Skip to comments.First Wave At Omaha Beach
Posted on 06/06/2002 7:25:18 AM PDT by g'nadEdited on 06/07/2005 12:19:13 PM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]
When he was promoted to officer rank at eighteen, S. L. A. MARSHALL was the youngest shavetail in the United States Army during World War I. He rejoined the Army in 1942, became a combat historian with the rank of colonel; and the notes he made at the time of the Normandy landing are the source of this heroic reminder. Readers will remember his frank and ennobling book about Korea, THE RIVER AND THE GAUNTLET, which was the result of still a third tour of duty.
(Excerpt) Read more at theatlantic.com ...
From the History books. Few and far between today.
He was killed by a female sniper in house-to-house fighting on the penninsula.
This information was given to his father by a GI who was with him at the time.
I dunno, but it seems pretty damn appropriate...
On June 6, 1994 (50th Anniversary) I sent him a big flower arrangement in commemoration of his buddies that still lie there.
I don't know, but my uncle was one of them too.
My uncle was in the 1st Infantry Division, the Big Red One, which was among those in the first wave, and he survived (in fact he lived for 50 more years). They fought their way up the hills there, through the town, and all the way to Paris, where they were among the first soldiers to march through Paris, when it was liberated.
Then they fought their way through Belgium, and marched into Liege when it was liberated. There was also a famous battle at a bridge though I'm not sure which one. Then they liberated a concentration camp in Germany (I'm trying to find out which one though I think it could have been Dachau from what I'm reading, but still not sure). But they were so appalled when they opened up that camp, that after capturing the guards, they marched back into the village nearby and forced the villagers at gunpoint to go into the camp to see what was going on near where they were living.
He said later that up to that point he had been feeling conflicted about shooting at the Germans, as he was himself a 2nd generation German-American (his grandparents had emigrated at least 80 years before) and was worried that he had been shooting at cousins. But after that camp experience, he no longer cared about that, and no longer felt German in any way. He felt American.
My uncle would almost never talk about it, though my sister was able to get only a small amount out of him. And some I've learned just by reading about the history of the Big Red One. He died just a few years ago.
Wish I could have done the same for my uncle, he died just a year before that anniversary.
On D-Day, June 6,1944, the Big Red One stormed ashore at Omaha Beach. Soon after H-Hour, the Division's 16th Regiment was fighting for its life on a strip of beach near Coleville-sur-Mer that had been marked the "Easy Red" on battle maps. Within two hours, the decimated unit huddled behind the seawall. The beach was so congested with the dead and dying, there was no room to land reinforcements. Col. George Taylor, commander of the 16th Infantry Regt., told his men, "Two kinds of people are staying on this beach! The dead and those who are going to die! Now, let's get the hell out of here!" Slowly, the move inland got underway.
A German blockhouse above the beach became a command post named "Danger Forward."
The Division moved through the Normandy Hedgerows. The Division liberated Liege, Belgium, and pushed to the German border, crossing through the fortified Siegfried line. The 1st Inf. Div. attacked the first major German city, Aachen, and after days of bitter fighting, the German commander surrendered the city on Oct. 21, 1944.
The Division continued its push into Germany, crossing the Rhine River. On Dec. 16, 24 enemy divisions, 10 of which were armored, launched a massive counterattack in the Ardennes sector, resulting in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge. On Jan. 15, 1945, the First Infantry attacked and penetrated the Siegfried line for the second time and occupied the Remagen bridgehead. On Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945, the Division marched 150 miles to the east of Siegen. On April 8, the Division crossed the Weser river into Czechoslovakia. The war was over May 8, 1945.
At the end of World War II, the Division had suffered 21,023 casualties and 43,743 men had served in its ranks. Its soldiers had won a total of 20,752 medals and awards, including 16 Congressional Medals of Honor. Over 100,000 prisoners had been taken.
Following the war, the First Division remained in Germany as occupation troops, until 1955, when the Division moved to Fort Riley, Kan.
My dad served on the USS Maryland in the Pacific and it was the same here. He never talked to me about it until I got back from Viet Nam. Some of the things he told me were pretty horrific, guess he figured I could handle it then. Too bad he is gone now I would like to talk to him some more about it.
Look around you. They are everywhere, just waiting for leadership. They are just ordinary men who muster the courage to do an extraordinary job.
Of course that is true. When I look at my son and his High School buddies, I think, "How could these kids ever take Omaha"?
But do remember-in 1938, when the blond beasts of the SS were marching into Vienna in triumph, in 1939, when they overran Poland, in 1940, when Paris fell, our Army was tiny. The future heroes of Omaha Beach were schoolkids, grocery clerks, farmhands, and a few college boys. Among them, there were surely more than a few typical American goofballs. No one who could have, by magic, seen the boys of Baker Company together in 1939 at home would have picked them over the Wehrmacht.
America is stronger than you think. It's stronger than I think.
And it's way, way stronger than the Muslim hordes can even effin' imagine.
It's left for us to call them all heroes.
And it's way, way stronger than the Muslim hordes can even effin' imagine.
So true, so true. And when people complain that this country is failing, and will soon fall, I say our best days are ahead. And truly believe that.
I'm a doctor, it's been my good fortune over the past 30 years to have a few European Theater vets as patients.
A few years ago, a man was admitted to my service for abdominal pain. No complaints, no calls to the nurses, told every student doctor, "Oh, it's nothing".
When I saw him, he was obviously suffering a lot.
My first question to him, "You were in the Army, weren't you?" Answer: "Yes".
Second question, "Were you in combat in Europe or the Pacific?" Answer: "Europe"
Third question, "Why didn't you tell the nurses or doctors how much pain you were having?" Answer: "Infantrymen only talk to infantrymen."
Damn straight, brother!
When I said "Where do we get such men?", I wasn't bemoaning the current generation... I was marvelling at the resourcefullness, determination, and bravery of the American spirit in times of crisis. I've lead men in combat...men who in other times would have been labeled "goofball" or "loser"...all performed magnificently under fire or when it mattered...I never cease to be amazed at the courage, endurance, and tenacity of the American fighting man...
And it sounds like so many who just would not complain, doesn't it? No whining, no moaning, just quiet suffering.
Thank you! That brings a tear to my eye.
Ah, the eloquence.
My dad (who died three years ago) was in the Pacific Theater on a mine sweeper clearing the approaches to the beaches for "island-hopping".
That is exactly right. The Nazi's fully believed that their Hitler youth would best our Boy Scouts, who were percieved to be soft. But along the way the Everyman defeated the Superman.
A nice summation. I recall another account of the overall effort in the ETO which described the impression of the American soldiers from the German perspective. In prior wars and battles, the Germans had faced the French, who went into battle singing. They had faced the English, who charged into battle cheering as if at a soccer match. The Americans did none of this, they just fought, took their lumps, and won out. The Germans didn't quite know what to make of this grim, silent, determined fighting man, other than to respect him in the end for his determination, in the face of mounting casualities in many battles, to obey his orders and do what was necessary to achieve his aims.
I'm sure it was bad enough there. A photo from Utah Beach. Other photos of the day at this link
SC 190366 Members of an American landing party lend helping hands to other members of their organization whose landing craft was sunk by enemy action off the coast of France. These survivors reached Utah Beach, near Cherbourg, by using a life raft. Photographer: Weintraub, 6 June 1944
The Initial Assault Wave
Ninety-six tanks, the Special Engineer Task Force, and eight companies of assault infantry (1,450 men), landing just before and after 0630, were to carry out the first assault missions (Map No. V).
On the right, the 743d Tank Battalion brought in all its tanks on LCT’s. Company B, coming in directly in face of the Vierville draw, suffered from enemy artillery fire. The LCT carrying the company commander was sunk just of shore, and four other officers were killed or wounded, leaving one lieutenant in Company B. Eight of that company’s 16 tanks landed and started to fire from the water’s edge on enemy positions. The tanks of Companies C and A touched down to the east at well-spaced intervals and without initial losses. In the 16th RCT one, only 5 of the 32 DD tanks (741st Tank Battalion) made shore; of Company A’s 16 standard tanks, 2 were lost far off shore by an explosion of undetermined cause, and 3 were hit and put out of action very shortly after beaching. The surviving third of the battalion landed between E-1 and E-3 draws and went into action at once against enemy emplacements.
The Army-Navy Special Engineer Task Force had one of the most important and difficult missions of the landing. Their chances of clearing gaps through the obstacles in the half-hour allotted were lessened by accidents on the approach to the beach. Delays in loading from LCT’s to LCM’s and in finding their way to the beaches resulted in half of the 16 assault teams reaching shore 10 minutes or more late. Only five team hit their appointed sector, most of them being carried eastward with the result that Dog Beach (the 116th RCT one) received much less than the effort scheduled. As a further effect of mislandings, at least three teams came in where no infantry or tanks were present to give protective fire.