June 6, 2009

Omaha Beach

The landing by regiments of the 1st and 29th Infantry divisions and Army Rangers on OMAHA Beach was even more difficult than expected. When the first wave landed at 6:30 a.m., the men found that naval gunfire and prelanding air bombardments had not softened German defenses or resistance. Along the 7,000 yards of Normandy shore German defenses were as close to that of an Atlantic Wall as any of the beaches. Enemy positions that looked down from bluffs as high as 170 feet, and water and beach obstacles strewn across the narrow strip of beach, stopped the assault at the water's edge for much of the morning of D-Day.

By mid-morning, initial reports painted such a bleak portrait of beachhead conditions that Lt. Gen. Omar Bradley, United States First Army commander, considered pulling off the beach and landing troops elsewhere along the coast. However, during these dark hours, bravery and initiative came to the fore. As soldiers struggled, one leader told his men that two types of people would stay on the beach--the dead and those going to die--so they'd better get the hell out of there, and they did.


Slowly, as individuals and then in groups, soldiers began to cross the fire-swept beach. Supported by Allied naval gunfire from destroyers steaming dangerously close to shore, the American infantrymen gained the heights and beach exits and drove the enemy inland. By D-Day's end V Corps had a tenuous toehold on the Normandy coast, and the force consolidated to protect its gains and prepare for the next step on the road to Germany.

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