D-Day

Kelly Norris B1

US Troop Landings

On June 6, 1944 160,000+ Allied troops landed along the heavily-fortified French coastline to fight Germany on the beaches of Normandy. Airborne drops at both ends of the beachheads were to protect the flanks. Six divisions were to land on the first day; three U.S. division were to follow up after the assult division had cleared the way through the beach defenses.

Beaches

The Normandy beaches were chosen by planners because they laid within range of air cover and were not as defended than the obvious objective of the Pas de Calais.

Utah Beach: Utah was added to the initial invasion plan almost as an afterthought. The allied needed a major port as soon as possible, and Utah Beach would put the US corps within 60 km of Cherbourg. The major obstacles on the beach were mostly flooding and rough terrain that blocked the north.

Omaha Beach: Omaha beach linked the US and the British beaches, it was between the Contention peninsula and the flat plain in front of Caen. Omaha was the most restricted and heavily defended beach. Omaha has a crescent curve and unusual assortment of bluffs, cliffs and draws were immediately recognizable from the sea.

101st Airborne

The 101st Airborne first saw combat during the Normandy invasion. The division as part of the VII Corps assult jumped in the dark morning before H-Hour to seize positions west of Utah Beach. Given the mission of anchoring the corps' southern flank, the division was also to eliminate the German;s secondary beach defenses, allowing the seaborne forces of the 4th Infantry Division, once ashore, to continue inland. As the assault approached the French coast it encountered fog and antiaircraft fire which forced some of the planes to break formation. Paratroops from both the 82nd and 101st Airborne Division missed their landing zones and were scattered over wide areas. There were many casualties in its trek along the causeway and being in some disarray after the bayonet charge.

Roy Arnn

Roy participated in the Normandy Invasion on Omaha Beach with boat crew #8. Roy wrote a letter to his two daughters explaining the events during the war. Roy stated that his assignment as Sgt. was to clear the area of mines and booby traps in a gap from the obstacles inland which was 50 yards from the obstacles to the tide high water mark. Roy knew they were getting close to invasion time and they were loaded on an LCT about a week before the invasion. On the 4th of June all the ships moved out but had to return due to bad weather. They left the night of the 5th to arrive in the morning of the 6th. Roy was one of the last off the boat floating with explosives. He said the explosions blew off his helmet. He was wounded but not severely and made it through.

James Hollis Bearden

On June 1, 1944, the LCT was loaded with 180 tons of ammunition. Then on June 4, 300 combat soldiers entered their LCT. On June 5, they started across the Channel for the Normandy invasion. Because of the weather, they were turned back. On June 6, they started again. There were thousands of ships and airplanes. About 3:00 A.M. the planes flew over. First they dropped bombs and next came the paratroopers. About two or three miles out from the beach, destroyers and cruisers sprayed the beachheads with gunfire. James' crew were in the first wave to hit Normandy. They hit the beaches at high tide. This was at 5:30 A.M. on June 6, 1944. After dropping the anchors they set down the ramp to let the soldiers off. They couldn't leave until high tide so we dug fox holes, removed the wounded, and waited for the trucks to unload their ship.

Thomas M. Brown

Thomas M. Brown was a private first class with the Company A, 115th Infantry of the 29th Division. After his initial training in Maryland, Brown landed at Omaha Beach as a machine gunner on D-Day plus two. Brown tells the story of the Allied seaborne invasion across the Channel, the beachhead on the Cherbourg Peninsula and the move inland. Landing Ship Infantry to cross the Channel to start the invasion on June 6th, 1944. The Channel water was very rough. During the early morning hours after daylight, Thomas saw a ship carrying tanks and one of the tanks broke the chain and fell over in the Channel. The water was really rough. Company A, 115th was supposed to relieve Company A, 116th at D+2. The 116th, when they arrived about 10:30, was very few men left able to fight. Thomas was assigned to the machine gun section of Company A. And they drew straws to see who would carry the complete gun from the ship, and Thomas was picked to carry the gun and the tripod. Thomas survived the beach was later wounded near St. Lo. They landed at Omaha Beach section and things were really bad. Shells were still falling on the beach. After the Texas and the Arkansas fired their big guns into the enemy emplacements things got better and they were able to move inland.