D-Day

By: Madilyn Kell & Anne Mock

U.S. Troop Landings

Of all the beach landings on D-Day, the U.S. invasion on Omaha beach was the most dangerous and had the most casualties. The U.S. had not timed the tides correctly and instead of landing on Omaha beach at high tide they reached the beach at low tide, causing many soldiers to have to run farther to reach shelter behind the beach dunes, which resulted in longer exposure to German artillery and thus higher U.S. casualties. Also, the U.S. had not accounted for ocean swells and those swells ended up sinking all but 2 of the 29 Sherman tanks (heavily armored tanks that could travel in water and on land) that were meant to be used to aid the U.S. soldiers. Eventually, U.S. naval crafts got close enough to the shore where they could start firing on German artillery. This distraction and aid helped Americans gain the upper hand over the Germans by giving them time to ascend the cliffs and shoot from above, allowing them to capture the beach and a little over a mile of inland territory. In the end, over 2,400 soldiers died, but 34,000 troops successfully landed on the beach.


Not just on Omaha beach, but across all of the beaches, unpredictable ocean and wind patterns landed soldiers far from their objectives, causing separation and confusion.


http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/omaha_beach.htm

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Beaches

Omaha

Omaha beach was surrounded by cliffs and was a "connection" to the two beaches on either side, so it was highly important that the beach be secured by U.S. troops. This job was done by the U.S. 29th and 1st infantry divisions. German General Rommel, however, had the beach heavily armed against any sort of invasion. On top of that, since the beach was surrounded by cliffs and had practically nowhere to hide, it was basically an open firing range for the Germans. German artillery was placed all over the tops of the cliffs to cover every possible angle and section of the beach. With this done, German soldiers could simply gun down Allied soldiers as they ran across the beach at very fast rates. Also, Rommel had placed twelve "strong points" along the beach. These "strong points" were filled with cannons and mortars to fire at Allied troops. Also, the beach was heavily mined. The Germans also had themselves trenched in very well along the sea line, making it even easier to shoot down Allied troops. All of these factors combined basically made Omaha beach an instant death-zone for any Allied solider that walked on it


http://faculty.headroyce.org/~us2001/zachg/omahabeach.html

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Utah

Utah beach was the easier of the two U.S. invasions, it not even originally being a part of the D-Day invasions. Utah beach was added because General Eisenhower wanted control of the port of Cherbourg. German defense, consisting of the 709th, 243rd, and 91st infantry divisions, was rather sparse, which a few automatic weapons covering strong points and very few artillery lining the inland and beaches. The reason for such low defense was because the Germans didn't think that the Allies would try to take Utah beach because of its unfortunate terrain. The beach was mostly flooded dunes with very few roads inland. Nevertheless, despite some miscalculations, the beach was taken with extreme ease and less than 300 American casualties.


http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/971461/Utah-Beach/236194/The-landing-beach

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101st Airborne

Although there were several airborne divisions during WWII, one of the more notable ones would be the 101st airborne division. They were established at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana on August 15, 1942. Their first major battle was D-Day where, although they were all scattered, they managed to regroup and take many objectives, such as Carentan. They also participated in Operation Market Garden in Holland. Perhaps one of their most nutorious battles would the battles against the German Bulge and Bastogne, which was occupied by the German Bulge. The Bulge was a final effort by the Germans to push Allied forces back, which, combined with unfavorable weather conditions, halted Allies for months. Despite the lack of supplies, bad weather, and strong German resistance, the 101st never gave up and eventually got the supplies it needed to invade Bastogne and begin the battle for the end of German involvement in WWII.


Nickname: Screaming Eagles

Motto: Rendezvous with Destiny

Mascot: Bald Eagle


http://www.combatreels.com/101st_airborne_division.cfm

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Casualties

Personal Experiences

Bob Slaughter

Slaughter described his experiences of landing on a beach (presumably Omaha because of the defenses and weather conditions he describes). He said that it was very hard to travel to the shore by boat because the water kept filling up the boat and the ocean was very rough. He said that several other boats sunk and soldiers were just left in the water. He said that the soldiers on his boat tried to grab as many of their friends from the water as possible and hoped that someone else would grab the others because there wasn't enough room on the boat. He described the miniature "tsunamis" that would hit their boat whenever the battleship Texas fired its gun. He then described the mortar shells they began encountering as the got closer to the shore and ends with him discovering all of the fire arms pointed at their boat.


http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/dday/sfeature/sf_voices_03.html

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Ralph Jenkins

Squadron operations officer of the 510th Ralph Jenkins described his experiences with D-Day. His soldiers and him were not actually assigned to invade the beaches or clear the beaches before the scheduled invasion, but were instead tasked with surveying the English Channel to make sure that no German naval forces came through to hinder the Allied invasion. He said that it was very boring and almost no naval forces showed up except for one large ship, which fired on Jenkins' plane. He said he reported it to headquarters and assumed that it was the only naval force that the Germans had.


http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/dday/sfeature/sf_voices_01.html

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A. L. Corry

A. L. Corry, a bombardier on a B-26 Marauder on D-Day, described his experiences with D-Day. He and the rest of the soldiers in his unit were woken up at 2 in the morning and told to meet in the briefing room. He said that normally everyone would be chatting, but this morning it was dead silent because everyone knew that something out of place was happening. He then described a man called Colonel Story entering the briefing room and basically saying that "the day has arrived", but no one knows what he's talking about until he finally says that the Allies are going to invade Normandy. Corry then said that the room exploded into a big roar and the soldiers began marking their maps with bomb landing zones.


http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/dday/sfeature/sf_voices_05.html

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