ships and craft arrived in time to start unloading at the start of the high tide period. Beaching on a falling tide brought the danger of craft being stranded until the next tide floated them again. Groups O3 and B2 were due on the second tide. By this time there were no longer fast and slow cross channel lanes. Lane 3 was for arriving groups and Lane 4 was for departing groups. When the lanes were joined to create Lane 34 arrivals used the western half of the lane and departures the eastern half of the lane.

    LCTs were to beach and discharge their loads. LSTs were to be discharged by Rhino Ferries. If the beach gradient permitted then LSTs could beach and discharge their loads but they were not to allowed to dry out. LSTs were too valuable to be risked. Until full beach surveys had been carried out it was not known if or where there might be suitable areas for drying out. To dry out on an uneven beach was to risk the LST breaking its back. Exceptions to this were emergencies, not defined, or Hospital equipped LSTs drying out to receive wounded if evacuation by DUKW or other craft was not possible.

    The LCIs had landed their troops in the morning of D Day

    The Commander Force ‘B’ with Convoy B2, which included LSD Oceanway, arrived in the assault area at 1430 on D Day. At 1540 hours (H+550 minutes) Oceanway was ordered to close Fox Green beach and discharge her 20 LCM and 20 M4 Sherman tanks.

    Mike
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2019
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  18. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    A couple of observations for Bin There. Two Hospital Ships, the El Nil and the Llandovery Castle. were allocated to the landings; but for some reason they were not used. In all five hospital carriers were allocated to the Western Task Force. Like the others they were British flagged and crewed, but those for Utah and Omaha had US Medical Staff. From what little I can glean, four of them maintained a regular service throughout June, before moving further up the coast. The fifth hit a mine and took no part in the operation.
    I have not seen reports of their performance; but, from Martha Gellhorn's report, there seemed to be no major problems with the water ambulances.
    Roy
     
  19. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Loading Tables.
    These are dated the last week in April. All formations had to submit their loading table by the end of the month. Not all LSTs have full loads on these tables. Any unused spaces were filled by other units.

    The tables are arranged in the order of priority for debarking. In most cases this means that the first vehicle shown is at the front of the LST and then others are listed from right to left and from bow to stern. There are variations where smaller vehicles stowed down the centre will debark before larger vehicles down the sides, and where some vehicles from the upper deck will debark before the lower deck is clear.

    These tables are for V Corp Troops. There are many different tables, not all of which have survived. Divisions and Corps made their own loading tables which obviously relate to the Landing Tables but are not necessarily the same. The most obvious difference is that personnel are not listed. The tables were accompanied by loading diagrams showing how each vehicle is to be stowed on the LST.

    The navy complained that the army Transport Quartermasters often compiled the tables without considering the problems that they might cause. Often the Transport Quartermaster was an officer from one of the units whose vehicles were to be loaded and they had little training or experience. There was also a lack of liaison between army and navy which might have been solved by having a naval officer assigned to each ship to give advice.

    Most of the vehicles to be carried were those required to assist the follow up troops to advance through the flooded and marshy areas inland or those needed for developing and defending the Beach Maintenance Area. Thus there are engineer bridging units, heavy AA units and units of 29 Division equipped with Weasels for mobility on marshy ground.

    Army serial numbers are used for the LSTs. Sometimes the Navy LTIN is also given.


    Force ‘B’ was to carry the following under the orders of 29 Division.

    Unit. Vehicles Personnel
    29 Division. 1682 12925
    Air Support Party 4 8
    Combat Information Centre 2 16
    POW Interrogation Team 3 12
    Language Interpretation Team 6
    Order of Battle Unit 3
    Photographic Interpretation Team 6
    Correspondents 2
    V Corps Counter Intelligence Corps 3
    V Corps Artillery 1
    V Corps Liaison Officer 1
    XIX Corps Liaison Officer 1
    606 QM Graves Registration Unit 3 20

    Attached
    747 Tank Battalion. 174 609
    165 Signals Photographic Company 3 7
    56 Signal Battalion 7 30
    992 Engineer Treadway Company 21 37
    503 Engineer Light Pontoon Company 70 91
    3604 QM Truck Company 12 12
    3275 QM Service Company 51
    293 Joint Assault Signals Company 9 61

    Engineer Special Brigades.
    5 and 6 Engineer Special Brigades 373 2797
    218 Signal Depot Company 1 23
    175 Signal Repair Company 6 22

    A full list of LSTs, LCTs and LCI(L) of Naval Force 'B' and their loads can be found below at Post 173.

    Notes on Units and Equipment.

    Bridging.
    Bridging Equipment was landed early since it was planned that V Corps troops would reach the River Aure, only two miles inland, on D Day and might find the bridges blown.

    Treadway Bridge Equipment.
    An Engineer Treadway Bridge Company was usually an Armoured Corps unit which was intended to carry the components and equipment to construct Treadway Bridges. In the British Army the material was transported by a Bridge Company RASC which had no role in the actual construction and operation of the equipment. In the US Army the Bridge Company had wider responsibilities, although it still needed personnel from an Engineer Combat Battalion to actually construct a bridge.

    The company was tasked with transporting and maintaining the equipment, constructing a bridge with the equipment, guarding and maintaining the bridge, regulating traffic over the bridge and eventually dismantling the bridge. Apart from basic engineering tools the company had compressors and cranes to assist the work of construction. There were two platoons responsible for the movement, delivery, unloading and maintenance of the equipment while the company headquarters was responsible for engineering and maintenance of the bridge. Each platoon carried a unit of bridging with sufficient pneumatic floats and steel Treadway material for a bridge 540 foot long. Power boats were also carried to assist with positioning assembled bridge units.

    The truck was a Brockway 6ton 6 X 6 with a 220 inch wheelbase, normal wheelbase was 187 inch. The body had a hydraulic hoist for unloading bridging material.

    Light Pontoon Company.
    This company was to handle a lighter pneumatic float bridge for use in an infantry division. The company was tasked with transporting and maintaining the equipment, constructing a bridge with the equipment, guarding and maintaining the bridge, regulating traffic over the bridge and eventually dismantling the bridge. Apart from basic engineering tools the company had compressors and cranes and angledozers to assist the work of construction.

    Two platoons each carried a unit of M3 pneumatic bridge equipment while a third platoon carried a M1938 footbridge, twelve sets of infantry support raft equipment, seventy assault boats and four sets of ferry equipment.

    The equipment was carried on a 2½ ton pole trailer. This was a two wheeled trailer with the axle fixed to a simple pole chassis. Various platform or transom bodies were fitted to carry the various loads.

    635 Tank Destroyer Battalion.
    After studying the German use of armour in 1940 the US Army developed a policy in which the tank battalion would be a mobile striking force intended to keep moving. Enemy armour was to be dealt with by Tank Destroyer battalions. In general infantry divisions had towed 3” guns while armoured divisions had M10 self propelled 3” guns.

    635 Tank Destroyer Battalion landed on Omaha on D+2 and was a 1 Infantry Division unit. ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies landed by Rhino Ferry but ‘C’ Company landed from a LST which beached to discharge. On landing the battalion went first to Transit Area 4 and then to a bivouac near to 1 Division Artillery Headquarters.

    B Company was assigned to 18 Infantry Regiment, ‘C’ Company to 26 Infantry Regiment and ‘A’ Company to 1 Division Artillery as reserve. Companies then assigned a platoon to each infantry battalion. Only one enemy tank was seen and hit by six rounds. The guns did fire in support of the infantry and A Company fired 1,500 rounds under the direction of 1 Division Artillery in support of infantry.

    A towed Tank Destroyer Battalion had three companies each of three platoons. Each platoon had four guns. There was always a headquarters with two reconnaissance platoons and a pioneer platoon.

    102 Cavalry Group.
    102 Cavalry Group was the reconnaissance unit for V Corps and consisted of two squadrons, 102 and 38. Each squadron consisted of three troops and each troop consisted of three platoons. Each platoon had six Jeeps, three with 60mm mortars and three with .3” or .5” machine guns, and three M8 six wheeled armoured cars.

    102 Cavalry Group were carried on three LSTs. They were held 2000 yards offshore on D Day waiting for the beach head to expand sufficiently for them to be able to land. They were not able to begin landing until D+2. LST 16 carrying ‘C’ Troop was ordered into beach at 1332. Vehicles began to disembark around 1700. After de waterproofing the vehicles they moved six miles inland. ‘A’ and ‘B’ Troops disembarked at 1900 and moved to join ‘C’. The balance of the Group landed on D+3. On D+4 the Group moved to clear resistance north of Isigny.

    Office of Strategic Services.
    The US equivalent of the Special Operations Executive. Responsible for activity against Germany and German forces. In Normandy they were to work alongside the army Counter Intelligence Corps to gather information that could be used against Germany and to recruit agents from POWs. Also identifying potential German agents in liberated areas or amongst German troops left behind.

    CIC. Counter Intelligence Corps.
    A Field security unit attached to each division. Teams landed with 1st and 29 Divisions on D Day. The initial priorities were the searching of enemy command posts and the questioning of civilians. As the troops moved inland the teams were to also seize civilian communication centres and mail. Later they would also be responsible for civilian movement control and for refugees and impressed workers.

    Detachments consisted of two officers and fourteen enlisted men. Detachments were permanently attached to the Headquarters of Armies, Corps and Divisions. There were also three detachments forming an Army Group Pool which could be allocated as required.

    Air Support Parties.
    9 USAAF attached an Air Support Party to each of the Regimental Combat Teams in the initial support. These parties were to remain with the Regimental Combat Team Headquarters until the parent Divisional Headquarters was established ashore. The Air Support Party then returned its normal function with the division to which it was attached.

    Mike
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2019
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  20. Bin There

    Bin There Member

    For Roy Martin . . .

    I have no information why Llandovery Castle was not initially employed, but El Nil may not have been back from the Med in time for the invasion. I believe it sailed from Naples 24 May 1944 and arrived Glasgow 2 June 1944 (according to diary of a crew member). It apparently did not leave Glasgow till 10 June and then just sailed to Gourok, and remained there (for maintenance?) until 20 June when it sailed in company with the Llandovery Castle. From what I saw, the first run both of these two ships made was between Southampton and Cherbourg, and not until August. That is based on unofficial information and subject to revision if better sources available.

    My reading of Gellhorn's piece is that it does pretty much sum up the practical problem with the 'water ambulance launches': not being beaching craft, couldn't take stretcher cases directly off the beach, and were very difficult for ambulatory cases to board in the surf. Although they were flat-bottomed (and in some sources were actually termed 'hospital landing craft'), they could not get in as close as other landing craft, they did not have ramps and had little room for stretchers. As she documented, they couldn't take the cases off the beach before nightfall because the water ambulances could not get close enough inshore. So the casualties were collected on a beached LCT where they remained several hours and were only transferred to the water ambulances when the LCT was refloated. Between the delay this seemed to incur in getting casualties to the hospital carrier and the difficulty in manhandling stretches between the LCT and the '"bucking" water ambulance, it did seem to pose a definite challenge, if not a problem.

    Here's photo of the interior of one of these water ambulances © IWM (A 19140). Although rated to carry 6 stretchers, it was far from an ideal vessel to rely on when ferrying significant numbers of casualties from a beach, and difficult to pass casualties to and from in anything but the calmest waters. If the Prague had to rely on its water ambulances alone, it would have taken 33 separate trips to the beach - each trip involving manhandling stretchers from another landing craft - just to transfer the stretcher cases; and that does not include the ambulatory cases, another 228 patients. That would take a fair amount of time, especially when off an invasion beach that was subject to potential air and sea attack. [​IMG]

    Here's video with some good views of the HMHS Prague's water ambulances (starting at 00:24):



    This isn't a criticism of the hospital carriers, their crew or equipment, just an acknowledgement that as in so many other instances, the ideal resources were not at hand in the quantities needed, and good men had to get the job done despite obstacles. It was simply a whole lot more practical to walk the stretchers directly onto a beaching craft, and unload those casualties directly onto the hospital carrier, rather than introduce the intermediate step of trying to manhandle stretchers between bobbing small craft. Here's an example of moving casualties to the Llandovery Castle (in Cherbourg?) using the simple expedient of just using an LCT.

    [​IMG]

    Regards, Bin
     
    Roy Martin and Tricky Dicky like this.

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