OMAHA BEACH.

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

  1. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    I have added more information on Follow Up Force 'B' to Post 139.


    LST WAR DIARIES.
    War Diaries are available for all the LSTs but tend to become repetitive. The following have been chosen because they are typical and between them show the experiences common to LSTs of Force ‘B’.

    LST 504.
    Fitted as hospital LST.

    1 June.
    0104. Underway to Bampool Hard, Tamar River, Plymouth.
    0335. Moved alongside LST 496 off Bampool Hard.
    1056. Underway to Bampool Hard.
    1112. Moored to Bampool Hard. Opened bow doors, lowered ramp.
    1230. Received army vehicles and personnel:
    29 Division Headquarters Company. 166 men.
    29 Division Artillery Headquarters. 52 men.
    56 Signals Company. 29 men.
    606 Quartermaster Company. 5 men.
    29 Signals Company. 49 men.
    Officers. 45.
    Total. 346.
    58 vehicles
    17 trailers.
    1820. Closed bow doors. Raised ramp. (should be other way round).
    1853. Underway.
    1940. Moored alongside LST 50, Tamar River.

    2 June.
    1919. Underway.
    1948. Moored to Buoy No2, Tamar River.

    3 June.
    1020. Underway.
    1038. Received two barrage balloons. Secured fore and aft.
    1212. Anchored in Outer Plymouth Harbour.

    4 June.
    0222. Underway. Proceeded in Convoy B1.
    0825. Returned to Plymouth.
    1247. Anchored in Outer Plymouth Harbour.
    1500. Forward barrage balloon nose dived and burst.
    2225. Received new barrage balloon.

    5 June.
    0258. Underway. Proceed in Convoy B1.

    6 June.
    1720. Anchored by stern anchor 3½ miles off Les Moulins.
    2200. Received wounded army personnel.

    7 June.
    Anchored as before.
    1030. LCVP 3 rammed on beach by LCT 1037. Abandoned. No casualties.
    1050. Received 26 wounded army personnel.
    1100. Received 15 wounded army personnel.
    1423. Shifting to anchorage closer to beach.
    1512. Anchored 1 mile off Les Moulins.
    2058. Shifting anchorage. Ships close to shore being shelled.
    2131. Anchored 4 miles off Les Moulins.

    8 June.
    Anchored as before.
    1315. Shifting anchorage closer to beach.
    1344. Anchored 1 mile off Les Moulins.
    1440. Disembarked infantry to LCT 638. Disembarked 50% of vehicles to Rhino.
    LCVP 1, 4 and 6 and 12 men on temporary duty to NOIC Omaha.
    2136. Completed unloading to Rhino 9.
    2157. Hoisted anchor. Reported to Ceres for orders.
    2345. Anchored 6 miles offshore, 1000 yards from Ceres.

    9 June.
    Anchored as before.
    0020. Air raid. Expended 411 rounds 20mm and 39 rounds 40mm.
    1005. Underway in convoy for Southampton. Total casualties on board 90 including 1 POW.
    2206. Anchored Area 16, North Channel, Southampton.


    LST 511.
    31 May.
    0920. Underway to Barnpool Hard.
    1020. Moored port side of Barnpool Hard.
    1145. Commenced loading army vehicles and personnel.
    1629. Completed loading 116 vehicles and 425 personnel. Delay in loading due to late arrival of some vehicles.
    1954. Underway and returned to mooring. Ship completely sealed.

    3 June.
    1024. Underway to anchorage in Causand Bay, Plymouth.
    1144. Let go anchor.

    4 June.
    0220. Underway with Follow Up Force ‘B’.
    0829. Convoy reversed course.
    1332. Anchored in Causand Bay.

    5 June.
    0257. Underway. Proceeded in battle condition of readiness.

    6 June.
    Underway.
    1830. Anchored in assigned position off Fox Green. Immediately lowered all six small boats. Four boats proceeded to beach. One boat returned to vessel with ten casualties which were landed aboard in rough sea conditions. Loading of this group completed at 2132. Coxswain of boat reported the other three boats damaged and possibly lost. The remaining two boats together with the one returned boat were despatched to the beach to evacuate casualties and if possible salvage the three missing boats.
    2330. Air attack.

    7 June.
    Anchored as before with troops and vehicles awaiting orders to disembark.
    0045. 11 casualties brought aboard. Boats returned with the crews of the missing boats. Two boats reported lost and damaged beyond salvage and one was towed back with a damaged screw. All three available boats despatched to the beach to evacuate casualties.
    1225. 13 casualties brought aboard.
    1437. Shifted anchorage to one mile off the beach and prepared to disembark troops and vehicles by LCT.
    1900. 9 casualties brought aboard by Army DUKW.
    2015. LCT 276 married to bow.
    2034. Commenced unloading army trucks and personnel.
    2050. Completed loading LCT 276.
    2153. Completed loading LCT 545.
    2345. Completed second load on LCT 545.

    8 June.
    Anchored as before.
    0030. Married LCT 199.
    0150. Completed loading LCT 199. Due to tide conditions disembarking suspended. 40% unloaded.
    0715. Army DUKW came alongside with one casualty.
    0820. LCT 540 married to bow. LCT 206 moored alongside.
    0848. LCT 540 loaded and cast off. Cargo 60% disembarked. 43 casualties on board.
    0921. LCT 199 married to bow.
    0950. LCT 199 completed loading.
    1018. LCT 540 returned and moored on port side.
    1045. LCT 206 married to bow.
    1057. LCT 206 completed loading and LCT 540 moved to bow.
    1207. LCT 540 completed loading. Last load.
    1330. Underway to anchorage area to await orders from control vessel.
    1540 anchored off HMS Capetown.
    2202. Orders from control vessel conveyed verbally by ML. Got underway for UK.

    9 June.
    Underway in convoy for UK with evacuated casualties.
    1216. Anchored in Weymouth Road.

    10 June.
    Anchored awaiting orders from TURCO to proceed into harbour and disembark casualties.
    0615. Pilot reported on board.
    0623. Underway and proceeded to Portland Harbour. Moored to LST 505 to disembark casualties.
    1000. Transferred casualties to LST 609.



    LST 512.
    LST Group 31, Flotilla 11.

    1 June.
    Moored at Plymouth.
    2350. Moved to Barnpool Hard, Plymouth for loading army vehicles and personnel.

    2 June.
    0545. Completed loading.
    0735. Returned to Yonderberry Trot.

    3 June.
    2000. Moored to anchorage in Jenny Cliff Bay.

    4 June.
    0330. Underway with Convoy B1.
    0820. Convoy headed back to Plymouth.
    1200. Standing into Plymouth Sound.
    1309. Anchored in Jenny Cliff Bay.

    5 June.
    0412. Underway with Convoy B1.

    6 June.
    2040. Anchored off Omaha Beach.
    2135. Began loading casualties from the beach.
    2310. Air raid. 42 rounds 40mm, 176 rounds 20mm expended.

    7 June.
    0300. Ceased taking casualties. Total:
    87 ambulatory casualties.
    76 stretcher cases.
    17 survivors from LCI(L) 92.
    One LCVP lost by hitting underwater obstacle.
    1340. 1340 Medical Supplies and Detachment ‘B’, 3275 Quartermaster Service Company, 1 officer and 50 men, disembarked via LCM 159.
    1610. Fire reported in ramp control room. Bow anchor windlass overheated having been manually started by person unknown.

    8 June.
    0145. Enemy planes overhead.
    0200. Making smoke on orders of Force Commander.
    0230. Ceased making smoke.
    0818. Received orders from Beachmaster to beach and dry out on Dog White immediately.
    0908. Hit beach. Ship hung by stern on sand bar. Held from broaching in strong wind and current by use of rudder and engines and by using LCVPs as tugs for pushing.
    1255. Ebbing tide left ship finally beached.
    1630. Ship dried out. Army vehicles and personnel of 29 Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop, Service Company 747 Tank Battalion and 320 AA Barrage Balloon Squadron. Total 180 men.
    1747. Completed debarkation. More casualties and 31 POW brought on board. Total.
    87 Ambulatory casualties.
    76 stretcher casualties.
    17 survivors.
    32 POW.
    Total 211.
    2250. Retracted from beach and proceeded to Kansas anchorage area.

    9 June.
    Air Attack. 30 rounds 40mm, 57 round 20 mm.
    0757. 3 LCVP, 16 men and an ensign left on temporary duty under beachmaster.
    0900. Orders for return to England.
    1008. Underway in convoy.
    2249. Anchored Area 16 Southampton Harbour.

    Returning LSTs were used to carry casualties and prisoners of war. LSTs fitted for casualty evacuation were to fly flag ‘M’ and show two vertical blue lights. They are described below. Prisoners of War were to be evacuated to Southampton or Portland by LST. The army provided up to twelve guards for the LSTs assigned to carry prisoners.

    Mike.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
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  2. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    25 Naval Construction Regiment.
    The USN CBs, Construction Battalions or SeaBees, were responsible for engineering work below the high water line. In particular they operated the various equipment constructed from the modular NL (Naval Lighterage) Pontoons. These included the Rhino Ferries, causeways, large barges and even floating dry docks. The basic pontoon was 5 foot wide, 7 foot long and 5 foot deep.

    On Omaha 111 Naval Construction Battalion operated the Rhino Ferries. These were 175 foot long, 43 foot wide and 5 foot deep, with a ramp at the bow. They were powered by two 160 horse power outboard motors and there was a separate tug of similar construction with a further two 160 horse power outboard motors. There was sufficient deck space to allow an LST to unload in two trips. The ferry could unload and retract itself on a falling tide.

    Each Rhino Ferry was accompanied by a tractor/dozer and a DUKW. The first to assist with mooring and making a ramp and the second as a general purpose tender. A naval CB crew operated the engines, steered the ferry, operated the ramp and supervised the loading and unloading.

    20 Rhino Ferries were towed across the Channel by LSTs due to land on the first two tides. On arrival at the unloading point the ferry moved to the bows of the LST. A centre line was passed to the LST and the ferry reversed towards the LST ramp. The LST doors were opened and the ramp lowered to 6 foot above the water. The ferry was then winched up to the LST ramp using the centre line. Side lines then secured the ferry to the LST and the ramp was lowered to the ferry deck. Vehicles could then drive directly on to the ferry, which headed to the shore under its own power when loaded. On arrival at the beach the vehicles could drive straight down the fixed centre ramp into 1½ foot of water. While the ferry was away the vehicles on the Upper Deck could be lowered to the Tank Deck so as to be ready to board the ferry on its return. On Omaha some LSTs carried DUKWs on the tank deck so that only one Rhino trip was needed to complete the unloading and the Rhino was available to unload other LSTs.

    Later LSTs towed causeways and large stores barges constructed from the same NL pontoon components. The causeways were initially four lengths of pontoon each two pontoons wide and thirty long. These were floated into position and then sunk by filling the sections with water. Sand was then bulldozed against the causeway to make it stable. Craft could then dock on the causeway in the same way that they would on the beach. These causeways could only be used for a limited time each side of high tide but since it allowed more rapid discharge, and allowed vehicles to land dry shod, it was more efficient than beaching. The causeway was also used to land personnel from LCI(L)s. This was popular since the troops did not even get their feet wet.

    As the Rhino Ferries became unserviceable to the point where they were not worth repairing the components were used to construct further causeways and other works. Later causeways were wider, having two standard causeways side by side, and could have a floating pier at the seaward end.

    The large stores barges were towed across the Channel by tugs and were each loaded with 1000 tons of supplies, mainly ammunition. Eight were deployed to Omaha, two were scheduled to arrive on each of D+1, three on D+2 and three on D+3 and be beached at high tide and dried out. It was then left in place so that supplies could be collected from it. Trucks could drive up to the dried out barge and supplies loaded onto them using roller ways or cranes. Later they were used for repair work and in emergency for landing vehicles from MT ships. These barges were well thought of and it was recommended that they should be used more extensively. A limiting factor to their use was the need for a tug to tow them. Tugs were much in demand for other duties.

    The large barges were particularly useful during and after the storm since they had a reserve of ammunition when no ships could be unloaded. When empty they were used briefly to discharge the backlog of shipping.

    A floating dock for the repair of craft was made from NL pontoon equipment. This had two side pontoons which could be flooded to allow a damaged craft to float in and position itself over a cradle. The pontoons were then pumped out to lift the craft out of the water. Extra flotation was provided by pontoon components along each side which were not flooded.

    The SeaBees proved inventive in their use of NL pontoons. In the Pacific they were used to construct jetties and floating piers, make floating bases, sea plane ramps, and even used to build bridges. The Normandy beaches did not offer the same scope.

    SeaBees were recruited largely from construction workers and officered by ex civil engineers.

    25 Naval Construction Regiment provided the administrative support.
    81 Naval Construction Battalion worked on Utah.
    111 Naval Construction Battalion worked on Omaha.
    108 Naval Construction Battalion worked on Mulberry A.
    146 Naval Construction Battalion constructed petrol facilities at Port en Bessin.

    Normandy-Photo-2-1024x799.jpg
    Rhino reversing up to a LST.

    Normandy-Photo-6-1024x818.jpg
    Wide NL pontoon causeway.

    causeway 2.png
    NL pontoon causeway.
    cd1c4d4182d6461cb595804b32ad357e.jpg
    Rhino discharging vehicles on the beach.

    rhino f.jpg
    Rhino leaving an LST.
    untitled.png
    LST discharging vehicles onto a Rhino.

    Mike
     
  3. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    THE BUILD UP.

    Once the assault forces were ashore it was essential that they should be reinforced faster than the enemy could reinforce their forces. If the enemy could move reinforcements more rapidly than the Allies then the whole invasion force would be in trouble. Part of the equation was to prevent the enemy from moving reinforcements but the rapid landing of Allied troops was vital. Thus there could be no let up in the landing schedules. Men and equipment had to be landed as soon as there was space in the beach head for them. In order to maintain this momentum in the early stages it was important that the build up forces should be ready and waiting to land. Assault Force ‘O’ and Follow Up Force ‘B’ were all at sea before the landings began. Further forces were waiting to board transports as soon as they were available while yet more were ready to move to the Assembly Areas near the ports as soon as there was space for them. In this was a continuous flow could be maintained.

    The movement of V Corps forces overseas was organised in several phases, some of which overlapped. Assault Force ‘O’ carried 1 Division, reinforced by other units. Force ‘B’ was the Follow Up Force for both Omaha and Utah. Those elements destined for Omaha came under the control of Force ‘O’ when they arrived at the far shore and the units, 29 Division plus reinforcements, when landed came under V Corps. The early elements of Force ‘B’ were in fact landing before the later elements of Force ‘O’. The preloaded Bristol Channel Force carryied 28 Division plus the remnants of 1 and 29 Divisions.

    All the army elements to be carried by Force ‘O’, Force ‘B’ and the Bristol Channel Force were to be concentrated in their Marshalling Areas by 7 May. From there they would move when so ordered to the Assembly Areas and then to the docks and hards to embark. Force ‘O’ and Force ‘B’ would embark by boat serials as shown on the Landing Tables.

    The Shuttle Service differed from the above since it depended on the use of returning ships and craft so no precise tables could be prepared in advance. When the units of Forces ‘O’, ‘B’ and Bristol Channel had cleared the UK Assembly Areas the remaining elements of V Corps would move to occupy them. Thereafter units would move to the Assembly Areas in sufficient numbers to maintain a steady flow. The intention was to always have sufficient personnel and vehicles to fill seven to ten days worth of Shuttle Service vessels. Units would be called forward as ships and craft were available and embarked in accordance with priorities laid down by V Corps and 1 US Army.

    All vehicles were to be waterproofed to withstand salt water to a depth of three foot six inches. Although it was planned that many would land dryshod it was not possible to predict how they would be landed. Certainly some would land from craft and be required to wade to shore.

    It was essential that maintenance stores be brought in at a steady rate to supply the forces ashore. It was further seen to be essential that there should be a rapid build up of reserve stocks for several reasons. Cross Channel supplies could be interrupted by the weather, as indeed they were when a severe storm struck on June 19. Cross Channel supplies could be interrupted by enemy sea and air action. If the enemy defence should suddenly crack then the forces ashore must be in a position to exploit the rapid advance. This would need extra supplies, particularly of petrol. If the enemy launched fierce or lengthy counter attacks extra supplies, particularly of ammunition, would be needed.

    In particular US First Army was tasked with capturing the port of Cherbourg. Although the beaches could handle a great amount larger items needed better port facilities. The Allies considered the port to be essential to their planned operations on the Continent and wished to seize it as soon as possible. However the Germans could see the value of the port to the Allies and in mid June started to dismantle the port facilities and mine the approaches.

    It was planned that the following would be landed in addition to normal maintenance. By D+3 there should be four days expenditure of ammunition for all forces due to be ashore by D+5. There should be fuel for 50 miles per vehicle due to be ashore by D+5. There should be two days supplies for all the forces due to be ashore by D+5. Pre planned and pre packed Landing Reserve Sets would be landed and used until D+9. From D+10 Beach Maintenance Packs would be used. These contained spares and equipment for 30 days.


    The first of the Build Up divisions was already loaded onto transports and MT ships and coasters and were due to land on the second tide of D+1 and the first tide of D+2. The returning ships and craft assigned to the Cross Channel Shuttle Service were to land further units on D+3. A sustained movement of ships and craft was then to build up a force.

    Several convoys sailed from the Bristol Channel ports since there was not sufficient room to load or moor them elsewhere.

    Convoy EBC 2 carried a preloaded US build up division sailing from the Bristol Channel on D-1. It consisted of 32 Motor Transport Coasters and 7 Stores Coasters. It was to arrive off the far shore on D+2.

    Convoy EBM 2 carried a preloaded US build up division sailing from the Bristol Channel on D-1. It consisted of 21 Motor Transport Ships and 9 empty Motor Transport Ships which would load at south coast ports. Two would load at Falmouth, one at Plymouth and six at Southampton. Five miscellaneous ships accompanied it. It was to arrive off the far shore on D+1.

    Convoy EBM 3 carried a preloaded US build up division sailing from the Bristol Channel on D Day. It consisted of 16 Motor Transport Ships and 3 Miscellaneous ships. It was to arrive off the far shore on D+2.

    Convoy EBP 1 carried a preloaded US build up division sailing from the Bristol Channel on D-1. It consisted of 4 personnel ships and 2 miscellaneous ships. It was to arrive off the far shore on D+1.

    Convoy EBP 2 carried a preloaded US build up division sailing from the Bristol Channel on D Day. It consisted of 5 personnel ships, 3 miscellaneous ships and the Headquarters ship for Mulberry A. It was to arrive off the far shore on D+2.

    Convoy EBC 3 sailed from the Bristol Channel on D Day with 15 stores coasters and 3 empty MT ships. 2 MT ships go to Falmouth for loading. One MT ship goes to Plymouth for loading. 5 small coasters break off to service at the Solent. 3 Ammunition Store and Issue Ships sail from the Bristol Channel with this convoy, two remain at Spithead until required, one continues to France. The convoy to arrive off the far shore on D+3.

    Convoy EPC 3W joined EBC 3 with 6 stores coasters

    Convoy EWC 1 sailed from Spithead on the morning of D Day. It consisted of 18 preloaded stores coasters, 8 boom defence vessels for laying moorings, 6 Eagle AA paddle steamers, an ammunition Store and Issue Ship and 4 Corncob tugs.

    Returning major landing craft will have returned to the UK and loaded for a second trip. Ports to the west of Southampton will handle US troops and vehicles. Southampton will be shared by US and British forces.

    Convoy EPL1 sailed from Portland on D+2 with 4 LST. A further 7 LST sailed from the Solent and joined the convoy. It arrived off the French coast in the afternoon of D+2.

    Convoy ECM 1 sailed from Falmouth and Plymouth on D+2 with 3 MT ships. It was joined en route by 9 LST from Portland, and by 12 MT ships and 6 LST from the Solent. It arrived off the coast of France on D+3.

    Convoy ECP 1sailed from Plymouth and Portland on D+2 with 3 personnel ships. 4 personnel ships from the Solent joined the convoy and it arrived off the coast of France on D+3.

    Convoy EPL 2 sailed from Portland on D+3 with 9 LSTs. A further 5 LST joined from the Solent and the convoy arrived off the coast of France on the afternoon of D+3.

    This completes the initial convoys for the US Sector which arrive up to D+3. Returning ships and craft will then operate a Cross Channel Shuttle Service. Convoys will sail at fixed times each day and the loading of craft in the UK and their discharge on the far side should be co ordinated and proceed smoothly. Of course the routine had only just been settled into when unusually severe storms disrupted them again.

    By D+12 the sustained Shuttle Service should have landed all the divisions assembled for the initial force and will revert to a more sustainable scale of effort. Many of the Transports, LSTs and LCTs will leave for other operations and the major effort will be the landing of supplies.

    It was important that craft should be turned round as quickly as possible in order to meet the needs of the Build Up schedule. On the UK side of the Channel the naval organisation TURCO, Turn Round Control, was responsible for the efficient allocation of returning craft to loading ports, loading them and sailing them. TURCO teams operated in all the ports being used. On the far side the Assault Force Commanders were responsible for the turn round of shipping until they were replaced by the Far Shore Shuttle Control.


    Coasters.
    Large numbers of coasters were used. They were of two categories, Motor Transport Coasters and Stores Coasters. All MT Coasters were discharged over the side into craft but some Stores Coasters were beached and dried out.

    Coasters were preloaded some time before D Day and for the US forces were moored in ports and harbours along the south west coasts of the UK. These arrived in follow up convoys. At first they carried a single commodity, stores, ammunition or cased petrol. However they were tactically loaded and stores ships had a mixture of stores made up according to pre determined tables. Ammunition was also carried in mixed loads according to staff forecasts of expenditure.

    Petrol Coasters.
    Loading at Sharpness.
    826. Scheldt. 177ft. 680 tons.
    41. Arbroath. 173ft. 540 tons.
    172. Citrine. 199ft. 920 tons.
    1034. Yewmount. 211ft. 1000 tons.
    993. Wallenburgh. 177ft. 680 tons. Dutch.
    306. Empire Cliff. 203ft. 980 tons.
    900. Starkenborg. 199ft. 1060 tons. Dutch.
    619. Marie. 276ft. 1780 tons. Belgian.
    214. Coxwold. 216ft. 1500 tons.
    244. Eildon. 257ft. 2050 tons.
    62. Atlantic Coast. 239ft. 1290 tons.
    1055. Palacio. 282ft. 1750 tons.
    482. Jade. 213ft. 970 tons.

    Loading at Southampton.
    503. June. 146ft. 400tons.
    645. Monksville. 162ft. 420tons.
    461. Holborn Head. 165ft. 435tons.
    899. Stanville. 174ft. 500tons.
    603. Macville. 180ft. 765tons.
    149. Carnalea. 184ft. 550tons.
    519. Kenrix. 180ft. 730tons.
    346. Eskwood. 205ft. 865tons.
    223. Crewhill. 194ft. 700tons.
    571. Leoville. 227ft. 700tons.
    954. Torquay. 210ft. 850tons.
    1035. Yew Park. 195ft. 1000tons.

    Petrol was loaded in Jerricans so that it could be dumped and issued without pipelines and can filling depots. Later petrol would be carried in bulk in small coastal tankers.


    Stores Coasters.
    Loading at Southampton.
    507. Julia. 170ft. 590 tons. Belgian.
    802. Royal. 189ft. 670 tons. Norwegian.
    982. Vestmanrod. 180ft. 880 tons. Norwegian.
    372. Fluor. 199ft. 940 tons.
    79. Barons Court. 198ft. 1050 tons
    1013. Wild Rose. 202ft. 975 tons.
    670. Nephrite. 206ft. 1070 tons.
    894. Stadion II. 185ft. 806 tons. Norwegian.
    257. Dona Flora. 220ft. 1150 tons.
    353. Fagerbo. 223ft. 1390 tons. Norwegian.
    211. Corundum. 206ft. 569 tons.
    419. Greta Force. 205ft. 1020 ton.
    401. Glengairn. 205ft. 750 tons.

    Loading at Swansea.
    121. Bramhill. 273ft. 2540 tons. Fitted as MT Coaster.
    504. Josewyn. 278ft. 2455 tons. Fitted as MT Coaster.
    179. Clement T Joupes. 259ft. 2430 tons.
    36. Anthony Euright. 259ft. 2413 tons.
    1023. William Bursley. 260ft. 2450 tons.
    817. Samuel Very. 260ft. 2510 tons.
    301. Empire Bond. 298ft. 3000 tons.

    The two coasters fitted as MT Coasters did not carry vehicles on this initial crossing.


    Ammunition Coasters.
    Loading at Swansea.
    418. Grenaa. 249ft. 1680 tons.
    456. Highwear. 228ft. 1475 tons.
    605. Majorca. 232ft. 1210 tons.
    720. Parkwood. 207ft. 1260 tons.
    446. Helmond. 210ft. 1060 tons
    445. Helder. 220ft 1200 tons.
    928. The Earl. 215ft. 1070 tons.
    414. Grangecroft. 207ft. 1200 tons.
    159. Cedarwood. 200ft. 910 tons.
    444. Heire. 221ft. 1070 tons. Norwegian.
    147. Capito. 210ft. 1130 tons.
    762. Raftsand. 177ft. 720 tons. Norwegian.
    443. Aeren. 222ft. 1320 tons. Norwegian.

    Mike.
     
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  4. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    Thanks Bin,
    Very informative.
    Roy
     
  5. Bin There

    Bin There Member

    Trux wrote:

    "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."

    This is great! I had a question on their landing but hadn't worked my way down the list of 'to-dos' to research it. Thanks for the info and saving me time! Appreciate it.

    As an aside, do you know a source for comparable landing tables for the first 24 hours at Utah Beach? I haven't been able to spend as much time digging on this site as I'd like, so forgive me if I've missed it in the archives.

    Thanks!

    Regards, Bin
     
  6. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Bin,

    Short answer I am afraid is no. I have found very little on Utah.

    Mike
     
  7. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Task Force 122.
    This Task Force was commanded by Naval Commander Western Task Force and was formed to control the Far Shore naval facilities for both Omaha and Utah.

    Reading the report of the Naval Commander Western Task Force it seems that he was not altogether happy to be under the command of a British Admiral and did not like the method of planning that was adopted. The report also strongly hints that any planning faults could not be blamed on him.

    ‘Logistics planning and administration departed in many respects from the normal US practice’. In particular he did not like the British method of planning by committee. ‘The functions of many committees were not clearly defined, some committees overlapped and some continued to function after their usefulness had expired.’ A pretty good description of any bureaucracy. Further it was felt that the decisions taken were recorded only in the minutes and frequently too briefly expressed. The result was some uncertainty as to the authority of the commitments made. (or 'nowt to do with me' as they say in Yorkshire.)

    With regard to the US Mulberry ‘A’ he points out that the design and construction of the various units were a British responsibility and the emplacing of units was done under the direction of Allied Naval Commander. (or ‘nowt to do with me’ as they say in Yorkshire.)

    At its peak the Western Task Force had a total of 125,000 personnel, either ashore or afloat. As the operation progressed many of them performed different duties

    Task Group 122.1.
    This was the Task Force Flagship USS Augusta and its escorts:
    USS Augusta. Pre war heavy cruiser with nine 8” guns.
    YMS 247, 231 and 304.
    SC 1321
    PT 71.
    AKA Achenar. Army Headquarters Ship.
    DD Thompson was relief flagship. It was engaged on fire support and patrol duties but was on call if required.


    USS Augusta.
    A heavy cruiser completed in 1931 with nine 8” guns. Length 600 foot. Width 66 foot. Speed 33 knots.

    On D Day Augusta was the flagship of the Western Task Force. Sailing on 5 June it also accommodated General Bradley and his staff. A 20 foot by 12 foot shelter was built as a command and communications centre for the staff. This had map displays and a plotting table. The communications were limited and much of the tactical information came from USS Ancon which was a much more comprehensively equipped command ship and was the flagship of Commander Force ‘O’. General Bradley established his headquarters ashore on 10 June. Augusta remained off the Normandy coast until the end of June when it returned to the UK before sailing for the Mediterranean.


    PT 71
    An early Higgins 78 foot PT (Patrol Torpedo) boat.
    56 tons.
    78 foot long Speed 40 knots.
    Armament:
    4 X 21” torpedo tubes.
    1 X 40mm gun.
    2 X twin .5” machine guns.

    PT 71 was part of PT Squadron 2, a special duty squadron used by OSS (Office of Strategic Services) to land personnel and supplies in enemy territory. On D Day and the days following PT 71 was acting as tender to USS Augusta and was used to carry senior officers between headquarters ships and to shore.

    5 June.
    1700 hours. Underway from Portland with YMS 247, 304 and 251, and SC 1321.
    1805 joined Augusta and took position 500 yards ahead.

    6 June.
    0415. Shuttled between Augusta and minesweepers with orders.
    0515 Augusta ordered PT 71 to pick up parachutes observed in the water two miles offshore.
    0520 PT alongside parachutes with two dead airborne troops entangled. They sank when an attempt was made to recover them.
    0600 Alongside Augusta. Picked up Navy Captain and Army Major to carry out fact finding mission. Proceeded to Omaha and hailed returning small craft to obtain information. Proceeded to Utah and repeated the procedure.
    1300 returned to Augusta. Made trips to USS Ancon, Omaha and Utah. Returned 0200 D+1. Secured off Augusta.

    7 June.
    0530 picked up a party from Augusta and a party from Achernor. Put both parties ashore on Omaha.
    1400 parties returned and set of for Augusta.
    1410 took a wounded skipper from LCT to Ancon.
    1500 secured at Augusta.
    1530 took a party to Utah. Put an Army Colonel aboard Bayfield and lay to. Took party to a Control Craft off Utah and the party went ashore.
    1800 party returned. Set off for Augusta.
    1910 made short trips to Ancon and Achernor.
    2000 secured aft of Augusta.

    8 June.
    1000 Carried Naval Commander to Omaha and returned.
    1200 picked up a US General and party from Achernor to take them to Utah.
    1240 Fouled propeller on a minesweepers cable.
    1310 cable freed and PT moved to Utah at low speed.
    1350 put party ashore and tied up to PC acting as Control Craft.
    1500 Party returned to PT which returned at slow speed to Achernor.
    1600 alongside Augusta and diving crew cut cable from propeller shaft.
    1710 to USS Arkansas with mail. Returned to Augusta.

    9 June.
    1000 carried Senior Naval Officer Western Task Force to Easy Red, Omaha.
    1200 returned to Augusta with passengers.
    1300 to Utah with Army General. Put General ashore and went to LBO off Marcouf Island to refuel.
    1545 returned to Utah to pick up general and took him to USS Bayfield (Headquarters Ship). Returned to Augusta.
    1800 to Omaha with Army Major and laid to.
    2010 returned to Augusta with Army Major.

    10 June.
    1000 Alongside Augusta. Provisioned, all hands bathed and drew rations.
    1300 to radar control ship 10 miles off Omaha with Army Captain. Put passenger aboard and laid to.
    1500 returned to Augusta with Army Major.


    AKA 53 Achernar.
    An Andromeda class attack cargo ship. This was a large class designed to accompany the attack transports.
    Maritime Commission hull type C2-S-B1.
    Commissioned 31 January 1944.
    14,200 tons.
    459 foot long.
    Speed 16.5 knots.
    Armament:
    1 X 5” DP gun.
    8 X 40mm gun.
    18 X 20mm gun.

    On D Day Achernar was the Headquarters ship for 1 US Army (FUSA). The headquarters disembarked on 11 June and Achernar returned to the UK. She loaded personnel and equipment for two Construction Battalions in Scotland, collected materials for repair of landing craft at Plymouth and sailed to France on 22 June. She left again on 29 June and went to the Mediterranean.

    Attack Transports were well equipped ships designed to carry fewer troops than the attack transport but more cargo. They had a comprehensive set of heavy lifting booms and derricks for handling cargo, vehicles and landing craft.


    USS Thompson. DD 627.
    A Gleaves class destroyer.
    4 X 5” guns.

    As stand by headquarters ship USS Thompson had very little in the way of modifications. There were extra radio sets, trained operators and a reserve set of codes.

    USS Thompson escorted Convoy O1 and then joined the Fire Support Group. She fired on targets around the Pointe du Hoc and destroyed the Wurzburg radar aerials. She then served as gunfire support and screen, returning at intervals to Weymouth to refuel and ammunition.

    She was not called on to act as headquarters ship but on 12 June she was tasked with carrying the following to Omaha Beach.
    General Eisenhower (Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force),
    Admiral King, (Commander in Chief US Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations)
    General Marshall (Chief of Staff US Army)
    General Arnold (US Army Air Force).

    Presumably she was chosen because of her additional communications. The visitors went ashore and then returned to the UK on Thompson. Later she served a temporary flagship when she carried Admiral Kirk to visit Cherbourg.


    Task Group 122.2
    Fighter Direction.
    FDT 216. Fighter Direction Tender. To control fighter cover in the Western Task Force Area.
    This will be covered more fully under AA Defence.


    Task Group 122.3
    Salvage and Firefighting.
    Wreck Dispersal Vessels Marie, Sir John Lawford, Tehana, Help, Abigail.
    ARS Brant, Diver, Swivel, Rescue ships.
    ATR 2 and 3. Rescue tugs.
    Pinto, Arikra, Kiowa and Bannock. Tugs.
    The priority for these vessels was to keep the beaches clear. A secondary task was the recovery of ships and craft.


    Task Group 122.4.
    Area screen.
    The Area Screen patrolled the areas to seaward of the assault areas, which extended ten miles from shore. The screening force was variable in composition and most of the ships and craft in it had other roles on D Day. The task of the screen was to protect the assault area against surface and submarine attack and to assist with AA defence.

    The, more or less, permanent components of the screen were:

    PT Squadron 34.
    12 PT boats.
    PT 498, 499, 500, 501, 502, 503, 504, 505, 506, 507, 508, 509.
    Identical 80 foot Elco boats.
    30 tons.
    80 foot long.
    Speed 40 knots.
    Armament:
    4 X 21” torpedo tubes.
    2 X 20mm guns.

    53 MTB Flotilla.
    8 MTB.
    MTB 689, 690, 691, 692, 693, 694, 695.
    Fairmile D. Bigger but slower than most MTB. Designed to combat E boats.
    104 tons.
    115 foot long.
    30 knots.
    Armament:
    2 X 21” torpedo tubes.
    1 X 6pdr gun.
    2 X 20mm guns.
    Machine guns.

    1 SGB Flotilla.
    6 SGB. Steam gunboats.
    Grey Fox, Grey Shark, Grey Seal, Grey Wolf, Grey Goose, Grey Owl.
    Like Fairmile D these were designed to combat E boats but used steam in order to save diesel engines.
    Six of the class remained in 1944.
    165 tons.
    145 foot long.
    Originally they were capable of a sustained speed of 35 knots. However the steam machinery proved vulnerable and the addition of armour and heavier weapons reduced the speed to 30 knots. Joined the screen after escorting LST Convoy Group 3.

    8 PC.
    Join after the assault.
    Eight USN Patrol Craft (PC) escort groups and then report to Assault Group Commanders for duty as control vessels. When released they report to Commander Area Screen.
    PC 552, PC 553, PC 564, PC 565, PC 569, PC 617, PC 618, PC 808.
    These had been used as Primary Control Craft.

    Destroyers.
    USS Baldwin,
    USS Frankford,
    USS Thompson,
    USS Plunkett
    USS Harding
    Reported to the Commander, Area Screen after escorting convoys. They were to be prepared to relieve the Gunfire Support Group vessels as directed by the Assault Force Commander or Commander Bombardment Group.

    Destroyers joined the screen if they expended 70% of their ammunition in Fire Support roles.
    By 1750 hours USS Satterlee had expended 70% of her ammunition and was withdrawn to the Area Screen.
    At 2000 hours USS Carmick had expended 70% of her ammunition and was withdrawn to the Area Screen.

    US Destroyer Escorts.
    DE Borum
    DE Amesbury
    DE Blessman

    Escorted Bombardment Group across the Channel and then joined the screen. Blessman screened Ancon before joining screen.


    Task Group 122.5.
    Reserve Fire Support.
    To relieve or augment gunfire support and support the area screen.
    17 Destroyers from Desdiv 18, 19, 33 and 119 plus USS Plunkett.
    HMS Bellona.
    USS Augusta.


    Task Group 122.6
    Plymouth Staff Naval Commander Western Task Force.
    To maintain operational plot and up to date location of ships and craft.


    Task Group 122.7
    Far Shore Shuttle Control.
    To sail return convoys.
    HMS Capetown.
    HMS Ceres.
    6 SC.

    HMS Ceres and HMS Capetown.
    WWI light cruisers.
    450 foot long.
    Speed 29 knots.
    Armament.
    Five single 6” guns.

    These were still capable of using their fits of guns, both main armament and AA defence. However they were employed as Shuttle Control off Omaha.

    Initially ships and craft were sailed from the assault area by assault force commanders. When Capetown and Ceres arrived on D+1 they assisted the assault force commanders before taking over the Shuttle Control function at 1200 on D+3.

    The Shuttle Control ships were anchored near the end of the swept channels. Capetown was anchored to seaward and received incoming convoys and directed them to berths and Anchorages. Ceres was anchored inshore and to one side and sailed unloaded ships and craft in return convoys from a northbound assembly area.

    Shuttle Control Command was on Capetown. Command was responsible for keeping the army informed of expected arrivals and for dispersing arrivals to the proper unloading sectors of the beaches as decided by beachmasters and Naval Officer In Charge.

    The functioning of Shuttle Control required a large number of despatch craft. The six SC provided were useful but were insufficient. The despatch craft provided by the British were small and unreliable. More SC and PC would have been ideal but there were many calls on their services. The shortfall was made up with PT boats and Coast Guard rescue boats diverted from other tasks.

    Eventually some PC became available when they had completed their original tasks. These were larger craft and their size and the comparative seniority of their commanding officers gave them greater authority with the skippers of coasters. On 23 June PC 1225, PC 1232 and PC 617 were assigned to Shuttle Control. On 29 June PC 552 was assigned.

    When fully developed the Cross Channel route to the US beaches was swept Channel 14. This was created by first widening each of the four original channels to create Channel 12, a merging of Channels 1 and 2, and Channel 34, a merging of Channels 3 and 4. These two wider channels were then merged by sweeping the area between them to create Channel 14. This was marked by ocean buoys down the centre line and the eastern half was used for southbound convoys while the western half was used for northbound (return) convoys. At the southern end of the centre line of the new Channel 14 there was a lightship. This was moored ten miles off shore on the boundary between Far Shore Naval Officer in Charge and sea area Kansas. The lightship was a British Trinity House Light Vessel, AL 28. It was painted red and had the name ‘Kansas’ in large white letters.

    Until the lightship as established a buoy marked Point ‘K’. This is referred to in many of the War Diaries of ships.

    Incoming convoys reported to HMS Capetown, Shuttle Control Southbound. In many cases it was most convenient for an escort to go ahead of the convoy in order to report its arrival. Capetown would assign an anchorage and a guide craft to lead the ships and craft to them.

    Achenar.jpg
    USS Achenar. Post war.

    PT 71.jpg
    PT 71. On the right.

    Grey Goose.jpg
    Grey Goose

    Capetown.jpg
    HMS Capetown

    Mike
     
    Tolbooth, Bin There, Aixman and 2 others like this.
  8. Bin There

    Bin There Member

    Mike,

    Thanks anyway. Been banging my head on this for a while. My son was assigned to the 4th Infantry division 2013-2016 and I'd hoped that connection might be able to ferret out something from the division's museum or division association, but no luck.

    You've really done a superb job with this thread. It's amazing.

    Bin
     
  9. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    I can only second that remark to Mikes work not only on this thread but others

    TD
     
  10. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    FAR SHORE SERVICE GROUP.
    Task Group 124.

    Task Group 124 was the Far Shore Service Group and was commanded by the Naval Officer in Charge, Omaha. The core of the group had served in the Mediterranean, which gave it the benefits of experience. The Far Shore Service Group would be responsible for operating all naval forces off the Omaha beaches and for all activity between point ‘K’ at the end of the swept channel and the high water mark on the beach. It would operate off the beaches for several months and eventually this organisation became US Naval Advanced Base 11 and included Omaha plus the ports of Grandchamp and Isigny. The Naval Officer in Charge remained to command the new organisation.

    The orders for Task Group 124.11 stated that it would:
    Assist the Provisional Engineer Special Brigade Group in unloading ships, in operating the beaches and in developing the ports.
    Establish and operate a far shore naval headquarters, a ferry service, craft recovery units and maintenance and repair facilities in the Omaha area.
    Assist in installing bulk petroleum facilities in the Omaha area (at Port en Bessin).
    Administer US naval personnel in the Assault Area after the departure of the Assault Convoys.

    Under the Naval Officer in Charge there were five subsidiary commands.


    1. Port Director.
    The Port Director was a Lieutenant Commander USNR with a headquarters ashore, on the cliffs near Vierville and the main beach exit serving Mulberry ‘A’, for the short time it was in operation. The Port Director was to establish and maintain a Far Shore Naval Headquarters including a general office with a situation plot to direct and cover all movements of vessels from the inbound convoy area to the discharge point and then return to the jurisdiction of cross channel Shuttle Control.

    He was to supervise and assist the Senior Officer Ferry Control in the assignment and operation of craft to unload ships and craft. This was the primary function of the Far Shore Service Group, all other functions existing to expedite this.

    He was to establish and administer all necessary communication facilities in cooperation with the Force communications officer. Initially communications were by radio provided by JASCO (Joint Assault Signals). This provided links with naval commanders afloat and between the units ashore. It would develop into a network with direct links to the UK, with other beaches, with ships and within the beach area. As far as possible line communications were established.

    He was to assign necessary pilots and boarding officers to incoming vessels, assign tugs, berths and moorings or anchorages. (berths are jetties or pierheads, moorings are trots of buoys, anchorages are areas set aside for vessels to anchor.)

    He was to maintain a Hydrographic and Aids to Navigation Office. This kept records and plots of information regarding the sea bed, any obstacles such as wrecks or rocks, any buoys and lights.

    He was to make necessary dispositions of fire fighting craft, personnel and equipment to ensure maximum protection.

    He was to arrange for the evacuation of Prisoners of War and casualties in cooperation with US Army authorities.

    He was to ensure proper discipline among US Merchant Marine personnel.
    He was to supervise harbour security.


    2. Ferry Control.
    Senior Officer Ferry Control was a Lieutenant USNR. He was based initially on LCH 492 flying flag Fox Easy Roger. His duties were:

    The primary role of the Senior Officer Ferry Control was to receive, organise and operate LCVP, LCM, LCS(S), LCP(L), LBV, LBO, LBW, LBK, LBE, LCT, LCI(L) and Rhino Ferries as they were released by Deputy Assault Group Commanders or arrived in the area in follow up convoys.

    To receive and organise the various craft the Senior Officer Ferry Control established three Subordinate Ferry Control Commands as follows. These were Lieutenants Junior Grade based on LCI(L)s which had delivered troops to the beach and then came under the orders of Ferry Control. These were stationed off the beaches and flew identifying flags. Craft were under orders to report to the relevant craft when they were released by Deputy Assault Group Commanders or arrived in later convoys.

    Number 1 should have been based in LCI(L) 92 but this craft was beached and burnt out in the initial landings and was replaced by another craft. The craft flew flag Fox Easy Roger 1. Initially it was stationed one mile off Charlie Beach to receive and assemble:
    All LCS(S).
    All LCP(L) Smoke.
    LCM(3) from the obstacle demolition teams and those arriving in LSD Oceanway.
    All Landing Barge Oiler, Landing Barge Kitchen and Landing Barge Water.
    LCT Flotilla 18. This had 36 LCT(5).

    Number 2 was based on LCI(L) 94 flying flag Fox Easy Roger 2. Initially this was stationed one mile off Easy White to receive and assemble:
    LCVPs from Force ‘O’.
    LCMs from Force ‘O’ except Craft Recovery.
    LCMs arriving with Convoy ‘O’4.
    Landing Barge Vehicles of 10 and 11 LBV Flotillas.
    Rhino Ferries.
    LCI(L) assigned to the Ferry Service.

    Number 3 was based on LCI(L) 89 flying flag Fox Easy Roger 3. Initially this was stationed one mile off Easy White to receive and assemble:
    LCVPs from Force ‘B’.
    LCMs arriving with Convoy ‘O’5.
    Landing Barge Vehicles of 12 and 18 LBV Flotillas.
    LCTs of 19 US Flotilla. This had 36 LCT(6).

    Assembling the craft was not as straightforward as hoped. Many of the craft had had a long and difficult Channel crossing and had landed on the beach under fire, sometimes more than once. The crews were suffering from fatigue and many decided that searching for the rallying point was somewhat pointless. They hove to or moored alongside other craft and waited till dawn. Some were genuinely lost.

    Once the craft were assembled Ferry Control responsible for supplying craft to unload ships and craft of the Shuttle Service as requested by the Provisional Engineer Special Brigade Group and for controlling all Ferry Service craft, including DUKWs when water borne. DUKWs were army vehicles and only under Ferry Service control when afloat.

    Craft were assigned to unloading duties at a daily Ferry Control meeting at which two Army officers presented their requests. Two Naval officers considered the requests, outlined any problems and then assigned craft according to suitability and availability.

    In general unloading consisted of Motor Transport, Stores and Personnel. Motor Transport from MT ships and coasters were unloaded by Rhino Ferry, for as long as they remained serviceable, and by LCT(5) and LCT(6). Cargo ships, Liberty ships, or close relations, were unloaded by barge and DUKW. Cargo coasters were unloaded by DUKW with barges as standby. Personnel ships were unloaded by LCTs or ships own LCAs.

    In the early days there were problems and delays caused by late arrival of either hatch crews or ferry craft. Either meant that the other was unable to work. This was solved by having a joint army/navy patrol afloat at all times. They visited the ships to be unloaded to ensure that hatch crews and craft were available. Any delays were reported immediately to Ferry Control by FM radio. They also reported on the type and stowage of cargo to ensure that the correct hatch crews, handling equipment and craft were employed. Any heavy or awkward loads were reported so that cranes were made available if necessary.

    Each ship to be unloaded was also assigned an unloading officer. He was to control the hatch crews and select the best methods of unloading.


    3. Recovery and Repair.
    Commanded by a Lieutenant USNR who was to:

    Refloat stranded craft of the Ferry Service.

    Make emergency repairs to craft of the Ferry Service.

    Administer the following:
    12 X LCM (Craft Recovery Unit) from Groups 2, 4, 5 and 6. Fly Flag Sugar.
    2 X E9 units.
    1 X E10 unit.
    Landing Barge Emergency Repair.
    ARL Adonis.
    Pontoon Drydocks.
    LCI(L) 83 and LCI(L) 84. Fireboats.

    On D Day twelve LCM(3) (CRU) with pumps and repair crews were available off the beaches. They were to work with the beach salvage units of the beach battalions. The primary purpose was to get damaged landing craft repaired sufficiently for them to return to service, or at least reach their mother craft. LBE were due to arrive later. These were Thames barges converted and motorised. They had a stern ramp and carried a machinery lorry. Initially they would operate off the beaches but once the beaches were clear they would land the lorries to work on shore.

    When Gooseberry 2 breakwater was in position an ARL, a converted LST, was stationed there. This was capable of carrying out heavier repairs. Again the priority was to repair craft of the Ferry Service. Craft of the Cross Channel Shuttle Service could be repaired so that they could return to the UK where they could be more fully attended to by USS Melville, a Destroyer Tender.

    The Gooseberry also had one of the blockships fitted as a repair station. This was equipped to hoist LCM and smaller craft and repair them on deck.

    Each of the ARL had a 475 ton NL Pontoon drydock attached to it.

    ARL were standard LST straight off the production line taken to be converted by:
    Removing the ramp and sealing the bow.
    Adding a deckhouse for workshop space.
    Fitting out the tank deck as workshops and stores. Workshops included electrical, machine, sheet metal, shipfitter, blacksmith and pipe shop.
    Adding a 50 ton derrick amidships.
    Adding two 10 ton booms with kingposts and winches.
    Converting the elevator to a hatch.


    4. Construction and Maintenance.
    Commanded by a Commander USNR who was to:

    Establish, maintain and administer a bivouac area for naval personnel.

    Construct temporary shelters and structures as required by the NOIC for administration, port operations, post office and communication units. Since there were few suitable buildings in the area a number of prefabricated cabins were supplied. These could be rapidly erected in a variety of forms to suit the required roles.

    Assist in the installation of communication facilities ashore as required by the Force Communications Officer.

    The following were provided by the Naval Construction Battalions (SeaBees) under the command of the Commander, Construction and Maintenance.
    An administrative office for the Naval Officer in Charge. This was a prefabricated hut 20 foot by 48 foot.
    A Communications Centre consisting of three huts each 20 foot by 48 foot. A signal tower was constructed to serve this centre.
    POL storage for navy craft.
    A navy equipment and material yard.
    A boat overhaul workshop 40 foot by 100 foot.
    A Rhino repair area.
    A tented camp for 2000 navy personnel, complete with messing facilities and water supply.
    A beach salvage dump.

    Personnel for Rhino Ferries and tugs, and provide repair and maintenance for same. Supply personnel for the operation and maintenance of Pontoon warping tugs. Assemble and install sunken pontoon causeways. Assist in installing bulk petroleum facilities in the Omaha area.


    5. Petrol, Oil and Lubricants.
    A Lieutenant (Jg) who was to:
    Provide fuel, lubricants and water for craft employed at Omaha beach.
    Provide and operate adequate floating and land based equipment to supply the craft.
    Administer Landing Barge Oiler, Landing Barge Water, fuelling trawlers, colliers and US Army ‘Y’ tankers.

    Crews of US minor landing craft will be subsisted from LBK when on duty. Off duty they will be subsisted in bivouac.

    A US Army ‘Y’ tanker was 630 tons and 182 foot long.

    ARL.jpg
    A model of an ARL. This is a post war vessel but the only significant difference was the bridge and mast.

    Mike
     
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  11. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Unloading.
    Until the Naval Officer in Charge was ready to assume control of the ferry craft this task fell to the Deputy Assault Group Commanders. Assault Group Commanders on the US beaches were the commanding officers of the Transport Divisions and they left with their transports on the afternoon of D Day. On British beaches the Assault Group Commanders remained for some time. The US deputy commanders were to handle the LCTs, Rhino Ferries, LCI(L)s, LCMs, LBV, etc employed in unloading transports, MT ships, cargo ships, coasters and landing craft. Most of these craft had been employed in the assault and now passed to the Ferry Service. Some were late in arriving. Those craft which had taken part in the assault were scattered, disorganised and confused. The landing schedule had been disrupted, craft were in the wrong place and often out of contact with their group and flotilla commanding officers. The plan had arranged rendezvous points but it proved difficult to concentrate the craft there.

    The Deputy Assault Group Commanders were not equipped to handle the large number and variety of craft and lacked the means to make full use of the group and flotilla commanders to assist.

    When the Naval Officer in Charge assumed control he did not have his organisation ashore and ready so that there remained some confusion for two days while the Naval Officer in Charge and the Deputy Assault Group Commanders did their best to restore order.

    An added complication was that the Shore Party Commander and army commanders insisted in having ships unloaded according to the priority they assigned to particular cargoes. Ammunition ships carried only ammunition but the army urgently required certain types of ammunition. General store ships carried many types of stores but the army needed particular engineer stores urgently. Selective unloading made sense to the military who knew what supplies they needed most urgently, but it proved difficult to implement. The cargo manifests for the pre loaded coasters should have been sent to the far shore, as should the make up and arrival time of convoys, but this information had gone astray. The report of the Commander Assault Force ‘O’ says that they were later found in the British Beach Area. However the British did not receive their information either.

    In the meantime officers in small craft had to go to each coaster, record its name and ask what they were carrying. This information had then to go to the army authorities so they could select what ships, or part of ships cargo, they wanted unloading. Then the navy could assign ferry craft and the army assign stevedores.

    Eventually the Naval authorities convinced the army authorities that the sensible thing to do was to unload everything as quickly as possible and have supplies stacked and accounted for in the dumps. This would speed up the process, particularly the turn round and return of coasters. Permission was given for this on D+7.


    Vehicles.
    The original intention was that LSTs would be discharged onto Rhino Ferries and LCT(6). The Rhino Ferry was designed to discharge a LST in two trips and there was no problem in discharging LSTs in the allotted time before they were due to sail back to the UK for another load. It had been decided that no LSTs should be beached until surveys had been carried out to find any suitable points on the beach where this could be safely done. Normally LSTs beached on a much more steeply sloping beach so that the vehicles could land over the ramp resting on the shore while the rest of the LST remained afloat. If necessary the LST could move forward with a rising tide or move astern on a falling tide. In the Mediterranean of course there was hardly any tide anyway.

    It was found that LSTs could safely beach and dry out as long as a suitable, level stretch of beach could be found. Any unevenness could be levelled by bulldozers. This beaching and drying out was carried out many hundreds of times without any apparent ill effects. As soon as the tide had receded vehicles could simply drive off the ramp and up the beach without the assistance of ferry craft. In order to turn the LSTs round as quickly as possible it was found best to beach them at about half tide and on a falling tide. As soon as the tide had receded sufficiently vehicles could be completely discharged in 1½ to 2 hours. The LST could be refloated when the tide came back in. As many as thirty eight LST were beached and unloaded in a single day. This equalled some 3,000 vehicles.

    The LCT(6) had been designed with the discharging of vehicles from LSTs in mind. It had a tank deck running the entire length of the craft so that once the LCT had reversed up to the LST ramp vehicles could drive onto it over the stern. On arrival at the beach the vehicles could then simply drive off the front ramp and onto the shore.

    In the event neither Rhino Ferries nor LCT(6) were needed to discharge LSTs and they were diverted to the discharging of vehicles from MT ships and coasters.

    Rhino Ferries remained popular for discharging MT ships and MT coasters since the ships derricks could more readily lower vehicles onto the large deck area. Vehicles once lowered could reposition themselves on the ferry. LCT(5) were also popular for discharging MT ships since they had a large clear area into which vehicles could be lowered. LCT(6) were not so popular, both because they were more difficult to lower vehicles into and because the rear access was prone to being swamped in heavy surf when beaching.

    LBV remained a useful means of ferrying vehicles but were generally made available for the landing of stores since Rhinos and LCTs were available to handle vehicles. LCMs were seldom used for ferrying vehicles.


    Personnel.
    The LCI(L) was the most usual means of landing personnel, either carrying them across the Channel and landing direct onto the beach, or ferrying them from transports. There was always a problem in landing from the LCI(L) since the slope of the beach meant that the ramps did not reach to the shore and troops landed wet, often to the waist. This was often overcome by transferring troops to LCM for the final landing. Later pontoon causeways and piers were constructed so that LCI(L) could land troops onto them. LCTs were also used and could carry as many troops as the LCI(L).

    If necessary many of the troopships could launch LCVP or LCA and use them to land their own troops. This was seldom necessary.


    Stores.
    DUKWs were by far the most popular means of landing stores. Cargo nets of stores could be lowered into a DUKW alongside a stores ship or coaster and then carried to shore where the DUKW could cross the beach drive through the beach exit, onto the road and to a dump or transhipment point where the loaded cargo net would be hoisted out by crane and the DUKW continue to complete the circuit again. This represented a very considerable saving in manpower since virtually all handling was mechanical. There was also a considerable saving in time which meant more trips and a faster turn round time for shipping. Such concentrated operation was however hard on the DUKWs. Most were worn out by the time the beaches finally closed. Some DUKWs were transferred from British beaches.

    The discharge of stores was also handled efficiently by the beaching and drying out of coasters which then lowered stores directly into trucks on the beach. Rhino Ferries could be used to carry stores from ships and coasters and then they too could beach and dry out before being discharged into trucks using crawler cranes.

    Less efficient methods, which were nevertheless used at busy times, were discharging into LBV and LCM. Both of these could be beached and unloaded using labour, aided by roller ways.

    There were delays in unloading stores coasters in the first week. The initial delays caused by the late opening of the beaches and the developing of exits and dumps led to a backlog of coasters waiting. The average time a stores coaster spent in the assault area was 138 hours. This naturally had a knock on effect since coasters were not available for later sailings. To some extent this effect was reduced by having pre loaded coasters standing by and by finding a reserve of coasters, not an easy task.

    On D+1 only 807 tons of supplies were landed. On D+2 the figure rose to 2,325 tons. The daily tonnage then rose steadily, reaching some 5,000 tons a day by D+8 and the backlog was cleared by D+11 and unloading kept pace with arrivals until the storm.

    Simple DUKW transfer areas on the beach.
    USA-E-Logistics1-p412a.jpg

    USA-E-Logistics1-p412b.jpg
     
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  12. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Developing the naval aspects of the beach operation, and solving problems.
    From an official report.

    D+1.
    Unloading was well behind schedule and on D+1 not all of those units scheduled to land on D Day had yet managed to do so. Much work had been done on obstacle clearance, and recovering beached craft, but the beaches were not yet completely clear.

    Between 1000 and 1100 Force ‘B’ landed 175 Infantry Regiment, the last of the units from 1 Division and 29 Division. This Regiment was the V Corps reserve and was much needed ashore. Around the same time as 175 Regiment was landing Convoy O 4 arrived, some twelve hours late. Also arriving were Convoy B 3 and the first of the Build Up personnel convoys.

    The personnel convoy consisted of four transports. AP 72 Susan B Anthony had been converted to attack transport but was found to be unstable and reverted to being a normal naval ‘point to point’ transport. As such she did not carry landing craft and had her davits removed. Goethals, Borinquen and Simonds were Army transports, also without landing craft or davits. These four ships required craft from the Ferry Service to debark the personnel. AP 72 Susan B Anthony struck a mine and sank. However all personnel were taken off by other craft. Landing personnel from the remaining three transports was given a high priority and all had been landed by 2200.

    In the early evening of D+1 Convoy O5 arrived, twelve hours late.

    Unloading the LCT(4)s and LSTs of Force ‘O’ and Force ‘B’ continued throughout the afternoon and evening. The LCTs did not present much problem but the LSTs of Force ‘O’ did not finish discharging until 1000 on D+2.

    Work progressed slowly because of the beach obstacles and stranded craft which still impeded access to the beach. Demolition parties continued to work on the obstacles all night whenever the tide allowed.

    D+2.
    1000 all LSTs of Force ‘O’ finished discharging. It was obvious that the discharging was behind schedule and additional ferry craft were requested from the UK. These included five spare Rhino Ferries together with tractors, tugs and equipment. Rhinos were proving to be a very effective means of discharging LSTs.

    At 1100 the Shuttle Control was activated. This then assumed responsibility for the receiving and dispatching of convoys and relieved the Deputy Assault Group Commanders of the task.

    In the afternoon the operation of all LCTs, LCI(L)s, LCMs and Rhino Ferries were placed under the control of the Naval Officer in Charge. Up till this time the craft had operated under the Deputy Assault Group Commanders as the Assault Group Commanders had departed with the transports on D Day and the Naval Officer in Charge had not yet begun to function. The Force Commander now ordered the Naval Officer in Charge to assume command of all Ferry Craft, with the Deputy Assault Group Commanders as assistants.

    At this time the Naval Officer in Charge had not been able to establish his headquarters ashore and was sharing LCI(L) 492 with a Deputy Assault Group Commander. Much of his organisation and equipment was still on SS Eleazor Wheelock, an accommodation ship.

    Some progress was being made. ARL 4, which had been urgently requested, arrived and started repairs on LCTs. Work began on the construction of Gooseberry 2 with blockships arriving and being positioned ready for scuttling. Most of the beach was clear of obstacles.

    At 1300 All craft of Force ‘B’ completed unloading except for three LSTs carrying Headquarters First US Army. These could not be accepted ashore as yet.

    D+4.
    Early in the morning the Captain Commanding Gunfire Support Craft was assigned the temporary duty of Naval Officer in Charge. The gunfire support craft had little to do while the Naval Officer in Charge was still trying to establish his organisation. The personnel and equipment, including radios and truck mounted communications, were still aboard ship and the shore headquarters consisted of a tent with table and chair. The essential part of his organisation responsible for handling ships and control of ferry craft was not yet operating.

    There were problems with unloading caused by a shortage of ferry craft and by the Army’s insistence on unloading supplies according to their immediate priority regardless of efficient operation.

    Available for unloading were fifty LCT 5 and 6, with five more expected to be available soon. Of the original number of such craft assigned to Omaha forty seven had been sent to the British beaches. This was part of the plan whereby LCT 5 and 6 operated ferry services while the British LCT4 operated the Cross Channel Shuttle Service. Thus each type of craft was to be engaged in the kind of task for which it was best suited. The remainder of the LCT 5 and 6 had been sunk or badly damaged. Some were under repair but some were damaged beyond the ability of Far Shore resources to repair. Fifteen Rhino Ferries were functioning and three more were expected soon.

    Two decisions greatly helped to speed up the unloading. At first the Army had insisted that ships should be unloaded in accordance with the Army’s immediate requirements for supplies. This was unworkable since they did not know which ships carried which supplies that were required and the ships manifests had gone astray. Selective unloading of ships was slow and inefficient anyway and this led to delays in turn around, which in turn led to less being carried across the Channel. Permission was given for the unloading of ships as rapidly as possible regardless of priorities.

    The unloading of LSTs was greatly speeded up by allowing those of the second and subsequent trips to be allowed to beach, dry out and then discharge vehicles directly onto the beach without the use of ferry craft. All Rhinos and LCTs were thus available for discharging MT coasters and ships.

    The rate of unloading soon increased and by evening the backlog of unloaded ships was cleared. Thereafter all ships were discharged promptly.

    Mike.
     
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  13. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    SEABEES.

    The Naval Construction Battalions played a large part in developing and operating the beach. Apart from the naval accommodation described above they operated the Rhino Ferries and other floating equipment, installed and maintained the NL Causeways and installed and operated POL pipelines and storage tanks.

    111 Naval Construction Battalion.
    The first Rhino Ferries arrived off the beach at 0530 on D Day, having been towed across the Channel by LSTs. They loaded vehicles from LSTs and approached the beach but were ordered to stand off until called in. Only one Rhino beached on D Day, No 10 which had been towed by LST 317, at H+6 hours.

    On D+1 the beachmasters designated an area of beach as a Rhino Unloading Area and Rhino Ferries began to beach at 1130. A Rhino Repair Barge arrived on D+1. This was similar to the ferry but lacked ramps. It would have plenty of work as the Rhinos suffered damage from enemy action, mines and underwater obstacles but nineteen of the twenty remained in service until the storm of 19 June.

    During the storm all nineteen Rhino Ferries, twenty two Rhino Tugs and the Rhino Repair Barge were forced onto the beach and suffered varying degrees of damage. On 22 June seven Rhino Ferries were operating but the remainder were awaiting replacement propulsion units.

    Rhinos were eventually fitted with on board accommodation to allow round the clock operation with crews standing watches of 48 hours on and 48 hours off.

    The Rhino Repair Barge consisted of NL pontoon sections, six wide and 24 long. It was equipped with a crawler crane, a machine shop, a Quanset hut, welding equipment and spare propulsion units plus spare parts and tools.

    111 Naval Construction Battalion also constructed and operated the naval camp. Originally this was a tent and fox hole camp. Later it was replaced by three separate camps.


    1006 Naval Construction Battalion.
    This battalion constructed NL Causeways. The causeways arrived on D+1, towed by LSTs but work on placing them did not start until D+3 since the Army General Staff and the Naval Officer in Charge had not decided their final positions.

    No 1 Causeway was the most easterly and would be 28 foot wide and 1456 foot long when complete. It would have ‘blisters’ or jetties added on either side at 300 foot intervals. These were made from NL pontoons, 4 pontoon sections by 12 pontoon sections. These would allow craft to unload at any state of the tide. Construction started on D+3 and was compete by D+7. Before operation was halted by the storm the causeway operated for 110 hours during which time it unloaded 12 LCT, 14 Rhino Ferries and 95 other craft including LCM, LCVP and barges. A total of 746 vehicles, 3,500 tons of stores and 8,695 personnel were landed dry shod. No 1 Causeway was outside the area sheltered by Gooseberry 2 and suffered both from damage and from the shifting of sand by the storm.

    No 2 Causeway was to the west and construction started on D+7. It was to be 28 foot wide and 1050 foot long. It was in operation on D+10. It only operated for 32 hours before the storm. In that time it unloaded 49 LCT and 139 smaller craft. No 2 Causeway was sheltered by Gooseberry 2 and was back in operation on 23 June.


    146 Naval Construction Battalion.
    This battalion arrived on D+3 to construct POL facilities. It landed materials and supplies and then installed a 6 inch diesel pipeline, a 4 inch petrol pipeline and a 4 inch water pipeline. All were complete by 19 June.

    Seabees also operated a pontoon barge equipped to service small craft. This was constructed from NL pontoon units four wide and twelve long. This was wrecked in the storm.

    A 475 ton drydock was installed but was rendered unfit for use by the storm. The drydock was constructed from NL pontoon units and could lift craft out of the water for hull repairs.

    Mike
     
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  14. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    MULBERRY A.

    Mulberry A plan.jpg

    The US Mulberry ‘A’ was similar to the British Mulberry ‘B’ and was constructed of the same components. There was a breakwater of sunken blockships which was extended by caissons. Inside the breakwater there were to be three floating pierheads connected to the shore by floating roadways. The west pierhead was fitted to receive LSTs and its roadway was Class 40, capable of carrying tanks. The centre pierhead was also fitted to receive LSTs but with a roadway of Class 25. The east pierhead was for coasters and also had a Class 25 roadway. This was not built. There were also two causeways constructed with NL pontoon equipment.

    Survey work started on D+2. All the blockships were in position by D+4 and provided shelter for small ferry craft and for coasters when they were being unloaded. LCTs used one of the sunken causeways and on D+12 the first LSTs unloaded over the first pierhead to be completed. When the second LST pierhead was complete 1,400 vehicles a day could be unloaded.

    TASK FORCE 128.

    Task Group 128.1
    Control Group.
    LCH 414 was control craft after landing troops on D Day.
    SC 1329, SC 1352. Carried TF 128 Commander and Deputy, plus staffs.
    Despatch boats

    Task Group 128.2
    Gooseberry Group.
    Tugs Empire Aid, Emperor Doris.
    Two small tugs.
    Blockships had their number painted on the sides and on a board on the front of the bridge.

    Task Group 128.3.
    Towing and Installation Group.

    Task Group 128.4.
    Bombardon Group.
    HMS Scawfell. HMS Sandown. Eagle AA paddle steamers. Later joined AA defence of Mulberry.
    Tugs and planters.

    Task Group 128.5.
    108 Naval Construction Battalion.

    Task Group 128.6.
    Administration and despatch. Based on the Near Shore.

    Task Group 128.7.
    Mooring and Survey Group.
    2 Net layers. Minster, Atlanta.
    Boom Carrier. Leonian.
    6 BAR vessels. Including Barcombe, Barbain, Barnhurst, Barthorpe
    3 Trawlers fitted for boom working.
    HMS Gulnare, survey.

    Task Force 128.8.
    Gooseberry Survey Group.
    9 LCC. From assault force.

    Task Force 128.9.
    AA Defence.
    8 Eagle ships. Sandown, Scawfell. Ryde, Goatfell.


    Crossing the Channel.
    Moving all the Mulberry components across the Channel was a major task, in the event made even more difficult by bad weather. A large number of tugs were made available and components were assembled into suitable tows. All components had been designed with towing in mind. Where possible caissons, pontoons and floats were fitted with accommodation for a passage crew.

    Roadway sections were normally assembled into a tow of six roadways, one of which would be telescopic, on six floats. Some tows were composed of five floats and a shore ramp float.

    108 Naval Construction Battalion was responsible for the assembly of the components and personnel from the battalion travelled on the components as passage crews.

    Most of the tows set off from their assembly areas on D-1 and were held in mid Channel. On D + 1 marker buoys were placed for the piers, blockships and caissons, and boom laying craft laid out moorings for the Bombardon units. Caissons were towed into position and handed over to harbour tugs for final positioning. On D+4 units for the stores and LST piers were towed into position and handed over to harbour tugs.


    The Components.
    It was desirable that sheltered water should be provided to allow shipping to berth or anchor safely, and unload cargoes to be unloaded into barges and ferries. Waves are the main problem and are caused initially by the action of wind on the surface of the water and then the height of waves is exaggerated when they reach shallow water.

    Gooseberry.
    Ports throughout the world have provided protection by building breakwaters of earth and rubble protected by stonework or concrete. Time did not allow this to done at Mulberry so the simple but effective method of scuttling redundant ships (codename Corncob) was used instead. These were ships which were unfit for further service but were capable of reaching Normandy under their own power. They were then scuttled in lines off the coast to provide reasonable shelter very quickly. One Gooseberry was provided at each beach, Gooseberry 2 serving Omaha. Corncobs were aligned so that the bow of one overlapped the previous one’s stern. They were held in position by tugs and then scuttled by firing explosive charges. They were then fastened together with steel hawsers. Since the superstructures of the ships remained above water an additional use was providing accommodation for staff and crews working the anchorages.

    StLaurent12juin1944A.jpg
    Gooseberry 2.


    Bombardon.
    Bombardon relied on the fact that waves exist only near the surface. They were floating units, each 200 foot long, which were stabilised by cross arms and water ballast in the lower sections. Gaps of 50 foot were left between units.

    Phoenix.
    Phoenix caissons were to provide more permanent breakwaters. All were similar in design and construction but A1, the largest, weighed 6,044 tons while D1, the smallest, weighed only 1,672 tons. Each caisson was divided into 22 compartments in two rows, and they were open topped. Tugs towed caissons into position and then valves were opened to let water into each compartment and allow the caisson to settle on the sea bed. The larger caissons had 40mm Bofors gun mountings on a platform.

    The Piers.
    Although the various breakwaters provided sheltered water it was still necessary to land all troops, vehicles and stores over the beaches. Landing would be much speeded up by providing piers and pierheads which would provide full port facilities.

    Spud Pontoons.
    The Spud Pontoon was the essential component the pierheads. Pontoons were two hundred foot long by sixty foot wide. There was a leg in each corner and these were lowered to the seabed to support the pontoon when in position. Although the pontoons appear to be floating, and rising and falling with the tide, they are in fact supported by the legs and are raised and lowered by winches.

    Pontoons were divided into 24 separate water tight compartments and the ends were shaped to reduce resistance when under tow. Wooden fenders were fitted along both sides and a cambered non slip deck was fitted. Normal dockyard equipment was fitted, including bollards for mooring ships, capstans and winches and cargo derricks, plus anchors, life rafts, and four 20mm Oerlikon AA guns. There were two diesel engine/generator sets to power the various winches, capstans and bilge pumps. Pairs of legs were connected by a gantry and on one gantry only there was an armoured control house for the operator controlling the winches for all four legs. Controlling the height of the pontoon was a highly skilled job, and one requiring constant attention. The pontoon should not be allowed to float or the legs would lift off the sea bed and the unit would drift. At the same time the pontoon should not be allowed to raise clear of the water as this would put too great a load on the legs. Adjustments had not only to be made for the rise and fall of the tide but also for higher than normal waves.

    The Roadways.
    To connect the pierheads to the shore floating roadways were designed using floats and bridge spans. Together the floating roadways and floats were called Whale.

    Bridge Spans.
    The bridge span was designed to carry any wheeled vehicle plus tanks up to Class 25. Each span was eighty foot long and the roadway was ten foot wide. There were two lozenge shaped lattice side girders which were connected by a strong central cross girder plus six other more flexible girders. This allowed some flexibility to accommodate wave movement. Decking was of pressed steel and was made in sections ten foot by two foot. These were laid lengthwise and bolted to the cross girders. Operationally the steel decking was used only for the outer four foot on each side and the centre two foot, where no wheels or tracks would go, used wooden planking. Kerbs were fitted to protect the side girders.

    Telescopic Bridge Spans.
    Telescopic Bridge Spans were in most respects similar to the standard span but the centre section of each side girder was constructed so that one half could slide inside the other. This allowed movement of up to nine foot. In roadways every sixth span was telescopic to allow for changes in the length of spans due to movement. They were also used to connect Spud Pontoons in pierheads. In this case the movement was more useful to accommodate inaccuracies in positioning units.

    Beetle Floats.
    The Beetle Floats supported the roadway in Whale units. The standard float was forty two foot long and fifteen foot wide. There were a number of separate compartments so that the float could still function if holed. Many of the floats were made of reinforced concrete. Steel floats were used near the shore where they might ground at low tide. The US Navy did not consider the Beetle to be strong enough and preferred floats made form their own NL Pontoon equipment.

    Sea going tugs of more than 750 horse power were used to move components across the Channel but since they were urgently needed for further tows the components were handed over to smaller tugs for positioning.

    Phoenix caissons needed four Army ST 650 horse power tugs to position them. Two tugs were placed on each side of the unit to move it to the correct position. On arrival at the correct position the sea cocks of the caisson were opened and the caisson settled onto the sea bed. While it was settling it needed to be held in position by the ST tugs using their bows. This needed careful co ordination and skilful handling as wind and tide affected them.

    The floating roadways were easier to handle and position and it was found that the small army Motor Towing Launches were ideal. These were 36 foot long, had 125 horse power engines and drew only 5 foot 6 inches of water. Shore ramps were positioned using bulldozers which were carried across the Channel on the ramps for this purpose. The small ‘slug’ boats provided were found unsatisfactory and the general utility work of handling moorings handling small components and carrying personnel was carried out by DUKWs and LCVPs.

    Commander Task Force 128 recommended that the following were required to place a roadway:
    9 Army MTLs.
    2 DUKWs
    2 LCVPs
    1 US Army I Boat.
    2 HD7 Medium Bulldozers
    1 AD14 Heavy Bulldozer.

    Bombardons were simple to moor. A trot of thirteen buoys was laid by boom defence vessels, 300 foot apart. The tug towed the Bombardon with two men on board while the two boom vessels stood by to receive the tow. One boom vessel at each end of the Bombardon guided it into position while the men on the Bombardon fastened it to the buoys. The tug stood by in case it was needed.

    The Mooring Force.
    This was an important and hard working group of vessels which would lay out the large number of moorings needed for the Mulberry. Bar vessels were 730 ton, 173 foot and based on large trawler designs. Designed to lay, operate and maintain boom defences they had lifting gear at the bows and were ideal for buoy laying.

    The Mooring Force had to lay the following, in order of priority:
    D +1.
    Hauling off buoys for coasters.

    D+2.
    Bombardon buoys.

    D+4 to D+6.
    HQ and depot ship moorings.

    D+7 to D+10
    ARL and LSE moorings.
    Liberty Ship moorings.
    Coaster trot moorings.
    Floating dock moorings.

    Mulberry A on 16 June.
    746px-US_Army_vehicles_rolling_off_Mulberry_A_16_June_1944.jpg

    Mulberry A 3.jpg

    Mulberry A LST 2.jpg

    Mulberry A LST.jpg

    Omaha%20Beach%20exit%20D1%20(%2016%20June%201944%20).jpg


    The Storm.
    On the night of D+12 the wind began to rise and by the afternoon of D+13 the wind had increased to gale force. Unloading was halted and ferry craft took shelter inside the breakwater. During the night D+15/16 the wind lessened and unloading resumed. However the Mulberry was effectively wrecked and the small craft of the Ferry Service scattered and battered.

    The breakwater suffered considerable damage. The concrete caissons either sank into the sandy bottom until the waves simply washed over them or they broke apart. The blockships had also sunk into the sand and the waves damaged their superstructure. Some broke their backs. The line of blockships remained in place but waves washed over them so that craft sheltering in their lee were washed ashore. The centre floating roadway was damaged when LCTs were driven into it by wind and waves. The sunken causeway remained intact but of little value without the protection of the breakwater.

    Damage to ships and craft was considerable also. Smaller craft had been washed high up onto the beach, many smashed beyond repair and many more unserviceable. One LST and several coasters had been driven ashore. Between 500 and 600 survivors from wrecked craft were assembled in a temporary camp. Three quarters of the ferry craft were out of action. On the morning of D+16 the only craft in operating condition were a dozen LCTs and one Rhino Ferry. Fortunately the DUKWs survived since they had been in their park on shore.

    Some attempts were made to repair pierheads and roadways but it was decided that Mulberry A should be abandoned and its components used to repair and improve Mulberry B.

    USA-E-Logistics1-p410.jpg
    After the storm.
    The Phoenix caissons are broken and sunk.
    The centre pier has been destroyed by craft being swept against it.
    The western pier is broken and its Beetle floats have dragged their moorings and some have been damaged.
    The shore is littered with stranded and damaged craft.

    Why did Mulberry A suffer so badly?

    The official reasons given were:
    Mulberry A was exposed to more severe buffeting from the sea because it lacked natural protection.

    Gooseberry 2 suffered because the blockships were planted without sufficient overlap between the ships. There were also two large gaps deliberately left in the breakwater to allow access for ships and craft.

    The Phoenix caissons were planted in water that was too deep and they were not sufficiently strongly built. The first allowed water to enter over the top of the caisson. The stress of the weight of water was too great and they collapsed.

    Both Phoenix and blockships suffered from the fact that the sand under them was deeper than at Mulberry A and the scouring effect of the heavy seas caused them to shift and settle.

    The whale roadways suffered when they lost the protection of the caissons and blockships and the eastern roadway was destroyed by craft colliding with it.

    US reports pointed out that the design and construction of the various units had been a British responsibility and the US had not been consulted. Similarly the survey and placing of the units was a British responsibility. They further itemised the faults in the design and construction of all the components.

    All the above was doubtless true but Mulberry B remained in operation until the end of the year without any serious problems. The US forces were pleased with their performance in supplying an army over open beaches.


    Mike.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2018
  15. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

  16. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    DEFENCE OF THE BEACH AND BEACH MAINTENANCE AREA.

    AIR DEFENCE.

    It was estimated that the Luftwaffe could fly 1800 sorties on D Day. This was an overestimate since the Luftwaffe had suffered heavy losses. The constant round the clock bombing raids by the heavy bombers of Bomber Command and 8 US Air Force had forced many fighter aircraft to be withdrawn to air defence duties where they had suffered heavy losses. The claims of 8 US Air Force were not always believed but the Luftwaffe fighter force had been seriously weakened. The tactical aircraft of 2 Tactical Air Force and 9 US Air Force had carried out sweeps which had caused serious losses to Luftwaffe units based within reach of UK bases and forced them to withdraw to bases further inland. Thus the Luftwaffe was not able to launch significant attacks on D Day.

    The basis for planning for air defence was based on the assumptions that during daylight the main threat would be from low level attacks on shipping offshore, beached craft and the beach exits. It was also thought that there would be maximum effort on the part of the Luftwaffe to prevent the construction of Gooseberry 2 and Mulberry ‘A’. In fact the Germans were very slow to realise what the Gooseberry and Mulberry units were. By night it was thought that high level bombers would operate against shipping off shore and the beach areas. Low level aircraft were expected to lay mines offshore.

    By daylight the defence would be by:
    Initially fighter aircraft of the Allied Expeditionary Air Force flying from the UK and later by 70 Fighter Wing IX Air Support Command.
    AA automatic weapons.
    AA heavy guns.
    Barrage Balloons.
    Smoke.

    By night defence would be by:
    Radar controlled AA guns.
    AA Searchlights.
    Barrage Balloons.
    Night fighters controlled by Ground Controlled Interception radars.

    By day fighters would be the main defence. Even given the distance from UK bases it was felt that day time air superiority could be maintained by day fighters. There would soon be sufficient AAA automatic weapons to put up a dense fire against low level attacks and barrage balloons would provide close defence over possible targets. Heavier radar controlled guns would only be used in daytime if visibility prevented aircraft from operating.

    By night there was not the same degree of confidence that fighter cover could be maintained. This would be limited by the ground control available for night fighters. In the early days there would be one GCI at sea and one on land. The one on land was not in fact fully operational because of losses incurred in landing. This meant that there was an urgent need for heavy guns radar controlled guns to be available in sufficient numbers to allow a concentration of fire at key points.

    All AA defences were coordinated by Commanding Generals IX Air Support Command and 49 AAA Brigade. These would be situated at the combined Fighter Control/AA Operations Centre.

    The coordination of air watching radar would be an air force responsibility and the Ground Control Interception units would be British. One GCI unit would land on Omaha on D Day and one would be offshore on a Fighter Direction Tender.


    AA Defence.
    The overall plan for the landing of anti aircraft units was that Army AA units would land first and establish the 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.


    49 AA Brigade.
    49 AA Brigade was to establish an area AA defence of the beach, the exits, the Beach Maintenance Area and Mulberry ‘A’.

    The two AAA Groups of 49 AAA Brigade were:
    16 AAA Group.
    413 AAA Gun Battalion.
    457 AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion.
    197 AAA Automatic Weapons, Self Propelled, Battalion.
    320 AA Barrage Balloon Battalion.

    18 AAA Group.
    110 AA Gun Battalion.
    467 AAA Automatic Weapons, Self Propelled, Battalion.

    207 AAA Group was to land further units for the defence of the beach areas.
    204 AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion.
    One battery 452 AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion.
    633 AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion.
    115 AAA Gun Battalion.
    129 AAA Gun Battalion.
    184 AAA Gun Battalion.

    The initial landing of AA units was under the control of 16 AAA Group which landed from Naval Force ‘O’.
    16 AAA Group.
    397 Provisional AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion. Machine guns.
    197 AAA Automatic Weapons, Self Propelled, Battalion.
    467 AAA Automatic Weapons, Self Propelled, Battalion.
    413 AAA Gun Battalion.
    320 AA Barrage Balloon Battalion.

    It was planned that these units would land on D Day.
    18 AAA Group landed with the Follow Up Naval Force ‘B’.
    18 AAA Group.
    457 AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion.
    110 AA Gun Battalion.

    On landing of 18 AAA Group Headquarters the following transfers would be made:
    From 16 AAA Group to 18 AAA Group.
    One Machine Gun Battery from Provisional 397 AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion.
    467 AAA Automatic Weapons, Self Propelled, Battalion.
    Battery ‘B’, 320 AA Barrage Balloon Battalion.

    To 16 AAA Group from 18 AAA Group.
    457 AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion.

    On landing 49 AAA Brigade Headquarters assumed control of all AAA units ashore.

    The seemingly complicated plan gave 16 AAA Group the mix of weapons that were required to land on D Day. The machine guns of 397 Battalion landed first to give some protection in the early stages. The half track mounted automatic weapons of 197 and 467 Battalions gave the light AA cover required in the hours of daylight while the 90mm guns of 413 Battalion were required for night time defence.


    The story of the AAA units on D Day has been told above. In brief:
    The pedestal mounted .5” machine guns of 397 Battalion landed from small craft. The guns were heavy, the surf heavy and the enemy fire heavy. Few guns were operational.

    The half track automatic weapons of 197 and 467 Battalions landed but were pinned down. Some assisted the troops in their assault of strongpoints but there were no aircraft to engage.

    The heavy AA guns of 413 Battalion did not land on time and were not emplaced on the night of D Day/D+1.


    In the following days further AAA units landed and were deployed.
    D+1.
    447 AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion.
    This was a 1 US Army unit which was attached to 18 AAA Group for the defence of the beach area.

    D+3.
    207 AAA Group was to land was a reinforcement group for both Omaha and Utah. It landed 113 AAA Gun Battalion with 90mm guns and 634 AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion with 40mm guns landed. They were to strengthen the already established defence area and were particularly intended for the defence of airfields as they were established. 634 Battalion had one battery, probably Battery ‘A’, from 452 AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion attached to it.

    103 AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion landed. This was attached to 1 Division.

    459 AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion landed. This was attached to 29 Division.

    Both of these units would move forward with their divisions but while they were in the beach area would be available for its defence.

    D+4.
    402 AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion landed. This was attached to 28 Division. It would move forward with the division but while they were in the beach area would be available for its defence.

    115 AAA Group Headquarters and 461 AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion landed. These would be joined by 430 and 460 AAA Automatic Weapons battalions on D+7. 115 AAA Group was a V Corps unit and would provide air defence for corps artillery and other corps facilities. The headquarters would coordinate the employment of all divisional and corps AAA units. When the air defence communications system was established the headquarters would coordinate the division and corps units with the other units of 49 AAA Brigade via the Fighter Control/AA Operations Centre.

    49 AAA Brigade Headquarters initially established a Command Post adjacent to 85 Group GCI at ref. 5915 9015. Later it moved to Fighter Control/AA Operations Centre at ref. 55 89.

    When 70 Wing arrives and a coordinated Air Warning System is established AAA Group and Battalion Command Posts move to the vicinity of FDPs and EWRS.

    AA Brigade Headquarters had a light scale of 40 personnel and 9 vehicles.
    AA Group Headquarters had a light scale of 54 personnel and 13 vehicles.
    AA Gun Battalions had a light scale of 461 personnel and 95 vehicles.
    AA Automatic Weapons Battalions had a light scale of 538 personnel and 104 vehicles.
    AA Automatic Weapons Battalions, Self Propelled had a light scale of 497 personnel and 102 vehicles.
    AA Barrage Balloon, VLA, Battalion had a light scale of 561 men and 30 vehicles.
    Provisional AA Machine Gun Battery had a light scale of 87 men.

    Ammunition scales.
    AA Gun. 90mm. 122 rounds per gun. 90% High Explosive. 10% Armour Piercing.

    AA Automatic Weapon. 40mm. 461 rounds per gun. 90% High Explosive. 10% Armour Piercing.

    AA Automatic Weapon, Self Propelled.
    M15A1. 37mm. 365 rounds per gun. 90% High Explosive. 10% Armour Piercing.
    .5”. 3650 rounds per gun. Proportion 2 Armour Piercing/ 2 Incendiary/ 1 Ball.
    M16. .5”. 5250 rounds per gun. Proportion 2 Armour Piercing/ 2 Incendiary/ 1 Ball.

    MG Battery. .5”. 1200 rounds per gun. Proportion 2 Armour Piercing/ 2 Incendiary/ 1 Ball.

    AAA guns and automatic weapons sited near the shore will be prepared to fire on naval targets. Initially they will fire only on water borne targets identified as enemy by the navy and only at the request of the navy.

    Where possible AAA guns and automatic weapons will be sited so as to be capable of operating in an anti tank role.

    Mike.
     
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  17. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Heavy AA Artillery.

    The landing scale for AAA gun batteries was:
    4 X 90mm AA guns.
    4 X M4 Tractors.
    SCR 584 Radar in a semi trailer.
    M9 Predictor on a trailer.
    M7 Director on a trailer.
    Generator on a trailer.
    7 X 2½ ton truck.
    2 X Jeep.
    1 X Weapons Carrier.

    The 90mm AA gun was typical of the type and era. Slightly inferior in performance to the 3.7” AA gun it more than compensated by being controlled by the SCR 584 radar and M9 electronic predictor. As with all artillery the 90mm gun was designed around the shell it was required to fire. This had to carry a HE charge sufficiently powerful to damage aircraft, the propelling charge had to be powerful enough to reach the altitude at which bombers of the day could fly and the fixed charge and shell had to be light enough to be loaded by hand.

    Anti aircraft firing presented many technical problems and for most of the war there was little chance of hitting an aircraft or even exploding a shell close to it. The best results were obtained by exploding shells in the path of aircraft so that they flew into a curtain of shell fragments. The anti aircraft gunner had to fire at a target where the range and bearing were constantly changing and perform all the necessary calculations before the target disappeared.

    The predictor was a machine which was fed the basic information regarding height, range and bearing, added in temperature, air pressure, wind speed and direction, and then calculated the aircrafts speed and course before predicting where the target would be when a shell arrived. This information was continuously updated as the predictor crew tracked the target. A constant problem however was getting this information to the guns before it was out of date. Cables were laid from the predictor to the bearing and elevation dials on the gun. The dial had two pointers, one for information from the predictor and one for the gun. When the two pointers coincided the bearing and elevation were correct.

    Although the range was not required to aim the gun it was essential for setting the fuse. There was such a negligible chance of actually hitting an aircraft with a shell that contact fuses were not used. The shell had a time fuse which needed to be set immediately before firing so that it would explode close to the target. This information was also constantly changing and could also be calculated by the predictor and transmitted directly to the gun.

    The greatest cause of variation and therefore error was then in the time taken for the crew to set the fuse, load the shell and fire the gun. This had to be built into the calculation but tended to vary from crew to crew, and over time in a long action.

    SCR 584 radar was used to continuously track targets, and to give a constant flow of information regarding speed, height, range and course of a target. This radar was capable of plotting a target with great accuracy while the predictor was electronic and very fast. Later the predictor would use electric power to remotely aim and lay the gun, set the fuse, load the shell and finally fire the gun thus solving the problem of variation in crew performance. This feature was not available on the gun mountings used in Normandy.

    A final refinement was the introduction of the proximity fuse. This did not need setting but contained a miniature radar which detected the proximity of a target and exploded the shell at the right moment. These were not authorised for use in Normandy but were used later.

    scr584.jpg

    1941_mobile_radar.jpg
    SCR 584.

    1200px-M7_director.jpg



    The Bofors 40mm Light Anti Aircraft Gun.
    Designed in Sweden the Bofors 40mm AA gun was used by many armies including Britain and the USA. It was also used by several navies. The version used by the US was identical to the original except for changes to suit US measurements and production methods.

    The gun was intended for use against low flying aircraft and was automatic. Shells were loaded in four round chargers and then loaded into the breech by a spring rammer. Empty shell cases were ejected to fall down a chute which threw them clear. The gun was balanced by springs and mounted on a ball race so that it was quick and easy to train and aim by hand. The carriage was fitted with outriggers and could be levelled and stabilised by jacks. It could be fired from its wheels in an emergency.

    Elevation was 90 degrees and traverse was 360 degrees so that the gun could cover the entire sky. Weight in action was 4,368 lb which just about made it possible to manhandle it. Rate of fire was 120 rounds a minute.

    The maximum ceiling 23,000 feet. In practice however the effective ceiling was 5000 feet. This was dictated more by the sights than the gun. No radar or fire control was used with the Bofors. The gun commander designated the target and estimated the range. The gun aimer and gun layer used simple gun sights to point the gun at where they estimated the target would be when the shells arrived. They then corrected when they saw where the tracers were going. Radar had been tried but in most cases it was too slow.


    Searchlights.
    Although searchlights were obsolete in their original role of illuminating high flying bombers for heavy AA guns they were still used in secondary roles. The commonest role was the tracking of low level aircraft for the benefit of light AA guns. By this date searchlights had radar while the LAA guns did not. A searchlight could locate and track an aircraft and illuminate it when it was in range of the LAA guns. The LAA gunners could then use their old fashioned Mark I eyeballs to fire.

    Subsidiary roles included helping night fighters to find their prey. The Ground Controlled Interception units could only handle one night fighter at a time so the radar equipped searchlight could find and illuminate the target. This worked well when there were searchlights spread singly over an area so that there was always one ready to take over from the previous one as the aircraft moved. Searchlights also provided a beacon for night fighters, either to give them a fixed point for navigation or a point on which to home.

    Searchlights were also used to provide artificial moonlight over the beaches to allow work to continue at night.

    In all cases the searchlight was the smaller 90cm type which was quite adequate for the tasks described and was easier to handle than the larger 150cm type. They were positioned individually so that each light had its towing vehicle with generator, and wireless and line links.


    Observers.
    The Signal Air Warning Battalion contained observer sections which were spread across the front to report on visual sightings of aircraft entering friendly air space. They reported, by wireless and landline, the bearing, altitude and course of any aircraft together with a visual identification. The latter was a particularly useful addition to information obtained by radar.


    Barrage Balloons.
    On D Day all LST carried one extra barrage balloon for use on shore in addition to one for the defence of the LST. These balloons were to be carried to shore by LCMs working to the LST. Each LCT was to carry one balloon which was to be landed on arrival at the far shore. Balloons and hand winches were to be carried ashore by army personnel, two per balloon. After D Day one third of LCT were to carry navy balloons for the defence of the craft while the remaining two thirds were to carry an army balloon which was to be landed on beaching on the far shore. LSTs continued to carry one extra balloon to be landed if required. In emergency any naval balloon could be landed at the request of the army.

    Where possible US Navy balloons were helium filled but the balloons to be landed were supplied by the RAF and were hydrogen filled. Helium is inert but hydrogen is highly flammable. For this reason the navy was unwilling to carry hydrogen cylinders, fire being a great risk on ships. Hydrogen filled balloons were accepted since they could be rapidly released if necessary.

    Reports suggest that balloons were landed from H+225 minutes but were not flown until late in the day. Reports also suggested that balloons should not be carried to shore by LCM which were also carrying troops since balloons attracted enemy fire.

    The balloons were deployed around the beach exits since these presented the most obvious and the most vulnerable targets. They were also flown along the beach in order to protect landing craft and the vehicles and personnel landing or working there. The balloons were not permitted to be flown on the approach to the airstrip on the cliffs at Vierville.

    Ships and craft also flew balloons to add to the protection of the anchorages and beaches.


    320 BB (2).jpg

    Balloon of 320 Barrage Balloon Company.


    Smoke.
    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 operated Esso type smoke generators on trawlers. These were for the protection of Mulberry ‘A’. 84 and 81 Chemical Smoke Generator Companies landed later to operate smoke generators on shore, relieving 30 and 31 Chemical Decontamination Companies.

    Smoke Equipment.
    Esso smoke generator. This was an older equipment which could be vehicle mounted but for this operation was only used on trawlers.

    Haslar smoke generator. This was a lighter equipment mounted on a standard four wheel trailer. It was towed by a 2½ ton truck.

    Although designated smoke generators both types were more correctly artificial fog generators. A boiler produced steam which was mixed with oil to produce a fog.

    Arrangements were made to lay a smoke screen against air attack. The objective of this was given as ‘Rapid development of a smoke screen of sufficient intensity to cover all shipping off the beaches and to prevent hostile aircraft from identifying a point of aim’. Obviously an attacking aircraft would know where the beaches and exits were but since they relied on optical aiming equipment any bombing or strafing would be inaccurate.

    Gaps in the screen, and areas on the tidal beach, were covered by M24 smoke generators. These were chemical pots which when ignited created a chemical fog. The No 24 generator was a standard type used by the army and navy. It was some 18 inches high and 9 inches diameter. Weight was about 40 lb. It came in a tin with a lid. The lid was removed and a fuse was inserted. Once it had started to burn it produced a thick smoke for some twenty minutes. Since these generators worked by burning chemicals they produced a glow which was visible from the air.


    Naval Smoke.
    There was a great number and variety of smoke laying equipment available to the navy. The Naval Commander Western Naval Task Force controlled smoke laying at sea until the army were established ashore when anti aircraft smoke came under the control of the army AA commander. It remained possible for naval commanders to make smoke in their own defence.

    The following were available to the naval commander:
    AMS, PC (X6) and YMS (X7) with smoke screen generator MkII.
    PT boats with smoke screen generator Mk6.
    LCS(S), PC (X12), SC and YMS (X14) with smoke screen generator Mk3.
    LCP(L) with No24 smoke generators.
    APAs, LCI(L), and LST with Bessler Fog Oil Smoke Generators.
    LCI(L) and LCT with Mk2 smoke barrels.
    Cruisers and destroyers could lay funnel smoke.
    Battleships, cruisers and destroyers could fire smoke shells.

    Usually screens were laid at dusk, dawn or when a night air attack was imminent, especially on moonlit nights. In the event of a ship being shelled from the shore the nearest LCP(L) was to lay a screen between ship and shore.

    Aircraft Smoke.
    On the western flank 342 Squadron laid a smoke screen to shield the Western Task Force from the batteries of the St. Veast area on Cap Barfleur. Aircraft arrived at ten minute intervals from 0600 to maintain the screen. The Naval Commander Western Task Force could make requests for changes or additions but given the limited number of aircraft available and the time required for briefing and flying to the far shore six hours notice was required.


    Fighters.
    85 Group RAF were responsible for coordinating all day and night fighter cover over the entire beach head. The GCI and Group Control Centre in the British Sector would normally perform this task but the GCI unit landing on Omaha would be available to take over control if the other was put out of action. The GCI unit on Omaha would undertake the control of night fighters over the western beaches. The Fighter Direction Tender was available to take over limited control.

    A Forward Control Post of 9 US Air Force Air Support Command landed on Omaha on D+1 to direct fighter cover over US Army units advancing southwards. In the event they were late in landing but US Army units did not immediately advance southwards. They were held up by strong opposition and when they did move it was to the West to link with forces from Utah Beach.

    The first echelon of 9 Air Support Command Fighter Control Centre and the Headquarters of the Mobile Air Reporting Unit were scheduled to land on the second tide of D Day so that they would be in operation when the first Rearming and Refuelling Strips were available.



    1 Air Combat Control Squadron, Amphibious, USAAF.
    This unit consisted of ten officers and forty four men plus attached personnel. It was based on Headquarters Ship USS Ancon to control Air Support and Fleet Air Warning. Two of the men were on loan to USS Bayfield. Headquarters ship off Utah. Two officers were based on Fighter Direction Tender 216 as Senior American Air Controllers. This was the control vessel for air cover over the Western Assault Area.

    The main tasks of the Air Combat Control Squadron were to receive reports from Tactical Reconnaissance and Air Support missions and to direct armed reconnaissance missions to their targets. It also received reports from all air warning units including FDT, GCI, Naval Radar and UK based radars. These were used to maintain a display.

    Fighter Direction Tenders.
    These controlled fighters over the shipping of the assault force and over the beaches. FDT 216 controlled the skies over the US Sector and FDT 13 controlled the skies over the convoys.

    Fighter Direction Tenders were Landing Tank Ship Mk2 converted by the Royal Navy. The bow doors were welded shut and armour plate or pig iron ballast was added for protection. The central part of the Fighter Direction Tender was the Operations Flat on the tank deck. This consisted of Filter Room, Communications Office, Air Control Room and Radar Receiving Room. There were also a VHF radio transmitting room, a VHF receiving room, a radio direction finder receiving room, two fighter direction offices, a Ground Control Interception office, a beacon office, a plotting office, a storeroom and a generator space with four generators. Radars were Type 15 and Type 11.

    Communications for aircraft flying Low Cover was provided by VHF sets in the aircraft. These were tuned to four frequencies. Channel A was the Wing Operations frequency. Channel B was for Low Cover Guard 1. Channel C was for Low Cover Guard 2. Channel D was the Air Sea Rescue Fixer Frequency. Fighter Direction Tenders maintained a permanent watch on both Low Cover Guard frequencies. Each Low Cover squadron was to call up the appropriate Fighter Direction Tender when within 5 minutes flying time of its allotted patrol area. It was also to report when it was in position and when it was leaving. Arrangements for High Cover squadrons were similar.

    Until AA control was established ashore coordination between air cover and AA was by liaison officers. An AA liaison officer was stationed on the Fighter Direction Tender to advise the air force controller on AA matters. The Headquarters ship had an AA liaison officer to pass all relevant information to AA units ashore.


    GCI
    15082 GCI unit from 85 Group RAF landed around 1700 on D Day and lost much of its equipment due to vehicles landing in deep water and drowning. Although it was possible to recover some of the equipment much was lost through enemy shelling. The Type 15 radar arrived safely with its aerial transporting vehicle, two generators, a crane, the VHF transmitter and receiver vehicles, a jeep and four Crossley 3ton 4 X 4. It was not possible to reach the planned site but the surviving vehicles and personnel set up as far as was possible at Les Moulins. It was not possible to set up the equipment in time for operations on the night of D Day/D+1 but it did become operational in a limited capacity on D+1. Later the missing equipment was replaced.


    An aside.
    A further 85 Group RAF GCI unit plus two mobile Chain Overseas Low radar units would land on Utah on D+5 to provide fighter direction over the Cotentin Peninsular and Cherbourg.


    Signal Air Warning Battalion.
    Much of the air warning for the beach areas was provided by the forward units of the Signal Air Warning network. This covered the landward approaches. Information from Forward Direction Posts, Light Warning sections and Ground Observers. The Forward Direction Posts used British Type 15 and Type 11 Radar sets to locate and track aircraft and direct friendly fighters. British Light Warning sets were used to give a wider but less detailed coverage. The Ground Observer sections were spread across the front to report on visual sightings of aircraft entering friendly air space. They reported, by wireless and landline, the bearing, altitude and course of any aircraft together with a visual identification. The latter was a particularly useful addition to information obtained by radar.


    Mines and Guided Bombs.
    The greatest threat to shipping came from mines and guided bombs. Direct attacks on ships was rare off the far shore. Mines dropped at night caused a considerable amount of work for minesweepers, although Omaha suffered few casualties. A difficulty was that several types of mine were used including contact, pressure, acoustic and magnetic. In addition some were fitted with delay fuses so that they could lie dormant for days before becoming active. All the normal anti aircraft methods deterred mine laying aircraft but the only really effective counter to mines was to have sufficient craft deployed around and within anchorages to spot and mark where mine fell. They could then be dealt with by the inshore minesweepers, by LCTs fitted for mine sweeping or by LCM or LCVP in shallow water.

    The guided bomb was the Henschel 293. This had been used at Anzio where it caused considerable losses to Allied shipping. It could have been used to devastating effect against the Normandy beaches but it had lost the element of surprise and in fact caused little damage.

    The Henschel 293 was a 550kg bomb on a slender fuselage with wings and a tail. It also carried a stabilising gyroscope and radio guidance equipment. Carried under a He 111 or He 177 aircraft it was released 5km to 10km from its target. It dropped free and then a Walter liquid fuel rocket engine accelerated it away. Once it was clear of the aircraft the controller could use a control stick to guide it to a target. Flares or red lights on the tail allowed the controller to follow the bombs flight.

    Fortunately for the Allies the system had several shortcomings. When the bomb had been released the carrier plane had to continue on a steady course to allow the operator to observe and control its flight. This made the carrier plane vulnerable to AA fire and air interception. Training was necessarily limited since the expense of the weapon did not allow many practice launches. The radio link was also a problem. Although the system had eighteen frequencies available it was difficult to find one that was not used by the array of Allied navigation devices and radars.

    The fact that the Henschel 293 had been used against shipping at Anzio, and one had been found intact, allowed the Allies to develop counter measures. Many ships carried a jammer which proved very effective. This could automatically identify an incoming bomb and identify the frequency being used. Rather than simply jam the radio signal, which would leave a dangerous uncontrolled bomb approaching shipping, the jammer could take over limited control and turn the bomb away.

    A problem was one that was common to anti aircraft defence on ships. They were always, quite naturally, worried about approaching and overflying aircraft. On occasions this led to ships opening fire on friendly aircraft. In the case of guided bombs it led to more than one ship attempting to jam or control them. Normally this was left to the headquarters ship Ancon, or a ship designated by it.

    An aside.
    German scientists were working on an improved version of the guided bomb which would be wire guided. This could not be jammed. Also under development was a miniature television camera to be fitted into the bomb. This would allow the pilot to launch a bomb and then turn away while the controller used the television picture to guide the bomb to a target. Both of these were still under development at the end of the war and never entered service.


    Deception.
    It was planned that decoy sites would be established to lure enemy night raiders to drop their bomb loads on empty areas. Lighting would be used to represent beach exit roads and convoys well away from the actual exits. The plan was not put into operation, initially because the planned locations were still in enemy hands when the decoys should have been installed. Later it was felt that the bright moonlight made the success of decoys doubtful and air attacks on the beach exits were negligible.

    The scale of AA and fighter provision proved more than adequate. The figures show that there were fewer raids on the US beaches in the whole of June than were predicted for D Day alone. There were 73 daylight raids and 306 night time raids. Of these 96 aircraft were destroyed and 55 probably destroyed. This was an unsustainable rate of loss of some 25%.

    Twelve friendly aircraft were destroyed but the official report states that all were either firing on friendly troops, entering the fighter zone without authority and without IFF or entering the AA defended area while enemy aircraft were being engaged.


    Ground Defence.
    The combat formations should have been capable of defending the beach areas against enemy attack. As a back up the troops of the Engineer Combat Brigades were assigned defensive tasks. They did not have the heavier weapons found in infantry units but were fully trained and equipped in the use of small arms, machine guns and bazookas.


    9 US Air Force provided tactical support for the combat formations but it was not possible to provide close support in the immediate area of the beaches. In the early days the fighting was fluid and it was seldom possible to tell with any accuracy where the friendly troops were. On D+1 the bomb line, the line beyond which air support attacks could be made, was set at the River Aure. 9 USAAF’s 365, 366 and 368 Groups (equivalent to RAF wings) mounted continuous armed reconnaissance missions in squadron strength. Each squadron flew four missions during the day so that there was constant coverage. Squadron leaders selected targets of opportunity, mostly enemy motor transport but also gun positions. The army via the headquarters ship Ancon only directed two ground support attacks.

    9 Bomber Command used its medium bombers to attack communications centres, bridges and road bottlenecks in order to prevent or delay enemy troops moving towards the fighting front.



    Seaward Defence.
    Normal practice was for shipping to move away from the shore and preferably be under steam and ready to take evasive action at night. Off Normandy it was thought that the large number of ships and craft moving in a confined area was too hazardous. The English Channel was patrolled by Home Forces while US Forces gave protection to the west.

    Naval Commander Western Task Force was responsible for the overall defence from seaward attack with each Force Commander being responsible for defence against any enemy breaking through as well as for attacks from landward and from the air.

    The Area Screen manned a defence line some six miles from the shore, and this linked with the similar British defence line. Its main role was to protect the assault area against attack by small craft and small submarines. It was thought that any heavier enemy naval forces would concentrate on the long Cross Channel convoy routes. Destroyers were deployed as radar pickets to spot and track any surface craft approaching from seawards. Eighteen PCs manned the defence line and could call on a reserve of four destroyers which were held inside the line. To the flanks and further out to sea were patrols of PT boats, MTBs and SGBs. For this task there were twelve PT boats from PT Squadron 34, eight MTB from 53 MTB Flotilla and six SGB from 1 SGB Flotilla.

    Other craft could be assigned as required and available. Support Craft were used when they were not needed for other tasks and MYMS and MMS were used to spot mines being dropped from aircraft.

    Smoke was routinely used to screen the anchorage in the early days but later it was thought more important to be able to spot and mark the position of any mines dropped.

    Day defence consisted of a seaward patrol by corvettes, trawlers and destroyers as available. Duty destroyers stood by in each assault area to give support at short notice. Smoke was laid at dawn and dusk by LCP(L) and MLs.

    Air defence over the anchorages was complicated. The army provided effective cover over the beaches and maintenance areas and had their own radar for warning and fire control. Ships each had their own radars, and several of the cruisers were AA cruisers, but in such crowded waters it was dangerous to let individual ships identify targets and risk opening fire on friendly aircraft. Air Force and AA radars were not designed to spot aircraft approaching from seaward at low level so land based RN radars were landed to cover the seaward approaches.

    Mobile Navy Radar Station used trailer mounted Type 277 Radar. Three such stations landed on D Day, one in the US Sector. Little is known about this equipment but on D Day they each landed a radar trailer, a 30 cwt lorry, two 3ton 4 X 4 Thorneycroft lorries, two 15cwt Bedford MW House Type E and a motorcycle.

    The Naval Plan says ‘A Type 277T Radar will be set up and plots will be passed by Naval Radar Shore Broadcast to Flag Officer Western Task Force, Captain commanding screen and Naval Officer in Charge.’

    It was not expected that Coast Defence Artillery would play a large role in the defence of the area but some provision was made. The only practicable coast defence was by 90mm Anti Aircraft guns and searchlights. The guns would have to be on the flanks of the beach area and anchorages since anywhere else would have observation blocked by friendly shipping. The use of searchlights anywhere else would silhouette friendly ships and help an enemy to locate and attack them. Anti Aircraft guns were positioned where they could be used in a dual anti aircraft/anti shipping role and the personnel had some training in coastal defence work. A difficulty would have been that the areas on the flanks of the area had fairly high cliffs and the guns could not be depressed below the horizontal. They were not called on to fire in this role.


    Mike
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2018
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  18. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Mike

    I hope you are taking time out to eat, sleep and breathe, the amount of work here in this thread is mind boggling o_O:wacko:

    Saying well done, great job seems totally insufficient

    TD
     
  19. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    TD.
    Yes. No need to worry. I do all of those and work on my collection of military locomotives and pre war vehicles. A horse drawn cable layer is on my worktable at the moment.

    Mike
     
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  20. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    The Beach Maintenance Area.

    Omaha map 1 IMG_20180216_0002.jpg



    1st Key Plan.

    To be implemented on D Day.
    TA1. Transit Area 1.
    TVP1. Transit Vehicle Park 1.
    TA2. Transit Area 2.
    TVP2. Transit Vehicle Park 2.
    Navy. Navy bivouac area.

    Unlabelled red areas are beach dumps.

    At the end of D Day the troops ashore had established a small beachhead but were nowhere near reaching the D Day objectives. The Beach Maintenance Area as shown on the First Key Plan was not secured for another two days so that work on developing the planned dump areas could not start until D+3. On that day V Corps launched an attack out of the beach head and pushed twelve miles inland, securing the high ground at Cerisy Forest. The beach head was then reasonably safe from counter attack and from observed artillery fire. On D+6 the attack was resumed, Carentan was occupied and a link made with Utah Beach. On D+7 V Corps had advanced 20 miles inland and linked with Gold Beach as well as Utah.

    The First Key Plan showed four areas allotted to dumps. These were between the beach exits, on the area of more or less level ground between the sea and the bluffs. Initially these dumps contained ammunition dumped by preloaded DUKWs landing from LSTs. Although conditions were far from ideal, the beach remaining under fire for much of the day, the DUKWs needed to unload their cargo and be ready to evacuate casualties. LCTs loaded with ammunition also beached and their loads were moved to the dumps as soon as conditions allowed. Beach personnel were landed to issue ammunition either from the dumps or direct from the LCTs.


    Omaha map 2 IMG_20180216_0003.jpg



    2nd Key Plan.

    TA1. Transit Area 1.
    TVP1. Transit Vehicle Park 1.
    TA2. Transit Area 2.
    TVP2. Transit Vehicle Park 2.

    Navy. Navy bivouac area.

    TA3. Transit Area 3.
    TVP3. Transit Vehicle Park 3.
    TA4. Transit Area 4.

    Ammo. Ammunition Dump.
    Sup. Supply Dump.
    POL. Petrol, oil and lubricants dump.
    Equip. Ordnance equipment dump.
    Salvage. Salvage dump.
    Misc. Ordnance Miscellaneous dump.

    Air. Air Force bivouac area.
    Air Ord. Air Force ordnance dump.
    Air POL. Air Force fuel dump.

    This plan was implemented more or less as shown. The only major difference was that a single ammunition dump was established at the junction of the main forward route and the lateral road around Formigny.


    Dumps.
    Dumps needed to be established near to the beaches. All material being landed over the beach needed to be taken to the dumps by trucks of the Engineer Provisional Brigade Group, stacked by dump personnel of the group and then issued to trucks of combat units.

    There were a number of distinct dumps. Each of the two Engineer Special Brigades had dumps for Ammunition, POL (Petrol/Oil/Lubricants), Supplies, Equipment, Salvage and Miscellaneous. Ideally dumps needed a reasonably flat area of open land, near to the beach exits and with access to both good forward roads and good lateral roads. The area inland of the beaches was actually small fields but it was level. There were tracks running through the area which in dry weather provided access for vehicles. The ground was fairly firm and well drained and did not need trackway laying in dry weather.

    While dumps should have good access to main roads it was laid down that dumps should not be along a main road itself as this tended to lead to congestion. Instead there should be good approach roads to connect to the main roads. Dumps should have a separate entrance and exit to avoid congestion. Within the dump traffic should be one way, with a clear traffic circuit. Stacks should be close to the traffic circuit to allow easy loading and unloading. Traffic bays should be made to allow traffic to pass while lorries are standing at the stack.

    The sites for the various dumps had been selected using air photographs. These were generally reliable and accurate but it was not always possible to tell how good the drainage was or how firm the surface. As soon as possible reconnaissance parties from the various units which would operate the dumps went to the allocated dump areas to make sure that it was in fact suitable and what work might be needed to be done. It would then be the task of the engineer combat units to clear the selected areas of mines and if necessary improve tracks and access points.

    All the dumps were late in opening since the area set aside for them was still in enemy hands. Beach dumps had to operate until D+4. Although the Engineer Provisional Brigade Group was responsible for organising the dumps and for the deliveries to the dumps from D+5 issues from the dumps was the responsibility of 1 Army Roadhead units. This required careful coordination since the two organisations would be using the same roads.


    The Ammunition Dump.
    Ammunition is the most important commodity landed and entails the heaviest tonnage. The ammunition dump should therefor have priority with regard to the site and traffic circuit. It must be readily accessible by transport from forward areas. 616 Ordnance Ammunition Company attached to 5 Engineer Special Brigade established the ammunition dump in the area between the first and second laterals and immediately to the west of Hermanville and the main forward route. This was the most accessible dump area both for stores being delivered by DUKW or 3ton 4 X 4 lorry from the beach and for lorries collecting ammunition for forward units. 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 was to reconnoitre a site for the ammunition dump. The DUKWs in which they were being carried to shore foundered so although they were rescued they did not land. The whole of team 3 was ordered to land by Rhino Ferry at 1300, three hours behind schedule. They were twice ordered back and eventually moored alongside a LST for the night. They managed to land the next morning and help unload ammunition from the beached store LCTs.

    Team 3 as also scheduled to land on D Day and was more successful. They were to land in support of 348 Engineer Combat Battalion. Landing at 1330 twelve men climbed up the cliffs to Colleville in order to set up an ammunition supply point. Since there was still fighting and firing in the area they returned to the beach.

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

    On D+1 the company moved forward to start work on establishing an ammunition dump around Formigny.

    Two officers and 16 men from 618 Ordnance Ammunition Company in support of 6 Engineer Special Brigade landed on D Day 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 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. The two companies continued to develop the single dump.

    The Ammunition Dump occupied the largest of the dump areas and there was ample space to lay out stacks with adequate spaces between them. This space was necessary so that stacks of ammunition could be separated in case of fire and/or explosion. There was in fact a fire and explosion caused by an enemy air attack in the second week.

    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. They did start issuing on D+4 at Formigny on the main lateral.

    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.

    By D+5 the supply of ammunition was becoming critical. There were delays all along the supply line. The unloading of ammunition coasters had been late starting and then proceeded much more slowly than planned. The main dumps were late opening and the beach dumps were disorganised. 1 US Army decided that the Roadhead Companies would assume responsibility for the dumps leaving the Engineer Special Brigades to concentrate on unloading and transporting ammunition to the dumps.

    The first Ammunition Supply Point was established at Formigny, on the main lateral road, on D+4. Here the Quarter Master truck companies of corps and division collected ammunition

    The storm of 19 June caused a shortage of ammunition which led to expenditure being reduced to a third of the normal rate. Some reserves were being held on the large NL barges and arrangements were made as soon as possible after the storm to increase deliveries. For three days 500 tons a day were flown in. Ammunition coasters were beached and this speeded up unloading, although slowing turn round time. Five Liberty ships pre loaded with ammunition were called forward ahead of schedule.

    An interesting fact.
    The Pigeon Service established a loft for 300 birds around D+6. These were issued to units as required but it was arranged that each forward dump ammunition dump should be issued with a container of four birds. These were to be used to sent daily ammunition returns to the Maintenance Area. Two birds were to be released daily at dawn, one with the original return and one with a copy. The remaining two birds were to be held in reserve and if unused should be released one hour before sunset so that they could return to the loft in daylight.

    It is generally a rule that ammunition should not be requested but should be automatically supplied to artillery units to keep holdings up to the normal scale. To do this ammunition returns were required.

    Petrol Dump.
    All petrol was initially landed in Jerricans. The Petrol Dump should have stacks that are well dispersed, be on level ground and have a good traffic circuit. Ideally petrol should be kept away from ammunition. Petrol was obviously vulnerable to air attack and shelling and fires were almost inevitable if the cans were hit or punctured. Each Engineer Special Brigade had a Quartermaster Gas (petrol) Company. 5 Engineer Special Brigade had Company ‘A’ of 203 Gas Supply Battalion. This designation should have changed to a four figure company number. 6 Engineer Special Brigade had 3820 Quartermaster Gas Supply Company. Each company established a Petrol Dump in their brigade area of the Beach Maintenance Area.

    Formations were to collect petrol in cans but were not at this stage to return empty cans since it was thought that this would overload the dump personnel. Later the policy would be to issue one full can in return for one empty one. By that time petrol would be delivered in bulk by pipeline and so the empty cans could be refilled for re issue.

    Supply Dumps.
    Supply dumps were generally the easiest to operate since their main function was to receive, store and issue rations. Unlike ammunition or petrol, ration requirements could be fairly accurately predicted and the system of supply was common to all armies. On any one day the troops will have the current days rations and the following days rations will be on trucks on their way to them. A third days rations will be on the way from the dumps to forward issuing points. The amounts to be issued and the timing of truck convoys could be organised well in advance.

    Ordnance Dumps.
    Ordnance included all those items appearing on the tables of equipment for units. This could be a vast range and including clothing, equipment, weapons. Vehicles and spare parts were also included but were handled separately. The first Ordnance dump was operating on D+6. All such supplies were landed in palletised loads and were skid mounted for ease of handling. Crates held standard quantities which had been pre determined as being likely to be required. The crates could be stacked so that the front could be opened to gain access and a list of contents was fixed on the inside of the lid. From 23 June these assault sets were superseded by follow up sets. Eventually the normal system of requisition was introduced.

    Vehicles were landed by Ordnance Vehicle Delivery units. Trucks were landed preloaded with other Quarter Master supplies.

    Salvage.
    Salvage Dumps were operated by Quarter Master Service Companies for the collection of returnable or reusable items. At this time salvage was limited to returnable and reusable items. Quarter Master truck units routinely collected ammunition boxes and any unpacked but unfired ammunition. These items were taken to the ammunition dump where some items could be repacked and reused. Ammunition boxes were mostly returned to the UK for reuse. Mae Wests were collected at Personnel Transit Areas and returned to the UK. Vehicle waterproofing removed in the Vehicle Transit Parks was sent to the salvage dump.


    US Air Force Dumps.
    The air force dumps were to the west of Vierville. 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.

    9 USAAF needed considerable amounts of supplies. The first category were those needed by the 9 Engineer Command which was responsible for airfield construction. The first airstrip was due to be started near Vierville on D Day. This was delayed since the area was still in enemy hands. It was to be an emergency landing strip and would not initially be surfaced.

    By D+3 it was planned that there should be two Refuelling and Rearming strips which had runways and standings of square mesh matting. By D+8 it was planned to have four Advanced Landing Grounds with similar runways and standings. The rolls of square mesh matting were similar to the material used for roadways on the beaches and exits but with a square mesh pattern rather than a diagonal pattern since it was found that the latter tended to trap aircraft tail wheels and cause damage.

    The Refuelling and Rearming strips were used for refuelling and rearming aircraft which flew over from the UK each morning and returned each evening. They thus needed stocks of aviation petrol, cannon and machine gun ammunition and small bombs. Advanced Landing Grounds were to be used as a base for squadrons which remained for several days before returning to the UK for servicing.

    Initially ten day packs were carried by the airdrome squadrons 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.

    Aircraft used aviation petrol which was higher octane than that used by the army. This was supplied in jerricans for the first two weeks after which it was supplied by pipeline and then delivered to airfields in tankers.


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    Traffic Circuits.
    Traffic circuits were one of the first priorities. Clear routes from the beach exits to dumps, and return routes, had to be laid out and developed. These routes had to allow for vehicles running from each beach to the dump areas and for the return journey. They had to allow for vehicles coming from the forward areas to collect from the dumps and to return to the forward areas. As the maintenance area developed routes for traffic between dumps also need to be provided.

    All transport plans needed to provide for main forward routes which lead to the dumps and then onward to the forward areas. There must also be main lateral roads to connect the beach exits and to connect forward routes. All of these routes should be capable of carrying two way traffic.

    Other routes should have a one way system for traffic to avoid congestion and disruption. All the roads should be capable of standing up to heavy traffic and need a considerable amount of maintenance.

    Roads and tracks had been studied on air photographs and marked on the maps. These showed the width of the road and other information where available. Many of the roads were narrow and had ditches and hedges on both sides. This made road widening difficult. In some places the old roads were sunken below the level of the surrounding land which made widening even more difficult.

    Divisional engineers developed main forward routes for their own use. Later the main forward route was taken over by the Engineer Provisional Brigade Group. At first the forward routes where one way since nearly all traffic was moving inland from the beaches. Secondary routes were provided for return traffic.

    The forward and return routes were connected by lateral roads. There was the beach lateral road which ran along the edge of the beach and connected the beach exits. This was of steel mesh trackway. Just off the beach and running along the sea wall where there was one was a lateral road which was in a variable condition. Inland and on top of the cliffs was a lateral road which connected the villages. This road connected to the side roads leading to the beach exits. It was developed into a major route for the beach area since it connected the beaches with the forward routes, with the Assembly Areas and with the dump area.

    The main lateral route ran some two miles inland. This road generally marked the limit of the Beach Maintenance Area and was some two miles inland.

    Clearing roads of mines was a priority task. Cleared carriageways were to be marked with pairs of standard red and white gap signs every 200 yards. As soon as possible verges were to be cleared. Cleared verges were to be marked with notice boards every 400 yards and the gap signs moved out from the carriageway. Verges were to be cleared to 10 foot width only and the right verges were to be cleared in priority to the left. This was the forward route side since vehicles drove on the right while on the Continent. This was obviously an advantage to US vehicles and drivers since they were left hand drive.

    Tracked vehicles were to have routes prepared across country so as to preserve the carriageways for wheeled traffic. Where possible tracked vehicles used the cleared verges of roads. Where possible marching parties should have cleared routes avoiding carriageways and tracked routes.


    Traffic Control.
    In the assault stage of the landings Traffic Control was in the hands of 1 Division Provost Company. Each Regimental Combat Team had a provost section attached to it and these were responsible for directing the units of their RCT from the beach exits to their forward locations. The sections moved forward with their RCT leaving the Engineer Special Brigade provost units responsible for traffic control. Divisional provosts placed small signs directing traffic and backed them up with pointsmen, though at this stage all traffic should have been forward.

    Good traffic control was as important as good roads for ensuring the smooth flow of vehicles. Each Engineer Special Brigade deployed a Provost Company.

    Traffic Posts were established at road crossings, usually where roads to the dump from beaches and forward areas meet. They also served as Straggler Posts. Provost personnel had lists of units and convoys etc together with the priority assigned to each. They kept military traffic moving smoothly and controlled access by civilian traffic. The latter was not much of a problem in the beach area. Traffic Posts were also provided with telephone communications to enable them to be kept up to date on movements, and to report problems.

    Air strip.
    It was planned that an airstrip should be prepared on open and level ground to the west of Vierville. This should have been ready to use late on D Day but at that time the area was still in enemy hands. At first it was to be used by artillery observation aircraft which were being landed across the beach by LCTs. As an alternative it was at one time planned to have these aircraft operate from a strip on the beach. For observation aircraft little work was needed except for ensuring that the area was free from mines. It was steadily improved so that it could be used as an emergency landing strip.


    Mike
     
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