Omar Bradley's Memoirs re Funnies

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Paul Reed, Jul 9, 2011.

  1. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Is there such a thing?

    If anyone has them, are there any references to British 'Funnies' in them? Or meetings with Percy Hobart?
  2. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Hello Paul,

    The only memoirs that I am aware of Bradley publishing are A Soldier's Story (London 1951) and A General's Life (New York 1983). I don't have copies of these books yet so can't comment regarding content on 'funnies', etc.

    However, I copied this from a tribute to Bradley on the Arlington National Cemetry website - relevant bits in bold:

    "...During the months before the invasion, Bradley supervised the refinement of assault plans and troop training. He and his corps commanders finally decided that the assaults would be led by the 29th Infantry Division and elements of the experienced 1st Infantry Division on OMAHA Beach, and by the 4th Infantry Division on UTAH. Both assault forces would be supported by the new duplex drive M4 tank, a Sherman tank fitted with flotation skirts and ropellers, which could be launched from landing craft and swim ashore. Bradley decided American units would not use other specialized tanks, including the "flail" tanks that cleared minefields and tanks with flamethrowers, because they required specialized training and an extensive separate supply and maintenance organization. Some have contended that this decision to keep a lean supply system cost the lives of many soldiers who died from mines and booby traps on the Normandy beaches and during the subsequent breakout.

    On the morning of 6 June 1944, Bradley was aboard the cruiser USS Augusta, his headquarters for the invasion. He received word that the Germans had moved the 352d Infantry Division into the area for training, an unfortunate event that lengthened the odds against V Corps. However, he did not change his battle plans. At 0630 American troops and their Allies assaulted the Normandy beaches. Meeting only light resistance, the 4th Infantry Division suffered very few casualties and quickly secured UTAH Beach. The VII Corps pushed six miles inland by the end of D-Day.

    On OMAHA Beach the situation was a nightmare. The German regiment there, reinforced by troops from the division that had unexpectedly arrived, occupied terrain favorable for defense and put up a stiff resistance. Landing craft launched most of the amphibious tanks too far out from the shore, where most foundered and sank. The aerial bombardment was almost completely ineffective in suppressing German defenses, and many of the assault troops were put ashore at the wrong places. For several hours the situation appeared to be a disaster in the making. Casualties were heavy, particularly among the demolition engineers assigned to clear the beach obstacles for following assault waves. The infantry, pinned down on the tide line, was also hard hit. In the end good leadership and naval gunfire resolved the situation. Determined and courageous American commanders led their men in desperate local fights against the German position and slowly established a foothold. U.S. Navy destroyers, ignoring the hazards, navigated close inshore and fired directly into German strongpoints. When Gerow finally established communications with Bradley, his first message was "Thank God for the U.S. Navy!"..."

    I trust this assists!


  3. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Another angle may be to see what is said in Percy Hobart's Biography. Again, I don't yet have a copy of this:



    Paul Reed likes this.
  4. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Steve, many thanks for those leads. Much appreciated.
  5. leccy

    leccy Senior Member

    This book can help with an understanding of the problems the British had training and equipping the Assault Enginners for D Day with out US requirements. It also gives an idea of how effective they were.

    Cracking Hitler's Wall: The 1st Assault Brigade Engineers on D-Day

    The US did not use as much specialist armour as the UK forces but it did land M4 tank dozers which performed sterling work in clearing obstacles in the same way the armoured bullldozers did on the British and Canadian beaches.
  6. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Guessing you've got this already mate, but some from the Hobo side:
    Bradley/Hobart refs in 'Armoured Crusader' (great book if you're interested in Hobart, but a tad Hagiographic.) :

    * Some stuff on assorted demos for senior leaders of DDay formations (four weeks in late January), Hobart having some doubts about how senior US staff saw the funnies. Bradley not mentioned by name but it seems likely he is who's meant in some slightly dismissive comments by PH.

    * 10th February Letter from Hobart to Dorrie includes himself sat with Dempsey & Bradley at a dinner (presumably post the Funny demonstrations/consultations). "I think they are both good chaps. Straight, honest and capable. The third of the trio, Freddy de Guignand ... is much cleverer and quicker than either : and younger. But - he has not the responsibility."
    (Got F de G's memoir here somewhere, will have a shufti.)

    * 6th March '45 - Hobart invested into the US Legion of Merit with Bradley officiating.

    So mostly meeting at the pre-Dday funny demos, which if I recall were carried out at assorted scattered UK locations. But I'm sure you already know this.

    Alanbrooke's diaries maybe worth a shufti? He's mentioned (unsurprisingly) as present at these demos and meetings.

    Are you looking specifically into the US and Funny acceptance (or lack thereof)?
    Any particular vehicle? As I seem to recall some OK stuff on US opinions of the crabs, though it was confusing as it's hard to be sure exactly which 'crab' was being tested, or even if it was actually a Scorpion.

    Can't seem to find my copy of 'A Soldier's Story'. Still looking.
  7. leccy

    leccy Senior Member

    The US made use of British Crocs during the attack and capture of Brest.
  8. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Thanks for those leads. I'm just trying to find what Bradley himself said in his own words, if they were recorded.
  9. leccy

    leccy Senior Member

    Cracking Hitler's Wall: The 1st Assault Brigade Engineers on D-Day, Appendix B, Page 243, The Offer of AVRE's to the US Army: has a line attributed to Bradley turning down Montgomerys offer of Funnies (Apart from the fact that enough were barely ready for the British and Canadian Forces for D Day).

    The reference indicates the line is from
    Patrick Delaforce, Churchill's Secret Weapons: The Story of Hobarts Funnies. Page 87
  10. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    I'm just trying to find what Bradley himself said in his own words, if they were recorded.

    Do tell when/if you find out.
    The subject's intrigued me before.
  11. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    Thanks for those leads. I'm just trying to find what Bradley himself said in his own words, if they were recorded.


    I dug out my ancient copy of A Soldier's Story* and went through the index several times looking for pertinent entries. I found only a small discussion of the duplex drive tank on page 255. I looked through three or four chapters dealing with Overlord planning and found pretty much nothing.

    On page 273, where he is talking about the aftermath of the assault, he did mention a profound need for bulldozers, along with the failure of the DDs at Omaha to make to shore in large enough numbers to have been effective. Also on that page he discussed the problems of wheeled vehicles trying to cross the beach early 6 June.

    I could find nothing else.

    *hardcover 1951, Henry Holt & Company, Inc, New York.

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