Skip to comments.The FReeper Foxhole Revisits the USS SAMUEL CHASE at Omaha Beach(6/6/1944) - June 7th, 2007
Posted on 06/07/2007 3:58:40 PM PDT by snippy_about_it
are acknowledged, affirmed and commemorated.
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The Coast Guard-manned landing craft LCI(L)-85 approached the beach at 12 knots. Her crew winced as they heard repeated thuds against the vessel's hull made by the wooden stakes covering the beach like a crazy, tilted, man-made forest.
Watercolor by Navy Combat Artist Dwight Shepler, 1944, showing German artillery fire hitting U.S. forces on "Omaha" Beach, on "D-Day" of the Normandy invasion, 6 June 1944. In the foreground is USS LCI(L)-93, aground and holed. She was lost on this occasion.
No clear channel existed where the commanding officer's charts indicated there would be, so he ordered the landing craft straight through the obstacles that had been covered by the incoming tide. The bow soon touched bottom, and as the ship ground to a halt, so did its luck. A mine exploded and ripped a gaping hole in the forward compartments, and then German batteries pummeled the LCI. Many of the troops on board were torn to pieces before they ever got off the ship. Those who were still able to disembark could not, because the explosions had destroyed the vessel's landing ramps.
The burning LCI backed off the beach as the crew fought the fires in the forward compartments. The ship then began to list as water poured in through the shell holes. Other landing craft approached to take off the uninjured troops while other crewmembers manned the sinking landing craft's pumps in a vain attempt to keep the vessel afloat. Then the crew sailed back to the transport area as the ship's list became more and more pronounced. They stayed with the listing LCI and managed to offload the wounded on to the Coast Guard-manned attack-transport USS Samuel Chase before they had to abandon their ship. The waters of Normandy washed over the blood-stained decks as the LCI settled deeper. She then capsized, exposing the bottom of her battered hull to the sky and now threatened to become a hazard to navigation to the thousands of ships and craft milling about the area. The crew of a salvage vessel took care of the problem by placing a mine in her hull and exploded it to force her to the sea floor, a final, ignominious end for a gallant veteran that had made so many successful combat landings against hostile shores. Slowly, as the water filled her hull, she turned her stern skyward and sank. The LCI(L)-85 was one of the many Coast Guard-manned ships that participated in the landings in France on June 6, 1944 - a day that would prove to be one of the bloodiest in the Coast Guard's long history.
U.S.S. Samuel Chase
Sixty years ago, U.S., British, Canadian and French forces invaded Adolf Hitler's Fortress Europe in an operation code-named Overlord. The Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, called it a "Great Crusade." The Coast Guard, along with the Army, Navy and Army Air Force participated in the crusade's onset, the greatest amphibious operation the world had ever seen. In August 1943, at the Quebec Conference the combined chiefs of staff agreed to mount an invasion of France in 1944. When finalized the plan called for the landing of five divisions along the French coast at Normandy. In addition, two divisions of paratroopers were to be dropped behind the coastline to help isolate the frontline German troops. Eisenhower was appointed the commander of Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force, known as SHAEF. He set the invasion date, D-Day, for June 5, 1944, when tidal and moon conditions would be most favorable.
Neptune was the code name given to Overlord's amphibious assault and naval gunfire support operations. These operations were divided between two task forces that would get the troops from ports all over Great Britain and land them on the beaches of Normandy, keep them supplied, and give them fire support. The Western Naval Task Force, under the command of Navy Rear Admiral Alan Kirk, transported the U.S. First Army to the American assault areas code named Utah and Omaha. The Eastern Naval Task Force, commanded by Royal Navy Rear Admiral Sir Philip Vian, landed the British Second Army on assault areas to the east of the American landings, code-named Gold, Juno and Sword.
A Coast Guard-manned LCVP from the U.S.S. Samuel Chase disembarks troops of the First Division on the morning of 6 June 1944 at Omaha Beach.
The U.S. Coast Guard was an integral part of Operation Neptune. The service's presence centered around Assault Group "O-1" that landed troops of the famous First Division, the "Big Red One," on the easternmost beaches of the Omaha assault area. Commanded by Coast Guard Captain Edward H. Fritzsche, this assault group consisted of the Samuel Chase, the United States Navy's USS Henrico, the Royal Navy's HMS Empire Anvil, six LCI(L)s, six LSTs, and 97 smaller craft.
The deputy assault commander of Assault Group O-1 was another Coast Guard combat veteran, Captain Miles Imlay, who doubled as the commander of the Coast Guard manned LCI(L) Flotilla 10. Flotilla 10 was a veteran flotilla, as they had landed troops under fire during the invasions of both Sicily and Salerno. The battle-tested landing craft of Flotilla 10 were divided between the Omaha and Utah landing forces. Assault Group O-1 proved to be the largest Coast Guard command of Neptune but it was not the only.
While the Allies prepared to assault Fortress Europe, the Germans prepared to throw them back into the sea. In November 1943, Hitler turned to his most trusted army general, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, nicknamed by his admiring British enemy as the "Desert Fox," to inspect and improve German defenses from Denmark to the Spanish border. Here, the man who nearly drove the British out of North Africa energetically went to work inspecting the "Atlantic Wall."
UNSUNG HEROES: Coast Guard Captains Edward Fritzche (left) and Miles Imlay (right) discuss the invasion of Omaha Beach on a relief map laid out in the hold of the Samuel Chase.
At every stop Rommel urged the troops to greater effort. When one officer told Rommel that he was working the men too hard, the Desert Fox snapped, "Which would your men rather be, tired, or dead?" To strengthen the defenses he devised a number of sinister devices that would tear the bottom off a landing craft or wreck a glider. These included sharpened wood poles that the Germans nicknamed "Rommel's asparagus" and a more lethal trap of three steel bars welded together that came to be known as "hedgehogs." Behind these beach obstacles the Germans placed 4 million mines, dug bunkers, built concrete pillboxes and flooded fields.
Although formidable, Allied intelligence kept a close watch on the German preparations and noted two oversights. First, as expected, the defenses were concentrated around the Pas de Calais, France, well away from Normandy. Second, the beach obstacles along the coast were set to repel an invasion at high tide and as such they lay exposed during low tide. It was not until May that Rommel realized his error and ordered them extended past the low tide mark. But it would take time to add the extra obstacles.
The planners at SHAEF took advantage of these oversights by setting up a phantom army, under the command of George Patton, whom the Germans believed would command the invasion. The planners included bogus radio traffic and dummy vehicles placed at Dover, Great Britain, directly across from Pas de Calais, to reinforce the German conviction that the invasion would land there. They also scheduled H-Hour, the time of the first landings, to begin one hour after low tide, when all of the obstacles would be exposed and therefore easier to destroy.
On May 28, the crews were "sealed" aboard their vessels, and the troops were kept within their camps. The heavily-laden soldiers began loading into their water-borne taxis on Friday, June 2. They would be aboard for nearly three days before D-Day and to combat sea-sickness each soldier was provided with motion sickness pills and bags which the Army listed as, appropriately, "Bag, vomit, one." They would be needed.
Bound for Normandy: U.S. Army troops on board a Coast Guard-manned LCI(L), during the night of 5 June 1944.
During the cramped weekend, the troops managed to stay busy cleaning their weapons, writing letters or just resting while their Coast Guard, Navy and the British Royal Navy hosts prepared their ships for the channel crossing. The invasion fleet restlessly sortied from their British ports on June 4, but the weather worsened to the point that Eisenhower postponed the invasion for 24 hours. The ships returned to their harbors.
Early on Monday, June 5, Eisenhower attended a conference with Allied meteorologists. They predicted that the weather would partially clear for two days and then worsen. If they postponed the invasion again it would be nearly two weeks before the tide and moon conditions would be right. He thought for a moment and then at 4:15 a.m. looked up and said, "OK, We'll go."
Two RAF flight crew members from a Mosquito bomber that crashed in the English Channel are rescued by the crew of a Coast Guard 83-foot cutter of Coast Guard Rescue Flotilla One.
In the transports, the men who would man and pilot the assault craft filled with troops through rough seas, enemy fire and underwater obstacles received their final instructions. Just like their comrades aboard the LCIs, they studied highly-detailed relief maps and memorized landmarks that would guide them to their assigned landing areas. They had trained hard for Neptune and many were veterans of previous landings but their responsibilities still lay hard with them. It was their job to get the soldiers to the beaches in order for the invasion and liberation of Europe to succeed; the assault troops were useless unless they made it ashore in a condition to fight.
who served aboard the USS SAMUEL CHASE
crewing an LCVP bringing in the demolition teams
Hi PE, man I guess you are busy!
Two years worth.
Now the dirt starts flying.
That is a lovely structure, you’ve a lot to be proud of. ;)
Here are the kids' individual photos:
These photos were taken by one of our moms. She is so talented. We all think she should open a studio! BittyGirl was being impossible and was having world class a melt down just moments before her photo was taken.
Oh and I forgot to add that Spiderboy got glasses! It was all very sudden. I had no idea he was even having trouble. We went to the doctor for his follow up appointment (from when he was so sick) and I had asked the doctor to do a physical for camp. They did a vision and hearing screening and said that we needed to see an optometrist. I found an eye doctor for him and we went in for a visit. Sure enough, he is farsighted: +1.0 in one eye and +1.25 in the other. He picked out a great pair of glasses and loves wearing them.
Aww, the kids are so precious.
Wonderful idea on the scrapbooks albums, the kids will appreciate them later on in life. We always go back to seek who we are and photos always help us to learn.
Great you have these talented ladies in your midst. I was trying out PaintShop Pro, it works a lot like Adobe Illustrator. I did not buy the software yet. I don’t have a huge hard drive.
Glad to hear the family is well now. Summer illness can be worse than anything in winter months.
I wonder if Spiderboy is going to be homesick??
One of my girls had trouble seeing as a kid, I did not know it until a school eye exam. Poor kid I felt so bad for her.
Good Spiderboy likes his glasses.
I’m not sure how much space you’ll need on the hard drive, but I have found that I need more RAM for working with the imaging software. That was part of why I got a new computer a few months ago. My system would freeze up whenever I tried to use my software. The other reason was that my puny hard drive was full.
We are thankful for your dad and you. Thanks for the information. How goes the re-enacting business?
Thanks. I forgot to post that we ran this waaaaay back in 2003 I think. You must have been absent from your foxhole that day. :-)
...for all I do. It’s nothing. It’s people like you and Sam and the others here and in so many other places that served our country so well that deserve the thanks...and so much more.
So you had seen pictures before you went in as a replacement? That had to make going even more frightening, though I know how we all feel when we are that young, like we are invincible. Of course you saw and felt it all close up and we are so very thankful to have someone from WWII as a part of our Foxhole family, it truly is special sharing with you.
As for the future, I think we’re ready but I surely worry that the kids today that are 19 aren’t. Those in the military now, yes, but for those many who seem to have no concept of country, of nation, I’m afraid they’ll lose what we had and you had.
Can we save this country from the evil within?
Don’t you ever rest?!
Nice project. What city?
Tell your friend we are grateful for his father’s service. The stories of the landings are amazing.
That will certainly get attention!
Sam sends his regards.
What an interesting picture. Certainly is an eyecatcher and a source of conversation to those that have never seen it before.
Yupper that’s me, I like to get ‘em talking. ;)
I just had a two week vacation at the end of May :-)
Wil try to have some pics Monday