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29TH DIVISION - WWII BATTLES
6-7 June 1944 - Omaha Beach

... Page 1

… Four boat sections of Company E, 116th Regiment [29th Division], came in on the same beach sector [16th Regiment – Easy Red] and had much the same experience. From 3 of the sections, a total of 60 men reached the shingle bank. The company commander, Captain Laurence A. Madill, already wounded crossing the beach, was hit twice by machine-gun bullets as he returned to salvage mortar ammunition. His last words were, "Senior non-com, take the men off the beach." The company's sections were separated, and it was some time before any contact was made between them…
…Beginning at 0700, the second group of assault waves touched down in a series of landings that lasted for 40 minutes, ending with the support battalions of the two regimental combat teams. The later waves did not come in under the conditions planned for their arrival. The tide, flowing into the obstacle belt by 0700, was through it an hour later, rising eight feet in that period; but the obstacles were gapped at only a few places. The enemy fire which had decimated the first waves was not neutralized when the larger landings commenced. No advances had been made beyond the shingle, and neither the tanks nor the scattered pockets of infantry already ashore were able to give much covering fire. Consequently, much of the record of this period is a repetition of what had happened earlier. Casualties continued to be heavy on some sectors of the narrowing tidal flat, though unit experiences differed widely and enemy fire, diverted or neutralized by the troops and tanks already along the embankment, was not often as concentrated as earlier in the assault. Mislandings continued to be a disrupting factor, not merely in scattering the infantry units but also in preventing engineers from carrying out special assignments and in separating headquarters elements from their units, thus hindering reorganization.

Rifle companies in the later assault waves of the 116th Infantry [29th Division] were organized somewhat differently from those in the first landings. Two sections in each company were designated as "assault" units and carried the special weapons and equipment characteristic of the first wave. The assault sections had the mission of mopping up enemy emplacements bypassed by the first wave. The other four boat sections had the ordinary equipment of rifle units.
On the assumption that the first penetrations would already be made, support units were under orders to proceed as quickly as possible inland, by boat sections, toward battalion assembly areas. In the 16th Infantry, the support battalion (1st) was organized in assault sections exactly like those of the first wave; this arrangement may have reflected the experience of that regiment in its previous landings in Africa and Sicily, where plans had never worked out according to schedule.
In the 116th Regiment zone three companies of the 1st Battalion were scheduled to land in reinforcement of Company A [116th Regiment, 29th Division] on Dog Green, facing the Vierville exit. In all, only two or three boat sections from these units landed on Dog Green.

Company B [116th Regiment, 29th Division] was due in at 0700. Its craft failed to pick up landmarks, scattered badly, and beached on a front of nearly a mile to both sides of the target area. Only three scattered sections on the flanks were to play much part in the later battle. The craft which touched down on or near Dog Green came under the same destructive fire which had wrecked Company A [116th Regiment, 29th Division], and the remnants of the boat sections mingled with those of Company A [116th Regiment, 29th Division] in an effort for survival at the water's edge.

Company C [116th Regiment, 29th Division] came in at 0710 a thousand yards east of the Vierville exit, on Dog White, in a mislanding that was to work out to ultimate advantage. One of its 6 craft ran into a mined obstacle, and was delayed 20 minutes in maneuvers to get free without setting off the mines. The others came in fairly close together, suffering only one mishap when a craft thrown by the surf against a ramp turned over on its side, spilling men and equipment into water four to five feet deep. This boat section had been equipped for mopping-up work at the Vierville draw, and all its flamethrowers, demolition charges, bangalores, and mortars were lost. Enemy fire was surprisingly light, possibly because Company C [116th Regiment, 29th Division] was near the western end of the belt of smoke coming from grass fires on the bluff slopes. Only five or six casualties were suffered in disembarking and getting across the open sand. No other troops were near them; only four or five tanks were in sight. Bunched together on a front of about a hundred yards, Company C's men took shelter behind the four-foot timber sea wall and reorganized. Most of their equipment was intact, their sections were well together, and they were in relatively better shape for action than any unit so far landed in the 116th's zone.

Company D [116th Regiment, 29th Division] was not so fortunate. Three of its craft were in serious trouble as a result of shipping water; one of these was abandoned far out, and the section got in after noon. Another craft was sunk by a mine or an artillery hit 400 yards from shore, forcing the men to swim in under a barrage of mortar shells and machine-gun bullets. Half the personnel reached the sands. A third section was debarked 150 yards from the water's edge, saw riflemen ahead of them staying in the water, and followed their example, hiding behind obstacles. It was nearly two hours before the scattered survivors got to shore, with one mortar and no ammunition. The second platoon arrived on the beach with only two machine guns, one mortar and a small amount of ammunition. The first platoon got one machine gun and one mortar ashore during the morning. The heavy weapons of the 1st Battalion [116th Regiment, 29th Division] were to take little part in the beach assault.

To complete the picture of misfortune for the 1st Battalion [116th Regiment, 29th Division], the three craft carrying the Headquarters Company, the command group, and the Beachmaster's party for Dog Green were brought in several hundred yards west of that sector and under the cliffs. Headquarters Company lost heavily among officers and non-commissioned officers, including the commanding officer of the 58th Armored Field Artillery Battalion. The crossing of the tidal flat to the cliff against concentrated small-arms fire cost one-half to two-thirds of the group. The survivors, reaching the base of the cliffs, took refuge in niches in the rock. Not only was the command group separated from all other battalion units, but the members of the group were so scattered that they had to use radio for inter-communication. Sniper fire from the cliffs was to pin the group here for most of the day.

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